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UK Fisheries Minister welcomes first North Sea Regional Advisory Council meeting


4th November 2004

DEFRA News release 445/04

UK Fisheries Minister, Ben Bradshaw, has welcomed delegates to the first official (RAC) meeting in Edinburgh today.

Attending the Council's inaugural general assembly, Mr Bradshaw said:

"It is encouraging to see the number of organisations and the range of countries present today, all of whom place importance on the valuable resources in the North Sea.

"This RAC is helping us move towards effective regional management within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). We have to manage our marine resources in partnership with the other countries with an interest in them, and in an enlarged Europe the CFP is the best way we have of doing that."

Mr Bradshaw said that greater regional management was one of the objectives for the UK presidency in 2005 and that the RACs were a step forward.

"The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report, "Net Benefits", published earlier this year, gave a number of recommendations on how we can improve fisheries management, with regional management cited as one of the key tools. It also highlighted the need for more involvement of fisheries organisations and others with an interest. We, and colleagues in devolved administrations, are currently exploring with stakeholders how we can make this a reality.

"The UK government has supported the initiative from an early stage by providing practical support for the RACs and playing a key role in discussions with the Commission and Member States.

"We will continue to support the North Sea RAC as Member State observers and provide practical support. I look forward to its success."

DEFRA notes

1. The North Sea RAC has already been consulted on the management of flatfish in the North Sea, and will be consulted on the November Fisheries Council.

2. RACs are international stakeholder led bodies, comprising both fishing and other interests. Their main role is to advise the Commission and Member States on fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy.