MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan is the Greens’ negotiator of the most significant reform of EU fisheries in a decade. MEPs have clashed over attempts to deregulate regulations in favour of industrial fisheries. MEP for Kerry
A petition has been launched by Irish environmental organisations calling on the Irish government to reject proposals by the European Parliament and some EU countries to deregulate rules on how fish are caught, weighed and reported.
The Fisheries Control Regulation is currently being reformed in negotiations between EU institutions, with an agreement expected at the end of May. One issue remains on the table. So-called ‘margins of tolerance’ are allowances given to masters of fishing vessels to estimate the weight of catches on board as often circumstances at sea can make accurate weighing difficult. Normally fishers are given a margin of tolerance of 10% but in recent negotiations some MEPs have been insisting on expanding the margin to as high as 25% in some circumstances to favour long-distance industrial tuna fishing.
Green Party MEP for Kerry Grace O’Sullivan is the lead negotiator for the Greens/EFA Group in the Parliament and has opposed expanding these margins of tolerance as, she says, “they favour industrial fishing outfits who bend the rules at the expense of honest fishers and the future of sustainable fish stocks.”
Speaking from Brussels this week, MEP O’Sullivan added; “we have seen intensive lobbying from the Spanish and French fishing industry in particular who are keen to deregulate EU fishing rules. Similar rules have been relaxed before in the Baltic Sea and the result was a disastrous rise in overfishing and the collapse of fish stocks there.”
“What’s more, this could have serious impact on Irish fisheries. If we deregulate now, we will have weaker regulations than are currently in place in UK waters, where we have to negotiate access and quotas on a yearly basis following Brexit. The UK will not look favourably on this, and this may affect how many of our fishers are allowed to put out their nets in UK waters.”
The petition was set up by Birdwatch Ireland and is supported by the Irish Wildlife Trust. It can be found on Irish petition website Uplift.ie