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Allister points to dire decline of fishing industry

11 November 2005

Speaking on the day of the visit of Fisheries Commissioner, Mr Borg, to Kilkeel, Jim Allister MEP stressed the immense burden placed on the local fishing industry by Brussels restrictions on fishing effort in the Irish Sea.

Mr Allister said, “Uniquely, the Irish Sea is subjected both to a spring closed period and days at sea restrictions. Since 2000 we have had 6 spring closures, Quota restrictions and restrictions on permitted days at sea.  Yet cod stocks are not recovering, suggesting reasons other than alleged over-fishing as the cause of decline, with climate change and the natural marine cycle as more likely contributors.

Meanwhile under these failed EU restrictions our whitefish fleet is in dire decline.  From a fleet of over 40 vessels just 5 years ago, we have less than 15 today.

With cod fishing so restricted increasing reliance is necessary on prawn fishing.  Yet, here too, an inflated concern about cod by-catch has kept the prawn quota artificially low. Discards are no higher than with the prawn fleets in the North Sea or the West of Scotland, where prawn quotas have increased.  We in Northern Ireland deserve and require a significant increase in the nephrop quota in 2006.  I am, therefore, calling for such a substantial increase when the Quotas are set at the December Council of Ministers meeting.”


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