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Clarke welcomes Ministers meeting with representatives of North’s fishing industry

24 September, 2008

South Down Assembly Member Willie Clarke has welcomed the recent meeting between Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA, and representatives of the fishing industry to focus on priorities ahead of the 2008 December Fisheries Council.

Cllr Clarke said:

"It is going to be a very tough Fisheries Council this year, with cuts likely to be proposed for key Irish Sea fish stocks, as well as new proposals for cod recovery, discard reduction and technical conservation measures.

"The key priority outlined by the Minister is to maintain fishing opportunities for the prawn fleet and the introduction of a flexible and sustainable system for allocating days at sea in 2009. Ms Gildernew is also pressing for a sensible allocation of haddock quota and a lifting of the herring closure on the Douglas Bank, particularly given that it is now well recognised as having served its purpose. The commission's proposals for discard reduction and technical conservation are too broad and not practical for the North's fishing fleet. What is needed is a more flexible and tailored solution.

"With so many issues on the table this year that have a potential impact on fishing communities here in south Down, it will be impossible to get everything we want. We must therefore focus on our main objectives and what is achievable. This week's meeting has focused minds on the realities of the December Council and the challenges that we all must face to achieve the best outcome possible for the local fleet." ENDS

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