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  • ifsacormac

An absolute disgrace!

“The SFPA might as well go ahead and close down the port of Killybegs - because their actions today have hit a new low by refusing to allow a Danish vessel to land blue whiting intended for human consumption unless they agreed to ‘de-water’ the fish and thereby make them no longer fit for human consumption” - Cormac Burke, Chairman, Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance.

For possibly first time in living memory a fishing vessel LEFT Killybegs full of fresh prime fish and, it would appear, is unlikely to ever return to land in Ireland, thanks to the Ireland’s own Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).

The pelagic flagship of the Danish fleet, MV Ruth, one of the most modern fishing vessels in Europe made the journey to Killybegs with 1,270 tonnes of blue whiting intended for human consumption where it was to be processed locally and then exported to Africa where there are currently food shortages and this supply of fish is seen as vital.

When such vessels are in the blue whiting season and catching for human consumption, they intentionally do not fill their RSW tanks with the fish and keep these tanks well flooded (up to 50% water/fish) to ensure that there is no crushing of the fish and they retain their high quality before processing.

But today in Killybegs the SFPA insisted that the Ruth should land its catch without water and that each lorry container of fish go over a weigh bridge with no more than 2% water - thereby turning this prime human consumption fish into soup as the volume of fish would crush themselves without water.

Blue whiting is also often landed in Killybegs for the local fishmeal factory and although this is also going to produce important products such as meal and fish oil, the need for water retention is not as great as it would be for processing for human consumption.

Rather than see this ridiculous waste of a perfectly good, and valuable, fish commodity, the skipper of the Ruth took the decision to leave Killybegs with its catch still on board and head back to Denmark.

Apparently word has spread quickly and it looks likely that future landings by Danish vessels to Irish fish processors is in serious jeopardy - and one can only wonder if this boycott will also extend to the vessels from other nations that are also currently landing to the port.

The now lost quayside value of approximately 350,000 euros is only the tip of the iceberg of the damage created by the SFPA in today’s actions - the processing factory who should have had 80-odd staff working over the next four or five days is now closed and these factory workers have each lost a week’s wages - not to mention the buyers of the product in Africa who are now left without a shipment.

And on top of this, many local Killybegs net and engineering companies, rely on these visiting vessels for work at a time when the Irish fleet has already exhausted their mediocre blue whiting quota and have tied up - this avenue of business may now be lost permanently.

The ramifications of today’s carry on by the SFPA are massive and cannot just be ignored as just another act of incompetence by this body - this was a direct and intentional action to cause as much damage as possible.

It is far gone past the point where the people of this industry must demand an entire Government-led investigation into the goings-on in the SFPA and of those in the higher ranks of the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine.

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