The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries voted (09 October) unanimously (23 in favour / 0 against) to adopt the recommendations contained in the Gallagher Report on Technical Conservation Measures. Technical measures lay down the rules on fishing zones and fishing gear used as opposed to quantities catches (TACs and quotas) and/or fishing effort authorised.
The amendments proposed by Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP aim to remove and amend the outdated and unworkable fishing constraints such as area and gear restrictions, which date back to 2009 and the introduction of the Cod Recovery Plan.
Pat the Cope said today “I am very pleased that the Committee have taken on board my amendments. This is an initial but extremely significant step in the right direction. My report addresses the key problems faced by whitefish fishermen over the last four years off the Donegal coast particularly the small scale fishermen operating inshore and from the Donegal Islands.”
“The Committee has now provided me with a mandate to negotiate with the Cypriot Presidency of the EU and the European Commission in order to reach a final agreement. Based on my recent experience in obtaining the agreed deal with the other parties to introduce trade sanctions against countries engaged in unsustainable fishing practices. I am confident that an overall agreement can be reached before the end of the year.  I am determined to end these unworkable and unsustainable rules imposed on our fishermen, causing unnecessary hardship.”
The Gallagher Report on Technical Conservation Measures adopted by the Committee on Fisheries contains in total 26 recommendations which will form the basis for the European Parliament in the Trialogue discussions (EP, Council and Commission). Some of the key recommendations are outlined below particularly the ones that affect the fishermen from the North West:
1.         The report recommends a change to a smaller area for the defined area for Cod Recovery as it is inappropriate and forces fishermen from the North West to steam over 50 miles into dangerous waters to make a living. Additional provision is made to remove the line in its entirety following further scientific assessment.
2.         The report recommends the use of gill nets and tangle nets within the defined area for Cod Recovery. This gear type is both eco-friendly, sustainable and will not be targeting cod in the defined area and is used by the small inshore vessels.
3.         The report removes the by-catch provision for haddock and whiting which is causing a major discarding problem. It will now be possible again to have a targeted fishery for these species.
4.         North West fishermen will be able to target lesser spotted dogfish and haddock with the gill and tangle nets, within the defined area according to the report’s recommendation.
5.         The report also recommends that non-Irish boats should be prevented from fishing in the “Greencastle Box” which is closed from October to March each year to protect juvenile cod.
6.         Finally, the report proposes the introduction of a new appropriate mesh size for small pelagic species, so as to avoid the same problem as occurred with the development of the boar fishery where under EU rules the designated mesh size was totally inappropriate.
Next Steps:
On 18th of October next “Trialogue” negotiations will take place in Brussels between the European Parliament led by MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher, the Council Presidency and the European Commission. The intention is to have a new regulation in place on the 1st January 2013.