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Martin Ferris calls for strong line at fishing talks

16 December, 2003

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries, Martin Ferris TD has called on the Minister for the Marine Dermot Ahern to take a strong line in defence of Irish fishing interests at Wednesday's meeting of the Fisheries Council in Brussels. The EU is proposing severe cuts in quotas and allowable catches (TACs) along with further possible restrictions on fishing days. The proposals come only a short time after restrictions of 10 and 15 days were placed on Irish Sea fishermen and are a consequence of the Commission's rejection of Irish fishermen's own recovery plan.

Deputy Ferris said:

"The crisis facing Irish fishermen can hardly be underestimated. If the proposals mooted by the Commission are accepted, the situation will be further exacerbated. While I welcome the Minister's determination to oppose the proposals, I believe that he must take a far stronger line than he has done to date. Minister Ahern mentions the need to defend the Hague Preferences as a guarantee of extra quota, but he must surely recognise that the Preferences have not secured the Irish fisheries over the past three decades. They were never more than a compromise on the initial disastrous deal made in 1973 and until the very basis of that deal and of the Common Fisheries Policy is renegotiated, the future of Irish fishing is bleak. In the Dáil tomorrow I will be calling on the Government to make such a renegotiation a key issue in the Irish Presidency of the EU". ENDS

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