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Minister tells EU he’s “very concerned”…



Doubtless the EU Fisheries Commission is quaking in its boots tonight after Minister McConalogue ‘voiced his concerns’ at an EU Fisheries Council meeting today…


While the minister rightly expressed that there is some urgency in the pelagic issue and called for action in this matter, he seems to tie in the whitefish burden sharing and severe loss of quota for Irish vessels in Irish waters along with the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).


I don’t mean to sound depressing, or indeed ungrateful to the Minister for his efforts, but does he realise that review of the CFP is more than a year away? - a year during which many demersal vessels and whitefish & pelagic processors will go out of business due to Ireland currently only having 15% of the fish in its own waters.


Saying that he will make the unfair share of quota, both demersal and pelagic, a priority at the review of the CFP in 2022 is only kicking the can (and the problem) down the road and to a time by which other EU nations will have an even stronger track record history of increased quotas in Irish waters and will surely fight tooth and nail to keep them.


As I said in a previous IFSA article some months ago, our minister telling the EU Commission that he’s very concerned is taken about as seriously by Europe as Father Ted standing outside a cinema with a placard saying “down with this sort of thing”.


We don’t need to hear that our Minister is ‘concerned’ - we’ve all been concerned for years —- we need a Minister to take some ACTION towards the EU by warning them and threatening them with strong steps (and my first suggestion to make them sit up and take Ireland seriously would be for Ireland to block ALL foreign flagged vessels from landing in ALL Irish ports !


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Minister’s statement as follows:


At Fisheries Council today Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD raised the issue of very large unilateral mackerel quota increases by Norway and Faroes in recent weeks and the ongoing impact of Brexit on the Irish fishing industry. The Minister called for action by the European Commission.

On mackerel the Minister said, “As the EU’s largest mackerel shareholder, I am extremely concerned at the highly regrettable decision by Norway, Iceland and the Faroes to set inflated and unjustified unilateral mackerel quotas.” Norway increased its share of the stock by 55% on a unilateral basis for 2021. This was then mirrored by Faeroes and Iceland continued to set an unacceptable high share of the stock. I made clear to fellow Ministers and the Commissioner that “if those parties are unwilling to reverse their unilateral actions, then the EU must take strong action using all possible measures, including trade sanctions, to protect the sustainability of the mackerel stock and to protect the EU share of that stock.”

On Brexit impacts, Minister McConalogue said, “I made clear at Council that the disproportionate burden placed on Ireland in terms of quota loss, under the Brexit TCA, must be addressed and I will be relentless in pursuing this issue on behalf of the Irish fishing industry at every opportunity. I set down that in the upcoming Common Fisheries Policy review, I will be making the renegotiation of quota shares Ireland’s priority”

Finally, the Minister welcomed the agreement among Member States on the revision and strengthening of the existing fisheries control rules.

Fisheries Ministers were meeting to finalise the common position of Member States in advance of negotiations with the European Parliament.

Minister McConalogue said, “Today’s agreement takes on board a number of my key concerns. This includes the derogation allowing for weighing of catch away from the quayside under certain conditions, including the application of a rigorous control plan. I appreciate that the Commission has revoked Ireland’s current control plan and Ireland’s control authorities, the SFPA, is preparing a new revised control plan for submission to the Commission. It will be essential that the new Control Regulation will provide for the continuation of weighing of landings in factories as a derogation from the overall policy of weighing on the quay side when the required assurances are in place. This derogation is necessary to reflect the unique geography of our fish processing industry where most of our processing plants are not on the quayside.”


# Michael Collins Independent TD # Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD # Brendan Byrne

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