Gildernew rejects ‘unrealistic’ criticism over fish quota cuts
Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has hit back at claims she could have done more to avoid cuts to Northern Ireland fishing quotas.
The Sinn Fein minister told the Assembly that after tough negotiations in Brussels she had reduced a threatened 17% cut in prawn catches to 3%.
Ms Gildernew said an additional increase in the herring quota, and the promise of a review of the handling of cod, represented real gains and she accused her critics of seeking unrealistic “wish-lists”. The European talks came to a head with a session of all-night negotiations in December and while the minister said the outcome could have been much worse, she was criticised by the DUP and SDLP.
But Ms Gildernew said: “You just don't go with a wish-list and get everything that you want.”
She added: “Am I disappointed? Well, you can never be 100% happy when you come back with a cut, albeit a small one of 3% that we achieved this year.
“But had we come back with 17%, or a figure close to 17%, I wouldn't just have been disappointed, I'd have been devastated, knowing the impact that that would have.”
The minister also said other targets were met.
“The other two were to secure commission commitment for a fundamental review of the cod recovery plan, and we achieved that,” she said.
“And to secure an increase in the herring quota, and again we achieved that.”