fact fiction ore irish sea

NIFA & NIFO have slammed ORE companies developing wind farms in the Irish Sea separating the fact from the fiction of the situation

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association has slammed offshore renewable energy companies over a series of broken promises made to their members regarding offshore wind developments in the Irish Sea.

The Irish government has empowered a lawless sea grab around the Irish coast that will see fishermen thrown off their traditional fishing grounds as greedy multinationals stake a claim in the goldrush of the 21st Century.

Fishermen around the coast are facing annihilation as Eamon Ryan and his cronies seek to get very wealthy as investment money from all over the world pours into ORE projects destined for Ireland’s seas.

The opportunism for investors is difficult to ignore when the Government and EU representatives such as Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen and Environment, Ocean and Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius practically telling them it’s a golden opportunity for free land. In their infinite greed for easy money, the coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have left it up to the ORE developers to deal with Irish fishermen how they like and have hired fisheries liaison officers to persuade fishermen to give-up their fishing grounds despite the fact that they have no legal or jurisdictional rights to do so. In an effort to again soften their image, Codling Wind Park has started to use the term Fisheries Engagement Manager for staff liaising with coastal communities .

Coastal communities have been promised monetary compensation and job opportunities if they do not object to the ORE developers. Coastal communities have been promised a 25-year fund of €20 million per year for projects in their areas, some places have been promised lobster hatcheries and other laces have been promised playgrounds in exchange for their co-operation.

ORE developers and the Irish government guaranteed coastal communities and fishermen that they would be consulted on every aspect of these developments and in fact, it would be beneficial to the fishing industry, but so far this has failed to be fulfilled.

Fishermen had also been promised work on these offshore wind farms, such as crewing Guard Ships, but now it seems that too many of these promises have been broken. Irish vessels have been removed from guard duty on the Codling Wind Farm development and have been replaced with boats and crews from the UK and the Netherlands.

On Wednesday 31 May, NIFA and NIFO took to Facebook to separate the fact from the fiction regarding the ORE industry in the Irish Sea. They wrote:

When full time licensed fishermen expressed concerns over disturbance of their work practice and even their futures in the inshore fishing industry, they were assured that before any exploratory work for windfarms went ahead there would be full consultation with all stakeholders. Fiction.

As work progressed ongoing consultation and dialogue was promised in order to minimise disruption to fishing activities. Fiction.

A ‘worst case scenario’ was presented as some fishermen having to leave the industry but there would be ample employment available in the ORE industry and this should be embraced rather than feared. Fiction.

With regard to fears expressed concerning lasting negative impact to the seabed, whelk and other shellfish populations everyone was assured that environmental impact statements had been carried out and the fishermens’ concerns were once again unfounded. More fiction.

Now let’s look at the facts…

On the Codling windfarm project, the Irish vessels have now been relieved of their duties leading to crew being laid off as the vessels’ owners seek alternative employment. They have been replaced with a third country, UK (not even EU) vessel employing non-local crew and two other foreign-owned vessels with foreign crews. Fact.

A stop has been put to some activities temporarily because it took a fisherman to highlight a list of environmental concerns left un-addressed by the ‘environmental impact statement’ amongst other concerns. All this at massive financial cost to himself as the case moved to the High Court. Fact.

Fishermen, in order to qualify for loans for new boats need to provide detailed projected costs and earnings for their businesses for the duration of their loans. As ORE survey work gathered pace whelk catches alone have fallen by between 60% and 70% within a broad vicinity of the work, just as the fishermen had both feared and predicted. The final fact of the matter (for now) is that if this juggernaut is allowed to continue its assault on the industry and decimate the shellfish stocks the fishing vessels will be forced out of business, unable to sustain the projected earnings supplied to the banks. Crewmen will desert the boats which will have to be sold and after that? Quite possibly the family homes.

To finish: from the very start our environmental organisations have quite rightly been vociferous in their collective opposition to the rampant habitat destruction and the threats posed to shellfish and other wildlife stocks… Fiction.

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Brian J McMullin Soliciors Killybegs
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