THE Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has signed into law conservation measures as part of an integrated package to protect the long-term sustainability of lobster and shrimp stocks.
Minister Coveney said: ‘I am greatly encouraged by the upsurge in v-notching conservation activity since my announcement in May.
‘Lobsters are one of the most important species to the inshore sector and we need to work to ensure the long-term future of this valuable stock’.
Lobster & Shrimp stocks are vital stocks for the important inshore fisheries sector and these stocks have been under increased fishing pressure requiring a number of conservation measures to ensure their sustainability.
In May, the Minister announced that the rate of financial assistance provided to fishermen for v-notching lobsters was increased to 75 per cent of the market value.
Figures from BIM, which administers the lobster v-notching programme, indicate that the number of lobsters v-notched in 2014 was more than double the numbers of recent years, with some €250,000 of funding supporting the return of more than 30,000 berried female lobsters to the sea this year.
As part of the Minister Coveney’s announcement in May, he also published the results of an extensive consultation process on lobster and shrimp management and announced that he had approved plans to revise conservation measures for these stocks.
Following the success of the enhanced v notching programme for Lobsters and the completion of the consultation exercise the Minister is now enhancing the conservation measures further as part of an integrated approach.
Under the new protection measures for lobster, a maximum landing size of 127mm is being introduced to support the reproductive potential of the stock.
The retention of very large Lobsters in the Lobster stock are known scientifically to greatly enhance the reproductive potential of the stock and help to ensure its future sustainability.
To ease the introduction of the new measure, during the first two years of this new measure’s operation fishermen can avail of financial assistance for v-notching ‘oversize’ lobsters and returning them alive to the sea as a conservation measure.
In the case of the shrimp fishery the new measures will see an earlier closing date of 15 March, instead of 1 May, commencing in 2015. This will improve stock protection during the critical shrimp spawning period.