European Commission proposals to restrict the fishing industry's activities and reduce quotas for whitefish would have a devastating socio-economic impact on Northern Ireland according to Fisheries Minister Bríd Rodgers.

Voicing her opposition to the European Commissions' strategic plan for the industry tabled today during the fisheries council in Luxembourg, Bríd Rodgers said:-

"The proposals include a five year and more recovery plan for two whitefish species, namely hake and cod with cuts of nearly 50% in quotas and up to 40% in fishing activity.

"While my Ministerial colleagues and I broadly accept the need for a Common Fisheries Policy that is both environmentally and economically sustainable, I will be stressing during negotiations the regional importance of our fishing sector in Northern Ireland.

"I will also be highlighting how our industry has been hit disproportionately by two Cod Recovery Plans, the continuing disadvantage to Northern Ireland of the Hague Preference application, and the unwarranted 10% cut last year in Total Allowable Cash quota for nethrops.

"The Northern Ireland industry has already demonstrated its willingness to co-operate with Common Fisheries Policy, but I believe that the carte blanche implementation of further swingeing cuts could threaten its very survival.

"We have already consulted our local industry on the Green Paper dealing with the future of Common Fisheries Policy. However, following today's further proposals from the Commission, I will be instigating immediate discussions to assess the best way forward for the Northern Ireland fishing industry"