Wednesday, 1 February 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
237. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the provision his Department is making for the recovery of deep sea gill nets which have recently been banned under European Union common fishery policy regulations. [3388/06]
Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Gallagher): The ban on the use of deep water gill nets is set down in the 2006 total allowable catch and quota regulation. The regulation requires the removal of such nets from the areas covered by the ban by 1 February 2006. The Naval Service will be responsible for policing the ban within the Irish exclusive fisheries zone, EFZ, and will monitor fishing activity in this zone to ensure that the banned gear is not deployed. New EU rules came into force on 1 January 2006 which require that gill nets must be marked with the identification of the vessel to which they belong. These will facilitate the work of the Naval Service in this regard. In EU waters outside the Irish EFZ, it will be the responsibility of the control authorities of each member state to monitor waters within their own EFZ, which are covered by the ban and, in international waters, it will be a matter for the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.
While I understand that the current ban is regarded by the EU Commission as a short-term emergency measure and that the Commission will be bringing forward long-term measures during the course of 2006, I will be at the forefront in pushing for the continuation of the current ban unless strong and effective alternative measures are brought forward by the Commission.
With regard to abandoned gear, work has already been carried out by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and UK Government agencies during 2005 to remove nets that have been discarded at sea. The results of this work underlined the scale of the problem. I will be pressing for an EU co-ordinated campaign to build upon this excellent work, as I believe it requires the co-operation of all member states to send out a strong message against what is a totally unacceptable practice.
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