Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Fishing Industry Development
In light of the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against Ireland concerning non-compliance with the EU Habitats and Birds Directives, my overriding policy priority for the inshore sector continues to be to bring all inshore fisheries, and aquaculture, in Natura 2000 sites into full compliance with the EU Birds & Habitats Directives. As part of a major project involving my Department and its agencies and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a substantial body of scientific data and analysis has been generated over the past number of years since the ECJ judgment. The project is now focused on the roll-out of the bay by bay environmental assessments required under the Directives.
Three comprehensive assessments were completed in 2011, in respect of Castlemaine Harbour County Kerry, Dundalk Bay Co. Louth and Roaring Water Bay, Co. Cork. Work is at an advanced stage in respect of Lough Swilly, Co. Donegal and Clew Bay, Co. Mayo, among others, and this process will continue throughout 2012 in respect of these and other prioritised sites.
Any wider policy initiatives for the inshore sector must take account of this policy priority and the associated legal constraints these Directives impose in terms of putting in place new licensing or management arrangements for inshore stocks within Natura sites, in advance of the completion of the necessary environmental assessments.