Fisheries Minister Hosts Fisheries Talks

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 October 2010, at 1:00am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has hosted a meeting of Ministers and fishing industry at St Marys University College on the Falls Road.

The meeting was held to discuss their negotiation priorities for the forthcoming European Council of Ministers meetings. These meetings during November and December will set the fishing opportunities for 2010 and adopt new technical conservation regulations.

Speaking afterwards, Minister Gildernew said: "This is the first time that this event involving Fisheries Ministers and stakeholders from Britain has been held here in the north of Ireland. It serves to underscore that these negotiations are a joint effort between Fisheries Minister’s supported by the sectors of the fleet that they represent.”

The Minister added: “Nephrops (prawns) will be my number one priority. That is the stock on which over 90 per cent of our fishing fleet depends. It is critical to our local processing industry and the economies of the three County Down fishing ports of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie. During the summer the ICES advice suggests that the TAC for Area 7 which includes the Irish Sea and most of the waters around Ireland should fall by some 23 per cent. Our local prawn grounds in the Irish Sea are doing well and the science shows that these are being fished sustainably. However our fishing opportunities depend currently on what is happening in the wider Area 7.

“As always I will be seeking to get the best deal for our industry. I will resist strongly any proposals to diminish fishing opportunities in the Irish Sea where these are not justified on scientific grounds.”

Pelagic fisheries were also highlighted at the meeting. The Minister said: “I fully support the stance taken by the Commission and the South in opposing the unilateral North East Atlantic mackerel quotas set by the Faroes and Iceland. We also have a significant interest in this fishery and I hope that a sensible and sustainable solution to this matter can be agreed as soon as possible.

“We also discussed Irish Sea herring and the strong scientific evidence of a growing stock. I will be pressing for an increased TAC in 2011 and will be following this up with a proposal for a long Term Management Plan to ensure the continued sustainable development of this fishery.”

In conclusion she said: “Today’s meeting was very productive and I and fellow Fisheries Ministers appreciated the feedback given by fishing industry stakeholders. This will help us develop our long list of priorities. These will be further refined in consultation with them as we engage in the range of negotiations with the Commission and others between now and the December Council.”