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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 23 Nov 1995

Vol. 458 No. 7

Written Questions. - Common Fisheries Policy.

Mary Harney


22 Miss Harney asked the Minister for the Marine if he will support a policy of abolishing the EU Common Fisheries Policy and replacing it with a new system incorporating the right of the coastal state; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17537/95]

As I have indicated in a reply to an earlier question, this country considers that its allocated share of fish stocks under the Common Fisheries Policy falls far short of a fair and equitable level. This is restated in the policy agreement. A Government of Renewal, which commits the Government to continue pursue an equitable share of the EU fish quota reflecting our geographical position.

We will support any changes to the Common Fisheries Policy which will improve Ireland's position.

The CFP last fell for major review in 1992. The basic principles of the CFP were re-affirmed unanimously on that occasion. Ireland was the only member state of the Union to challenge the allocation principles. Ireland's case in that regard remains firmly on the table and any and every reasonable opportunity to advocate and advance that case to Ireland's advantage will be pursued. If there is to be any such change, it will require the support of a qualified majority of member states and transfers of fish stocks to Ireland from other key member states with major fishing rights in western waters.

In seeking the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in our favour, one must exercise considerable caution. Apart from the key matter of allocations, the basic principles of the Common Fisheries Policy are well balanced. A delicate compromise has been struck between the protection of coastal zones through the 12 mile limit and the national quotas system on the one hand and the free movement/access of labour, capital and enterprise on the other hand. If the Common Fisheries Policy as we know it should be scrapped simpliciter and, given that the key protective aspects of the Policy represent derogations from the Treaties, the starting point from which to negotiate a new policy could be much less favourable than the present CFP framework. Proposals to in effect re-nationalise fisheries would run totally counter to the basic principles underlying the Union and its further integration.

Our policy, in line with that of previous Governments, is, therefore, to seek improvement within the existing CFP framework. While the policy does not fall for review again until the year 2002, we will as I have said act at all times in the meantime first of all to protect Ireland's position and second to improve it whenever and wherever possible.