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Killeen welcomes new package on EU Fisheries Control to deliver a level playing field, tackle illegal fishing and rebuild fish stocks

Mr Tony Killeen TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food agreed a comprehensive fisheries control and inspection framework at the Fisheries Council in Luxembourg early this morning.  Minister of State Killeen said "My priority at Council was to secure measures that will give our fishermen confidence that there is real intent and the necessary tools in place that will address illegal fishing in the waters around our coast.  These measures will help to deliver the level playing field on control that is necessary to rebuild fish stocks and protect the livelihood of our coastal communities which are fully dependent for their future on healthy fish stocks fished sustainable by all operators in our waters".

Discussions on the new measures will overhaul the existing regime for fisheries control continued late into the night.  The package of measures was finally agreed following intensive negotiations by Minister of State Killeen to ensure that Ireland's priorities and concerns were fully taken on board.  Killeen added "I welcome these new measures which I believe are not a threat to Irish fishermen who have already moved substantially to a   culture of compliance.  As fisheries are a common resource it is vital that all operators from all EU fleets respect the rules.  We must rebuild our fish stocks by implementing conservation measures and tackling illegal fishing by fleets in our waters which is the major cause of the decline in our fish stocks and quotas.  With this package, we have now a better opportunity to stop the cycle of decline and secure a sustainable profitable future for our industry".

The urgent need for a new control regime in European fisheries was clearly set down in a Court of Auditors report on data collection and control and enforcement under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).  The Court concluded that weaknesses in fisheries controls jeopardised the proper functioning of a fisheries management policy based on catch limitations.  The objective of the new control regime is to address in a comprehensive way the shortcomings identified and modernise the delivery.

The new Regulation introduces a new and common approach to control, from net to plate.  It will cover every stage in the process that sees fish caught, landed, brought to market and sold.  Harmonised standards for inspection activities and procedures will help deliver uniform implementation.  This new approach will make use of modern technologies and risk analysis.  It will introduce systematic and automated cross checking of data collected at the catch, landing and sale stages, to make it easier to spot attempts to break the rules.  These measures will be backed up by a comprehensive traceability system, so that all fish and fisheries products, whether imported or produced in the EU, can be tracked throughout the market chain.

Minister of State Killeen said "I am satisfied that here early this morning we have delivered a strong and effective new regime that will support the accurate recording of fish catches and detect and help prevent infringement of conservation rules.  For the first time the EU has moved closer to harmonised sanctions with the introduction of a 'penalty points system' to address persistent offenders against the rules.  Those offenders will have their fishing licence suspended and eventually permanently withdrawn.  I am satisfied that we have this morning agreed a package of measures that will promote a level playing field across the EU and will foster a culture of compliance".

Date Released: 20 October 2009