Part of the irish delegation in Brissels. L to R: Patrick Murphy (ISWFPO), Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD (Sinn Fein), Chris MacManus MEP (Sinn Fein), Aodh O'Donnell (IFPO) and Brendan Byrne (IFPEA).

Part of the Irish fisheries delegation in Brissels. L to R: Patrick Murphy (ISWFPO), Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD (Sinn Fein), Chris MacManus MEP (Sinn Fein), Aodh O’Donnell (IFPO) and Brendan Byrne (IFPEA).

The delegation of Irish fishing representatives in Brussels this week, met yesterday with Irish MEPs Colm Markey (Fine Gael) and Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil). 

The event organised by Sinn Féin MEP, Chris MacManus and his staff is giving Irish fishermen and organisation representatives the opportunity to present their case for a more just resource sharing of fish in Irish waters at EU level.

The first of a kind delegation is hoping that these representations will get EU officials to use regulations in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the UN Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) to help lessen the effect of Brexit on the industry. 

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Under the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Ireland is set to lose 25% of its fishing quotas due to the proximity of Ireland to the UK. This has angered Irish fishermen how have been hit by a 30% reduction in the whitefish fleet as proposed under the Seafood Sector Task Force report. 

The speakers at today’s event were Patrick Murphy (IS&WFPO), Aodh O’Donnell (IFPO), Brendan Byrne (IFPEA), Gerard Kelly from Greencastle, Cormac Burke (IFSA) and Sinn Féin Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn, TD and Fisheries Spokesperson. 

Earlier in the day, Patrick, Aodh, Padraig and Brendan were interviewed by Chris MacManus MEP, on EU Parliamentary TV where they told of the reason behind their visit to the heart of EU politics. 

Ireland has some of the richest fishing grounds in Europe within its Exclusive Economic Zone but due to the decades old Common Fisheries Policy of ‘relative stability’, access to a fair share of the fish and wealth from our own waters has been denied to our fishing fleet and fishing communities. 

This is not sustainable and goes against the wider principles of the Common Fisheries Policy and the European Union in terms of reducing carbon footprint and of the economic and social linkage between those catching the fish and the communities closest to those fishing grounds.

Proposals for urgent change to the Common Fisheries Policy
  • To immediately commence the process of reallocating all of the annual unused/uncaught fish quota within the EEZ of Member States from the fishing fleets of the relevant EU Member States to nartional fishing fleet under the principles of ‘zonal attachment’. 
  • To urgently examine the annual quota of fish allocated to national fishing fleet under the Common Fisheries Policy on a species-by-species basis and to change the basis of allocation from ‘relative stability’ to ‘zonal attachment’ in line with the wider principles of the Common Fisheries Policy and the European Union in terms of reducing carbon footprint and of the economic and social linkage between those catching the fish and the communities closest to those fishing grounds.   
  • To urgently examine the opportunities to allocate a quota for Atlantic bluefin tuna proven to be in abundance in the Irish EEZ to the Irish fishing fleet. 
  • To ask the EU to examine the issue of ‘flags of convenience’ in the fishing sector across the EU, and urgently examine the threat to EU food security from the increased control of Europe’s fishing quota by a small number of global corporations; further to urgently examine why the current policy of ‘relative stability’ has permitted this to happen and how a policy of ‘zonal attachment’ could reverse it.  
  • To ask the EU Commission to examine the issue around the granting quotas to Norway for blue whiting in Irish waters.

It is estimated that the Irish fishing fleet is only allocated about 15% of the fish in Ireland’s EEZ every year. And there is no return allocation of fish quota in other EU Member State’s EEZ to the Irish fishing fleet. 

Even when the annual fish quota allocated to fishing vessels from other EU Member States has not been used, this quota is still not allocated to vessels from the Irish fishing fleet based in the communities closest to those waters. 

This is deeply unjust and has only worsened since Britain left the European Union in recent years. 

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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Irish Fisheries Delegation in Brussels to meet EU officials

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