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Gildernew visits International Fish Stocks workshop

28 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has visited a fish stocks workshop at the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) workshop brought together scientists from Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, Greece and Spain to discuss survey techniques for the assessment of the stock of Nephrops (Dublin Bay prawns) in the Irish Sea and other waters.

During her visit to the workshop, the Minister said:

"It is great to see an important international workshop on fish stocks being held locally by AFBI. This event recognises the important role that ICES and the ICES scientists have in providing high quality scientific advice on status of fish and shellfish stocks. I am clear that sound scientific based cases are needed to underpin measures to achieve the maximum benefits to our fishing industry, while maintaining long term viability of stocks and the ecosystems upon which they depend".

Highlighting the contribution of Nephrops to our local fishing industry, the Minister added:

"It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of Nephrops to local coastal fishing communities. I know this is also the case for many other communities in other regions and countries. The work you are doing this week in Belfast is therefore very important".

Concluding her visit, the Minister said:

"Scientists from across these islands are working closely together and I am very supportive of scientific co-operation. It is the best way to deliver advances in stock assessment research techniques to underpin sustainable management of fishery resources. My Department fully supports AFBI and ICES in this endeavour." ENDS


  1. AFBI is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) created on 1 April 2006.
  2. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) was established by international Convention and provides scientific advice on fish stock status and environmental and marine ecosystem issues to member countries and to client commissions, including the European Commission. Annual advice on status of stocks falling within the EU Common Fisheries Policy is central to the December Council fisheries negotiations on Total Allowable Catches (TACS) and quotas between EU member states and the European Commission.
  3. Nephrops is a crustacean that lives in burrows on muddy seabeds in the Irish Sea and other European waters and is fished for the tail portion, which is used in production of "Scampi". Larger Nephrops are landed whole, as langoustine.
  4. Nephrops is particularly important to the local fishing industry, with some £10million first sale value of landings each year, supporting almost 120 fishing vessels and a large processing sector.
  5. Accurate stock assessments are central to providing advice to underpin sustainable management of the Nephrops fisheries. This week in Belfast, AFBI is hosting an ICES workshop on refining and standardising innovative new techniques for the assessment of the abundance of Nephrops.

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