- Take it with a pinch of salt
In these times of distress and turmoil for Ireland’s fishing and seafood industries (when was it any different?) it’s an interesting exercise to look at how the people that govern this sector describe themselves to the general public.
Perhaps these people genuinely see themselves as carrying out such a fair but fanciful role but I very much doubt if one single person in today’s Irish fishing industry would agree that this is a mandate to which they actually work to.
Firstly, Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) state that their mission is “to lead the sustainable development of a competitive, consumer focused agri-food sector and to contribute to a vibrant rural economy and society”.
Next is this Department’s Sea Fisheries Policy & Development Division which proudly declares its overall goal “to implement national policies, negotiated within the Common Fisheries Policy, that support a long-term sustainable seafood industry for Ireland, and to maximise the long-term contribution of the seafood industry to the economies of coastal regions”.
And, without even a hint of irony, the infamous Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) says its vision is “Seas full of fish, coasts full of jobs” and claims that it is “committed to the effective and fair regulation of the sea fishing and seafood sectors that fall within their mandate i.e., all fishing vessels operating within Ireland's 200‐mile limit, Irish fishing vessels wherever they operate, and all seafood produced in Ireland wherever it is marketed.”
Meanwhile Ireland’s current marine minister believes that he is “continuing to provide vital supports to the farmers, fishermen and foresters – people which are the lifeblood of a balanced rural and coastal economy and community”, adding that “the key priority for me as Minister is the protection of incomes and the sustainable development of our sectors as farmers, fishermen and food producers face many challenges as they continue to provide the high-quality food, fish and timber.
“Our primary producers also excel at supporting a range of ecosystems services, while playing a central role in the transformation of our economy and society towards a long-term sustainable future. We will provide a policy platform that protects incomes, ensures that our food offering is safe and of the highest quality and that our industry is environmentally sustainable and competitive.”
And finally, our EU taskmasters at the EU Fisheries Commission who state that they are succeeding in their overall objective of the revision of fisheries control is “to modernise, strengthen and simplify the EU fisheries control system, ensure sustainability and increase the level playing field in fisheries control”.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t swell with national pride at all of these wonderful statements about our fishing and seafood industries – statements that would lead the layman to believe that we’re in safe hands and that the future looks good.
But unfortunately, it only leaves me asking one question – who do these people think they’re fooling?
Our marine department wants “to contribute to a vibrant rural economy and society” and “to maximise the long-term contribution of the seafood industry to the economies of coastal regions” and meanwhile Charlie McConalogue believes that “the key priority for me as Minister is the protection of incomes and the sustainable development of our farmers and fishermen”.
And perhaps the biggest insult of all is the SFPA’s motto of “seas full of fish, coasts full of jobs” at the very time when what Ireland is actually facing is more like “seas full of foreign EU vessels, coasts full of unemployed Irish fishermen and seafood workers”.
Given the massive failures of all of the above-named bodies it would be nice if, while they jointly screw the Irish fishing industry into bankruptcy, they would have the decency not to try to fool the Irish public into thinking that somehow they are involved in a noble act of patriotism.