Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill has met with fishing industry representatives at Parliament Buildings, Stormont to discuss priorities ahead of the December Fisheries Council negotiations on fishing opportunities for 2014.
The December Fisheries Council is one of the most significant events of the year for the local fishing industry as it determines the amount of fish the fleet can catch in the year ahead.
Minister O’Neill said: “It was very useful to meet with industry representatives to exchange views on the European Commission’s proposals for fish quotas and agree what priorities we should focus on in the lead up to the December Council.
“As usual the proposals are a mixed bag. There is a welcome proposal for an increase in the Irish Sea herring quota but for our most important stock, prawns, the proposal has been held back pending up-to date scientific advice. However, I expect the initial quota proposal to be lower than this year’s, but prawns will certainly be our number one priority.
“During the meeting I highlighted that any increases in quota will have to be backed up with sound scientific evidence to assure the Commission that the stock will be fished sustainably in line with their requirements.”
The Minister added: “On fishing effort, the Commission has once again proposed a cut which potentially reduces the number of days at sea available for fishing. I expect that the Council will oppose effort cuts as it did last year and I will fully support that position. A halt in effort cuts is a feature of proposals for a revised Cod Recovery Plan, but a revised Plan has yet to be adopted by Europe.”
The meeting also provided an opportunity to touch on other challenges facing the fishing industry. Minister O’Neill said:“We also had a useful exchange of views with the industry about what we need to do together to make sure that industry is profitable and sustainable in the long term. We all want a more confident industry that is prepared and able to invest in its future.”