Irish MEP, Colum Markey has told Commissioner Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius to give Ireland a fair deal on blue whiting issue with Norway
Irish MEP, Colum Markey brought the question of Norway getting increased quota in Irish waters to Commissioner of the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius at this morning’s European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee.
Norway has been pushing the European Union to increase the quota they are allowed to fish in Irish waters to 80,000 tonnes, something the Irish fishing industry has strongly objected to.
The Fine Gael representative expressed the concern of the Irish fishermen at the questions and answers meeting.
He said, “I want to raise the issue of blue whiting quota for Norway in European waters. They have a 410,000-tonne quota and it appears they are looking to expand that quota in lieu of Arctic cod. They are willing to give up 10,000 tonnes of Arctic cod but in lieu they are looking to catch 80,000 tonnes of extra blue whiting quota. They are also looking for unfettered access to EU waters to fish that quota, and fish that quota in Irish waters.
“This is obviously a concern to Irish fishermen but on top of that, if you look at the situation, Irish fishermen were distinctly disadvantaged by the outcome of Brexit and were the bigger losers out of Brexit.
“There is talk about relative stability and burden sharing, while frankly Ireland shared more of the burden post-Brexit, and if somebody is being offered unfettered access into Irish waters to fish for additional blue whiting, really, there has to be some consideration given to Ireland, some extra respect or quota to redress that situation to ensure that Ireland is fairly looked after because we are still suffering the consequences of Brexit and the industry is really struggling on that account. I think additional Blue whiting quota would help the industry.”
Commissioner Sinkevicius replied:
“The negotiations with Norway are extremely difficult, as always. Any agreement should of course benefit all of the EU, and of course we are working closely with Member States on these negotiations and keeping in touch with the Ministers in the responsible ministries.
“I can only reassure you that we will do our utmost to protect our interests and ensure a level playing field and equal treatment of our fisheries.”
Markey replied to the Commissioner’s remarks saying:
“I appreciate your comments in relation to Norway and I urge you to hold a strong line on that.
“You also mentioned that any agreements will be equally treated across Europe. Well, all I can say is that when it came to Brexit, Ireland didn’t get equal treatment and suffered by-and-the-way the biggest impact. 40% of the cuts were Irish cuts and that has to be recognized, and taken onboard in this situation.”
by Oliver McBride