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Reduction of quotas spells catastrophe for Irish fishermen – Ní Riada

5 December, 2014 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Speaking in Dunmore East, Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada warned that any further reduction of Ireland's cod, haddock and whiting quotas would have a catastrophic effect on Irish fishermen and coastal communities. The MEP for Ireland's South constituency and Ireland's sole representative on the EU Fisheries Committee was in the County Waterford fishing village for a series of meetings with fishermen and development groups. She called on Minister Simon Coveney to defend against any further quota reductions in next week’s meeting of European fisheries ministers in Brussels.

Liadh Ní Riada said:

“Irish fishermen and fishing communities have been badly served by Europe and by Irish governments for decades. In this latest round Minister Coveney must 'pull on the green jersey' as his colleagues are so fond of saying. He must fight against the proposed reductions to Ireland's cod, haddock and whiting quotas.”

“Both cod and haddock stocks are showing signs of growth and already Irish fishermen have taken the initiative to manage and conserve fish stocks in Irish waters. Since 2012 fishermen have been using 100mm square mesh panels in their nets to reduce the number of small haddock that are caught and discarded.”

“On Wednesday, I voted for an amended report in the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee, which seeks to reduce the regulatory burden on fishermen, recognising that that responsibility for much of the discards problem rests with regulations that are not efficient or effective. The report will pave the way for negotiations with the Council and the Commission and I will work hard to ensure a positive outcome for Irish fishermen.”

“No fisherman wants to catch young fish or discard part of their catch, but the Commission's proposals are contradictory at best. Their plan to ban whitefish discards on a phased basis from January 2015 ignores the fact that the majority of Irish discards are 'regulatory', that is dead fish are dumped at sea because fisherman do not have the quota to land them, as opposed to being due to size. Reducing quotas will exacerbate this problem, not solve it, and Minister Coveney needs to point out this contradiction.”

“The Irish fishing industry organisations, together with their European counterparts have proposed an increase in the size of square mesh panel in use by boats fishing west of Ballycotton, to further reduce discards of small Haddock. Those that depend on fishing as a livelihood understand the importance of conservation and sustainability. What Minister Coveney needs to understand is that in order to protect jobs, coastal communities and our fishery, he needs to deliver on quotas.”

“If Simon Coveney does not deliver we are facing huge job losses across the sector, as boats will not be able to fish, and auxiliary industries will close. Fishermen are frustrated listening to Government talk of jobs and recovery, while they see inaction and complacency.”

“Standing up for Ireland's rural, coastal and peripheral communities is a key priority for me, and I committed to campaigning for fairness for Irish fishermen. I will be watching Minister Coveney's actions in Brussels very closely.” 

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