Written Answers. - Fishing Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

264 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the prospects in the future for families depending on the fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11106/03]

The biggest challenge facing the fishing industry at the present time is in relation to the pressure which many of the key whitefish species are under. The industry accepts that measures must be put in place for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of these stocks. The debate at EU level centres around the appropriate mechanisms for achieving this objective.

The Commission advocates a policy of large-scale restrictions on days at sea leading to decommissioning of fishing vessels. This approach is disproportionate and not the best method to achieve a sustainable exploitation approach to fish stocks. The socio-economic effects of such simplistic policies cannot be ignored and I have consistently stressed to my EU Council colleagues and to Commissioner Fischler the unacceptable socio-economic effects that such policies would have on Irish fishermen and their families.

Over the coming months, and in the context of new proposals expected shortly from the Commission on long-term restrictions on fishing effort for recovery plan stocks, in respect of stocks in western waters, I will continue to seek a more appropriate regime for stock recovery. This regime would involve strong technical conservation measures to protect juvenile fish and adult spawning stock and strong control and enforce ment to ensure that recovery plans introduced are implemented in a fair and even handed way across all member states.
I will work to maintain strategic alliances on such common themes going forward in order to ensure that the recovery plans introduced take account of the need to protect stocks and take account of the socio economic impact on fishing communities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

265 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans to develop the fishing industry in the short, medium and long-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11107/03]

As I indicated in reply to a similar question by the Deputy on 4 March 2003, the Government has identified a number of key priorities for the development of the fishing industry in particular and the seafood industry generally.

These developmental priorities relate to how the Common Fisheries Policy should operate in accordance with the key principles of sustainable development, better governance, more stakeholder involvement and an increased emphasis on conservation and stock building. I look forward to substantial progress on these fronts in the years ahead.