Only key clauses of the Fisheries Bill will be considered by the Agriculture Committee at Stormont due to time constraints, it has been revealed.
In a joint statement by the Farming Minister Michelle O’Neill and the Chairperson of the Assembly Committee, William Irwin, they said that given the urgency of one key aspect of the Fisheries Bill that was introduced in the Assembly on 7 December 2015, and the very short time frame for the Assembly to consider the Bill in detail before the end of the current mandate, they have agreed that the Committee will only undertake scrutiny of certain key clauses, and in doing so ensure that the EU removes a threat of sanction for non compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy.
Minister O’Neill added: “The Bill that was introduced in the Assembly would have allowed both DARD and DCAL to fully meet EU and other statutory obligations and commitments. Furthermore, while existing legislation provides a framework for the management of our fisheries, both in terms of inland fishing and at sea, the package of new measures contained in the Bill, if enacted, would have ensured that legislation would remain fit for purpose and would have ensured that we continue to protect fish stocks and sensitive aquatic environments. Any risk to fisheries or aquatic environments as a result of inadequate powers or insufficient deterrents has a correspondent risk to livelihoods or, as the case may be, to the potential enjoyment of anglers. The Bill as introduced would therefore have helped protect legitimate fishing activities.
“However, given that this Bill was only introduced in the Assembly late last year, I recognise that there is limited time for the Assembly to fully consider all the clauses in adequate detail. I recognise the time constraints and while I am disappointed that many of the good things in the Bill will not now make it into law, I have agreed with the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee to include in the final legislation only those clauses that the Committee signals that it is content that it has had time to fully consider.”