The first meeting of the CFPRG which took place yesterday heard of the need for an immediate tie-up scheme due to the fuel crisis
The first meeting of the Common Fisheries Policy Review Committee took place yesterday in Oranmore, Co Galway at the Marine Institute Group HQ.
The Review Group was announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue at the start of February 2022 and it is being chaired Mr John Malone, former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Malone is assisted by a steering committee comprising Mr Micheal O Cinneide, former Director of the Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency and Mr Donal Maguire, former Director in BIM.
The Group will involve representatives of stakeholders, including Fish Producer Organisations, National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the Aquaculture industry, Co-Ops, and the Seafood processing industry.
It will also include representatives of non-elected environmental NGOs.
The purpose of the Group is to examine the issues that arise for Ireland in the context of the CFP Review, to advise the Minister on priorities for the negotiations and to identify strategies most likely to influence the outcome of the review.
The first half north meeting was taken up with the fuel crisis. The Minister was pressed to introduce a tie-up scheme immediately because it has become unviable for the fleet to continue fishing. ”
Previously the Minister had said that there could not be another temporary tie-up scheme until there had been a permanent cessation scheme but the fishing representatives, especially Patrick Murphy from the Irish South and West was adimant that a tie-up scheme was required as soon as possible.
“We’ve implored the Minister to use the BAR funding for a tie-up scheme,” says Patrick. “We told him that it is not financially viable for boats going to sea.
“At least by reducing the numbers of boats at sea, and providing some financial aid to others, we would manage to keep a supply coming.
“It cannot be the same as the last time, because if you do a rotation. Some boats due to their fishing methods consume less fuels so it would be crazy to force those boats out of a few weeks fishing like the method used in the previous tie-up scheme.
“It was also pointed out by the processors that if other fleets are visiting the ports and they don’t get diesel when they come in, they will not have supply for their processing plants and they will suffer. So, it’s a complex issue that is one that this government must act on next week.”
Minister McConalogue told the representatives that he will be going back to the EU Commission to explain to them that the situation for the Irish fishing fleet have changed, and they will have to consider a tie-up scheme before another round of decommissioning.
Patrick is convinced that this is an argument the Minister should have brought to the table with the EU a long time ago after Brexit as the situation for the Irish fishing industry had drastically changed after the signing of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 24 December 2020 and with the EU’s Green deal which is forcing higher energy costs coming from fossil fuels.
“Unfortunately, he could have used the same argument post-Brexit,” says Patrick.
Another item that was brought up from the talks was the environmental NGOs who brought up the issue of climate change and reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
Patrick believes if that is the case, then the CFPRG should examine the wisdom of foreign vessels steaming from their countries to fish in Irish waters, at a time when the Irish fishing fleet are being asked to reduce their numbers by nearly 30%.
“I did point out even with climate change. We had our green representative there and he was adamant that we have to follow the Green Deal and carbon output is really critical. That also should be applied to the other states that are steaming hundreds and hundreds of miles just to get to Irish fishing grounds.”
He says that the eNGOs can’t be singularly focused on Ireland, with the smallest fleet and the smallest quota in the EU, and yet in the course of everything we are the closest country to the fishing grounds.
He says, “I don’t believe decommissioning is the right step here. We are the closest ones to the fishing grounds and catching this food source for Europe makes pure sense.
“Look at the political side of things and the historic nature of how fishing was given-up and if we are going to incorporate all these other elements that European Union are not driving forward with this environment thinking, then we have to put these things on the table and and they have to be discussed.