Ritchie gives cautious welcome to fishery deal

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info@newrytimes.com
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Politics
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has given a cautious welcome to elements of last night’s fishery deal at the European Commission. Speaking to Newry Times, Ritchie stated, “While this was by no means the optimal outcome, in certain areas it was better than might have been expected based on the original commission proposals. “In particular the 3% quota increase for prawn (nephrop) was most welcome. This stock is vital to our local industry and the original proposal of a 20% cut would have been disastrous. “While the fishing industry has always opposed the severe days at sea restrictions there is a cautious welcome for the freeze on these restrictions this year. This is common sense and allowed more important issue to be discussed,” the local SDLP MP insisted. “The positive news on prawn quota will go some way to help with the implementation of the challenging discard ban which is being phased in from January 2015 onwards. “It should also be recognised that many of these positives are a direct result of the effort made by the local industry in the fishing ports of Ardglass and Kilkeel in terms of gear and technique improvements and they deserve a lot of credit for this. “However there remain problems that will require future discussions in the New Year. The draconian cuts to cod remain a big problem and there is no political will in other Member States to address the ongoing issues with Irish Sea cod. “There continues to be a large gap between the science provided by the fishermen and that relied on by the Commission. It is clear that there needs to be a review of this data and that the quota should be set on more reliable data. Ritchie added, “Each year fishermen risk their lives to keep this industry going. It is only fair that politicians in Brussels deliver them the right to earn a living. I will be seeking discussions with the UK Fisheries Minister and the Northern Ireland agriculture Minister to ensure that local fishermen get a fair deal.”

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