The future Common Fisheries Policy must allow for a regional approach to regional issues
This morning Ireland's three MEPs for the North West constituency - Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fáil), Marian Harkin (Independent) and Jim Higgins (Fine Gael) -joined Seán O'Donoghue of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO) in calling for a decentralised approach to the implementation of a new EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). They were attending a packed seminar in Sligo, during which those attending gave their views on a potential strategy for Ireland in the context of the review of the EU's CFP. The MEPs listened to presentations from representatives of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Marine Institute, the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation and Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation and acknowledged the frustration among those attending. They pointed to the new role for the European Parliament in decision-making on the new CFP as a result of the Lisbon Treaty and assured those attending that they would work together on this when the CFP comes before the Parliament for discussion and voting.
During the seminar, Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher referred to scientific research in this area. He emphasised that new data available must reflect the reality of the situation on the ground. Mr Gallagher referred to an amendment he has sought to EU legislation, as quotas of boarfish approved during the December Council negotiations would be lost if legislation on net sizes were to come into force this year as planned.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin asked for clear statements from representative organisations on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy. She asked that when the amendments to the CFP have been published, that organisations provide the MEPs with clear arguments for and against them in order to help them to take an informed decision.
During his speech, Seán O'Donoghue of KFO informed those attending that 70% of the fish consumed within the EU is imported from non-EU countries. He emphasised the need for an overhaul of marketing regulations and targeted funding in that area to reduce this trend. He pointed to the fact that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was a reality that had to be accepted but that it had to be reformed to include clear objectives, simple and effective rules and a decentralised approach to its implementation.
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins referred to the statistics quoted by Mr O'Donoghue about the consumption of non-EU fish as a 'scandal' and called on the fishermen to ensure that they have a strong lobbying presence in Brussels.
From the floor, Independent Donegal County Councillor, Thomas Pringle, mentioned the importance of fighting for fishing communities as well as for the fishing industry.
At the close of the seminar, Francis Jacobs, Head of the European Parliament Office in Ireland committed to ensuring that the views expressed at the seminar would be brought to the attention of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee.
Following an EU-wide consultation on its original Green Paper (2009), the European Commission is due to bring forward its proposals on the future shape of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. The Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO) and the European Parliament Office in Ireland organised this seminar to look ahead at the strategy Ireland should adopt in the forthcoming decision-making process.
Speakers at the seminar included Michael Keatinge of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Paul Connolly of the Marine Institute, Lorcán Ó Cinnéide of the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation and Martin Howley and Seán O'Donoghue of KFO. The sessions were chaired by Mr O'Donoghue and by Mr Jacobs.
For further information, please contact Eimear Ní Bhroin, Press Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 086 8559423 or Seán O'Donoghue, Chief Executive, Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation on 074 9731089.