Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP has today met with the EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Maria Damanaki in Dublin. The Fianna Fáil MEP is a member of the Committee on Fisheries in the European Parliament, a body that will co-decide with the 27 Governments on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.


At the meeting Mr. Gallagher expressed deep disappointment with the Commissioner’s decision not to meet with the representatives of the small Island communities during her two day visit.


Mr. Gallagher said: “I asked the European Commission to facilitate a meeting with representatives of small Island communities but this reasonable request was turned down. At today’s meeting I presented to the Commissioner a detailed survival plan for Island life prepared by the Aalborg University in Denmark. I reminded the Commissioner that she has a responsibility to our small coastal fishermen who maintain employment in areas of Ireland where there are few alternatives.”


Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP informed the Commissioner that her proposal on the Common Fisheries Policy falls short in relation to regionalisation, individual transferrable quotas, discards and small scale fisheries.


He said: “The existing one size fits all Common Fisheries Policy has failed to deliver for Irish fishermen. I will be submitting several amendments to ensure meaningful regionalisation. The proposal by the European Commission on regionalisation is merely tokenism, which fails to introduce regional management structures with devolved powers. If introduced, transferrable quota rights will be a disaster for the Irish fishing industry as mainland European companies will be allowed enter the Irish market and take ownership of our industry. The Commission proposal fails to ring fence the buying and selling of quota to individual Member States.”


On the issue of discards, Mr. Gallagher stated that “While I agree with the Commissioner that discards is a major issue and must be reduced and eliminated over time. However the Commission proposal on discards will not work as she recommends the landing of all fish rather than the introduction of sensible avoidance measures, which would ensure a sustainable stock. Discards are dead fish and landing them will not sustain the stock into the future. The proposal should include practical measures such as technical conservation measures, closed areas and closed seasons. The Irish fishing sector has always been to the forefront in proposing and implementing such measures.


“Concerning small scale fisheries I emphasised to the Commissioner the need to exempt small boats under 15 metres in length from the provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy.”


On a separate issue, Mr. Gallagher welcomed the efforts by the Commissioner to tackle the over fishing of mackerel in the North East Atlantic. Mr. Gallagher stated at today’s meeting.


“I urged the Commissioner to expedite trade sanctions against the non-EU countries involved in the massive over-fishing of mackerel in the North East Atlantic, which threatens to decimate the stock. I can assure the Commissioner that the European Parliament will not delay in approving the sanctions once all fish and fish products are included.”