“Last weekend’s announcement by Sean O’Donoghue, on behalf of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), that it had entered into, along with local ship agents and supply operators Sinbad Marine, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global floating offshore wind developer, Hexicon AB for an installation in north west waters, has raised many questions amongst the fishing industry nationwide.
“The first of these questions comes with the press release headline that “Fishing industry and Hexicon unveil historic collaboration” – with many people pointing out that this is misrepresentation and that the KFO is only one of a half a dozen industry subscribed representative groups and therefore it [KFO] has no right to claim that the agreement that they have entered into is ‘on behalf of’ the fishing industry as a whole.”
The lack of consultation with the rest of the fishing industry “undermines fishing industry’s efforts of a ‘united front” claims the IFSA Chair.
He continues, condemning the statement from the head of the KFO, who claims that it will be beneficial for fishermen:
“Secondly, O’Donoghue’s statement that “this is a unique new approach to how floating wind energy can work in collaboration with fishermen and in signing this MoU, we have guaranteed that we will be at the centre of a project which has the potential to be an economically-transformative” greatly falls short of promising any kind of benefit for fishermen in any sector of inshore, demersal or pelagics,” says Burke.
“Key decisions, including site selection, cable routing, and land fall, will be collectively analysed and agreed. Similarly, other stakeholders, including environmental organisations will also be given input at an early stage in shaping the location and design of the floating wind farms” – these are all pretty words to attempt to tick all the boxes but once again, where will the benefit be to fishermen who, at the end of the day, will see further sacrifice of their fishing grounds?
“It should also be noted that the proposed site “off the northwest coast of Donegal” is promised to be at least 50km from shore – but anyone who knows the geography of Irish waters can confirm that this will mean the site is to be located in depths of 1,500m and establishing anchors and cables for a platform in such depths would be a project of vast cost, even for a global investment company.”
The timing of the announcement has not been lost on the IFSA Chair, coming at a time when the industry needs to work together to ensure its future.
“Coming at time when the Irish fishing industry, particularly on the east and south west coasts are fighting to save the decimation of catching opportunities on their local fishing grounds due to an influx of planned wind farms and closed areas, it is sad to see the lack of consultation with the genuine stakeholders i.e. the fishermen themselves and that the entering into an agreement with a wind farm developer flies in the face of the growing sense of unity in the industry that had been seen over the past two years in particular.
“This leaves only the question of who will actually benefit?” asks Burke.
“Once again while it is likely that a few people along the way will pick up some nice bonuses, another wealthy environmental company are going to make a killing and, as seems to always be the case, Irish fishermen will foot the bill.
“By the way, constantly referring to this wind farm as a ‘floating platform’ seems to be trying to infer that it is the lesser of two evils in that it is not a fixed project and with less seabed disruption – but omitting the fact that such platforms require industrial-scale anchors and cables to keep it in place and major disruption of the seabed environment will still occur.”