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Killeen takes firm stance at EU Fisheries Council to protect the important mackerel quota for Irish fishermen

Tony Killeen T.D., Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, attended the EU Fisheries Council and set down a strong marker to make clear that the important mackerel fishery is protected and that Ireland's share of the fishery is maintained.

Each year EU and Norway negotiate access to fish stocks in each other's waters and changing stock patters mean there is increasing pressure for Norway's access to mackerel to be increased. There is growing concern that the EU will agree to increase Norway's share of the stock, which would reduce Ireland's quota for 2010 and future years. The mackerel fishery is very important to Ireland and in 2009 we had a quota of 62,000 tonnes worth an estimated €65 million at the quayside.  Norway has demanded an increased share of the overall EU TAC, which Ireland is totally opposing and is also seeking to be allowed to fish that quota in EU waters.

Minister Killeen said "I made clear to fellow Ministers and to Commissioner Borg the importance of the mackerel fishery for Ireland and that we needed to work together to prevent any reduction in the EU's share of the mackerel quota. I am prepared to discuss mutually acceptable arrangements that would increase the access for Norwegian vessels in return for a long term agreement on the share out between EU and Norway that protected the interests of Irish fishermen."   

The Fisheries Council also discussed new conservation measures on mesh sizes and closed areas. These measures are important to deliver on our overall objective of conserving fish stocks and promoting sustainable fishing practices. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed to continue the existing measures for a further 18 months to allow for more detailed discussions with fishermen. Minister Killeen said "I consider that we need to strengthen the current conservation rules but I want to ensure that the new measures which are very technical and complex allow for economic fisheries that protect the livelihood of fishermen. I was disappointed that the Council's failure to reach agreement has resulted in the continuation of measures applied last December for the waters off Donegal. While I secured some limited changes, Council was not prepared to make substantive changes to the existing arrangements for Ireland and the UK in this interim period".

20 November 2009

Date Released: 22 November 2009