Cork fishing protest flotilla heads towards River Lee
With EU fishermen now limited in terms of the amount they can spend in UK waters boats from France, Spain and elsewhere are increasingly fishing in Irish waters instead. Ireland’s fishermen are angry at only being able to catch 16 percent of the fish in their own waters as a result of the post-Brexit trade deal signed between the UK and the EU, as well as the reintroduction of an administrative penalty points system.
They also resent EU requirements for catches to be weighted at ports rather than elsewhere as a result of claims that some are failing to be honest in their declarations – requirements which do not apply to EU vessels.
In an open letter to Mr Martin, Aisling Moran, chairwoman of Comhdhail Oilean na hEireann, the Islands’ Federation wrote: “This is a matter of huge importance regarding island community livelihoods and sustainability not to mention heritage and traditions.”
Mrs Moran, writing on behalf of Ireland’s offshore island communities, asked Mr Martin to intervene personally.
She explained: “We implore you to act to prevent the loss of hundreds of jobs, a way of life and a key element to coastal communities, Irish heritage and tradition.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin has been urged to step in
The flotilla of ships in Cork’s harbour last month
“Island communities are intimately acquainted with the consequences of changes to fishing rights and regulations inflicted through the years.”
She stressed: “Islanders are by nature people of the sea. To sacrifice their ability to make a living through life-learned skills they are passionate about is beyond unreasonable.”
Mrs Moran warned: “This continued decimation of the Irish fleet has been magnified with the onset of Brexit and the Irish fishing industry is fighting for its life.
“As Taoiseach we consider it appropriate for you to personally intervene in this serious situation.
JUST IN: Brexit plot – Brussels & Dublin briefing against Frost says ex-diplomat
Micheal Martin is Ireland’s Taoiseach
“We ask all involved with the control and regulation of the fishing industry to have a hard look at the consequences of their actions against a proud and respected Irish livelihood. There is a better way.”
The Federation represents a total of 16 offshore island communities, having been created in 1984 with the intention of drawing attention to “the difficulties facing islanders” in socio-economic development which they felt were not being properly addressed at regional or national level.
A spokesman subsequently told Irish fishing news website Afloat: “We don’t know if he read our letter, but his Department sent a reply that it had been forwarded to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.”
Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s fishing minister, was sent a copy of the letter previously.
EU fury as Sweden didn’t want to be ‘too close’ to Europe [ANALYSIS]
Do as you agreed! Fiery VDL says EU refusing to budge over Brexit [INSIGHT]
PM’s Cornwall success forgotten after lockdown mess, says MACER HALL [COMMENT]
Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s fishing minister
Fishing was an important issue during the Brexit debate
Fishermen made their point during a demonstration in Cork last month, during which they lined the quays of the port.
Speaking to Cork News at the time, fisherman Patrick Healy said: “The current restrictions in the fishing industry present me with a huge question mark whether I will invest thousands into an industry that is being failed by the Irish Government,.
“I just want to do the job I love. Going out to sea and making a living.
“We are trying to earn an honest living. Fishing is a natural resource and there should be a separate Minister of Fisheries. We are united.
European fisheries mapped
“All we want is for the government to listen.”
Mr Healy, whose boat had sank earlier in the month after a fire, added: “I had the trawler for three years.
“There is an immediate loss of four jobs. I would love to reinvest. I just want a future.
“The public may find it hard to believe what we will tell them; that things are so bad within the industry, but it is the truth.
Fishermen in the North Sea
“We are not being treated fairly by either the EU or the government who are not protecting the natural resource of Ireland to which Irish people should have the major rights.”
Patrick Murphy, chairman of the South West Fish Producers’ Organisation (SWFPO), added: “We’re down to 16 percent of the fish in our own waters and that is a crazy scenario.
“This the fact. This is what we want to show and tell to the public.
“Fishermen are putting themselves before the public, to show them the boats they have, the huge investment, creating jobs, the families with long traditions who face being forced out of fishing.”