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Ministers Smith and Killeen meet EU Fisheries Commissioner

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, and the Minister of State with Special Responsibilities for Fisheries, Tony Killeen TD, today met the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Mr Joe Borg, in Strasbourg to discuss the difficulties being experienced by fishermen across Europe, but particularly in Ireland.

While today's meeting was the first face to face meeting between the Ministers and the Commissioner, it followed a lengthy telephone conversation recently between Minister Smith and the Commissioner.

In the course of the meeting, the Ministers, as they had undertaken to do during a meeting with the Federation of Irish Fishermen on Friday last, impressed upon the Commissioner the serious difficulties and the depth of feeling of Irish fishermen and also the urgent need to bring forward an EU-funded package of measures to alleviate the concerns of Irish fishermen.

Minister Smith also indicated to the Commissioner his intention to press, at next weeks Fisheries Council, for the adoption of new EU Regulations to prevent the import of illegal, unregulated and unreported fish into the EU market which are undermining the markets for legally caught fish, as well as the early adoption of new conservation measures to reduce discards and juvenile fish protection measures in the waters around Ireland.

Minister Killeen emphasised to Commissioner Borg the priority that would have to be attached to the Irish fishing fleet in any EU package and also raised the issue of the requested adjustment of the Celtic Sea Cod TAC.

At the meeting, the Ministers discussed the proposals outlined by the Commissioner which were published last evening. Ministers, while welcoming the proposals highlighted the absence of a provision for additional EU funding to underwrite the proposals. Commissioner Borg indicated that he was still undertaking an exercise within the DG Mare to explore all possibilities for the identification of some additional funding for the package.

Following the meeting, the Ministers expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to once again press the case for EU assistance for Irish fishermen. Minister Smith said that Commissioner Borg was now fully acquainted with the issues of concern to Irish fishermen. Mr Killeen said that as many of the issues were also of concern to fishermen in other Member States, the Ministers would continue to press, with their colleagues at next week's Council of Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg, for a package of measures and additional EU-funding which would be required to address the difficulties being experienced by fishermen across the EU and particularly in Ireland. Following a full discussion on the range of issues affecting the industry at next weeks Council, Commissioner Borg will propose a definitive set of proposals for presentation to the Fisheries Council of 15 July.

Date Released: 18 June 2008