FISHERMEN, politicians and environmentalists welcomed the EU agreement on fishing quotas for next year, signalling a change in attitudes within the industry.
Nights of angst and accusations usually ended with compromises denounced by all sides, with the fishermen fearing for the future of their livelihoods and scientists warning the future was in doubt. But, when the results of the carve-up of the EU’s fishing waters was announced shortly after little more than a day of talks, it was welcomed by all sides despite some reservations.
Fish Minister Tony Killeen caught the mood when he said: “For the vast majority of us there is a realisation that there are two interests to take account of here — the fishermen who need to make a living, and those who would like to be fishing in five and ten years’ time. There is a much better understanding of the position of the scientists and the fishermen now than in the past.”
He said the situation was difficult, but closer co-operation between the industry and scientists and others interested was working.
The Regional Advisory Councils, with representatives of the stakeholders, also had the NGOs sitting on them, and they are coming up with proposals that are being taken heed of by the administrators.
As a result, for instance, the vital prawn fisheries is to be reduced by 9% compared with a proposal from the European Commission of 50% because they accepted the proposal from the fishermen for a seasonal closure of part of the Porcupine Bank off the west of Ireland.
Sean O’Donoghue, chairman of the Federation of Irish Fishermen said: “This demonstrates that Irish fishermen, working with British, French and Spanish colleagues, are fully prepared to propose and support difficult but necessary conservation measures.”
Even the World Wildlife Federation praised a new quota system to be trialled in the North Sea which the Scots were pushing for. The “catch less, land more” trials should result in fishermen throwing less fish back into the sea. These are usually off-limit species caught in nets with other species.
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