JIM Shannon MP for Strangford, speaking after meeting Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon with DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: “We had a fruitful meeting where we urged the Fisheries Minister to be firm and resolute in his representation of the fishing industry. The main issues are Nethrops (prawn), haddock and herring and cod.
“We pressed the Minister to ask for a roll-over of prawn as the stocks are stable and we are aware that the Republic of Ireland are pressing for an increase so it is our hope that we will be successful in this section which is critical as it employs the most people in our fishing industry and i made clear to Minister Benyon how essential it is for strong representation on this matter.
“Again with haddock and herring we are seeking a rollover despite the Commission suggestion a 25% cut. This is unnecessary and there is evidence to support this.
“Finally on the Cod recovery plan, and although the commission is looking for a slight reduction, we are pushing for a retention of the status quo and use for sentinel fishing.
“We have asked the Minister to be as passionate for retention in the Irish Sea as he is for the North Sea and Europe has recognised that there has been a lot of hard work by the Northern Ireland fishing industry and this must be rewarded to encourage more. The Minister is aware of the main issues – days at sea, flexibility needed and a recognition that fishing is more sustainable today than ever before – they must allow this to be used.
“We also encouraged the Minister to work closely with DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to ensure that she has the same commitment and enthusiasm for the fishing industry that the Minister has shown and we hope that this year we can pull something back for the industry which has the capacity to flourish but is being restricted from doing so by Europe.”