A PROPOSAL to extend Ireland’s ban on seabass fishing in the Irish and Celtic Seas to all EU vessels has been welcomed the Irish fisheries minister Simon Coveney.

Coveney told reporters that move underpins the conservation actions already taken by Ireland with regard to this vulnerable stock.

“Ireland has had stringent measures in place for the protection of seabass, a very important angling species, for a long number of years,” said Coveney.

“However, those measures only applied to Irish vessels. I have been very active over the past six months, lobbying the EU Commission and relevant member states, on this issue.

“I am delighted that the EU finally recognises the lead taken by Ireland by extending our ban on commercial fishing to all EU vessels operating in the waters around Ireland. The scientific advice for seabass is very worrying and we must all do our utmost to protect this stock.

“Ireland has been to the forefront in being the only EU member state to afford maximum protection to this stock and today’s proposal will enhance that protection by making the Irish model obligatory for all EU vessels in the Irish and Celtic Seas.”

It is understood that once the measures are approved by the Council of Ministers, all commercial fishing for seabass will be prohibited in the waters around Ireland.