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Coveney Welcomes Commissioner Damanaki's two day visit to Ireland

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine welcomed the two day visit to Ireland of Maria Damanaki,  the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The Minister will meet the Commissioner in Dublin on Thursday 22nd September to discuss the Commissioner's proposals for the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Minister, Commissioner Damanaki, and Commissioner Geoghegan Quinn will then visit the Marine Institute in Galway on Friday to discuss Marine Research and Integrated Maritime Policy.

Minister Coveney said that he was delighted that Commissioner Damanaki was visiting Ireland, which is the result of a long standing invitation which the Minister made to the Commissioner at their first bilateral meeting. The Minister said that "this two day visit offers a great opportunity for the development of improved mutual understanding between the Commission and Ireland on key Fisheries and Maritime Affairs issues". The Minister added that the Commissioners visit "is coming at a key time in the negotiations on the reform of the CFP, and gives myself and stakeholders a unique opportunity to explain Ireland's position on many of the key elements in the Commission's CFP Proposals which we can broadly agree on and also explain further our position on some of the proposals contained in the reform proposals which are a cause of significant concern in Ireland".

Minister Coveney continued that "the Seafood sector is very important to Ireland and provides vital jobs and opportunities for wealth creation around the Coast in Coastal Communities and peripheral areas. In overall terms the Seafood sector contributed over €700m to the Irish economy in 2010 and I am delighted to report that seafood exports, valued at €379m in 2010 were up 15% on 2009".

The Minister said he would have broadly similar views to the Commissioner on such key issues as enhanced conservation, rebuilding fish stocks, reducing discarding of fish, introducing more selective fishing gears to allow small fish and unwanted by catches to escape and the use of multi annual plans as a primary tool to rebuild and manage  fish stocks. The Minister said subject to further negotiation on important details in respect of those issues he would expect that by the conclusion of the negotiations he would hope to be in a position to support these important elements of the Reform proposals.

The Minister said that over the course of his meeting with Commissioner Damanaki he would be outlining his broad support on these issues but would also be outlining the difficulties and concerns he has on the implications of the Commissions intention to impose the mandatory introduction of individually transferable concessions (quotas).  Under this system, fish quotas would be allocated as tradeable commodities to private individuals and companies for at least 15 years and those individuals would be permitted to sell on the quotas.

Concluding, the Minister said that "there is serious concern in Ireland that under the current set of proposals, which the Commission has published, there is a real risk that the economic benefit from our quotas will be increasingly lost to Ireland. We fear that large European conglomerates, registering in Ireland, would buy up our quotas and increasingly land them abroad. This would cost us thousands of jobs around the coast and would starve our growing seafood processing industry of raw material.  At this point, we can see no safeguards that could be built into the proposals which would prevent this happening.  I intend to put Ireland's case to the Commissioner and work constructively with her and colleagues in Council and Parliament over the coming year on this and all the other aspects of the Reform package".


Note for Editor

The seafood industry overall employs almost 12,000 people and encompasses almost 2,000 commercial fishing vessels and almost 200 seafood processing companies and 2,000 Aquaculture sites. The Government’s Strategy is to drive the value of the seafood sector to Ireland through new product development and innovation in the seafood processing industry, increased landings into Ireland, rebuilding of fish stocks and development of the Aquaculture industry. Ireland receives some €200 million worth of sea fish quotas annually, and these are the bedrock on which the primary and secondary seafood industry survives .The quotas lead to employment of around 5,000 jobs in our fishing fleet, with another 4,000 employed in seafood processing and ancillary services.



Date Released: 21 September 2011