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de Brún welcomes EU Commission's change of heart on eel fishery 15 day closure

16 May, 2006

Speaking after the debate in the European Parliament on the replenishment of the stocks of European eels, Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún welcomed EU Commissioner Borg's acceptance of European Parliament amendments that mean closure periods for eel fishing will no longer be set arbitrarily at the first fifteen days of every month.

Ms de Brún said:

"The Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative has taken great care over the years to manage the fishery in such a way as to conserve stocks and the arbitrary closure period from the first to the fifteenth day of every month would have been disastrous for the industry here. The European Parliament proposed a compromise amendment that shortening the fishing season in order to reduce fishing effort by half can be achieved while allowing the member states to choose the way of achieving this.

"I welcome the Commission's acceptance of this sensible proposal. Commissioner Borg has rightly recognised that this can give a result which would work in the direction of replenishing eel stocks in a way that would not give as much difficulty to the sector itself as the original proposal.

"I presented a report on the work of the Lough Neagh Fisherman's Co-operative to the Commissioner when he visited the North last year and I will continue to commend their work to both the European Commission and Parliament as a model of good practice which deserves to be supported at both national and at EU level. I will seek support for this from both the Department at home and from the European Fisheries Fund.

"During the European Parliament debate this evening I raised the problems caused by the large-scale export of glass eels. The glass eel is particularly vulnerable since large quantities of glass eels are exported to South East Asia and this has consequences for the industry as a whole. I have raised this point with the Commission in the past, and Commissioner Borg has now said he will take this into account and that Commissioner Peter Mandelson will look at possible measures once conservation measures are under way in Europe. I hope that Commissioner Mandelson will soon move on the vital international trade aspect of this important issue.

"I would like to pay tribute to my fellow MEPs and to Jan Maat MEP in particular for the work he has done in bringing forward sensible proposals for the replenishment of the stocks of European eels.

"I would also pay a particular tribute to the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative and to pledge them my ongoing support in what will continue to be difficult times ahead." ENDS

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