Are the Commission and Charlie McConalogue in breach of EU Treaty regulations in attempting to push through a deal for Icelandic access to Irish waters?
One cannot help but be suspicious of the news late in Christmas week that Minister Charlie McConalogue, apparently speaking on behalf of Ireland, was, along with the EU Commission, involved in negotiations with Iceland to allow them to catch blue whiting in Irish waters.
This situation raises so many questions that I don’t know where to begin….
First among these must be the fact that the majority of industry representatives were given no real notice of these talks and when eventually invited to participate in a Zoom meeting they were under the impression that this was to discuss the early stages of any such proposal - but then to their shock they learned at this meeting that talks were already at a much advanced stage.
And so if, as it seems to be at the moment, that this deal will have almost zero benefit for the Irish pelagic fleet in return for the EU Commission giving yet another non EU country access to Irish waters, then who’s advice is McConalogue following and who, besides the Icelandics obviously, are actually benefiting from this proposal?
It is also noticeable that this is the second time that McConalogue has pulled such a stunt at a time when the Dail is on holidays and when he could not be hauled in front of other political parties and other TDs to explain himself - - and its more than a coincidence that he previously proceeded with a deal with Norway, again only informing the majority of industry representatives at the last minute, on St Patrick’s Day when the Dail was shut for holidays.
Another major talking point here is how does McConalogue, and indeed the EU Commission, have the power to enter such talks unless it has first been ratified by the Council of Ministers?
Considering the Council met less than a week prior to the breaking news and that they agreed on many issues such as quota entitlements etc. how can it be that this Council issued no statement in regard to any such proposal for Iceland and therefore one can only assume that this topic wasn’t even on their agenda - - which means that the Commission and McConalogue are acting entirely illegally.
Under the EU Treaties, the EU Fisheries Commission (and McConalogue) DO NOT HAVE the legal right to negotiate with any non-EU Member State in relation to any issue regarding fisheries unless first instructed to do so by the EU Council of Ministers.
Bearing in mind that, if successful, the volumes of fish being discussed means that a few Icelandic boats would be allowed catch more blue whiting in Irish waters than the whole Irish pelagic fleet is allowed catch in a year, representatives of Irish fishing industry are well within their rights at this time to demand to see the formal written authorisation (dated prior to December 19th) from the EU Council of Ministers permitting the EU Maritime & Fisheries Commission / European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries to enter into negotiations with Iceland with a view to granting Iceland access to Irish waters.
IF the EU Council of Ministers (which includes Minister McConalogue) agreed to permit the EU Commission enter into talks with Iceland then why wasn’t this made public knowledge and why wasn’t the Irish fishing industry informed at the time?
And, if no such permission was given, then as an EU member state Ireland, as well as demanding an immediate halt to these plans, is entitled to ask what action will be taken against the EU Fisheries Commission and in particular against Charlie McConalogue for acting illegally and attempting to push through a deal that is clearly of no real benefit to Ireland - - - and this also raises the question as to why McConalogue is apparently acting in the interests of others and not in the interests of the people he is elected and paid to represent?
All of this is in the guise of blue whiting in Irish waters for Iceland but I don’t think I’m alone in believing that the sub text to all of this is mackerel…
Blue whiting is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ that seeks to swing open the door for where the real value lies.
Norway, Iceland and Faroes have made an illegal grab for mackerel for years now by declaring autonomous quotas, far beyond ICES-advised levels, based on zonal attachment but the reality that has transpired is that the fish are not actually in their zones and so they need access to catch fish they have no legitimate right over.
The EU should be taking a stance and saying “I told you so” with regards the greedy outlandish quotas these nations gave themselves - - but instead they appear to be prepared to legitimise this daylight robbery.
As in the earlier deal with Norway, the EU Commission’s excuse will be to claim gains and some quid pro quo regarding Arctic Cod and so once again the Dutch-owned boats flagged in various EU nations will gain more quota, Iceland will gain access to new fishing grounds and Ireland, the people who are once again footing the bill, will gain absolutely nothing.
It is widely believed that Dutch interests have infiltrated the EU Commission several years ago and this being the case, it is not too much of a stretch of imagination to suggest that they are also influencing the highest levels of the Irish fishing industry….
Photo caption: Once the Irish pelagic fleet have exhausted their small blue whiting quota will they have to remain ashore and watch on while Icelandic vessels reap a bonanza in Irish waters?