Dáil Éireann - Volume 504 - 13 May, 1999
Written Answers. - Fisheries Protection.
Mr. McGinley Mr. McGinley
38. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the reason fishing restrictions were put on fishermen precluding them from fishing for the non-quota species of blue whiting which were fished for the first time in 1997; his views on whether Irish fishermen  were discriminated against in view of the fact that other countries continued fishing for this non-quota species after the ban was introduced; and the sanctions, if any, which will be taken against these countries which continue to fish. [12361/99]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods): The European Community quota of blue whiting for 1999 in Area Vb, VI and VII amounts to 133,000 tonnes. Some 20,000 tonnes and 1,500 tonnes of this quota is allocated to Spain and Portugal, respectively, with the balance of 111,500 tonnes being available to all other EU member states.
The European Commission informed Ireland and other member states on 16 April that the unallocated quota of 111,500 tonnes had been exhausted and that the relevant procedure to provide for Commission closure of the fishery was being instituted. Following consultation with the Commission and on the basis of legal advice that member states were indeed under an obligation to close the fishery for their fleets with immediate effect, an order to close the fishery for the Irish fleet came into effect on 22 April.
It became apparent, however, that while a number of member states had also closed their fishery, vessels from two other member states continued to fish for blue whiting in the days following the closure. This was entirely unacceptable to me and the Irish fishing industry. I took up the matter directly with Commissioner Bonino, demanding that she take immediate action to ensure that Community law was respected by all member states and confirm to me without delay that this action had indeed been taken.
The Commission responded to me two days later to the effect that they had ordered the two member states concerned to cease fishing for blue whiting in line with their legal obligations. The Commission has confirmed that these member states then closed the blue whiting fishery to their vessels.
I have been to the forefront in pressing the EU for action to ensure that fisheries control is applied across the board. I will continue to press the Commission to ensure that EU fishermen operate in this and other fisheries, on a level playing field and that the rules are enforced by all member states.
Dáil Éireann 504 Written Answers. Fisheries Protection.