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Minister Opens Conference on Sustainable Fisheries

IRELAND - Irish Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tony Killeen, opened a major conference organised by Brd Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) this week.


Irish Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tony Killeen

The Minister also held a formal meeting with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) to discuss further the immediate issues facing the Irish fishing fleet and the next steps, which will take place at European level to address the immediate challenges for the Irish industry. The 'BIM/Fish Ireland 2008 Conference on Innovation and Sustainability in the Seafood Industry' involved national and international speakers who drew on their expertise and experience to give very informative talks on driving innovation and engineering sustainability in the Irish Seafood Industry. Minister Killeen said: "I believe that the current very difficult situation the industry is facing makes it even more critical to identify the key steps necessary to lift the industry out of its vulnerable position where it is dependent on inflexible commodity prices and thus unable to pass on its full costs.

"It is of the utmost importance that we take steps and work together to maximise the value and in particular the prices fishermen get at the quayside. The Cawley Strategy sets out the road-map and today's conference served to both review progress and identify opportunities in the market for both wild and farmed fish."

The Conference also focused on aquaculture development and Minister Killeen identified this sector as offering potential for significant growth. He said that he is committed to addressing the current challenges so that the full potential of aquaculture can be realised.

The Junior Agriculture Minister also set out the work he is doing with Commissioner Borg and his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to get agreement for an EU funded package of emergency measures for fishermen.

The Clare representative said: "I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the patience and very reasonable attitude of fishermen since our meeting in Athlone on 13 June I fully recognise that fishermen are impatient at delays in finding solutions to the current crises.

"I wish to assure fishermen and the FIF that Minister Smith and I understand fully their situation and will continue to work with the utmost urgency to secure an EU funded package of measures as early as possible.

"We will continue to press the Commission to deliver at the Fisheries Council on 15 July."

Minister Killeen stated he was pleased with the response of the EU Fisheries Commissioner Borg, who has undertaken to come back to the next Council meeting on 15 July with definitive proposals, ahead of which the Minister said he anticipated further progress could be made.

Apart from the lengthy discussion on the fuel issue, Minister Killeen said that he was particularly pleased with the progress made in a number of other areas of concern to Irish fishermen, which he had discussed on a number of occasions with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF), including at a meeting with representatives of the FIF during the Council this week.

He said that Tuesday's meeting was positive in the areas of restructuring the industry, action to combat illegal fishing and a possible increase in access for Irish fishermen to Cod stocks in the Celtic Sea - all of which are issues of particular concern to Irish fishermen and which the Minister has been pursuing with the Commission.

Ellen Hardy

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