Ministers resist pressure for fishing net changes

Irish Ministers have resisted EU pressure to introduce potentially damaging new fishing nets into Irish waters, and have secured new protection for deep water coral reefs.

At the recent Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Mary Coughlan and Minister of State John Browne were involved in intensive negotiations.

They dissuaded the Council and the European Commission from allowing the introduction of smaller mesh fishing gear into Ireland’s waters, and in particular fishing grounds that are “vitally important” nursery grounds for various types of fish.

“Had this measure gone through it would have flown in the face of all our efforts to promote the use of larger mesh gear which allows small fish to pass through, reduce discards and promote the rebuilding of fish stocks,” said Minister Coughlan.

They also agreed Marine Special Areas of Conservation for coral reefs in deep waters off the west coast of Ireland.

Minister Browne said the measure was an important one and delivered on Ireland’s EU Habitats Directive obligations.

Ben Meggeson

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