[Sinn Fein]

11 November 2002

Threat to fishing result of poor negotiating and lack of political will

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Marine and Natural Resources Martin Ferris has described the latest threats to the fishing industry as the result of ``poor negotiating in Europe coupled with the lack of political will at home by successive governments''. Deputy Ferris made his comments in advance of the visit by EU Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler to Dublin today where he is to discuss proposals to allow unrestricted access to the Irish fishing box to other EU states. Deputy Ferris will put questions to the Commissioner on the proposals when he appears before the Select Committee on European Affairs in Leinster House today.

Mr Ferris said: ``It is time to end the lip-service and for the Minister for the Marine to robustly defend the livelihoods of our fishermen. Successive Irish government's have been responsible through their half-hearted support for the industry for it's continued decline. Poor negotiating in Europe coupled with the lack of political will is bringing the industry to its knees and is putting at risk the very existence of a number communities around our coastline.

``The Minister for the Marine has a responsibility not only to the fishermen themselves but also to the tens of thousands of others employed directly or indirectly in the industry to ensure that their livelihoods are protected and that the proposals are defeated. There is no justification whatsoever for these proposals, especially in light of Commissions recent demands for the conservation of fish stocks.

``It is clear that the Spanish fishing lobby have once again outmanoeuvred the governments negotiators. If these proposals are allowed through it will not only deal a severe blow to fishing in Ireland and but will also raise obvious and serious questions about the governments commitment to the industry.'' ENDS

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