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de Brún - vigorous measures needed to tackle growing crisis in fisheries and farming

26 May, 2004

Speaking today at the launch of Sinn Féin's agriculture and fisheries mini manifesto, EU candidate Bairbre de Brún MLA has called for 'vigorous measures to tackle the growing crisis experienced by Ireland‚s fishing and farming communities'.

Ms de Brún said:

"Our rural and maritime communities are in crisis. Successive decisions by the EU Fisheries Council have decimated the local fishing industry. At present, half of all fish consumed in the EU comes from Irish waters and yet while Ireland can claim over 16% jurisdiction of EU fishing waters, local fishermen and women catch only 4% of the EU total.

"Sinn Féin has long called for fishermen to be given a statutory role in the management of stocks and conservation programmes. It is vital that those who are trying to make a living from fishing are given a role in determining the best means to protect stocking levels while ensuring that fishermen are able to earn a viable living. We welcome the recent EU decision as a first step in this regard.

"Farming incomes, north and south, are lower now than they have been in a decade. The Agriculture industry faces low profit margins and erratic market prices for agricultural produce. Added to the inequalities that arose from CAP this has left thousands of farming families on either low or subsistence incomes. There has also been an increasing isolation of ordinary farmers from the business of farming. Farming communities have systematically lost control of the industry which depends on the produce they generate.

"We must secure a future for our farming and maritime communities. Among the issues detailed in the manifesto we are launching today are:

  • Stronger all-Ireland participation in EU agricultural policy formulation, after full input from stakeholders
  • Establishment of a full range of complementary rural development programmes to aid farmers and rural communities in adapting to changes brought about by CAP
  • Reassessment of the application of the Nitrates Directive in the light of evidence that nitrate levels in Ireland are currently within the 50 mg limit for water supply and groundwater
  • The designation of the entire island of Ireland as a GM-free zone
  • The radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to include a complete renegotiation of the terms governing the Irish fisheries
  • The statutory representation of fishing organisations in the management of stocks
  • The lifting of EU restrictions on night landings, which are having a detrimental impact on livelihoods and the Irish processing industry
  • A programme to sustain coastal communities similar to the rural development aspect of the CAP‚ ENDS

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