Fishing Fleet - Howth
Despite the fact that stocks of some key traditional species such as cod are in difficulty, and that an EU imposed limitation on the number of days vessels can spend at sea is on its way, there have been moves to upgrade many Irish fishing vessels, with significant investment in the fishing industry continuing in recent years. Some European markets such as Spain, have seen promising increases in demand for Irish smoked salmon and whitefish, with commodity fish such as herring and mackerel achieving good prices in particular markets, and high value aquaculture products such as mussels are also doing well.
Ireland’s fishing fleet consists of about 2,000 boats, landing about 250,000 tonnes of fish per year. Quotas set by the EU fisheries policy for pelagic species (species that live in the upper waters of the open ocean such as herring, blue whiting and mackerel) increased by 10.6 per cent in 2004 compared with 2003; pelagic species account for about 71 per cent of Irish landings. Quotas for demersal species (species that live on the bottom of the ocean such as cod, haddock, plaice and whiting) decreased by 4.6 per cent, but account for only 16 per cent of Irish landings. Shellfish quotas decreased by 1.9 per cent and account for 13 per cent of landings.
Fish exports amounted to over €384 million in value in 2003 and home sales came to €281 million. Per capita consumption in Ireland is 15.7 kg of whole fish equivalent. Investment in the fishing industry reached record levels in 2003 with BIM/EU grant-aided investment of €24.3 million, complemented by a further €60 million in non grant-aided investment in the pelagic sector. Altogether, over the last three years, 19 of the 23 super trawlers in the pelagic fleet have been replaced at a cost of €200 million. At the end of 2004, the last of 38 new vessels in the whitefish fleet are due to arrive.
In addition, there is an ongoing move to upgrade safety equipment on 500 vessels. Also, since 2003, a special scheme is proceeding to register for the first time several hundred small boats operating in inshore waters.
The level of fish stocks varies considerably from species to species. Haddock and monkfish stocks are rising. Herring stocks in the North Sea have recovered significantly, while cod stocks in many areas are in difficulty.