Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has described the news that negotiations between the EU’s Fisheries Ministers have resulted in a 3% increase in 2015’s quota for Irish Sea prawns as a positive outcome for the fisheries industry and wider economy.
Mr Nicholson said:
"The December Fisheries Councils are crucially important for our fisheries industry as it is these annual negotiations which set the fishing opportunities for the year ahead.
"For the Northern Ireland fisheries industry the main priority is prawns. In advance of these negotiations the European Commission had proposed an unjustified cut in quota of 14%, so the 3% increase is therefore a positive result for fishermen, processors and the wider economy. In terms of the other local priorities a 20% cut had also been proposed for Irish Sea haddock, so securing a rollover of current quota levels is also a welcome development.
"Whilst the proposed cuts to prawns and haddock were resisted, the final agreement does unfortunately include a 20% cut in the cod quota whilst no quota was made available to facilitate research into this stock. I will raise this issue with the Commission as robust scientific research is key for effective fisheries management.
"Ahead of the negotiations I met with George Eustice MP, the UK’s Fisheries Minister who led the UK delegation in Brussels, to discuss local priorities and I also raised my concerns about the impact of unjustified cuts to quota with the European Commission.
"The EU’s centralised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has hit the industry hard and local fishermen have been working proactively to adapt to the many challenges and difficulties posed by recent reforms. Whilst the outcome regarding cod is disappointing I welcome that the final agreement as a whole is more positive for Northern Ireland’s fisheries industry and coastal communities than was perhaps expected.”