The North Western Waters RAC Executive Committee met on the 27th of June 2006 in Galway to debate and discuss issues such as the cod recovery programme, reintroduction of tuna drift-netting, technical conservation measures and the deepwater gillnet ban.
In the morning session, lengthy discussions were had on the review of the Cod Recovery Programme. Overall the NWWRAC were disappointed that no movement would be made on the review until next year, and agreed to recommend a ‘steady as she goes approach’ to the Commission so that the industry were not further penalised in December TAC and quota negotiations. The NWWRAC were also adamant that the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea working groups would continue to develop alternatives to the recovery programme for presentation to the Commission in December.
A recommendation from the Irish South and West Fisheries Producer Organisation to lift the ban on the tuna driftnet was also discussed in detail. The recommendation was made on foot of the implementation of the new pinger regulation. The ISWFO proposed that a trial be carried out on the tuna driftnet fishery to assess if pingers may deter any cetacean bycatch, which was the basis for the initial ban. Although many in the meeting supported the proposal it was agreed that this issue would be parked until a practical and workable pinger was developed.
Members were informed that due to the hard work and perseverance of the NWWRAC a more recent ban was to be lifted. Barrie Deas of the NFFO briefed members on the outcome of two meetings between NWWRAC representatives and the EU Commission in spring of this year. He informed the meeting that the Commission followed the advice of the NWWRAC and implemented a 2-step approach in lifting the ban. Hence the ban on the deepwater gillnet hake fishery was lifted on the 30thof June 2006. Furthermore the NWWRAC proposal to collect data on these fisheries was implemented and data are currently being collected by onboard observers to be assessed at the up and coming STECF meeting. It is proposed that these data be used to develop appropriate management schemes for deepwater static gear fisheries.
Daniel Lefèvre, chairman of the working group for the English Channel, informed meeting of the economic importance of both quota and non-quota species to this area. Members agreed that this should be considered by the NWWRAC and as a start a meeting dedicated to scallop management should be held in September.
Hans Lassen of ICES and Poul Degnbol of the EU Commission joined the members of the NWWRAC in the afternoon to thrash out stakeholder access to the scientific process. Both scientists acknowledged that there was a need for greater access of the industry to the processes of ICES and informed the meeting that from January 2007 members of each of the RACs would be invited to take part in various ICES scientific working groups.
In addition the NWWRAC was informed that progress was being made to ensure that scientists would be available to attend future meetings of all RACs.
This was followed by a presentation on the status of the proposed Technical Conservation Measures regulation made by the EU Commission. The Commission informed the meeting that this proposal would be available in late July and that all RACs would have ample opportunity to study the text and to respond to the Commission over the coming months.
Finally the meeting wrapped up with a kind and generous offer from the Spanish delegation who proposed the provision of a member staff to the NWWRAC to work with the secretariat in Dublin. Considering the mounting workload of the NWWRAC this offer was kindly accepted by the members and it is hoped that this person will commence work in Dublin as soon as possible.
So after a long and hard day the members were invited to attend a drinks reception with the members of ICES where fishing, science and most importantly the world cup were hotly debated.
The next meeting of the NWWRAC will be the General Assembly, which will take place in Fishmongers Hall in London on the 9th of October. For details of all meetings or indeed to join us for any of our meetings please contact the NWWRAC secretariat at BIM, Crofton Rd, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland, email@example.com or visit our website www.nwwrac.org