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Get change or get out!

Some 11 months of the worst deal in the history of Irish fishing has passed and has been followed ever since with much talk about the concept of ‘burden sharing’ i.e., the sharing of quotas that had to be surrendered to the UK in the aftermath of BREXIT - but does anyone know what is meant by this term?

Surely after this time lapse, we in the fishing industry would all know exactly what or how our government intend to deliver on the grossly unfair burden sharing that sees Ireland take the brunt of the ‘sharing’ party of this scheme.

We were told initially that burden sharing would be delivered through the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - until the EU Commissioner stood on Killybegs Pier and told us, that CFP reform would be nothing more than a review leading to compiling a report, and that if and it is an “IF”, a renegotiation of the CFP was going to happen then it would be sometime after 2027 which, as we all know, would be then be another Commission’s responsibility.

As previously highlighted by others, the Commissioner was very careful about the words he used while in Ireland - he did of course state he was in favour of burden sharing but immediately he conditioned that by adding “the Council of Ministers have not approved the concept of burden sharing and until they do that the Commission can do nothing”.

And so, while Minister McConalogue and his civil servants in DAFM continue to attempt to bluff the industry that the burden sharing issue remains “a work in progress”, the fact remains that everyone, aside from some few DAFM supporters/agents who are either themselves gullible or think that the rest of us are gullible, clearly realise that this horse has bolted as its obvious at this stage that burden sharing means something entirely different to us than it does to the European Commission and to other EU Member States.

The sad fact is that the notion of revisiting the scene of the crime where the cornerstone of EU fisheries management, relative stability, was swept under the rug, is not on the European agenda – indeed if truth were made known, it is not even on the agenda of the Irish Government – a point easily proven if one were to ask our Minister for a concrete statement from the Taoiseach on the matter.

With almost a gun to their heads, many are opting for a decommissioning scheme as clearly, we will now need to rebalance our ever-diminishing fleet and, in using EU money, that partly solves our problems in the eyes of our European colleagues, but we will soon discover that burden sharing is not a priority for Europe.

The entire system of burden sharing or, as Ireland has seen in 2021, burden non-sharing, is the EU Commission’s new method of kicking the can down the road and, for Ireland, it is nothing more than a way of keeping those foolish enough to believe that there is a plan B or a strategy from those that failed us in the first instance.

It’s the same old situation of those that should know better are failing to lead and failing to challenge.

It’s another case of “next year we will get something”, but next year never comes for those that fail to live in the here and now.

Where is the leadership in the fishing industry?

Why aren’t our marine civil servants, our Minister, our government, and the EU Commission being challenged in a bid to halt what is clearly an ever-decreasing circle for the Irish fishing industry?

Without much change at many levels of this industry we are destined to see the repeat of the mistakes of the past – and the past has become the present because we are making the same mistakes over and over again.

Cormac Burke,

Chairman, IFSA

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