Fishermen warn ministers must deliver on aid package

THE Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) has called on Ministers Brendan Smith and Tony Killeen to deliver on their undertaking to obtain emergency measures to alleviate the current crisis in the industry.

The fishermen said they were still awaiting the details of the lifeline worked out between the Irish ministers and the EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.

But yesterday, the commissioner told the Irish ministers that he was still trying to figure out where the emergency financial package for the Irish fishing fleet could be found.

The FIF has identified temporary tie-up aid as the most immediate means to address the current crisis in the short term, but stated that such aid should be linked to an overall restructuring package of the Irish industry.

The fishermen also want to see an immediate ban on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and also the regulation of fish imports into the European Union. “We welcome the ministers’ meeting today with Commissioner Borg at which all our issues were impressed on him,” said FIF chairman, Michael Walsh.

He added: “We are stressing that a series of immediate measures including tie-up aid must be agreed in Luxembourg early next week by the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers and that the Irish Government’s package, including additional funding — from whatever source — must in turn be announced before the end of next week.

“This was the timetable we were promised and this is the timetable that must be delivered,” said Mr Walsh.

The EU fisheries commissioner has been told of the depth of feeling of Irish fishermen, said Fisheries Minister Brendan Smith yesterday. Mr Smith and Junior Minister Tony Killeen held a meeting with Joe Borg in Strasbourg.

The ministers said they told Mr Borg there was an urgent need to being forward an EU-funded package of measures to help the sector.

The funding of this package is seen as crucial because fishermen were told by the ministers at last weekend’s meetings that the Government would not have the resources to finance it.

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced emergency measures to help the fishing industry through the fuel crisis.

They include emergency aid for trawlermen volunteering to halt fishing temporarily and EU market support to boost fish prices.

While welcoming the proposals, Mr Smith and Mr Killeen said there was an absence of any provision for additional EU funding to finance them.

They said that the commissioner indicated yesterday that he was still exploring funding for the package.

Mr Smith said that Mr Borg was now fully acquainted with the issues of concern to Irish fishermen.


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