Quota increase will mean nothing without fairness - Ní Riada
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has welcomed an increase in quotas for Irish fishermen but said that they must be distributed more fairly.
Negotiations held in Brussels this week have seen quotas for Irish fishermen increased by 17,000 tonnes for 2017.
The Ireland South representative, who is the only Irish MEP on the European Fisheries Committee, warned that the increase in allowed catches would mean very little to most fishermen if the quotas were not distributed more evenly.
"I have been lobbying the Minister for an increase in Irish fishing quotas for some time now so this is obviously to be welcomed," she said.
"I am disappointed in the fall in cod numbers given its importance to the Irish fishing industry but acknowledge that these considerations must be balanced with stock sustainability.
"However, while the announcement of a higher quota may make a great headline it will mean very little to most fishermen and coastal communities if quotas are not distributed more fairly.
"Right now there are a handful of wealthier ports that receive a disproportionately large quota, often to the detriment of other coastal communities, so I will be arguing that this much needed increase goes to those areas that have been ignored in the past.
"I will also be arguing that more consideration be given to the many smaller vessels that operate out of these communities.
"The government has an opportunity here to really help struggling coastal communities, they must not waste it."