It is less than four weeks since there was an IFSA article about the general tone and language used by the SFPA (July 11th - ‘SFPA - laziness or hidden agenda’) to continually portray an industry tainted with constant crime and illegal activity - - and today I have come across yet another not-so-subtle description of the fishing and seafood industry by that same body.
Commenting in news report today (see The Fishing Daily, August 10th - ‘SFPA confirms seafood safety enforcements….’ etc), a statement from an unnamed SFPA spokesperson reads: “The low level of non-compliance found illustrates the considerable effort being made by most seafood businesses to work within the regulations…..”
So, what is in general a positive story i.e. that there IS a good compliance level to the regulations by the industry, is in fact delivered in a double negative tone with the words ‘LOW LEVEL’ and ‘NON-compliance’ instead of, which would be the norm in any other organisation, simply saying “there is a high level of compliance of the regulations”.
When it comes to the Irish fishing, processing and seafood retail sectors in Ireland, there is a constant negative ’vibe’ being drip-fed by the SFPA to the mass media and the general public - done with the dual intention of: a) inferring that this is an industry rife with ‘dodgy customers’, and b) thereby justifying the SFPA’s own existence and the need to have increasing numbers of staff nationwide, so much so that we have surpassed the level where there are now more SFPA officers than there are demersal and pelagic vessels combined, compared to other EU Member States with much larger fishing fleets but less than two dozen fishery officers for their entire countrymen while a small country like Ireland has an organisation with over 200 staff.
Also of note is the fact that in such communications the SFPA do not issue a name of their person making any statement - in the case of this Seafood Enforcements’ story it just says “an SFPA spokesperson said…” and in several recent email transactions between the IFSA and the SFPA (in regard to the Freedom of Information request), not one single email reply contained a name or title or the person and was only signed off as ‘SFPA’.
If, as we are being led to believe, this organisation is, as they like to describe themselves “the competent authority” then isn’t it a basic right to expect the courtesy and professionalism that all communications, be they to the media, replies to industry organisations, or contact with fishermen, carry the name and title of the SFPA officer or staff member making the statement or drawing up the communication?
Far from co-operating and “working with” this industry, for the SFPA to continue to behave in this unprofessional manner is one of the many reasons that this body is seen by many in the industry as enjoying its ‘cloak & dagger’ reputation and that no genuine effort is being made by this ‘authority’ to establish any goodwill or relationship with the people without whom the SFPA would in fact have no jobs….
Competent, no - unprofessional and unmannerly, definitely.