Committee Gains Assurance from Fisheries Commissioner
Date: 01 October 2009
Reference: AGR 05/09/10
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has received an assurance from the EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Mr Joe Borg that he will consider any new evidence on the strength of the prawn biomass in the Irish Sea.
During a positive meeting held with the Commission, Members of the Committee outlined the impact the proposed cut in the prawn quota would have on an already beleaguered Northern Ireland fishing industry.
“We stressed that what might appear as a small decision in the European context could have major repercussions in Northern Ireland,” the Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee, Mr Ian Paisley Jnr said after the meeting.
He continued: “The Commissioner accepted that there is a conflict in the scientific evidence available in respect of prawn stocks and asked that the Committee bring forward any additional evidence showing that the fishery is stronger than originally believed. The Committee also pointed out the socio-economic consequences of the proposed cuts in respect of the traditional rural communities that have established themselves around our fishing villages and he agreed that it was important that he is provided with this information. I have therefore asked the Committee support team to urgently liaise with the Department, scientists and, very importantly, the industry so that we can present a comprehensive and collective argument against the proposed 15% cut in the nephrop quota.
“I am also delighted to say that the Commissioner has accepted a Committee invitation to visit Northern Ireland and get a firsthand experience of our fishing industry and the communities that it supports.”
This was one of a number of engagements undertaken by the Committee during their two day visit to Brussels, which also included them being formally welcomed to the European Parliament by Members of the EU Agriculture Committee during their monthly meeting.