Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers (IS&WFPO) is happy with the impact on the public last Wednesday’s ‘Show and Tell’ at Cork Harbour has had and says that there will be more such demonstrations until the Irish Government starts to listen and agrees fight for the industry’s rights within the European Union.
Patrick and Irish fishermen are fighting for equal rights, which means the Government and the EU must stop treating them like second-class citizens when it comes to fishing rights in their own waters and criminal proceedings.
After a disastrous Brexit deal which sees the fleet losing 26% of its fishing quota in UK waters and being reduced to catching 15% of the TAC in its own waters. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine estimate that the Irish fishing industry will lose €43 million over the loss of quota in UK waters but many believe that it is worth so much more. After Brexit, Ireland has the largest territorial waters in the EU but have been restricted for decades by a one-sided Common Fisheries Policy that has gradually dwindled the Irish fleet into a fraction of what it once was, while other Member States have grown the catching power of their fleets.
The EU Commission compounded the misery for Irish fishermen by removing the control plan, which allowed the weighing of landings in factories or processing plants. Now, the fleet will have to weigh catches harbour side, breaking numerous, hygiene and safety rules in the process.
Tap to view Gallery – Irish fishing boats making their way into Cork on Wednesday 26 May 2021. Photos: Joseph O’Sullivan, Castletownbere
The industry is also facing the introduction of further draconian fisheries penalty points, the toughest in the EU, and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, who will oversee control of fisheries in Irish waters has been deemed incompetent several times over, but the EU Commission is still recognising them as a ‘competent authority’.
All this on top of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the industry in crisis and on its knees but the fishers of Ireland are prepared to take the fight to the Government because they believe it is time that their issues are taken onboard by the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition.
Speaking to Mr Murphy yesterday on the Cork protest where over 50 trawlers attended, he said:
“We have to give credit to ever single media outlet for the coverage they gave us.
“We need the public to understand, there’s more coming. Regardless, this is only the first step of the campaign, and it has to be a campaign, until we have saved the industry. And the only way we’re going to be safe is if the EU give us our fair share a fish. That’s it, no more about it than until we get enough of our own fishing in our waters to sustain and support our communities, we can’t stop because there’s no more. There’s no more did the well is dry!
The Government has said that there have been 33 incidents of fisheries offences by Irish fishing vessels in 12-years, a number which the head of the IS&WFPO does not believe justifies the treatment of the Irish fishing industry when comparing to the number of offences committed by fishing vessels from other EU Member States.
“Over the past 12-years we’ve had millions of landings all over the country like day in, day out day in day out. So, they found 33 problems.
“They sent him to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), and the DPP said was nothing there. So, the SFPA and the Government had decided, “We won’t bother with the DPP. Will do it ourselves”. In other words, there would have been 33 guilty sentences if the SFPA didn’t have to go into the courtrooms.
“That’s what would have happened. That’s why we have to say “No”. It’s unfair, because this proves it. Instead of vilifying the industry for 33 suspicions we have to say “No, this this can’t be allowed this“.
“This highlights what we’ve been saying all along is correct.
“They don’t want to go into a courtroom because they know they won’t meet the requirement of proof and they won’t be able to show that the fisher is guilty without sufficient proof.
“That’s why they took the cases forward. 33 cases, since 2009. Imagine and all the landings in the country. You know 33 an absolute disgrace to think that that would bring down a system like the control plan.
“It’s a national disgrace that our government are or public into the bowing down to the to the European Union.
“Talk about slaves and masters. Then you can call it. Being that talk about slaves and masters.
“Well, I’m no slave” concluded Patrick.