Since assuming office, the government have crucified the Irish fishing industry through massive fish quota losses and a raft of new stringent regulations and penalties, Michael Collins TD has said.
Speaking with the Rural Independent Group, the Cork South West TD slammed what he described the government’s “gigantic failures” – to protect Ireland’s fishing interests, to support coastal communities and to listen to the concerns of ordinary fishermen and women.
“European national governments have done everything possible to protect their fishing sectors during the Brexit discussions. In Ireland, the opposite is the case, as our government have accepted a sell-out Brexit deal that will cost an average fisherman between €5,000 and €20,000 in lost annual income.”
“In overall terms, the Irish industry will lose €43 million worth of quota shares by 2026, according to the government’s own figures.”
“This deal means that foreign vessels now catch over 85 per cent of all fish in Irish waters. It also means that an estimated 4,000 people will lose their jobs either on boats or within the processing sectors. By comparison, Britain received a Brexit deal ensuring their boats can catch 75 per cent of all fish in their waters.”
“The disastrous Brexit deal and the weighing of fish at the pier are both a direct result of Minister Mc Conalogue’s utter failure. This Minister is now allowing foreign vessels to arrive at Irish ports without any checks, while Irish boats are treated like criminals,” he said.
“Such gross incompetence is reprehensible, especially as every plea so far from the industry has been utterly dismissed by the Minister and the government. This dismissively arrogant attitude is shameful and will wipe out already pressured coastal communities.”
“This arrogance was again on display by the Minister during a fisheries debate in the Dáil last week, as he treated it as a casual box-ticking exercise rather than with the degree of seriousness and sincerity it deservedly required. In fact, that debate served to illustrate how far removed this government is from the views of ordinary fishers.”
“Perhaps what is most perplexing from the outcome of that crucial debate was that on two occasions, the Minister actually mislead the Dáil using trickery. Firstly, he tried to illustrate that a new control plan, which is out for public consultation, included the entire sector. This is totally incorrect, as only whitefish and shellfish plans are out for public consultation, with the pelagic sector – the most valuable to the Irish fleet and most impacted by the Brexit quota deal – completely excluded.”
“This means the Minister’s actions further jeopardise the entire sector, as any such plan can now be rejected by the Commission, due to its incomplete nature, as each member state can only have one such control plan.”
“Minister McConalogue also stated that the SFPA would be submitting the control plan to the EU Commission, to distance himself from the process. Again, this is incorrect and deliberately misleading, as article 43 of the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Act 2006 confirms that it is, in fact, the Minister who must submit the control plan to the Commission, following cabinet approval.”
“Playing political games with the fishing industry will not be tolerated. More than 16,000 people depend on this sector for employment. It is reckless, careless and extremely arrogant for the Minister to act in this way.”
“My colleagues and I, in the Rural Independent Group, stand firmly with the Irish fishing sector. We want to see a re-negotiation of the Brexit quota carve-up, to include a much higher quota deal for Ireland and to put an end to the latest requirement that Irish-vessel caught fish be weighed on arrival in a port.”
He said that the Rural Independents would be standing “shoulder to shoulder with Irish fishermen and women, when they bring their protest campaign to the capital” on Wednesday.
“The government must listen and end their deceit of the sector. The time for games has long since passed,” said Deputy Collins.