Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson addressed a well-attended meeting of the Fishing community in Newcastle, Co Down on Wednesday morning at which she listened intently to their concerns and proposals for the protection of the industry.
Commenting on the outcome of the engagement, Ms Anderson said:
“Obviously my personal knowledge of commercial fishing and the needs of the industry and community are limited, therefore in was most enlightening and informative to participate in this engagement which for me was a listening and learning exercise.
“But that does not mean that I am unaware of the ramifications for the industry of the raft of legislation and regulation, affecting the industry emanating from Europe. And I can assure you that I don’t have to be an expert to recognise what is good for the industry and what could have a negative impact on it.
“Next week on Oct 23rd MEPs will be voting in Strasbourg on the Cadec report, the core issue of which is undoubtedly the on-going reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and I have been lobbied from a number of sources.
“Some of the arguments made to me state that the fishing industry could yield additional revenue of €3.2 billion each year and create substantial job opportunities across Europe if we restore fish stocks to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by setting appropriate catch quotas. The newly approved Common Fisheries Policy aims to restore fish stocks and make European fisheries sustainable and profitable again.
“The recent briefing "Unknown Waters" by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) makes a case based on claims that more than half our EU fish stocks have never been properly assessed - making it impossible to set appropriate catch quotas. It is estimated that 30-40% of the fish landed comes from illegal, unreported or unregulated sources.
“But it is being argued that this can only be addressed by assembling adequate data on fish stocks and the proper enforcement of laws that prevent overfishing. Those who make this case say that it’s vital the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund provide sufficient funding towards this data collection, control and law enforcement. Current funding for data collection, control and enforcement is currently only 1.5% of the value of landings.
“Tripling this amount to €302 million annually would be a small investment given the additional gains in jobs and food supplies that would accrue. Research shows that for every €1 invested in data collection, control and enforcement, there is a potential return of €10.
“After discussing these and other aspects of the Common Fishery Policy with those in attendance I am now better informed on what our fishing community would like to see delivered by this process of reform. I will do my utmost, to lobby support in Europe for Fisheries Minister, Michelle O’Neill’s representations on behalf of our fishing fleet.”