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Displaying items by tag: Simon Coveney

#Fishing - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney will be seeking agreement from his European colleagues at next week’s Fisheries Council on how when and how introduce an effective discards ban in the context of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

At the June 2012 Fisheries Council, ministers did not reach agreement on how a discard ban would be implemented or when such a ban would be introduced.

The challenge for Minister Coveney as president of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers is to secure wide agreement at council on an ambitious early date for the introduction of a ban in all waters across the EU from the Baltic & North Sea to the North Eastern Atlantic, the Mediteranean and the Black Sea.

Ministers will need to agree the practical measures that will ensure that the ban is capable of being effectively implemented in all these areas.

In a review of global discarding, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) noted that the North East Atlantic has the highest discard level in the world, estimated at 1.3 million tonnes, the majority attributed to EU fisheries. The EU Commission itself estimates that 23% of all fish caught by EU vessels are discarded.

Discarding occurs in almost every fishery, in every area and across most fleets in the European Union. Every member state operating fishing operations on the open sea has a discard problem. Many member states have significant levels of discards in certain fisheries, and for varying reasons.

The policy to stop discarding of fish and to change behaviour of fishermen so that unwanted by-catches and juvenile fish are no longer caught must be seen as an integral part of fisheries management in general and serve the overarching goals of moving to long-term management based on ecosystem considerations and reaching maximum sustainable yield by 2015, where possible, and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks.

The three European institutions, all member states and importantly the Irish presidency are fully supportive and committed to the introduction of a discard ban.

A very important element of delivering the overall objective will be the introduction across all fisheries of smarter and more selective fishing gear, strengthened selectivity measures and changed fishing practices that avoid to the greatest extent possible unwanted catches particularly those of juvenile fish.

To assist the debate on discards and facilitate actions to resolve the problem, Ireland published a 'Discards Atlas' detailing the full extent of discards by the Irish whitefish fleet. It is critically important that other member states do likewise to support the introduction of the new policy and inform measures that will be needed to ensure that a new policy is fully implemented by EU fishing fleets.

Minister Coveney commented: "I am and continue to be a strong advocate for a policy which eliminates the wasteful practice of discards.”

On the prospects for council, he said: “I am under no illusion of the challenges the effective implementation of a discards policy pose for European fishermen and for the member states of the EU, and will work intensively with my European ministerial colleagues over the course of the February Council to deliver a policy with an ambitious timetable for implementation that will end the discarding of fish and support the rebuilding of fish stocks and the future of coastal communities depending on fishing.

"It is my firm belief that the success or failure of the reformed CFP will be judged to a large extent on the effectiveness of whatever discard ban is introduced and that there is widespread support for the ban from the fishing nations of the EU and their fishermen.

"It is imperative that European fisheries ministers collectively take this progressive but challenging decision now and co-operate in agreeing appropriate and effective measures to eliminate discards with ambitious timelines."

Agreement in the council will free up the Irish presidency, on behalf of the council, to begin negotiations with the European Parliament and Commission to reach political agreement on a new reformed Common Fisheries Policy by June.

Published in Fishing

#Bioeconomy - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney today (14 February) opened a major Stakeholder Conference on the Bioeconomy in Dublin Castle.

The conference - titled 'Bioeconomy in the EU: Achievements and Directions for the Future' - was jointly organised by the EU Commission and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on behalf of the Irish Presidency of the European Union.

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn also addressed the delegates at the opening of the conference, which brings together all the major stakeholders in the bioeconomy from Ireland, across Europe and beyond, including researchers, educationalists, policymakers, industry representatives and civil society.

The purpose of the conference is to take stock of progress on implementing the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, which was launched 12 months ago by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, and to promote informed public debate on the future development of the bioeconomy.

Setting the broad context, Minister Coveney said the “grand societal challenges of the 21st century place enormous pressures on all of us to change the way we do things at a member state, European, and indeed global level. Our objective is clear... we need a more innovative and low emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security and the sustainable use of renewable resources for industrial processes, while protecting the environment.”

The minister added that in Ireland’s case “the Government’s Policy Statement, 'Delivering our Green Potential', adopted last year, commits us to developing a Bioeconomy Strategy as part of a broader strategy on the Green Economy. This work will be progressed over the coming months overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy."

Referring to the fact that the marine sector, along with agri-food and forestry, helps form the backbone of the bioeconomy in Ireland, the minister recalled the Think Green, Act Smart, Achieve Growth philosophy of Food Harvest 2020 and went on to say that “by applying these principles along the entire bioeconomy value chain, we can exploit the full potential of our rich natural resources in a sustainable manner for our own economic advantage while also contributing to meeting the increasing global demand for food.”

Minister Coveney pointed out that Ireland is making steady progress in implementing the various actions foreseen across the three pillars of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.

“My colleagues in Government and I remain fully supportive of research and innovation and understand the crucial role it plays in underpinning growth in the bioeconomy,” he said, adding that he was “delighted to report that several of the areas prioritised for future Exchequer funding under the National Research Prioritisation Exercise related to the bioeconomy, including 'Sustainable Food Production & Processing' and 'Manufacturing Competitiveness'."

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn stressed that "the bioeconomy's employment potential can certainly kick-start economies and reinvigorate communities in some of our most peripheral and deprived areas".

She added that "an economy based on biological resources is also the newest economy... it is a crucible of new technology and innovation, leading the way in the application of information technology, biotechnology and the life sciences while in many cases blending these with existing knowledge and expertise" and that “it is in the member states and regions that the greatest work must be done.”

Published in News Update

#CFPReform - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, in his capacity as President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, last week welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on the reform agenda for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency.

The vote, which is seen a major step forward in the CFP reform process, follows the minister’s address to parliament on Tuesday last. At the address the minister appealed for all parties to work together towards an agreed CFP reform package to be delivered during the period of Ireland’s presidency.

These reforms, which prioritise long term sustainability of fishing stocks, elimination of the controversial practice of discards (dumping at sea) and a switch to long-term (scientifically based) planning for fisheries, were  approved by the parliament on Wednesday 6 February.

The decision of the parliament follows the minister’s address last Tuesday during which he identified the reforms as a major priority on the Irish Government’s EU presidency agenda.

Minister Coveney stated: “I am delighted that the parliament has today decided to back these necessary and timely reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and that the case for reform outlined in my recent address has been accepted in an agreed manner.

"I am particularly encouraged that this vote has occurred during the Irish EU Presidency. This shows the pivotal role which Ireland can play in influencing broader European Policy and in bringing together divergent views towards an agreed reform package for the CFP.

"Ireland has set out an ambitious work programme aimed at delivering an agreed reform package for the CFP by the end of June. This objective can only be realised if [European] Parliament, Council and the Commission work together focusing on the bigger picture of an agreed reform agenda to benefit all of Europe’s citizens.”

During his address to the plenary session of European parliamentarians, Minister Coveney expressed his view that a momentum was now gathering behind the drive to deliver an agreed reformed CFP package by the end of June.

Acknowledging to the parliament that he had set out an ambitious work programme for his presidency, the minister accepted that differences remain between the European Council and Parliament, particularly on the question of multi-annual fisheries plans.

Minister Coveney emphasised the significant areas of common ground between both institutions and his belief that this would eventually lead to an agreed way forward on most aspects of the reform package. He stressed that it was only in a framework of mutual cooperation and flexibility that the objective of a reformed CFP which prioritises long term fisheries sustainability could be delivered in the lifetime of the current Irish Presidency.

The minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance for the EU Parliament, Council and Commission to work together on all the issues including delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.

Following an exchange of views, the minister sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement by the end of June in addition to acceptance of the need for a different and more effective way of working to deliver on what is a commonly held objective. He committed to working constructively with the parliament on all outstanding issues.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Important talks on EU fisheries reform are continuing in Brussels after progress in Clonakilty recently, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Marine Minister Simon Coveney welcomed a deal signed on Friday 18 January between the EU and Norway on allowable catches and quotas.

The agreement was seen as a positive move at the end of a week of talks at the National Seafood Centre, which followed a number of false starts due to difficulties in balancing mutual access and management arrangements.

Minister Coveney said that meetings taking place in Brussels today (28 January) are "about setting the scene for six months of intensive work" to produce dossiers for both the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, for which he hopes definitive reforms can be achieved by this summer.

Both the CFP and CAP account for 40% of the European Union budget.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - The EU fisheries deal secured by Marine Minister Simon Coveney in Brussels yesterday has been variously described as "horrendous" and "a mixed bag" by Irish fishing industry stakeholders, as The Irish Times reports.

Yesterday Minister Coveney said he was pleased to secure "a good deal for Irish fishermen" after difficult negotiations, one "that will support our fishing industry over the coming year and which is sustainable in terms of the fish stocks on which we are dependant".

A total in excess of 216,000 tonnes of fish quotas is available to Irish fishermen in 2013 under the deal, split between more than 35,500 tonnes of whitefish and 180,000 tonnes of pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel.

But Ebbie Sheehan, chair of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation, described the deal as "horrendous" - singling out cuts to Ireland's haddock and monkfish quotas, species of which he said "there is an absolute abundance".

Meanwhile, Federation of Irish Fisherman chair Eibhlin O'Sullivan, while welcoming the increased quotas for prawns and blue whiting, claimed the agreement was "a mixed bag" for Ireland, noting that the cut in the haddock quota runs contrary to moves to bring and end to fish discards - a process the minister committed to supporting earlier this year.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has welcomed today's vote in the European Parliament to make amendments to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as RTÉ News reports.

The vote comes just weeks before Ireland assumes its six-month EU Presidency term in January - and has been described by MEP Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher as significant step towards tacking the problem of discards in a practical manner.

Earlier this year Europe's fisheries ministers hailed a "breakthrough" deal on ending the practice of discards, whereby countless numbers of fish are thrown back into the sea under the quota system implemented by the CFP.

However, environmental groups criticised the timeline for implementation of the discards ban, as well as the "vague" wording of the proposed limits on fishermen.

Meanwhile, Minister Coveney was last month accused of "hypocrisy" by environmental groups for his support of fishing fleet subsidies that they argue would be used by bigger fishing countries like France and Spain to exploit dwindling stocks in Irish waters.

Markus Knigge, a consultant with environmental lobby group Ocean 2012, said Minister Coveney's position on the matter was a U-turn on his previous commitment to end the practice of discarding fish at sea.

The EU Fisheries Council, which runs from today till Thursday 20 December, will among other issues see quotas for the Irish fishing fleet decided for 2013. 

Ireland is facing severe double-digit cuts in almost 30 different fish stocks considered vital to the Irish fishing industry.

The minister has described the negotiations as the "most difficult" in years.

Published in Fishing

#FishFarm - A group opposed to the Galway Bay deep-sea salmon farm proposals has announced it will protest the constituency office of Marine Minister Simon Coveney this Saturday 15 December.

In a statement to the media, No Salmon Farms At Sea (NSFAS) said that it will join likeminded groups Save Bantry Bay, Save Galway Bay, FISSTA and Friends of the Irish Environment, along with other local and national organisations, in a protest march through Carrigaline, Co Cork to Minister Coveney's office in the town, where invited speakers will address the crowd to express their opposition to the fish farm.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 15,000-tonne deep-sea organic salmon farm would be located on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay off Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands, and would be one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth more than €100 million annually for the economy, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

But the proposals have raised the ire of local anglers and conservationists who fear the development could have a negative impact on wild salmon numbers in the area.

"Minister Coveney has been a strong supporter of the aquaculture industry and we intend to let him know that his support is misguided and will result in catastrophe not only for our stocks of wild atlantic salmon and sea trout, but also for the communities and local businesses that depend on their very existence," said NSFAS.

The statement also cited the recent international study involving experts from Inland Fisheries Ireland which concluded that 39% of all young salmon mortalities are directly attributable to sea lice in areas where salmon farming takes place.

It added: "The highly inflated number of jobs, which BIM claim will be created, will be far outweighed by the number of jobs lost in areas where no other industry exists apart from that in tourism...

We have a world class sport fishery here in Ireland and our outwardly projected clean environment is one of our greatest assets. However it is fragile and will be destroyed if the salmon farming industry is developed further.

"Anglers and conservationists will do everything in their power to prevent any further destruction to our environment and already declining wild salmon and sea trout stocks."

Meanwhile, in today's Irish Times, angling correspondent Derek Evans writes that "anglers, stakeholders, hoteliers, restaurateurs, islanders and west coast citizens are 'up in arms' and rallying in large numbers in opposition" to what he describes as "this outrageous proposal".

He also backtracked on his previous claim about the location of the deep-sea farm as "a step in the right direction", explaining that he was contacted by a man living on Inis Oirr who said the location for the new fish farm is just "one land mile" opposite the beach, posing a threat to its tourism assets.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#fishing– Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine warned the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels today, that the over reliance on pelagic stocks for the annual exchange in fishing opportunities with Norway is having a detrimental effect on our own Pelagic fleet with knock on consequences for our processors.

Minister Coveney said " EU/Norway is a very important agreement for the EU, but Ireland has traditionally lost out in the overall exchange of fishing opportunities because key pelagic stocks of interest to us, in particular Blue Whiting, form part of the exchange for Arctic Cod, where we gain little".

Norway's Pelagic fleet will see large reductions in their Atlanto Scandian Herring(ASH) and mackerel quotas for 2013, and are demanding large increases in the amount of Blue Whiting and other pelagic stocks to offset this, they have large amounts of Arctic cod to offer in return, but Ireland receives only a small share of this. Minister Coveney explained "the Irish Pelagic fleet is experiencing the same reductions on Norwegian herring and mackerel and to expect them to suffer more hardship by transferring increased amounts of Blue Whiting and Horse mackerel to Norway is unfair and unacceptable, and I made my views on this crystal clear at the Council".

On the question of setting fishing levels for mackerel, Ireland's most important stock, the Minister said "I am concerned about the state of the mackerel stock which is being threatened by the irresponsible and unsustainable fishing by Iceland and the Faroe islands on the stock. I support following ICES scientific advice on setting the 2013 mackerel TAC. I do not however consider that it is reasonable to reduce further the EU share of the stock in response to overfishing of Iceland and the Faroe Islands".

Ireland has secured support at Council on this issue from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal and Poland. Minister Coveney went on to say "I believe that the EU and Norway, as the major shareholders should agree to implement without delay a joint approach including trade sanctions to bring pressure to bear on Iceland and the Faroe islands to come to the table with justifiable demands on a cohesive management framework for the stock which is in all our interests".

Talks between the EU and Norway on the annual fishing agreement and on mackerel commence next week in Bergen, Norway and are scheduled to conclude on Friday 7th December.

Published in Fishing
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#FISHING - Marine Minister Simon Coveney has been accused of "hypocrisy" by supporting subsidies for modernising Europe's fishing fleets despite his previous opposition to overfishing.

The Sunday Times reports that Minister Coveney signalled his backing for new subsidies that would allow European fishermen to modernise their trawlers at a meeting to discuss reform of the Common Fisheries Policy recently.

However, environmental groups argue that such subsidies would be used by bigger fishing countries like France and Spain to exploit already dwindling fish stocks in Irish waters.

"Coveney and his advisers made a number of strategic mistakes in supporting the continued payments of subsidies to Europe's fishermen," said Markus Knigge, a consultant with environmental lobby group Ocean 2012.

"The Spanish are the main beneficiaries and they will use part of this money to improve their fleet, which will enter Irish waters and catch even more fish and deplete Irish stocks. Ireland really voted to allow Spain to overfish its waters."

Knigge said Minister Coveney's position on the matter was a U-turn on his previous commitment to end the practice of discarding fish at sea.

An agreement reached by Europe's fisheries ministers this summer was criticised as "vague" by environmental groups and 'fish fight' campaigners.

Meanwhile, Ebbie Sheehan of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation said that what Irish fishermen really needed was not subsidies but permission to land the fish they catch, instead of being forced to discard fish when they go over quota.

Published in Fishing

Agreement on how a fisheries fund of approximately €6 billion will be allocated among EU Member States was reached in Luxembourg today following two days of negotiations at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D has been making the case to maximise Ireland's access to the fund which will provide significant funding to the seafood sector over the period 2014-2020, and enhance growth and jobs in this vital part of the economy.

In previous years Ireland's allocation from similar funds has been lower than warranted according to Minister Coveney who has been fighting to increase Ireland's share and deliver support to a sector which has the potential to create further jobs and assist in Ireland's economic recovery.

Not for the first time, the Fisheries Council worked through the night to come to a final compromise on the way in which funds will be spent to develop a competitive yet sustainable fishing industry. The fund, which will be used to support the new Common Fisheries Policy, (CFP) can be used for fleet modernisation, safety equipment, aquaculture development, adding value through processing, in addition to investment in new fishing gear to more effectively target stocks and assist in the reduction of discards.

Speaking early this morning, Minister Coveney stated that "The Irish seafood industry is a hugely important part of the economy, providing employment for more than 10,000 people. It is my job to drive a hard bargain on behalf of fishermen and their families but also to put a policy in place which will protect and build our fish stocks. Negotiating access to finance through the CFP is essential to that effort"

Published in Fishing
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