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Ní Riada quizzes Commissioner designate for Environment and Fisheries

30 September, 2014 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEPS are engaging in a series of hearings this week for potential European Commissioners.

MEP Liadh Ní Riada today questioned Karmenu Vella, the Commissioner designate for the Environment and Fisheries on his prospective role.

 Ní Riada inquired of Vella what steps he would take to sort out shortfalls in scientific data collection.

 “The issue of the fisheries budget has always been a contentious one, and now times are particularly tough with shortages in the areas needed for scientific data collection, which affects the ability to set accurate quotas. This has a knock-on effect and seriously impacts on the already tough livelihoods of fishermen. If elected how will you ensure this matter is resolved, and that it will not be a continuing situation year in, year out.”

 Speaking after the hearing Ní Riada said she found Vella to be vague and evasive.

 “He lacked substance; it was a lot of empty words. I’m not too hopeful that the reforms he speaks of are going to happen.

“Scientific data collection controls how the quotas are divided up. Although he gave a vague answer about the importance of scientific data collection and why we need to have more regional cooperation, he really didn’t answer the question I asked. We need guarantees that the EU will pay for any scientific data collection carried out in Irish waters.  Why should fishermen have to pay for scientific data when it is the EU who is implementing the quotas?

 “I also raised concerns about the crossover between Environment and Fisheries which is such an important industry to Ireland. I believe you have to have an absolute portfolio dedicated to fisheries and fisheries alone if you are being serious about implementing reform in a real way that’s going to benefit fishermen.

 “We need a commissioner who is willing to hear what we have to say and implement real reforms that are going to improve the lives of our coastal fishermen. The fishermen in Ireland are on their knees. They have had to endure over-regulation, the drift net ban and stringent rules on quotas and discards. We have seen the complete criminalization and overregulation of the fishing industry in Ireland. And that has to be addressed as a serious issue.”

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