[Although I am under doctor’s orders to stay off work for the next six to twelve weeks due to my serious accident last week I felt I had to rise from my sick bed to urgently address this alarming issue - - an issue which goes even further into highlighting the bare-faced corruption that is ongoing in this industry. Cormac Burke, Chairman, IFSA]
The smell of something rotten in the Irish fishing industry!
Apparently the deal has been done and, without the agreement of many in the Irish fishing industry, Norway is to now be allowed to catch over 320,000 tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters whilst in return Irish fishermen are only to receive a paltry 4,800 tonnes - - but I cannot understand how this agreement has been allowed to take place and under who’s authority has the Irish fishing industry accepted such a deal.
This deal equates to Norway getting 67 million euros’ worth of fish in Irish waters while Ireland’s pelagic fleet will get 1.6 million euros’ worth.
Worst of all is that our Minister used incredible comments that were no more than an insult to people’s intelligence when he attempted to take the glory for something he has had absolutely nothing to do with when he this week issued a self-congratulatory press release on a BW quota increase.
McConaglogue’s effort at fooling the public into thinking that he ‘got’ Ireland a BW increase is outrageous when this significant increase was known last year and is based on usual ICIS scientific advice and recommendations that confirm healthy stocks due to responsible fishing… therefore the fish was already allocated (and for the most part already caught…), so in truth, we got NO increase from this latest ‘deal’.
Even this 4,820 tonnes that we are being told Ireland is getting as part of the Norway deal is also not a win because Ireland was already a benefactor of this transfer arrangement in previous years!
As for the statement that this latest Norway deal is somehow a success because we managed to continue to protect the Irish Box is a complete misnomer.
In 2014 the Norwegians were allowed from international waters into west of the 12-degree line and this was all they needed - - we got nothing for this - who was accountable for such treason!? Why was it allowed to happen?
Yes the Norwegians wanted East of 12 degrees and they did not get it but actually that makes zero difference when they are already allowed into West of 12 degrees.
The original 2014 agreement gave Norway access to the fishing grounds of the Irish EEZ west of the 12-degree line west, and north of the 56-degree line and it is with this ‘giveaway’ that the real problem Ireland faced over the last round of negotiations lay in.
Like so many previous agreements Ireland, through the ‘representation’ of our senior DAFM officials just simply threw away its fishing grounds while getting virtually nothing in return and this, along with dozens of other instances, is in itself grounds for investigation of the senior civil servant in question and his actions over the past two decades.
He, along with at least one so-called ‘industry representative’, sat at the table when this 2014 access agreement was reached – these individuals are still in their positions today and MUST be held to account for such a scandalous giveaway.
The recent talks succeeded in reversing the 2021 giveaway of the Irish Box – but the real question is what happened in 2014.
And aside from anything else, this event also raises several questions and for me, should be setting off alarm bells:
Foremost of these being how can someone from one of the smallest Irish fishing organisations (in terms of vessel members) strike a deal ‘on behalf of Ireland’, apparently with the blessing of our minister, when clearly the rest of the industry organisations had worked in a united, professional and successful manner in representing Ireland at EU Commission level in resisting any deal that would not be to the maximum benefit of Irish fishermen.
I’m also suspicious of the timing of this entire fiasco - - agreed upon during St Patrick’s Day when the Taoiseach and Marine Minister were both out of the country - - and that the DAFM senior civil servant who has already been given his marching orders and is due to be out of his job by the 31st of this month was reportedly heavily involved in the deal.
If ever there was a situation for the basis for the launching of a major inquiry then surely this is it.