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A pig with lipstick is still a pig…

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has today (11th November 2021) released its annual report for 2020 (including up to January 2021) and with the fishing industry catching sector taking up less than 12 pages out of the 256-page report, its clear to see where the priorities lie.

Although this is understandable to some extent as the agriculture sector employs almost ten times that of the 16,500 in the fishing industry, it is nonetheless frustrating for the people of this industry that this DAFM report fails to even attempt to highlight the real issues of concern and simply glides along with facts and figures and giving the impression that ‘all is well’ aside from the pandemic-related drop off in seafood export sales by 8%.

But how can such a report, compiled throughout 2021, and includes statements from Minister McConalogue post BREXIT in January 2021, make absolutely no reference to the current crisis and the alarming state of the industry since twelve months ago?

It even goes as far as to talk about the review of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in that it “is expected to be completed by the end of 2022” - this despite the fact that it is widely known that the CFP review is only set to commence at the end of 2022 and will last for five years and, as confirmed by the EU Fisheries Commissioner during his recent visit to Ireland, this review will only be held as a means to compile a report and that “no great change” should be expected.

With the Irish pelagic sector now completely shafted by EU corrupt negotiators and useless Irish would-be defenders of the industry, the demersal sector so decimated that it must accept a vessel decommissioning scheme (also not mentioned in the report), and an inshore fishing sector to which the only advice offered in this report is that they “should be encouraged to develop their digital literacy through one-on-one training in the local community” - is this so they’ll be better able to fill out online catch records for administrators?

All in all, this report is a mirror image of how the EU Commission itself does its business - paper over the cracks, kick the can down the road, and it’ll be somebody else’s problem by the time it comes up again.

The DAFM can try to dress this ugly situation up in any way they want but at the end of the day, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t alter the fact that it’s still a pig.

Personally I see this report, in its atrocious effort to be business-like but avoiding most issues of genuine concern in the industry, to be nothing more than an insult to the people in all sectors of the Irish fishing and processing sectors, many of whom are now facing bankruptcy due to this Government allowing its civil servants to continue to preside over the gradual transition of Irish-owned marine resources into the hands of other nations.

Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine Annual Review and Outlook Published for 2021

Agriculture accounts for 9% of all exports, 7% of total employment – Annual Review and Outlook

  • Over €14bn worth of exports

  • Sector accounts for 9% of total exports

  • 163,600 employed in the agri-food sector; 7.1% of total employment

  • Exporting to 180 markets worldwide

  • Beef: 8th largest exporter of boneless beef and veal in the world

  • Dairy: accounts for 36% or over €5 billion of agri-food exports

  • Sheep: average sheep price in 2020 was up 13% on 2019

  • Pig: Exports of pigmeat have doubled since 2011

  • Poultry: a record 111.7 million birds were processed in 2020

  • Tillage: There were 13,600 hectares of protein crops planted in 2020

gov.ie - Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2021 (www.gov.ie)

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