Coveney to raise concerns over Russian sanctions on EU fishing industry
EDITOR'S CHOICE | 05.09.2014

Coveney to raise concerns over Russian sanctions on EU fishing industry

Growing anxiety in Ireland about impact of sanctions on Irish exporters

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is expected to raise concerns about the impact of Russian sanctions on the fishing industry at a meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels today.

The meeting comes amid growing anxiety in Ireland about the impact of the sanctions on Irish exporters. Concern is growing in the Department of Agriculture about the impact on Ireland’s fish exporters, particularly mackerel exporters, of Russia’s ban on EU fish. Ireland is one of the EU’s main fish exporters to Russia, alongside France, Britain, Denmark, Latvia and Estonia.

The European Commission moved swiftly last month to introduce emergency market measures to combat the effects of sanctions on the food and agriculture industry, but similar measures were not introduced for the fishing industry.

As EU ambassadors in Brussels this week discussed the possibility of imposing further sanctions on Russia, European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos yesterday announced a further €30 million in support for farmers. This is in addition to already-agreed market support measures for perishable fruit and vegetables as well as the activation of special storage arrangements for dairy products.

It is understood the EU is now considering the introduction of possible support measures for European fish exporters. This could involve offering storage facilities or direct financial compensation from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Russia imported about €200 million worth of fish from the European Union last year, according to the European Commission. On August 7th, Russia introduced a one-year ban on certain food products from the European Union, US, Canada, Australia and Norway, in retaliation for EU and US sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. A wide range of meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable products have been banned although certain categories of produce such as olive oil have not.

The EU exported more than €11 billion worth of agricultural goods to Russia last year, although less than half of this total figure for exports is covered by the current sanctions. Ireland exported €211 million worth to Russia last year, according to commission figures.

Agriculture and fisheries ministers will discuss the possibility of further support measures for agricultural producers tomorrow in Brussels, although Mr Ciolos warned yesterday that, under the EU budget agreed for next year, the scope for further help is limited.

The countries with the highest food exports to Russia include Lithuania, Germany, Poland Denmark and the Netherlands.

Suzanne Lynch, Sep 5, 2014, 01:05