Dáil Éireann - Volume 412 - 06 November, 1991

Written Answers. - Coastal Zone Extension.

43. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Marine if he intends to seek an extension of this country's exclusive coastal zone from six to 12 miles, as recommended in the report of the Common Fisheries Policy Groups; if he will outline the progress which has been made in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[437] Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): As the Deputy will be aware, the recent report of the Common Fishery Policy Review Group contained a number of recommendations, including that mentioned in the question, on possible approaches to improving the position of the Irish fishing industry in the context of the mid-term review of the CFP.

I have endorsed the group's report, which reinforces very considerably the case that has been made to Brussels on behalf of our industry. The report has, accordingly, been submitted to the EC Commission for consideration in the preparation of their report, which is due to be released by the end of December.

As regards the particular recommendation mentioned, I should point out to the Deputy that the present arrangement whereby there is an exclusive coastal zone of six miles and restricted access within the 6-12 mile zone is by way of derogation from the general principle of equal access which underlines the Common Fisheries Policy.

It is, however, also an important objective of the CFP to protect the position of coastal communities especially dependent on fishing. I will, therefore, be pressing the Commission to take a range of measures, including strengthening the exclusive zone concept, so as to ensure that the interests of the coastal communities concerned are fully safeguarded.

As I mentioned earlier, the report of the Commission is due to be made by the end of this year. Every effort has been made, at all levels, to ensure that the Commission, in completing its report, is fully aware of Ireland's concerns. These efforts are being maintained and I can assure the Deputy that, when these issues come before the Council of Fisheries Ministers I will be pursuing them in a vigorous manner.