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European Commission must address crisis in Irish fisheries - Bairbre de Brún

11 November, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún travelled to the fishing village of Kilkeel today where she met with European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, and representatives of the local fishing industry. Speaking after her visit Ms de Brún said that the European Commission must take the crisis in the fishing industry here into account when it comes to the December Fisheries Council in Brussels.

Ms de Brún was accompanied on the visit by Catríona Ruane MLA. The visit by Commissioner Borg hosted by Fisheries Minister Jeff Rooker and the Commissioner was welcomed to Kilkeel by the Mayor of Newry and Mourne Council, Pat McGinn.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"It is clear that the Irish fisheries sector is in a great a crisis now as at any time in its history. Successive decisions by the EU Fisheries Council have had decimated the local fishing industry. The fishing industry here has been particularly badly affected by the Hague Preference and its effect on quotas here. We have gone from a fleet of over 40 boats targeting whitefish to 14 today with fears of further reductions.

"I support the clear message delivered to Commissioner Borg today that the Commission must take the crisis in the fishing industry into account when it comes to the December Fisheries Council in Brussels. In particular, I would ask the Commission to bear the fuel crisis in mind.

"It is important that the European Commission is made fully aware of the negative impact that the European Fisheries policy has had on Irish fishermen and women. I believe that today's visit to Kilkeel by Commissioner Borg cannot have failed to leave an impression of an industry that can have a future, but only with the right approach.

"I also drew two further matters to the attention of Commissioner Borg. I gave the Commissioner a document outlining the case for the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative Society, the steps they have taken to contribute to eel conservation and to protect the fishing on Lough Neagh, and the importance of the Fishery in social and economic terms to the local industry.

"I also drew to the Commissioner's attention proposed new legislation being introduced by the Irish government and the concerns which have been raised with me in relation to this matter. There is much concern about the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005, and I have undertaken to follow up on this matter at both national and EU level." Ends

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