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Fuel crisis - the last straw for the Irish fishing industry

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine goes from a simple ‘power grab’ by the Soviets that has been strongly condemned by everyone, to now having a global impact on fuel supplies, the first stage of a possible World War III has already begun to bite – even in rural Ireland.

With fuel supplies severely effected, prices have begun to soar and, as ever, the Irish Government are making statements such as “we are acutely aware of the situation” and yet make absolutely no effort to reduce their 56% excise duty tax as fuel consumer prices reach €2 per litre.

And, as recently as last night (8th March), the Government rejected calls from independent TDs and parties for a debate on this issue – shockingly with the Government assisted by votes to reject the proposal for a debate from Regional Independent Group members Cathal Berry TD, Peter Fitzpatrick TD, Denis Naughton TD and Matt Shanahan whilst other members of this group, Michael Lowry TD, Sean Canney TD and Noel Grealish TD failed to register a vote either way.

The members of this Group are elected by their constituencies in rural Ireland to fight in just such occasions as this when fishing and farming communities need their help the most and, when called upon, they have reneged on their promise to those who voted them into office.

A tsunami situation

For the fishing industry the fuel crisis is not just something that’s a possible ‘on the horizon’ – its here and its now and already the impacts are being felt.

There are already fears that bunkered supplies are at an all-time low and its only a matter of time before vessels are faced with the very real danger of having to tie-up due to having no fuel to go to sea.

But for vessel owners in all sectors, while supplies are still available, it is the price of fuel that may force the cessation of their enterprises sooner rather than later.

The profit margins for fishing vessels is a delicate balancing act and, as ever it was, the commercial fishing sector is one of the few production industries in the world that cannot just increase the price of its end product to consumers to match the increase in its production costs.

And so, as the price per litre of petrol/diesel grows to double its previous rate, and even with the slightly subsidised current rate for the marine sector, it will simply not be viable for many vessels to go fishing.

The cynic in me feels that this will be an unexpected boon for those DAFM administrators who’s strategy always seems to be to bankrupt the fishing industry – what could be better than vessels voluntarily tying up, not able to catch their quotas, and all without the DAFM having to pay a penny compensation from the BAR fund as this is not a BREXIT related issue.

However, one can only hope that pressure will come to bear on the Government in the days and weeks ahead to relax their level of greed on 56% excise duty tax to allow fishermen and farmers, already under massive financial pressure, to go about their business as normal.

Cormac Burke,

Chairman, IFSA

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