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Meeting of Minds Over Irish Fisheries

Economics Politics +2 more

EU - The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD travels to Brussels on Friday 5th December for a bilateral meeting with EU Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, to discuss a number of issues of key importance to Ireland in advance of the upcoming December Fisheries Council.

The December Fisheries Council sets the level of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and Quotas for 2009 in addition to putting legal effect to fishery conservation and management measures, and third party agreements.

Minister Smith said “Over the last few weeks Minister Killeen and I have consulted closely with the Federation of Irish Fishermen with a view to bringing forward a clear Irish position on the wide range of subjects tabled for decision at the December Council.”

The Minister went on to say “Having taken on board the views of the fishing industry I sought this meeting with Commissioner Borg to inform him in no uncertain terms as to Irelands stance on the various proposals being brought forward”.

The main issues for Ireland include the maintenance of the Hague preferences, opposing the proposal for the restrictions on fishing in ICES area VI and mitigating against the levels of proposed reductions in TACs across a wide range of fish stocks.

The Minister said that “the satisfactory application of the Hague Preferences is of paramount political importance to Ireland, it is a fundamental element of the system of relative stability.”

He added that “it is hard to justify from a scientific perspective, the proposal to reduce the Nephrops TAC by 15% and we will be strongly opposing it and seeking the support of other Member States in this. We have also submitted a joint paper with the UK authorities which outlines alternatives to the proposed closures in area VI which has been the subject of much debate of late”.

On the a general theme the Minister said “We have been very active on the wide range of proposals as they affect Ireland, and where necessary, have elicited the support of the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara in preparing and submitting what we feel are better alternatives. I intend to emphasise with Commissioner Borg the need for a practical, fair and pragmatic approach to these issues”.

The Minister acknowledged that we were facing into a period of difficult and intense negotiations and felt that Commissioner Borg needed to be alerted to Ireland's position in advance.

He also stated his intention to discuss areas of common interest with his U.K counterpart, Huw Irranca-Davies MP, Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, and to work closely with him into the future.