Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP has issued a stark warning to Minister Simon Coveney ahead of tomorrow’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg.
The meeting will discuss the dispute over mackerel quota rights in the North East Atlantic as Iceland and the Faroe Islands have increased their overall share of mackerel from 5% in 2005 to 52% in 2013.
Ahead of the Council meeting, Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP stated: “My clear understanding is that the European Commission is anxious to secure a deal at any cost, regardless of the consequences for the Irish pelagic industry.
“It was widely known within Europe and also reported in the Norwegian press today that the Commission has offered Iceland 11.9% and the Faroe Islands 12% of the future total allowable catch for mackerel. Furthermore, I am aware that the Commission are going to individual countries, making side deals on other fish stocks in order to get the Council to agree to their proposal.”
Pat the Cope added: “If these figures are accepted, it would possibly result in a reduced share of mackerel quota for Ireland in the long-run. As a result, Iceland and the Faroe Islands would reap larger mackerel quotas than Ireland, which is an absolute disgrace.
“I am calling on the Minister at tomorrow’s meeting to forcefully challenge EU Fisheries Commissioner Damanaki, as to why she is willing to reward the reckless behaviour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands at the expense of Irish fishermen, who have acted in a responsible way over the last number of years.”
Pat the Cope concluded: “The new advice by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends an increase of 64% of the total allowable catch, which will give a renewed impetus to efforts to reach a negotiated agreement on the sharing arrangements.
“This opportunity must not be at the expense of Irish fishermen, who have acted in a responsible manner, by rewarding Iceland and the Faroe Islands with an unjustified percentage share. The Minister must do his utmost to protect the Irish mackerel fishery, as it is worth €125 million per annum to Ireland, and is extremely important to Ireland’s largest fishing port, Killybegs in Donegal.”