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Gildernew meets Coughlan ahead of December Fisheries Council

10 December, 2007

Sinn Féin Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has met with Mary Coughlan TD, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries in Dublin to discuss their priorities for this year's December Fisheries Council.

Speaking afterwards, Minister Gildernew said:

"I welcomed the opportunity today to have a detailed discussion with Minister Coughlan on Fisheries Council issues which are of a common interest to both of us and on how we might support one another in Brussels. The December Fisheries Council is of vital importance to the fishing industries throughout the island, as it sets out the fishing opportunities available to the fleet for 2008.

"I have also been having detailed discussions with English Minister Jonathan Shaw and Scottish Minister Richard Lochhead, to ensure that the interests of the Co Down fishing industry are fully taken into account. Earlier this week I visited all the Co Down fishing ports, meeting with local industry representatives and fishermen to discuss their concerns ahead of the Fisheries Council so that I can fight the strongest case possible for the local fishing industry in Brussels.

"Clearly both our fishing fleets have a common interest in many of the Irish Sea fishing opportunities. We have discussed all the main fisheries in the Irish Sea, particularly the proposals on haddock in both the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea and agreed on the importance of these stocks and of the need to work on them at the Council.

"We also discussed the need to resist the 25% proposed cut on the Irish Sea cod quota so as to minimise the risk of discards. We agreed that it was important to continue with the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Project. This project has already provided an opportunity to gain valuable information which will assist scientists to undertake full assessments of Irish Sea stocks and provide opportunities for the fleet to gain extra days at sea. We welcome the fact that the Commission has included this project in its' initial proposals."

Ms Gildernew has been preparing for the Fisheries Council through a series of meetings with local fishing representatives, visiting the Co Down fishing ports, discussions with her Ministerial counterparts, comprehensive briefings with Agri-Food Biosciences Institute scientists, and direct meetings with Commissioner Borg. She has also had several discussions with the Assembly Agriculture Committee on the approach to this year's Council.

Today's meeting took place at DAFF Headquarters at Agriculture House in Dublin. Michelle Gildernew will be meeting Commissioner Borg again next week and will be stressing the need for the Commission to reconsider its' initial proposals on haddock, herring and days at sea.

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