AVOIDING THE ISSUE
With the passing of ten days or so since the Irish fisheries delegation visited Brussels and had the chance to state their case to the EU departments of DG Mare and PECH, and since my summary report on these events, there has been a deafening silence from Minister Charlie McConalogue on ‘matters arising’.
The most glaring of these is the statement by DG Director Charlina Vitcheva to the delegation when she repeated what the Commissioner himself clearly stated during his visit to Ireland in that the EU Commission DO NOT intend to carry out any major review or reformation of the existing Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) but an internal report will be undertaken on the CFP.
Personally I believe this is basically because there is ‘no appetite’ for change amongst the other EU Member States with fishing interests to even discuss ‘relative stability’ or ‘zonal attachment’ as most of them are doing quite nicely out of Irish waters under the current situation — so why would they even consider supporting Ireland in any change?
But that aside, here we have the two most senior people in the the EU fisheries management sector openly saying that THERE WILL BE NO review of the CFP - - meanwhile the Irish marine minister continues to announce to the industry and the general public that he has set up a CFP review group and that when the CFP renewal comes then it will be “a chance for Ireland to get something back”…
Now either the Minister simply doesn’t understand the facts of the situation, or he is being led down the garden path by his own advisors — but that doesn’t mean that the industry, and the more savvy members of the public in the coastal regions, are similarly going to be also led down the garden path by this line of BS.
Instead of this time-wasting exercise of trying to fool people that his Department is working hard (on something that we’ve all been clearly told will not be happening), Mr McConalogue could spend his time in a more productive manner in (a) instructing his Department to examine ways to ‘box clever’ and seek solutions in gaining small additional amounts of quota, as the recent delegation proved, that can gain benefits without entanglement in the EU red tape such as CFP, and (b) start representing the urgent needs of this industry to the Department and not the other way around.
And, if the Minister finds himself unable to do either of the above, then should he at the very least not be asking the EU Commission the question that if they are saying that there will be no review of the CFP, then why not?
Is it not enshrined in the EU’s own rules that such a policy has only a certain shelf life and will be reviewed every time the agreed set period expires?
Why is Ireland not demanding answers to the question that it appears that there will be no review just because most of the other nations are happy with the way things are?
One can only guess how much brown stuff would be hitting the fan right now if it was France, Spain or Netherlands who wanted CFP but Ireland was holding it up because we didn’t want anything to change.
Either way, Minister, get off the pot, stop wasting time with media lip service stunts and start giving this industry some genuine representation at all levels.
# Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD # Michael Collins Independent TD # Brendan Byrne # Marine Times Newspaper # The Skipper # Ocean FM Ireland # Highland Radio # TheFishingDaily