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Minister Coughlan meets EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today met with Mr. Joe Borg, EU Commissioner responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.

During the meeting Minister Coughlan outlined her vision for the sector in Ireland. She emphasised the potential for the sector to develop in a commercial but sustainable way based on research, innovation and the Government's integrated Development Plan for the Seafood Sector 2007-2013. Commissioner Borg said that he was familiar with the Government's plan and was very supportive of it.

The Minister asked Commissioner Borg to fast-track Commission state-aid approval for Ireland's planned buy-out scheme to achieve a balance between Ireland's fishing fleet and fish resources. The Government has set aside ?15 million in 2007 for this voluntary scheme.

Minister Coughlan said "I am committed to the introduction without delay of a buy-out scheme for fishing vessels. We need to offer some fishermen the opportunity to leave fishing and give them appropriate compensation. I am anxious to launch this scheme in the near future and need the European Commission to give its approval".

Minister Coughlan also asked the Commissioner to deliver the new rules for the Electronic Reporting system for fish catches without further delay. She asked for robust new rules that give real time access to Coastal States such as Ireland to the logbook data of all fishing vessels operating in its waters. The principles were agreed last November by Council where Ireland took a lead role. The commencement of the new electronic system is dependent on the introduction of new rules currently under consideration.

Minister Coughlan commented "The new electronic logbook offers real opportunities for our Navy to monitor and control fishing activity in our waters. I pressed Commissioner Borg to have these rules introduced without further delay and to ensure that they deliver real time access to data so that our industry can be confident that there is equality of treatment at EU level".

Concluding Minister Coughlan said that her first meeting with Commissioner Borg had been very positive covering a range of areas which are central to her policies for this very important sector for the years ahead.

27 September, 2007

Date Released: 27 September 2007