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The year of the Tiger

Few in the Irish fishing industry will mourn the passing of 2021 – the darkest year in living memory for this sector.

I could list the litany of misfortunes to befall the industry in the past twelve months – from the disastrous lack of political will to support Ireland in the fallout from Brexit right up to the failure to recover an Irish mackerel quota that has been lying in the hands of another EU Member State for many years – but I fear that going into depth on these events would further depress those in the pelagic, demersal, inshore and processing sectors.

We would all like to presume that surely 2022 couldn’t be any worse – but the stark reality is that the events of last year have greatly increased the speed at which the 30-year-old system of an ever-decreasing circle of loss of quota, shrinking of the size of fleet, and reduction of job opportunities for those at sea and ashore in the seafood sector.

The fact that our fisheries minister issued a statement on Christmas week in which he thanked the EU Fisheries Commission, and the Commissioner, himself for the “hard work” during the year – and that this statement was immediately followed by an Irish PO leader thanking our Minister and Dept Marine for their “hard work” – is confusing to say the least.

In what single scenario can Irish fishermen and vessel owners feel thankful for in the past year?

And therefore how on earth can industry administrators and representatives have the gall to issue such ass-kissing statements of thanks and praise to the EU Commission, Ireland’s Fisheries Minister and the Department of Marine when clearly these people have done nothing of any real benefit for the industry?

Surely this is back to the feudal system of the peasant doffing his cap and thanking his landlord for the kick in the arse he’s just been given…

Ireland’s fishing industry has absolutely nothing to be thankful for and most are only grateful that they are still clinging on to their jobs and business ventures, for now at least.

As we enter 2022, the Chinese year of the tiger which denotes ‘strength, vitality & growth’, this industry needs to see one thing – the ferocity of a tiger.

If there is to be any hope of survival then there needs to be a concentrated effort to bring to an end the behind-closed-doors system, the ‘old boys network’, and the repetitive and strategic strangling of this sector in Ireland whilst the rest of the EU enjoys a boom time in Irish waters.

For so long our civil servants have been pulling the tail of whoever is the sitting marine minister – wouldn’t it be grand if they were instead given the tiger’s tail to pull – then we’d see the backlash...

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