The irony of ‘burden sharing’
The well-worn term of a ‘level playing field’ is one so often bandied about in EU administrative and PR circles but, as far as the fishing industry goes, this is nothing more than a sick joke as year on year Ireland sees the slice of the pie for foreign vessels in Irish waters get bigger whilst the Irish fleet struggles to make a living on the remaining crumbs of quota left for them.
Even setting aside the outcome of the disgraceful EU/UK BREXIT ‘deal’ that seemed to benefit almost everyone except Ireland, the information in the attached image is a stark reminder of the facts and of how decades of corruption has resulted in everyone feasting at the table of rich Irish waters while Ireland are supposed to be grateful to get the leftover scraps IN ITS OWN WATERS.
The fault for this situation has to firstly lie firmly in the hands of successive Irish governments who, through neglect or lack of political will, have failed to recognise that Ireland holds the richest waters in Western Europe but have been happy to allow ‘the fox into the hen house’ in terms of making Ireland’s abundance of fish available to everyone other than Irish vessels.
But working hand-in-hand with an Irish political regime that traditionally refuses to defend itself against the EU, the EU Fisheries Commission is clearly guilty of abuse of its powers when claiming that its ‘management’ of the European fishing industry is level and fair when quite obviously it is neither when it comes to pimping out Ireland’s fish-rich waters to enable large fleets of other nations to more or less help themselves.
Surely if Ireland either had the will or the spine to defend its own marine resources as all other EU Member States do, then the Irish fishing fleet, the owners of these rich waters, would have the largest quota of all species in its own waters and then, if within the scientifically-advised quotas, there remained some amount then, and only then, should this be divided amongst other nations with historic track records and/or entitlements.
The EU Commission is quick to point to such track records when it bestows quota in Irish waters to other nations but it appears that the track records of hundreds of years of Irish vessels catching in Irish waters can just be swept under the rug.
Enabling the abusers
On top of such a corrupt EU quota system Irish fishermen are also under the yoke of its own national level anti-industry marine administration.
Not only are the civil servants at the marine department cherry-picking every new bit of legislation to use in Ireland (as well as introducing a few of their own) but do so only if it is one that causes suffering and pain, and meanwhile gently neglect any legislation that might bring some relief in any form for Irish fishermen and processors.
We have a perfect example at this very moment in time with the explosion in the price of fuel crippling many industries but fishing and fish processing more than most where the margin between costs and profit is so small.
Not only is the fisheries minister making no real effort to persuade Government to assist in this situation but he is failing to utilise a possible temporary solution in that, as a result of the BREXIT BAR fund, there is money available for a vessel ‘tie-up’ scheme – a scheme which was partially rolled out but then seemed to slowly grind to a halt.
And, prior to the fuel crisis, when Irish fishing industry leaders sought for this scheme to be continued in to a second year they were informed by the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine, that the EU ‘does not allow’ the scheme to run into a second year – meanwhile the EU has already approved some nations to run the same scheme into a second and even a third year in one case.
And worth noting that the French government are assisting in the costs for their fishermen to keep their vessels operating – mainly fishing in IRISH waters...
Surely with the current price of diesel and vessel owners on the verge of bankruptcy, now is the time to use this BAR money to allow as many vessels as possible to tie-up and avail of a legally approved EU system in which the revenue from their catches is substituted from a fund which is designed to compensate fishermen as a result of BREXIT.
And yet, a stony silence continues to hood the minister and his civil servants at the one time that their industry needs them most.
One can only guess how long Irish fishermen can continue to be told to stand idly by and watch all the animals crowding around the trough while the Irish must sit in the wheelhouse whilst tied to the quayside.