SFPA Executive Chair Paschal Hayes was made to withdraw statement he made at yeaterdays Joint Committee on the ‘Weighing of Fish Products’
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority was before the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries yesterday evening to answer questions on the weighing-on-landing debacle in Killybegs.
SFPA Executive Chair, Pascal Hayes opened the ‘Weighing of Fish Products committee explaining the history of how the industry arrived at the current situation of the interim control plan which has been at the centre of the controversy, when two fish processing factories lost their in-factory weighing permits by taking blue whiting over the border from Derry to Killybegs for processing, after the master of the vessel was targeted twice by the SFPA for dry weighing.
During his opening statement, Mr Hayes said, “Declaring less fish than are actually caught as a real and ongoing risk that threatens the sustainability of fishing stocks for future generations and the authenticity of Irish seafood. Compliance with the regulations is with the industry. They have a legal onus to comply.
“Our role is to oversee compliance.
“For those involved in bulk pelagic fishing. The control plan enables 19 out of every 20 landings to be weighed after transport. The controlled supervised wing of one or out of every 20 landings of bulk pelagic fish should be viewed in the context of the very real alternative of 100% of landings needing to be weighed at the pier.
“We ask committee members to consider carefully the array of potential motivations of operators choosing to decry the need to weigh one out of every 20 landings outside of system …”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries, Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn took issue with Mr Hayes last sentence and called for clarification on what he meant by it.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said, “This is very important. That’s a very that’s a very serious statement just being made there. What do you mean by that statement?”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn pointed out that the Committee could not be used to impugn the reputation of outside the house. He asked the Chair of the Committee to instruct Mr Hayes to explain his statement
Listen to the Clip here
Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty who was also attending the Committee directed the Chair on a point of order. He said, “You read out at the start it is not for witness here to cast aspersions on people who cannot defend themselves and there is a limited number of operators in that sentence is very very serious and should be with withdrawn.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn backed his party colleagues call and the Chair put it to Mr Hayes if he wanted to withdraw that comment.
Mr Hayes replied, “I didn’t intend it in that way, but if it causes offence, I’m happy to withdraw it.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn took issue with the withdrawal saying, “You know exactly what’s being said there. You’re an intelligent man and I’m asking that you it be withdrawn in in the in respect of this Committee.”
Mr Hayes replied, “Deputy i am agreeing to withdraw it.”