NIFA met today with representatives from Sinn Féin to discuss the current problems facing the Irish inshore fisheries sector.
The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) met today with representatives from Sinn Féin to discuss the current problems facing the sector.
The Irish inshore sector has been left vulnerable after a horrific 2020 which has seen many vessels tied-up for a long period at the start of the year due to bad weather and that was followed by the global COVID-19 crisis which saw fish markets in East Asia and mainland Europe collapse.
Fish prices continue to be poor and with continued COVID-19 spikes emerging on the Continent, the future for the inshore fleet is extremely unstable.
A Temporary Voluntary Tie-up Scheme proposed by the government and paid out of the country’s EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) was of little help to the inshore fleet due to issues with sales notes.
The scheme was designed to assist in adjusting the supply of fish coming onto a market depressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect quota availability for later in the year.
The Scheme started on 01 June 2020 and it was designed so eligible vessels would be supported to voluntarily opt to tie up for one or two months, during June, July & August. The two-month period does not necessarily have to be for consecutive months. For instance, the tie-up period could be June and August.
Many fishing vessels under-10 metres have been refused access to the Temporary Voluntary Tie-Up Scheme due to an oversight by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority in enforcing the registration of Sales Notes.
BIM confirmed that insufficient sales notes were the main reason for closing out applications with 12 applications being rejected in June and 16 denied in July.
Matters now have been further complicated by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, signing S.I 318 of 2020 in law last Friday, 28 August. This is another blow for the inshore sector which has now been lumbered with a penalty points system which will see the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority administer points to their fishing licences for perceived fisheries infringements before due process can be carried out.
The meeting today included Donegal Deputy and Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, Mayo Deputy, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, Mayo/Galway Deputy, Mairéad Farrell. Kerry Deputy, Pa Daly TD and Wexford Deputy, Johnny Mythen TD,
NIFA thanked the Sinn Féin for taking the time to meet them regarding a number of pressing issues facing our members.
NIFA said of the meeting “A great audience that listened to our concerns, we need all the support we can get.”
This evening, Deputy Mac Lochlainn called on the Government to scrap S.I 318 of 2020. He said “In recent days, Micheál Martin acting as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, signed off on a penalty points system for fishers all around the coast that is deeply flawed and unjust. He knows it is deeply flawed and unjust because two years ago he voted against exactly the same scheme.
“I am calling on An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin to urgently engage with the fishing community all around our coast on a penalty points system that is fair and just to all. That allows people to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“If he doesn’t do what’s right, myself and my Sinn Féin colleagues have put forward a motion, it is exactly the same motion Micheál Martin voted for two years ago which is to scrap the previous scheme. So he needs to do the right thing in the days that follow or we will put this motion on the agenda. And we will put it up to him to do what is right.”