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Coveney makes progress on Quota Negotiations at EU Fisheries Council

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed the commitment by the EU Fisheries' Commissioner to rethink her previously stated policy of applying automatic and arbitrary cuts of 25 per cent to a swathe of fish stocks, in the absence of full scientific information.

The Minister was speaking at today's EU Fisheries' Council in Luxembourg, at which EU Ministers commenced negotiations on 2012 Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for 2012 and fish quotas.   The EU Commission proposals for TACs and quotas for 2012, published last month, involve automatic and arbitrary 25 per cent cuts for stocks which did not have complete data and full scientific advice available on them.

Minister Coveney said "I made the case at the Fisheries' Council today that I could not accept a policy that applied automatic and arbitrary 25 per cent  and 15 per cent quota cuts to stocks where full scientific information is not available.  I asked that the situation of stocks be examined on a case-by-case basis using best available data and scientific advice and, on that basis, to set a responsible and sustainable TAC.  I made it clear that I am fully prepared to consider proposals for reductions where they are justified based on up-to-date scientific advice or trend data."  There was significant agreement across Member States that an automatic arbitrary cut was not acceptable.  On the basis of the opposition of Ministers, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, accepted that the Commission needed to rethink its approach.

Minister Coveney said "I welcome Commisssioner Damanaki's positive response to the serious concerns expressed by the Council on her approach.  She made it clear that she would, as I had requested, take a stock-by-stock approach.  She has, however, stated that she intends to implement, as a matter of principle, a level of cut to all stocks without full scientific advice, regardless of the indications of available data and advice.  I remain opposed to a policy of arbitrary quota cuts but recognise that Commissioner Damanaki is seeking to work to address the concerns of Ministers.  This is not cause for complacency as there will be significant pressure for quota reductions on the stocks of importance to Ireland despite the rethink on arbitrary 25% cuts. The negotiations will continue over the coming weeks and I will continue to work closely with stakeholders with a view to achieving viable quotas for 2012 that also delivers sustainable stocks into the future."

Date Released: 21 October 2011