EU negotiations will be tough, warns minister

Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill met with representatives from the fishing industry to discuss priorities for the forthcoming December Council meeting in Brussels. Pictured from left-right are; Sam Mawhinney (Denholms Fishselling) , Sam Warnock (NIFPO), Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA, John Cassidy (ANIFPO), Davy Hill (ANIFPO), John Rooney (Rooney Fish), Dick James (NIFPO).
Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill met with representatives from the fishing industry to discuss priorities for the forthcoming December Council meeting in Brussels. Pictured from left-right are; Sam Mawhinney (Denholms Fishselling) , Sam Warnock (NIFPO), Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA, John Cassidy (ANIFPO), Davy Hill (ANIFPO), John Rooney (Rooney Fish), Dick James (NIFPO).

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has warned that negotiations at next week’s Fisheries Council in Brussels will be difficult and challenging.

The December Fisheries Council, which takes place on 15-16 December 2014, will agree the fishing opportunities available for the EU fishing fleets for 2015.

The minister said: “As the deadline for achieving the targets set down in the new Common Fisheries Reform approaches, the pressure is on to get as many quotas as possible in line with achieving maximum sustainable yield.

“I met with industry representatives on Monday (8 December) and we had a very useful and open discussion about what our main priorities should be next week.

“Prawns are our most important stock and the Commission has proposed a cut of 14%. This size of cut does not reflect actual landings which remain at or below the scientific advice and I will be working hard to resist the proposal within the limits of sustainability.

“A number of other stocks face cuts, not because they are in a poor state, but simply because of data gaps. Where there is good trend-based scientific evidence that these stocks are healthy and sustainably exploited, I will be pushing for no change in these quotas. This applies to Irish Sea haddock.”

The minister added: “The Commission is determined to make progress on CFP targets this year, and therefore I expect a tough battle next week.”