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Minister of State Killeen presents EU Commission with proposal for innovative new measures to address discarding of fish by Irish fishermen

Minister for Fisheries Tony Killeen T.D. today presented an innovative proposal to the European Commission for a pilot project to address the discarding of catches by Irish fishermen in the prawn fisheries around Ireland. The Minister is attending the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels.

This pilot project, which is proposed to run for one year, is being developed by the Department and its agencies - the Marine Institute and BIM, in conjunction with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF). It will target unavoidable by-catches, in particular in the prawn fishery, where large scale discarding of marketable fish such as cod, which are caught over quota, is a particular problem. These fisheries occur in the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and off the west coast. The overall object will be to use more environmentally-friendly fishing gear to avoid catches of small fish in these fisheries and to reduce the occurrence of discarding of marketable fish that cannot currently be landed under EU law if quotas are exhausted.

The Minister's proposals, which he presented to Commissioner Borg, would mean that fishermen would be given an incentive to participate in the pilot phase. Vessels targeting prawns would have to be allocated an additional "discard quota" by the EU, which would allow the landing of marketable fish that would otherwise be discarded. Fishermen would be allocated a share of the sale price of the fish to cover vessel-running costs. The remainder would be allocated to a charity.

The proposed project would be operated in conjunction with the Producer Organisations that make up the FIF. The Minister asked Commissioner Borg to give urgent consideration to this new proposal and to bring forward EU measures which would allow the new pilot project to be implemented as soon as possible.

Also at the Council of Ministers meeting today, an amendment to the TAC and Quota Regulation for 2008 is due to be approved that results in an increase of 44 tonnes in Ireland's allocation of cod in the Celtic Sea. This increase came after sustained pressure by Ireland, after indications of improvement in the stock came from fisheries scientists earlier this year.

The additional quota will mean that this small quota can be set aside for unavoidable catches of cod by Irish fishermen in the Celtic Sea. This will help to reduce discarding of marketable cod in this fishery.

Date Released: 15 July 2008