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Editorial comment

Its oh so quiet…

Is anyone else wondering what is going on with our marine administrators in recent weeks?

Funny how, in the wake of the protests in Cork and Dublin, everyone had an opinion – thank God most of them in favour of the fishing industry but even from our Minister, Dept. of Marine and the SFPA who were quick to jump in front of a camera to defend their positions.

Even the usually silent media began to give the injustices of the fishing industry some coverage – even if some of this coverage was only in the tabloid newspapers its still coverage nonetheless and something we never had before.

But, for the Minister, DAFM & SFPA, it must feel like the storm has passed – “the industry has had its little rant and now let’s carry on mis-managing this sector”.

The people of the Irish fishing and seafood sectors and the populations of the coastal communities MUST continue keeping the pressure up – continue to present our case to the general public – continue to highlight the fact that this government are still sacrificing the rights, the very lives, of Irish fishermen by surrendering Ireland’s waters to vessels from other countries.

But I’ve no doubt that the clandestine meetings are still going on in the background and, as was ever the case, are being done with zero transparency and with zero consultation with the actual people on the ground in this industry.

To the SFPA: We haven’t forgotten that you were caught lying to the people of this industry and to the Government about the EU 2018 Audit Report in which the SFPA were labelled by the report as being “not fit for purpose” and that the report was NOT claiming that Irish fishermen were guilty of massive infringements.

Nor have we failed to notice that you told the Oireachtas Joint Committee that a new Control Plan has been submitted to the EU Commission and it will take ten weeks to be approved when in fact you will not be submitting this plan until September and the 10-week approval period will begin at that point.

The people of this industry also notice that, despite being ORDERED by court ruling to accept the pelagic flow scales system, your officers continue to ‘examine’ the system in recent weeks in a bid to still find some reason for you not to approve it – all of which makes a lie of the statement by Susan Steele and Andrew Kinneen to the Oireachtas Committee that “we will of course accept the Court ruling on this matter”.

To the Department of Marine: We still await your answer to the question posed as a result of the SFPA’s categorical statement to the Oireachtas Committee that they DID NOT leak anti industry propaganda and a misinterpretation of the EU Audit Report and, considering the industry itself did not have possession of this report, now leaves the Department the only possible source of such ‘leaks’.

And what is your role in the recent agreement to admit access to Northern Irish inshore vessels to Rep of Ireland waters when our own inshore fleet are being denied several different fishing opportunities in their local waters?

Also, given that it is clear that there are EU Commission supports for local artisanal sustainable fisheries, what efforts are you making to secure a separate Irish small quota of mackerel for this important hook & line community fishery?

And to our Minister: Its seven months since BREXIT and this industry is STILL awaiting some positive action from you.

Not PR ‘spin’ where you keep saying that you support this sector, you’re working towards compensation in tie-up and decommissioning schemes, etc. – these are all fire-fighting steps to try to lessen the impact of what you have already allowed the EU to do to us.

As the appointed ‘leader’ of this industry, people expect, indeed demand, to see positive action from you in the form of actual meaningful discussion with the EU Commission where you make it clear that the Irish fishing industry refuses to accept the current situation.

You can try to dress it up anyway you like but the startling facts are that Ireland’s pelagic fleet has lost 40% of its quota in the past five years, the demersal fleet now only have 15% of the quota in its own waters, and the inshore fleet are being denied all diversification into anything other than crabs – so that the increased pressure on this stock will lead to an eventual collapse and then the fishermen will be blamed and the last fishery that they have can be closed by your department.

Ireland and its fishing industry have become the laughing stock of Europe whilst under your term in charge of DAFM and surely any self-respecting minister would not want to be remembered for having such a track record.

Also Minister, stop trying to fool people by saying that the reforming of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 2022 will give this industry ‘better opportunities for the future’ – the last reformation of the CFP took exactly five years to iron out – the Irish fishing industry does not have until 2027 as it will have collapsed by then.

Finally, Minister, in a recent podcast interview you stated that you want to hear the opinions of all fishermen ---- is that why you are now doing a tour of the ports but not giving prior notice to anyone of the date of each of these visits just in case protests are mounted and you would actually get to hear the opinions of the fishermen in that area?

Cormac Burke,

Chairman, IFSA

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