The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen T.D, on 10 July met in the Department offices in Tullamore, by video link, with Fisheries Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius for the first time since his recent appointment. The Minister discussed a number of upcoming issues around fisheries with the primary focus on the ongoing negotiations with the UK on a possible future fisheries agreement.
Minister Cowen and the Commissioner discussed the importance of the agreed EU negotiation mandate that sets down clearly the EU objective to “uphold existing reciprocal access conditions, quota shares and traditional activity of the Union fleet”.
The Minister and the Commissioner also discussed the centrality of the link between the overall economic partnership and the conclusion of a fishing agreement.
Minister Cowen said, “This was a very useful first discussion with Commissioner Sinkevičius and it was important to be able to talk first hand with the Commissioner about Ireland’s concerns in relation to the potential negative impacts for our fishing communities in Ireland if we do not put in place a fair and balanced Fisheries Agreement with the UK.”
The Minister went on to say that, “I reiterated this Government’s full support for the EU negotiating mandate and my confidence that the Commissioner and Michel Barnier will continue to be strong defenders of Irish and EU fishing interests. It is clear to me that the negotiations on a fisheries agreement can only be successfully considered in the overall context of the wider EU/UK future relationship agreement and leveraging this will be vital in protecting our coastal communities”.
Minister Cowen and Commissioner Sinkevičius also discussed a number of other non-Brexit related fisheries issues. The Commissioner raised a number of fisheries control issues and concerns that he has in relation to fisheries control in Ireland. The Minister reiterated the new Government’s commitment in the Programme for Government to work to eliminate illegal fishing and promoting a culture of compliance by all EU vessels operating in Ireland’s 200 miles zone. Minister Cowen also stressed Ireland’s continued commitment to promoting sustainability in setting quotas and fishing methods.
The Minister and the Commissioner also discussed the future European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.