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BIM has issued a statement on the Thursday’s Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum which denied entry to two Donegal mussel fishermen

Bord Isacaigh Mhara BIM has issued a statement on Thursday’s Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum which denied entry to to Donegal mussel fishermen.

Lough Foyle mussel fisherman Gerard Kelly and Raymond McGuinness travelled to Dún Laoghaire to attend the forum being held by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

After traveling all the way from Greencastle and County Donegal they were refused entry at the door of the building. They had hoped to attend the meeting that concerns their struggling mussel industry, an industry which both have heavily invested and which both are very passionate about.

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In a video posted on social media today, Gerard Kelly and Raymond McGuinness ask why they have been excluded, and have written to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue asking play this meeting it’s not open to all stakeholders.

Speaking outside the BIM building, Mr. Kelly said, “Three weeks ago, I attended a conference where there were about 20 people from BIM there. I mentioned how I could increase mussel production by 40 million (euro). No one was interested.

“Three weeks later, I turn up at a meeting here and I am told I can’t come in.

“What is Ireland’s seafood industry going to do, other than look after themselves?

“It should be shut down. It’s hindering people from getting on with their work helping us to recover our industry.

“If our Minister is that weak in fighting for that 40 million, do you think there is any chance of him getting the Brexit deal sorted out or getting any burden sharing?

“Not a chance!”

Raymond McGuinness said, “I’m involved in this industry for the last twenty years since I left school. I’m 35 now and I intend to be involved until I retire, and at present I’m not even allowed to say how this goes. I’m not allowed to attend a meeting to discuss what we are going to discuss about the future of the industry. So, where the justice here. It’s not good enough. Everybody needs to say their piece.”

Mr Kelly continued, “If we were to have our views aired today, we would have to speak through an agent for a Dutch fishing family.

“Three of the people in our representation belong in the same Dutch family and one of them belong to another.

“So, they are all our competitors.

“There are people in there from Belfast today. They are allowed in. They’re in this office paid for by the Irish taxpayer.”

In response to the claims by the two Donegal mussel fishermen, BIM issued the following statement:

The Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum held a meeting for its members on Thursday, 12th May, 2022 at Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) head office in Dun Laoighaire, Co Dublin.  BIM acts as secretariat to the forum.

The Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum stems from the Rising Tide – A Review of the Bottom Grown Mussel Sector on the Island of Ireland, carried out in 2007 by a working group comprising The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food ( renamed The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2011), The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (renamed the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in 2016) and the Loughs Agency, under Terms of Reference set by the Ministers in the two jurisdictions and supported by a secretariat. The Review required that ‘Industry membership to the forum will be on a bay-by-bay basis, with members being invited to attend from Cromane, Waterford/Wexford, Carlingford/Dundrum, Belfast/Larne, Foyle and Swilly.’

Under the terms of the 2007 Rising Tide Review, the Forum meetings are attended by the elected industry representatives only. Each member of the bottom grown mussel industry is notified of the Forum meetings in advance and invited to share any issues with the Forum through their elected representatives. Alternatively, if they prefer, any industry member is welcome to contact BIM as the secretariat, to raise any proposals, issues or concerns to the Forum. Minutes of all Forum meetings are circulated to the entire bottom grown mussel industry.

In late 2020, BIM as secretariat to the Forum, contacted all industry members (by post) and asked if they were content with the current representative continuing in position for a further 3 years.

If it was the case that they were unhappy with their current representative, they were asked to formally nominate an alternative member to initiate an election in line with the procedure set out in the Rising Tide Review.  With the exception of Belfast Lough where an election was subsequently completed and a new representative is in place, no other alternatives were nominated. The next opportunity for an election process, should industry wish to change their representatives, will be in 2023.

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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BIM issues statement on Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum

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