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Twisting facts and figures


- more falsehoods from the Irish fishing industry’s Department of Fiction & Misrepresentation (DAFM)

There’s nothing like some facts about the Irish fishing industry – and the latest Department report on Ireland’s fishing quotas is exactly that, nothing like the facts!

Although dated June 2018, this recently released report has been clearly updated to give support to the Minister’s continuing belief that a ‘no-deal’ BREXIT would have been a worse outcome for Ireland.

This brief report is also designed to challenge Irish fishermen’s claim that Ireland now only has 15% of quota in Irish waters by carefully selecting certain ICES Areas and also including the bulk volume of catches of some species to arrive at a figure of 41% of Irish catches in Irish waters.

And if my statements above are incorrect, then why else, other than to try to blur the true facts, would this report have been re-released at this time?

A nice try by the Department and those that helped them compile this report, to bluff the media and the public but its not fooling anyone in this industry and the public that they speak to, for one minute.

Summary statements of the report:

· On average, 34% of Irish landings are taken from UK waters;

· Ireland lands at least some of all our main commercial quotas (40 plus

stocks) from UK waters – for some stocks over 60% of landings are taken from the UK zone;

· UK vessels land on average 20,000 tonnes into Irish ports each year;

· Irish vessels land on average 12,000 tonnes of fish (mackerel & herring) into UK ports;

· Average landings of all species from the Irish EEZ amounted to just under 387,000 tonnes with an approximate value of €444 million;

· The Irish EEZ makes up 10% of the total EU EEZ;

· Ireland accounted for 42% of those landings by weight followed by the UK (16%), the Netherlands (15%), France (10%) and Spain (7%);

· By value, Ireland accounts for 36% of the average value of landings from the Irish EEZ followed by France (18%), the UK (16%), Spain (15%) and the Netherlands (8%);

· Taking account of the waters (ICES Areas 6 &7) covering the region from northern Scotland to Brittany, where Ireland has the majority of its fishing opportunities (covering Ireland’s EEZ as well as part of the UK & French EEZ’s), the fishing opportunities for 2017 for stocks to which the Irish fleet had access to was 1.3million tonnes of fish with a landing value of €1.44 billion;

· Ireland’s total share of these fishing opportunities in 2017 amounted to 234,493 tonnes with a value of €226 million;

· These figures do not include valuable inshore fisheries e.g., crab, lobster, whelk, which are not managed under the TAC system.

Damn lies and statistics

This report is a total misrepresentation of the facts and here are a few statements in response:


· On average 34% of Irish landings are taken from UK waters – Ireland’s pelagic catches do not need to be taken from UK waters and, if required, Ireland could take its entire quota from Irish waters rather than sacrifice any quota to UK;

· “Ireland has 41.5% of landings from Ireland’s EEZ” - but this statement does not include the straddling stocks nor the real picture of ICES Area VI and VII - total value €1.44bn;

· “Ireland’s share €226m = 14.7%” - From the coast of Scotland to the coast of France is the real picture of Ireland’s fishing opportunities as it takes into account straddling stocks and also the fact that Ireland’s rich waters are the breeding grounds for juvenile fish that are often caught elsewhere;

· An important graph in this report shows the value from UK EEZ for each member state and shows Ireland at 6% but the Netherlands, France and Denmark are higher than Ireland… So how did these countries not get hit as hard as Ireland as a result of BREXIT?

An important point, and one that was made very clear to the Minister by the pelagic industry long before the BREXIT negotiations (in 2020) were concluded is that Ireland’s pelagic fleet would have preferred to have lost ALL access to UK waters rather than lose a single kilo of quota in its own waters – and the Department can massage the figures any way they like but it won’t change the fact that this country has been robbed of vast amounts of fish in its own waters which has gone to other EU fishing fleets.

Meantime, while retaining access to UK waters post-BREXIT was naturally important for the Irish demersal fleet, skippers of Irish whitefish vessels are telling the IFSA that conditions under which such ‘access’ is allowed seems to have undergone a complete change of attitude and regulation –

Last month one particular Irish vessel, working on grounds 80 miles of Land’s End and 120 miles off Plymouth was boarded and inspected twice in the same trip.

Whilst the 100mm mesh is the norm, this particular area allows for the T90 mesh – but during these particular inspections, two UK fisheries officers turned their backs on the crew while checking the meshes and then informed them that sizes recorded were 88.7mm i.e., in breach of regulations.

This Irish vessel was also charged for having seven kilos of monk tails in a half-filled fish box and a charge of unreported (unlogged) fish was made and a bond of €36,000 plus £30,000 had to be lodged before the vessel was released.

“Naturally the loss of UK access would have been a huge blow for Irish vessels particularly in the south or southwest, but for the Minister and his department to try to say we should all be grateful to still have access to UK waters does not take into account the fact that the terms of this access has clearly altered – Irish vessels working in the same UK areas are now being harassed like never before by English control authorities, and other Irish vessels working north of Stanton Bank are getting the same treatment from Scottish inspectors – its access but not as we know it,” an owner of an Irish demersal trawler told IFSA.

Another ‘new’ problem that seems to have coincided with the Minister’s claim of “this deal was better than a no access deal” is the situation with the fishing grounds at Rockall.


Although the EU Commission have washed their hands of this one, saying it’s an issue for Ireland and Scotland politicians to sort out, the fact remains that since January this year it appears that Irish vessels no longer have access to the lucrative seasonal fisheries at Rockall.


While once again it is evident that the Irish Government, particularly the Marine Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister, sat back and presented no challenge to Ireland’s rights around Rockall, the loss of this fishing opportunity has been given no real mention by the Minister McConalogue post BREXIT and the loss of this fishing to Ireland is definitely not included in this latest Department report that attempts to make us believe that things ‘could have been worse’.

Conclusion

There is no way of dressing up the Brexit agreement other than describing it as another failure by Ireland’s civil servants and politicians.

We have been let down by the very institutions that we expected to defend us.

Trying to swing the focus to exactly what percentages of fish in Irish waters are taken by Irish vessels is a nothing more than an attempted distraction and highlights a totally out-of-touch acceptance of the situation.


The sole focus must be, and must remain, on securing a realistic entitlement to OUR fish in OUR waters.

Britain left the EU, Ireland did not.


Ireland retreated from British waters but Britain did not leave Irish waters.


This was a political stitch-up and the EU knows from years of experience dealing with Irish incompetence that our civil servants and politicians are pathetically weak and can be pushed into whatever corner the EU wishes, without consequences.


Unfortunately, they have been proven to be right once again and, instead of fighting for the country that pays their inflated salaries, they turn their attention to arguing about percentages and continue to repeat that it would have been worse if there had been no agreement. Garbage! There was always going to be an agreement.


Even our pathetic representatives can figure out that Boris Johnson was not going to abandon a done deal for the tiniest fraction of 0.01% of his economy.


To our Department of Marine, please do your job and for once focus on the problem which is lack of access to Irish fish in Irish waters-- everything else is of secondary importance.


Why are those in positions of authority in the Irish marine sector attempting to hide the facts that Ireland’s pelagic and demersal sectors are now in crisis with regards a seriously reduced level available quota in Irish waters?


Manipulating numbers and factsheets are nothing more than a face-saving exercise for our politicians who so badly cocked-up in the BREXIT negotiations but at the same time attempt to shut up the people in this industry who have lost so much.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful industry if Minister McConalogue and the senior civil servants in the Department put as much effort into helping this sector as they do in trying to con people about the real facts about it?

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