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Self praise instead of shame

On this day, Monday 11th October 2021, the Irish fisheries minister issued a public statement welcoming the final report from a Task Force – the task force that he set up, that his department officials more or less ran, and that the ‘recommended’ outcome was set out on day 1.

With Minister Charlie McConalogue stating in his press release that he has asked his department to “urgently examine the report with a view to quickly implementing a comprehensive response to the impacts of the TCA on the fishing industry and communities”, we can only wait with bated breath in the tiny hope that some of the positive input from the industry itself will even get a mention …. But of course, we’ll be wasting our time to expect anything other than the ‘recommendations’ set out at the start i.e. a fleet tie-up scheme followed by a decommissioning scheme.

But is anyone in the fishing industry fooled by this piece of ‘spin’ (below) which says absolutely nothing – a puff of smoke which simply says to the industry that the tie-up scheme followed by decommissioning is finally on the horizon – which everyone knew was going to be the outcome six months ago.

Sad to say that the decommissioning scheme will now be widely welcomed – but only because many fishermen are facing financial ruin because this same department who have had such a strong involvement in the Task Force are the same people whose incompetence cost Ireland 30% of its quota through their lack of action during the BREXIT negotiations.

And while certain people, including the Minister himself, seem on this day to be seeking praise for some sort of achievement, it the wrath of the fishing and processing industries and the coastal communities that they should be facing – from people whose jobs, indeed their very way of life, is now in danger thanks to Ireland putting its EU masters ahead of its own citizens.

· Minister’s statement in full:

“Navigating Change – The way forward for our Seafood Sector in the wake of the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement”

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced that he has received the final report of the Seafood Sector Task Force that he established in March 2021. The Taskforce examined the impacts on the fishing sector and coastal communities of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This final report follows an interim report submitted by the Task Force in June 2021.

The Task Force was chaired by Aidan Cotter, assisted by a steering group of Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, and comprised of ten representatives of the fishing sector, representatives of the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors, coastal communities, coastal local authorities and various State enterprise development agencies.

Following receipt of the report, Minister McConalogue said: “The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was agreed at the end of 2020 have had some profoundly damaging effects for Ireland’s fishing sector and the coastal communities that depend on fishing.

Such a once in a generation event required a collective response involving the seafood businesses and coastal communities that are impacted and the full range of State bodies with a role to play in our response. This is why I established the Seafood Sector Task Force in March of this year and after seven months of deliberations by the Task Force, I have today received and welcome its Final Report which charts a way forward for the sector and the coastal communities dependent upon it”.

Minister McConalogue added: “I wish to thank Aidan Cotter for his leadership in chairing the Task Force and thank Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide for their dedication and hard work in assisting Aidan in steering the work of the Task Force. I also wish to sincerely thank all of the members of the Task Force for their constructive engagement with the work of the Task Force and for the many hours and days they put into the process. Lastly, I thank BIM for their hard work as secretariat and I wish to acknowledge the importance of their research and analysis in informing the work of the Task Force”.

Minister McConalogue continued: “I have asked my department to urgently examine the report with a view to quickly implementing a comprehensive response to the impacts of the TCA on our fishing sector and coastal communities. The recommended measures will be examined with particular regard to available funds and to the eligibility of the recommended measures for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, the European, Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and with other relevant funding sources and with regard to State Aid rules and the Public Spending Code”.

The establishment of the Seafood Sector Taskforce is an Action in the Department’s Action Plan 2021 under the Strategic Goal to ‘Deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector, driven by a skilled workforce, delivering value added products in line with consumer demand’.

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