[Sinn Fein]

19th December 2002

Adams raises fishing crisis with Blair

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressing Sinn Fein s opposition to European Commission plans to restrict the number of days Irish whitefish trawlers can go to sea. Mr. Adams said:

European Commission proposals with regard to restricting the number of days Irish whitefish trawlers will be allowed to spend at sea could effectively destroy the local fishing industry. While there is quite clearly a need to protect and to rebuild Cod stocks in the Irish Sea, the introduction of measures, which could destroy much of the European and Irish fishing industry are unacceptable.

``The reality is that in the course of the last three years measures, which have been introduced to conserve cod stocks, have already reduced the Irish fishing effort by an estimated 40%. Local fishermen have not only complied with these measures but have demonstrated a willingness to advance additional measures aimed at conceiving and rebuilding Irish Sea stocks.

``As the fishing industry has repeatedly asserted no group of people has a greater interest in preserving healthy fish stocks than fishermen themselves. The most cursory examination of their performance in the last three years will show that Irish fishermen have behaved with the utmost degree of responsibility.

``However, we have reached the point where the additional extreme measures now proposed by the European Commission could quite literally bankrupt much of the local fishing industry. These proposals must be opposed with vigour. There is clearly a need to balance requirements relating to stock conservation with the needs of the fishing industry. The EC proposals totally ignore the latter.

``I have written to Tony Blair, and party colleagues Martin Ferris TD and Arthur Morgan TD have already raised these matters with the Taoiseach, Mr. Ahern, highlighting our concerns with regard to the implementation of these proposals.

``The European Council of Ministers must now decide whether to apply these measures or not. In the time still available every effort must be made to impress upon them that these proposals should not be applied.'' ENDS

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