Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA today attended two North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Sectoral meetings on Aquaculture and Marine and Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Minister was accompanied by Junior Minister Robin Newton MLA at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) Headquarters – Agriculture House in Dublin.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith TD attended today’s Agriculture meeting. Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Eamon Ryan TD, and Minister of State, Conor Lenihan TD, represented the South at the Aquaculture meeting.
Discussing the Agriculture meeting the Minister said: “Minister Smith and I discussed a range of important issues of mutual interest to both our Administrations, including Sheep Electronic Identification and the progress we are each making on new legislation in the areas of animal health and welfare. I want our officials to work together to ensure that our new legislation is as compatible as possible, so that we can achieve a common and broadly similar approach, and build on the draft All Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.
“Our officials are working closely together to finalise the arrangements for a stakeholder event in early 2010, when we will have the opportunity to engage with stakeholders on the outworkings of the draft Strategy and how it is to be delivered.”
The Minister continued: “At today’s meeting we also highlighted the EU’s proposals for a new Animal Health law. I believe it is vital that our Departments work closely together on this in order to explore the opportunities that the proposals are likely to offer and the need for an all island approach.”
The Minister also attended the NSMC Sectoral meeting in Aquaculture and Marine format at Agriculture House. The Foyle and Carlingford Lights Commission (Loughs Agency) Annual Report, legislative progress and budgetary matters led the agenda at this meeting.
Speaking afterwards the Minister said: “For almost 10 years now, the Loughs Agency has performed an excellent service everyday to anglers and other marine interests in the Foyle and Carlingford Loughs. Together with their predecessor, the Foyle Fisheries Commission, both bodies have been a model example of all-Ireland co-operation. Considering their annual report today, Minister Ryan and I have been impressed by the Agency’s level of commitment to their stakeholders, and to the protection and development of these important natural resources. I am very enthusiastic about the organisation’s future.”
In conclusion, the Minister added: “Today has proved very fruitful and I look forward to our next NSMCs in agriculture and rural development and aquaculture and marine meeting in early 2010, which I will host in the north.”