The newly agreed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is being hailed as a breakthrough that will “virtually end” the practice of discards and significantly improve the lives of Donegal’s fishermen.
Talks between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Presidency ended at 3:30am on Thursday.
The Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) welcomed the “enhancement on the Hague Preferences which each year guarantees Ireland extra quota in key stocks”.
FIF Chairman Francis O’Donnell, who is from Kilcar, said he could not “emphasise enough the key role Pat the Cope Gallagher played to enhance our ability to secure the Hague Preferences annually”.
The outcome regarding discards, he added, was “not what the Industry would have wanted” but “represents a better alternative than that previously proposed”. Mr O’Donnell also said the Hague Preferences “is purely an Irish and UK issue and is of paramount importance to the Irish Fishing Industry”.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, called the new CFP “a good news story for fishermen and for people who care about fish stocks and marine life”.
The agreement, he said, will “virtually end” the controversial practice of discards, which saw European fishermen throwing up to 2 million tonnes of unwanted fish, often dead or dying, back into the sea every year. New quotas will be based on “maximum sustainable yield”, which should sea fish stocks increase and quotas increase accordingly. Experts say this practice could mean an increase in EU fish stocks of up to 15 million tonnes by 2010.
Mr Coveney said the deal will “change the lives of millions of people”.
He added: “The main issue here is that we are going to build fish stocks significantly over the next ten years. And, as fish stocks grow, quotas will grow and the fishing industry can grow with it.”