The Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney held a bilateral meeting with the Spanish Minister of the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs, Rosa Aguilar in Madrid to discuss the planned reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and to identify areas of mutual interest. The EU Commission has been in consultation over the past year on the reform of the CFP and Commission proposals are expected in June/July for adoption by the end of 2012.
The meeting focused on the key areas of importance to both countries in the Common Fisheries Policy. Minister Coveney said “I consider that the reform of the CFP to be absolutely crucial to the future of the Irish fishing industry and I am committed to working to deliver a reform package that works for Irish fishermen and also ensures that fish stocks are rebuilt and are managed in a sustainable way. Coastal communities are directly dependent on a healthy fishing industry and the new CFP must deliver long term economic activity and employment for these communities. My experience to date in public life has reinforced the importance of building trust and a positive relationship with key decision makers. My relationship with the Spanish minister with responsibility for fisheries is important in that regard. Today was an important first step in that relationship.”
Minister Coveney and Minister Rosa Aguilar agreed to focus on key elements of the CFP reform and to develop a mutual understanding in advance of key negotiations later this year. A joint statement on the areas of mutual interest was created. It stated that “Ireland and Spain will jointly work with a view to develop a mutual understanding in particular concerning matters such as governance, fisheries management, management of discards, funding and labelling in the future CFP.”
Minister Coveney stated that “while there are certain areas where Ireland and Spain have opposing positions, particularly in relation to access to fish stocks, there are many areas where both countries have similar concerns. Both countries have coastal communities very dependent on fishing and related activities and the new CFP must be reformed to work positively in the long term to support these communities.”
Minister Coveney continued, “the development of mutual understanding on core issues including effectively addressing discards, will be critical in the negotiations. I am also convinced that the consumer must be given clear information on the origin and production methods of fish in order to be able to make an informed choice. This approach will, I firmly believe, benefit EU fishermen and aquaculture operators who operate under strict environmental and food safety rules. I am seeking to reform the CFP in the area of governance so that stakeholders are given a key input into management arrangements that are developed on a regional basis. Both Minister Rosa Aguilar and myself are convinced of the importance of increased EU funding to support the reformed CFP.
I will be consulting closely with the Irish fishing industry and other stakeholders over the coming weeks so that I have a full understanding of all the issues. We have the opportunity now to deliver real reforms and I consider that we must work closely with other Member States on areas of mutual interest and importance to develop a policy that ensures that there is a future for Irish fishermen and coastal communities.”