Dáil Éireann - Volume 324 - 20 November, 1980

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Fisheries Policy.

12. Mr. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry the up-to-date position in EEC negotiations for a common fisheries policy.

Mr. Lenihan: In its decision of 30 May 1980 the Council undertook to adopt, in parallel with the application of the decisions to be taken in other areas, the decisions necessary to ensure that a common overall fisheries policy be put into effect at the latest on 1 January 1981 based on the following guidelines:

(1) Rational measures for the management of resources and conservation of stocks;

(2) Fair distribution of catches with particular reference to traditional fishing activities, special needs of regions where the local populations are particularly dependent upon fishing and the industries allied thereto and to the loss of catch potential in third country waters;

(3) effective control;

(4) adoption of structural measures;

(5) establishment of securely-based fisheries relations with third countries.

To date agreement has been reached in relation to items (1) and (3) above. Active discussion on the remaining items is proceeding.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Is it the situation that Ireland's claim to an exclusive 50 mile band or anything approaching that has been dropped entirely?

Mr. Lenihan: The exclusive 50-mile zone is not under discussion at present. The Deputy should be aware of that.

Mr. Deasy: The Minister described it as illusory.

[967] Mr. O'Keeffe: Since the Minister and his Government have thrown overboard that scheme, which they moaned about so much when they were in opposition, will the Minister indicate to the House what is the basic approach of the Government to these negotiations? What are the basic things we are seeking to ensure so that there will be some protection of our fishery stock for Irish fishermen?

Mr. Lenihan: What we basically want for our fishermen is a preponderant share of the catch in the waters adjacent to our coast out to 200 miles, but in particular as far as 50 miles, for our fishermen. What is involved here is getting, by reason of the Hague agreement, a sufficient catch quota to ensure that the requirements of the Irish fishermen will be met in the area of water out to 200 miles adjacent to the Irish coast but more particularly in the inner areas of 12 to 50 miles.

Mr. Deasy: What preferential treatment are we getting as a result of the Hague agreement? As far as I can see the British are getting far more favourable terms.

Mr. Lenihan: There has been no conclusion in that matter yet. Up to now we have had a full meeting of our requirements and, indeed, the very substantial mackerel harvest that is being garnered at the moment by Irish fishermen is a direct result of our gaining substantial mackerel quotas that are at the moment of enormous benefit to our fishermen particularly in the west and the north-west.

Mr. O'Keeffe: So the Minister is satisfied with the crumbs that are dropping from the table in Brussels?

Mr. Lenihan: That is very emotive, evocative talk. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about business; we are talking about very big fishing operations.

[968] An Ceann Comhairle: One final supplementary from Deputy O'Keeffe.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Lenihan: The Deputy could not negotiate a one mile limit.

Mr. O'Keeffe: We had negotiated an exclusive limit and the Minister knows that.