irish government fishing industry

IS&WFPO, CEO Patrick Murphy has called on the Irish Government to back its own fishing industry


Irish South and West FPO, CEO Patrick Murphy has called on the Irish Government to commit a scientific evaluation of the potential destruction to our Nursery and Spawning Grounds and veto any proposed decommissioning schemes aimed at the Irish fishing fleet.

In a press release today he asks:

“Is Ireland’s fishing industry the parice to be paide for a Brexit Deal?

“The reader can see Ireland’s small share of the TAC total for 2021 from the Graph below, provided, of course that these figures are agreed upon by all at the EU’s December Council Meeting and that the UK is not given what it has demanded in the Trade negotiations.

Ireland’s share of the Total Allowable Catch opportunity for Stocks in Europe’s NW Waters in 2020 was 195,221 tonnes with a landed value of €252 million in circumstances where the overall Fishing Opportunity (ie Total Allowable Catch for NW Waters) was 1.18 million tonnes of fish with an estimated landed value of €1.62 billion. In other words, Ireland’s Share of the total amounted to 15.5% and in the context of Brexit, we are the one EU Member State with the most to lose if a deal is not agreed that retains current access and quota share.

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It is in these circumstances that we learned, to our horror, from media reports that Michel Barnier had offered an 18% increase in their share-out of these Fish Stocks to the UK.

Now the EU negotiator, himself a previous Minister for Fisheries in France knows only too well that giving more fish to UK fishermen will mean less for everyone else, with Ireland paying the significantly greatest price.

Ireland is where the fish are once the UK leaves and this is confirmed by Minister Charlie McConalogue’s Press Release yesterday detailing the 1.16 billion tonnes of Fish available to be caught in North-West Waters in 2021.

Our Irish Governments working together with their European colleagues have previously imposed three Decommissioning Schemes on Irish Fishers and on Irish Coastal Communities, part funded by the EU. These Schemes have decimated Irelands White Fish Fleet and ended fishing traditions in many small coastal communities while depopulating our Islands and small coastal villages.

The stark reality of this Decommissioning experience will be repeated once again to make way for French, Dutch, Belgian and Spanish vessels displaced from UK waters.

Our Irish coastal communities that are so dependent on our brave men and women sailing out to Sea while being watched and monitored constantly under EU Control Regulations face the prospect of many more Fishers being once again forced to leave the Industry to make room for others displaced from UK Waters.

Ireland’s fishing Industry has, to a large extent remained silent for fear of reprisal while our fishermen are demonised and blamed by fellow Irish men and women for overfishing and wiping out the stocks of fish in our waters in a complete distortion of the reality of the Common Fishery Policy and its often contradictory laws.

If Relative Stability is maintained despite the UK being gifted a massive increase in opportunities we will be forced to witness the destruction of Irelands Biologically Sensitive Fishing Grounds, the destruction of one of our greatest natural resources and the decimation of our many remote Coastal Communities.

It is an undeniable fact that fish do not respect borders in our oceans and they travel from sea to sea as they grow and develop while following the tides and currents where the phytoplankton building blocks of all marine life travel.

What fish will inevitably do in the course of their lifecycle is to travel back to the place of their birth so they too can breed and create the next generation of their species. We refer to this place as the spawning grounds.

Ireland has centuries of scientific data recording the various spawning beds of the 100 stocks that use Ireland’s shallow waters on our continental shelf to breed and spawn.

The Irish South and West have for over two years met with Taoisigh and with several Ministers both for the Marine and for Foreign Affairs highlighting our concerns and asking for a scientific evaluation of the potential destruction to our Nursery and Spawning Grounds caused by a massive invasion of hundreds of EU fishing vessels forced from UK waters and displaced by Brexit into our sensitive Maritime Jurisdiction.

The Industry representative at the recent Sea Fisheries Liaison group meeting were told this critical issue of Displacement is not a Biological issue but a political issue! What exactly does this mean? Is this opening a Pandora’s Box of decimating overfishing?

We have witnessed the extinction of fishing traditions around our coastline and we have seen the utter destruction and annihilation of demersal “white fish” sector boats measuring just over 59.4 feet in length with 42% wiped out in a decade and one year. 165 boats over 18m are all that’s left of a once thriving Irish fishing fleet that supported thousands of jobs in our coastal towns and villages.

The bargaining of fish from our waters may well prove the final blow and finish off many of the small independent family run fishing vessels around our coastline.

Questions that we request to be asked of our political leaders by our media in the public domain:

  • Has the Marine institute been requested to carry out any examination of the probable impacts of the displacement of hundreds of Fishing Boats from UK waters into Irish waters?
  • What are the probable impacts on the sustainability of the stocks with such an increase in numbers of vessels and fishing effort?
  • Has the Council of Ministers of Europe given Michel Barnier instructions to throw away the Mandate they gave him? And what now IS his Mandate?
  • Will our Government led by Taoiseach Michael Martin his Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue veto any proposal that will result in a FOURTH Decommissioning Scheme for the Irish Fleet and the driving of the Final Nail in the coffin of Ireland’s Coastal Fishing Communities?

In Summary we in the dark and an opaque cloud which hangs over the entire negotiations and which leaves fishing communities having the sword of Damocles hanging over them.”

The SIA is available by clicking here

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs