How long will we stand by while our industry goes down the pan?
I’d appreciate if you would publish the following letter so that I can air my views (and let off some steam) at the current situation in Ireland’s fishing industry – thank you.
We, all of us involved in the different sectors of the fishing and marine sectors in Ireland have suffered long and hard - - I am over 40 years in this industry and while things were never good, they surely have never been as bad or as depressing as they are at this time.
It feels like the last three years in particular have been a non-stop assault on every corner of the industry and it seems to increase day by day due to the SFPA, Department ‘Against the Marine’, a weak fisheries minister, a three-party coalition government with absolutely no regard for the coastal communities (from where many of the existing party TDs harvested their electoral votes), other non-EU nations helping themselves to increased quotas of mackerel that breed and live in Irish waters, and a clearly corrupt European Commission.
I think we all appreciate the efforts of the genuine industry supporters such as Michael Collins Independent TD, Padraig MacLochlainn Sinn Fein TD and of course, the great work of the IFSA (I believe that this organisation has achieved more in six months in highlighting the corrupt issues in this industry than some others can claim to have done in the last decade).
But we are at this minute literally being backed to the edge of a cliff and if the EU is allowed to continue on its course – a strategy with a long track record of finding one excuse or another to keep reducing our quotas in our own waters, reduce the size of our fleet, then start reducing quotas again, and this is an ever-decreasing circle and despite the fact that WE, the people of this island, own the richest waters in Europe, we will end up with the smallest quotas and smallest fleet in Europe.
And once at that point, trying to regain rights in our own waters will be a moot point because we’ll be told that we don’t have a big enough fleet left to demand or justify any quota increases.
But we have to be realistic – understandably, the approximate five million population of Ireland are never going to vote to leave the EU just because of the injustices that are affecting 30,000 or so in the marine industries but, on the other hand, if all of these Irish citizens, most of whom have national pride in Irish traditions and heritage, were made aware that the fishing industry now only has rights to 15% of the fish quota in our own waters while this government stands idly by and allows the EU send the fleets of other nations for a bonanza fishing in Irish waters, then we might see a stronger case brought to force our political representatives to ‘grow a pair’ and start to stand up against the EU fisheries commission.
Peaceful efforts have already been made by the industry to highlight the plight of Ireland’s coastal communities – but when you see the three parties of the coalition government ganging up to ensure that no parliamentary debate on fisheries can take place, then that is the final response that we need – our government is clearly telling us “go away, we don’t care about this industry nor about the people who rely on it”.
Well so be it, I believe we are now left with no other choice – we tried a peaceful demonstration and the only few political supporters that we have tried their best to get at least some parliamentary discussion on the biggest crisis that Ireland’s fishing industry has ever known – and these attempts have not just been ignored but dismissed out of hand by our Government.
With no other option remaining, the people of the Irish fishing, seafood processors & retailers and the inhabitants of regional coastal communities MUST now demand support from these politicians - the ones who smiled on our doorsteps when gathering votes but who are now playing their part in a conscious strategy to bring one of Ireland’s oldest traditional heritages to an end – just so that our political leaders will get a pat on the head from their EU masters who can now GIVE OUR FISHING RIGHTS AWAY to other nations.
The time for action is now.