PAT ‘the Cope’ Gallagher MEP issued a stark warning to Minister Simon Coveney ahead of today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg.
The meeting was to discuss the dispute over mackerel quota rights in the North East Atlantic as Iceland and the Faroe Islands have increased their overall share of mackerel from five per cent in 2005 to 52 per cent in 2013.
Speaking ahead of the Council meeting, Minister Gallagher said it was his clear understanding that the European Commission is anxious to secure a deal “at any cost,” regardless of the consequences for the Irish pelagic industry.
“It was widely known within Europe and also reported in the Norwegian press today (Wednesday) that the Commission has offered Iceland 11.9 per cent and the Faroe Islands 12 per cent of the future total allowable catch for mackerel.
“Furthermore, I am aware that the Commission are going to individual countries, making side deals on other fish stocks in order to get the Council to agree to their proposal.”
He added that, If these figures are accepted, it would possibly result in a reduced share of mackerel quota for Ireland in the long-run.
“I am calling on the Minister to forcefully challenge EU Fisheries Commissioner Damanaki, as to why she is willing to reward the reckless behaviour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands at the expense of Irish fishermen, who have acted in a responsible way over the last number of years.”
“The new advice by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends an increase of 64 per cent of the total allowable catch, which will give a renewed impetus to efforts to reach a negotiated agreement on the sharing arrangements.
“This opportunity must not be at the expense of Irish fishermen, who have acted in a responsible manner, by rewarding Iceland and the Faroe Islands with an unjustified percentage share.
“The Minister must do his utmost to protect the Irish mackerel fishery, as it is worth €125 million per annum to Ireland, and is extremely important to Ireland’s largest fishing port, Killybegs in Donegal.”