Minister and Commissioner discuss N. I. fishing industry – Fishfarmer Magazine

Minister and Commissioner discuss N. I. fishing industry25 June, 2010 – Michelle Gildernew

NORTHERN Ireland’s Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew has met with EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Brussels, ahead of next week’s Fisheries Council which will be held in Luxembourg.

Speaking after the meeting the Minister said: “This was my first meeting with the Commissioner and I took the opportunity to brief her about our local fishing industry. The Commissioner has accepted my invitation to come to the north of Ireland to see our industry and meet local representatives on the ground.

“With poor prices on the quayside and rising costs our fleet is finding it difficult to make ends meet. It is ever more important therefore that our fishing opportunities are maintained to help the local industry through these difficult times. That of course depends on what the Commission propose after it receives scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) later this month.”

Focusing on priorities for the local fishing industry, the Minister said: “Nevertheless it is important to highlight the main issues for the local industry and put forward the social and economic arguments which will also be a consideration for the Commission. We discussed the importance of the nephrops stock to the industry, the effect of the Cod Recovery Plan and the small but significant herring fishery where there are clear signs that the stock is in a healthy state.”

The Minister also emphasised her concerns regarding the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. She said: “We also had a useful discussion about the ongoing work to reform the Common Fisheries Policy. Many Member States have called for greater delegation of powers from Brussels to new regional structures. The idea here is to have fisheries management decisions taken at regional level. The decision-makers in these structures would be people who have first hand knowledge of the environmental, social and economic consequences of fisheries management decisions.

“A less centralised approach would lead to simplification and prove much more inclusive with the fishing industry more involved in the decision making. This is fundamentally important for any reformed Common Fisheries Policy and I wanted to voice my support for such a move. I also made it clear that I do not support any move to a system which would allow fishing rights to be traded between Member States as I believe this would be harmful to the coastal communities which depend on the fisheries sector.”

The Minister concluded: “Today’s meeting has provided a welcome opportunity to establish a face to face working relationship between Commissioner Damanaki and myself. I look forward to working with her in the months ahead to ensure we get the best deal achievable in this year’s December council negotiations.”