Show some backbone!
I have been involved in the Irish fishing industry for 40 years and I’ve witnessed a long and sad chapter in this country’s fishing history to bring us to where we are today.
The list of injustices against fishermen, the blocking of any new fishing opportunity as well as the closure of traditional ones like salmon and eel, the EU regulations so eagerly enforced by our own department and controllers, have all combined to strangle the past, present & future of Ireland’s coastal communities.
Our industry authority who, after decades without control by consecutive governments, have shown themselves to be anti-industry, will point to the prosecutions of law-breakers they won in court over the years, but the same people wont be so quick to make public the hundreds of cases that have been thrown out of court due to lack of evidence – and at what cost have these trumped-up charges come to Irish tax payers in State legal fees?
And, even in the cases where rules were broken and the guilty people paid a heavy price, in every walk of life there will always be a percentage of law breakers. When countless numbers of people are caught speeding on the roads and breaking the law every day – that doesn’t make ALL drivers criminals!
The reason for this letter is to remind all the fishermen and factory workers who bitterly complained for years that we’re being ‘hard done by’ and that there was no one to fight their case, we do have an opportunity now.
With the recent starting up of the IFSA, I was pleased that at last there was a someone with a history of defending fishermen who would be leading our calls for fair play and for change of the ‘old rule’ that has been a cancer in our industry for so long.
But as Cormac Burke wrote himself in a recent article, the apathy at authority level seems to be seeping into the industry itself.
We finally have the industry voice we’ve all been waiting for but where is the industry support?
The IFSA has done well in a short time in getting subscriptions from vessels from different fisheries around the coast (around 60 boats I think, and fair play to those skippers who were quick to show their support) and for getting 4,000 signatures for the petition to put pressure on the government to show respect for our coastal communities.
But there is something like 1,200 registered vessels in the Irish fleet and over 15,000 people working in our industry and in those terms then 60 boats and 4,000 signatures is a poor turnout and not much of an effort from all the people who complain that we have no one to represent us.
This is our chance for change.
If we don’t start showing some real support and start defending ourselves through the IFSA then we’re going to continue to get what we deserve from the EU, our government, the marine department, and the SFPA -- nothing!