Minister Killeen Addresses Council Of Fisheries Ministers In Luxembourg

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Tue Jun 24 2008

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with special responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry, was addressing the Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting, which he attended with Minister Brendan Smith TD in Luxembourg.

Minister Killeen was supported by a number of other Member States in expressing the view that there was an urgent need for a pan-European approach to resolving the short and medium-term difficulties.

The North Clare T.D. said he was pleased with the support offered by a number of other Member States and with the response of the EU Fisheries Commissioner Borg.

The Commissioner has undertaken to come back to the next Council meeting on 15 July with definitive proposals, ahead of which Mr Killeen said he anticipated further progress could be made.

Apart from the lengthy discussion on the fuel issue, Minister Killeen stated that he was particularly pleased with the progress made in a number of other areas of concern to Irish fishermen, which he had discussed on a number of occasions with the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF), including at a meeting with representatives of the FIF last night.

He said that the meeting was positive in the areas of restructuring the industry, action to combat illegal fishing and a possible increase in access for Irish fishermen to Cod stocks in the Celtic Sea – all of which are issues of particular concern to Irish fishermen and which the Minister has been pursuing with the Commission.

Minister Killeen said that the proposals discussed in Luxembourg had to be seen in the context of the Government’s initiative to implement a major restructuring of the Irish whitefish fleet.

"We are currently in the process of a major decommissioning programme to remove up to 35% of the larger whitefish vessels from our fleet and we issued offers worth EUR41 million last Friday to vessel owners under the scheme. Clearly the completion of the current planned decommissioning measure must be our first priority," explained Minister Killeen.

The Minister also pressed the Commission to examine new initiatives at EU level to increase the return received by fishermen at the quayside and improved labelling to assure consumers.

He asked the Commission to bring forward initiatives on research and innovation into ways to develop more fuel-efficient engines and fishing practices.

The Minister added that given the large-scale programme of decommissioning that is underway, as recommended in the Cawley Strategy Report for the future of the fishing industry in Ireland, there is no funding available under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) nationally for temporary tie-up measures as envisaged in the Commission’s paper.

He continued, "We firmly believe that we must introduce short term measures to compliment the decommissioning underway in our fleet and address the immediate financial hardship faced by vessel owners and crew, we are seeking additional funding from the Community. There is a requirement for the Commission to source additional funding and we would urge the Commission to do so urgently to support the industry during this period of restructuring and put it on a firm and sustainable footing in the future."

The Minister also described as "very significant", the agreement reached at Council on a new regulation to combat landings of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fish from within and outside the EU.

Minister Killeen said the estimated €1.1 billion of illegal imports annually in the EU was a cause of concern as it had the effect of depressing the price of fish within the Community as well as causing serious environmental damage.

He welcomed the speedy agreement on this proposal at Council and the commitment of the Commission to bring forward detailed rules to give effect to this regulation.

On a further related issue of great concern to Irish fishermen and as discussed with the Federation of Irish Fishermen earlier this week, the Minister pressed the case for an increase in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Cod stocks in the Celtic Sea off the Irish coast.

He welcomed Commissioner Borg’s commitment to examine new scientific information on increasing landings and to have the matter further discussed at the next Council on 15 July.

Minister Killeen said this was a positive response to his call for the EU Commission to re-examine new scientific knowledge on the level of Cod stocks and the possibility of a sustainable increase in access for Irish fishermen to Cod stocks to alleviate the pressure on incomes of Irish fishermen.


Notes to Editor:
- Tony Killeen T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (with special responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry), is available for interview and further comment on 0035387-2525304. Alternatively please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 00353868534900 or
- High-resolution images of Minister Killeen are available on request
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