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O’Neill supports fishing sector to end discards

Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill has said a close working partnership between her Department and the fishing industry is required to address new challenges which the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will bring.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Minister is to make available financial resources through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to address the reforms including an obligation to land all catches of fish.

Commenting on the discard ban, the Minister said: “Our best approach is to avoid catching any fish that are not wanted. To help achieve this my Department and its scientific advisors will work closely with fishermen to develop acceptable technical solutions. I will make financial resources available through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to do this.”

The Minister explained the programme would involve the establishment of a “research and development fund” specifically to develop fishing gear with very low catch rates of unwanted fish. She said: “Fishermen will be invited to participate in fully funded trials to test and develop technical gear solutions working in partnership with local scientists and DARD. Before the fish landing obligation takes effect, all gears will be reviewed and further funding will be provided to assist the industry to replace their nets with new designs that incorporate the most selective and practical solutions available.”

In addition to support for discard reduction, the Minister also announced further financial assistance to the industry to improve skills and safety. She said:
“I want to encourage the fishermen to improve their skills and develop safer working practices. Such training is vital to prepare fishermen for the challenges ahead. Over the coming months my Department looks forward to working closely with the fishing industry to identify its skills and safety training needs as well as reviewing other important areas such as vessel operating efficiency, maintaining fish quality and handling and storage of fish on board vessels and on shore. Funding from the EFF will continue to be made available to support this work.

“I am also aware that satellite monitoring systems on board many vessels are in need of replacement. New multifunction systems are now available and subject to the completion of a business case I will consider support for the full cost of replacing the older systems.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In the early hours of Wednesday 15 May 2013 EU Fisheries Ministers agreed a compromise mandate for final negotiations with the European Parliament on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Final agreement between the two institutions (co-decision) is now expected before the end of June 2013.
  2. Part of the proposals include a ban on the discarding of unwanted fish. The ban will be challenging and part of the solution will be to avoid catching of unwanted fish. The package of measures proposed will assist the industry to continue to research and adopt technical solutions over the next two years.
  3. Unwanted fish are fish that are caught as an incidental by-catch for which a vessel has no quota, or fish for which there is no market, or fish that are below the legal minimum landing size.
  4. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.