MEP Diane Dodds has welcomed the result of the EU’s December Fisheries Council, whilst acknowledging further disappointment with a cut in the cod quota for the Irish Sea.
“This was an extremely important week in Brussels for Ulster’s fishermen, with important votes in the European Parliament as well as the annual quota negotiations,” she said.
“I was delighted to have hosted fishermen from Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom in the Parliament on Tuesday, when I was able to hear at first hand the issues our fishermen are facing.
“There is no doubt that Ulster’s fishermen have taken tremendous and often difficult steps during 2012 as they grapple with EU regulation, typified by the Long Term Cod Recovery Plan. The Commission’s own scientists have confirmed this plan is not working, so it is all the more frustrating to see that plan continue to be applied to the Irish Sea with it’s full rigour. We must redouble our efforts in 2013 to ensure that a proper audit of the cod stock in the Irish Sea is conducted.
“However, we should also recognise that the deal negotiated overnight has secured additional fishing quotas for Northern Ireland’s fishermen. Significant increases in the prawn quotas to the West of Scotland, which is particularly important for fishermen from Portavogie, as well as a very welcome increase for the prawn quota in the Irish Sea is a reward for the sacrifices our fishermen have made elsewhere. I realise there are issues in relation to the number of days fishermen can go to sea, but the decision to freeze days at sea at their 2012 level is something I have lobbied hard for and provides us with a good spring board to address the problems fishermen have faced in the Clyde this year. Indeed, these are issues that I discussed when I met the UK Minister Richard Benyon MP in London on Monday prior to him going to Brussels for these talks.
“Proposed cuts on other quota stocks were minimised and are in line with what our local fleet catches.”
She added: “I have been arguing for a long time that Ulster’s fishermen are leading by example when it come to sustainable fisheries, so I am heartened that the DARD team were able to secure a satisfactory outcome for our local fishermen, as well as the wider industry. No doubt there will be new challenges in 2013, but with the exception of cod at last there are some encouraging signs that common sense is beginning to creep into fisheries policy.”