Minister asked to intervene in SFPA non-cooperation with Irish pelagic industry
“I am appealing to the Minister to intervene to ensure that the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, reaches an agreement with the fishing industry” – Sinn Fein Spokesman for Fisheries and the Marine, Padraig Mac Lochlainn
An article written and published by the Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance (IFSA) earlier this week in response to an Irish Times’ report regarding EU threat to Ireland’s pelagic industry has led to fisheries minister Charlie McConalogue facing questions from Sinn Fein spokesman for Fisheries and the Marine Padraig Mac Lochlainn.
Following Mr Mac Lochlainn’s reading of the IFSA ‘The Crying Game’ article (see www.irishfishingseafoodalliance.org ) he told the Minister that the reports carried in The Irish Times referring to a very significant reduction in quota for our fishers by the European Commission was “deeply worrying”.
“Thousands of tonnes in quota loss have been mentioned and tens of millions of euros of EU funding may also be lost to the State,” Mr Mac Lochlainn said.
“The Minister will be aware that there is great alarm in our fishing sector at these reports and I understand that the fishermen and the fish producers, especially in Killybegs, seriously dispute what is being reported – and naturally they are deeply worried and there has been a significant hit on the quota,” he added.
“The industry has asked the Minister to go back and to fight for additional quota and for more equal burden-sharing and he has said that he will do that – but people are very suspicious as to why this reported additional huge cut to the quota is out now in the public domain,” he said, asking if there is an attempt to silence the industry and to prevent fishermen from uniting together around our coasts to demand our fair share of the fish in our seas?
“As to the issues in Killybegs, I am aware, and it seems very reasonable to me, that whenever a catch is weighed, the water would be deducted -- the water is essential for the sustenance of the fish to keep them fresh, to get them into the factories, and to be able to export them.
“This is an industry that people have worked so hard to build.
“My understanding is, and it is very reasonable, that there needs to be a removal of the water weight that is essential for the protection of the fish and to weigh it accurately. The pelagic industry has devised a system there, which is of a National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) approved standard.
“I am appealing to the Minister to intervene to ensure that the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, reaches an agreement with the fishing industry there.
“To summarise my question on this point, will the Minister appeal this decision - if it is a decision of the European Commission - to ensure that there is no reduction in quota?
“Will he defend the arguments the fishing community are making in Killybegs around this issue?
“We cannot tolerate this as we need additional, not less, quota and I ask the Minister to intervene urgently,” Deputy Mac Lochlainn concluded.
In response, Minster for the Marine, Deputy Charlie McConalogue said that on the EU administrative inquiry findings, this dates back to an inquiry that was initiated in 2019 and the conclusion of that inquiry was communicated to me just before Christmas.
“I have been assessing the findings of the EU Commission on that in advance of engaging with the Commission on its findings.
“I am certain that this is something that we will be discussing further,” he said.