The European Parliament in Strasbourg today voted (564 in favour, 61 against) to approve the key amendments proposed by Ireland North West MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher.
Mr Gallagher told Donegal Daily: “First and foremost, I am extremely pleased that my amendments have received the overwhelming support of the European Parliament. This means that the European Parliament has endorsed the agreement, which I negotiated with the Council Presidency.
“The European Parliament has temporally refused to adopt the final vote approving the legislative resolution. However, as a Parliament we have no alternative but to stand up to the unacceptable behaviour of the Fisheries Council as they have completely ignored the role of the European Parliament as a co-legislator for the last 3 years.
“I urge the Council to wake up to their responsibilities and respect the Treaty of Lisbon and the citizens of the European Union. The incoming Irish Presidency and Minister Coveney, in particular will have to show leadership and undertake every effort to resolve the dispute.
“While the final vote on my Report has been delayed temporarily, this may be the first of many reports in which the Parliament may have to take a firm stance until the Council is willing to enter into meaningful talks with the Parliament.
“I have worked extremely hard over the last 2 years in conjunction with the stakeholders to gain widespread support for my amendments aimed at alleviating the burdens imposed on the inshore and island fishermen in the North West. I want to assure everyone involved in the sector that I will not allow this matter to jeopardise the implementation of these important changes for the North West. I have no doubt that these measures will come into effect early in the New Year.
“In my report, I have successfully removed the outdated technical conservation measures which have been in place since 2009 with the introduction of a Cod Recovery Plan. Regrettably, the measures for Cod Recovery have caused major difficulties for fishermen from the North West by stopping traditional fisheries, which do not target cod”.
The Agreement with the Council of Ministers includes the following provisions:
1. The agreement permits the use of gill nets and tangle nets, south of 59 degrees North within the defined area for Cod Recovery. This gear type is both eco-friendly, sustainable and will not target cod in the defined area and is used by the small inshore and island vessels. This means that small inshore and island fishermen from the North West will no longer have to steam out 50 miles into dangerous waters to make a living. In effect, North West fishermen will be able to target haddock and other species with gill and tangle nets.
2. North West fishermen will also be able to target lesser spotted dogfish with gill and tangle nets, within 3 miles of the coastline and for 10 days per month. Lesser spotted dogfish can be used for bait to catch lobster and crab.
3. The agreement removes the by-catch provision of 30% for haddock, whiting and cod.
4. The agreement also ensures that non-Irish boats will be prevented from fishing in the “Greencastle Box” which is closed from October to March each year to protect juvenile cod.
5. Finally, the Agreement also provides for a review of the defined area for Cod Recovery by the 01 January 2015. This means that the line may be removed in its entirety following scientific assessment. The mesh sizes used within the defined area will also be reviewed.