IFPEA chief says the reason two Norwegian boats will land mackerel in Killybegs is down to the failure of the EU and not Irish fish processors
Brendan Byrne, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association has said his members welcome the two Norwegian fishing vessels to Killybegs and does not believe that any fish processor in Ireland can be blamed for trying to protect jobs in their factories.
Instead, the IFPEA chief says that the blame should be laid at the door of the EU for a poor Brexit deal for the Irish fishing industry, and their failure to take action against Norway since May, when they unilaterally set their own mackerel quota of 298,000 tonnes, despite Member States fish producers and fish processors demanding action.
Two Norwegian pelagic boats, the Havsnurp and the Slaatteroey are on their way to land in Killybegs tomorrow with mackerel caught from the Norwegian Sea. The Norwegians controversially set themselves a quota of 298,000 tonnes of mackerel 2021, and major fishing organisations across the EU have been calling for action to be taken against Norway, in what is being perceived as excessive overfishing by the Scandanavian kingdom.
The Norwegian mackerel fleet have broken records in week 33 and week 34 of 2021 with catches of 54,500 tonnes and 60,900 tonnes being respectively recorded. So much mackerel was landed in Norwegian ports that processors have shut their doors because they cannot deal with the glut, and Norway is unable to shift their landing to Iceland as there is no agreement in place which would allow them to do so.
One processor in Killybegs saw an opportunity and sought to buy two loads of mackerel in order to keep his factory operating and his employees working, when herring from the North Sea was unavailable.
Speaking to The Fishing Daily tonight, Mr Byrne said:
“The IFPEA welcome all landings into Ireland from any country. We particularly welcome the Norwegian vessels to Killybegs, as Killybegs vessels have a long tradition of landing into Norway themselves.
“The reality of Brexit/TCA means similar to the producers that the Irish processing industry will have a significant shortfall in the fish lands to their fish processing plants.
“It is essential, therefore, in the next 5-year period that we reach out to other countries that have fish in order to attract them to the Irish fish processing plants.
“While we do understand the feelings of many vessel owners and producers in terms of the unilateral hike by the Norwegian authorities, matters such as these must be dealt at EU level ss opposed to Member State.”
Asked if he would be afraid that the IFPEA would be concerned in contributing to the perceived overfishing of the North-East Atlantic mackerel stock, Brendan replied,
“If that was the case, Oliver that we will be contributing to the overfishing, then the EU authorities would have taken action since May.
“The reality is the failure of the EU authorities to take any action has meant that the Norwegians are free to trade and sell their product, their catch right across Europe. There are no restrictions on Norwegian catch anywhere. There are no tariffs on Norwegian catch anywhere.
“If the EU authorities were animated or so intent or inclined to move on as sustainability, they should have done that by now. They should have done it immediately when the Norwegians took this unilateral action last May. We asked them as processors to do that, in order to protect the Irish producers and the Irish processors. And they didn’t. We’ve had numerous meetings about this, so in the absence of any restrictions, which there are none, free market forces will prevail.
Asked if there were more Norwegian vessels on the way with mackerel, Brendan said that he was unaware of further boats coming.
He said “I’m not aware of any other vessels coming down, nor am I aware of any other transactions taking place. The reality is we have to deal with everything on its own of merit. The merits of this are that there’s two Norwegian vessels with mackerel caught from Norwegian waters within the quota that they themselves set, which they had the authority to do because they are independent states outside of the EU.
“We, as a Member State of the EU through the you have not taken any action since May and the Norwegians are free agents to do what they wish with what they catch within their own waters, and it is pointless blaming processors or blaming Irish producers. The reality is we are in this position because the failure of the EU to take any action and in the absence of action. Like everything in life, free market forces will prevail, and commercial decisions will be taken.”
by Oliver McBride