Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that this month’s December’s Fisheries Council in Brussels was the ‘toughest’ for some time.
Mr Nicholson said: “The EU’s December Fisheries Council is crucially important for our fisheries industry as this is where key decisions regarding fishing opportunities for the year ahead are made.
“By all accounts this year’s December Fisheries Council, which took place in Brussels this week, was one of the toughest for quite some time. The key priority for the industry locally was to find a workable solution on whiting, a ‘choke species’ for the Nephrops fishery, to ensure that our fleet can continue to fish for prawns next year.
“The eventual outcome of the Council negotiations on this was an increase in the proposed whiting quota with a further review planned in the New Year - so resolving this matter is on-going. The local industry will also continue to address the issue of whiting discards going forward. Northern Ireland’s fishermen have continually led the way when it comes to identifying and adopting measures to improve selectivity and reduce unwanted catches, this work and commitment must be recognised by policymakers.
“Looking ahead it is important that Northern Ireland’s fisheries industry is supported post-Brexit and beyond the CFP to help ensure it can make the most of future opportunities.”