irish government ignores fishing

Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association CEO Brendan Byrne says the Irish fishing industry has huge potential the government ignores

Speaking on the Fishing Daily Podcast, Brendan Byrne, CO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association called on the government to stop hammering the Irish fishing industry and realise the potential sitting on its doorstep.

For decades the Irish government refused to admit that the majority of the fish caught in Irish waters has been done so by foreign fishing vessels. Boats from France, Spain, Belgium and Holland are fishing thousands of tonnes of fish a day from Irish waters, and the EU has even granted access to Norway to fish 37,000 tonnes of blue whiting in the Irish EEZ while Irish boats are left with a paltry 26,000 tonnes, which they must fish in their own waters.

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Post-Brexit, Ireland lost 25% of it’s fish quotas but instead of the government demanding equal fishing rights for their fleet from the EU, they are instead welcoming a decommissioning scheme which will reduce the Irish whitefish fleet by 30%. Ireland has 15% of the catch in its own waters and 85% is fished by its EU neighbours. While Irish food producers are getting hammered by Green Party policy on reducing carbon emissions, Brendan says it’s time the Green Party woke up and got to grips with reality.

He says, “If you look typically the fish being caught off our coast, and I’m glad now the Department (of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) have done a U-turn and finally admit that the majority of fish caught in Irish waters is caught by vessels from other members. 

“It’s and typically you see vessels leave, and Spain and France and Denmark and Germany and France steam into within 40/50 kilometres of the Irish coastline, catching fish and steaming back to their own countries to process it. While we have an entire Irish fleet within kilometres of this catch, and we’re prohibited, not allowed, to catch it because of an archaic common fisheries policy and relative stability that hasn’t been reviewed since 1983, because the big entities in Europe are controlling the EU Commission and that’s the reality. The big players in Europe have the Commission hamstrung and until that is shattered and that is undone, Member States such as Ireland will be a minority player in the common fisheries policy. 

“So, there’s a whole debated discussion about carbon footprint and that we see our cousins in the farming industry they’re getting completely hammered and wiped out in terms of that, but there’s a blind eye being turned to what’s happening in the fishing industry. 

“You have vessels, then, leaving Japan to come within 200 kilometres of Ireland fishing tuna while at the same time we can’t fish the tuna. That’s by and large in Irish waters until they go out to international waters. And then you have Japanese vessels coming here and catching up to 3,000 to 4000 ton of it, while we can’t catch any of it. 

“So, the Green Party are talking about carbon footprint, but they’re also choosing to ignore the reality of what’s happening in terms of carbon footprint and the fish that served in the Dáil. It is a classic example of how blind they are to their own policies.”

With 12% territorial waters, Ireland has the largest and most abundant fishing grounds in the EU, but government policy is dictating to put an end to its fishing fleet.

But the fishing industry is not alone in being pushed out of existence, which leaves a lot of questions to be answered in terms of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party’s reasons for slashing the country’s self-sufficiency and replacing it with imported food and heating products. They claim that the development of offshore wind farms will benefit Ireland, but most of the developments are earmarked to sell power to mainland Europe.

Culling the Irish beef herd by 25% while Brazil grows their herd, banning the selling of peat products and importing inferior peat from eastern Europe that is full of alien bugs does not add up to cutting global emissons.

Brendan says, “Well, if you look at the overall carbon footprint output of Ireland, it’s less than 0.8%. So, as a global player, we’re very insignificant.  But like everything, the Irish over-regulates themselves no end and the amount of regulation we have be it extraction, be it compost generation. We’ve seen it now with a 25% cut in emissions for the farming industry. You have an effect of 30% cut in the whitefish feet because that’s going to be decommissioned by 30% and as I outlined there earlier, you have multiple vessels from the various coastal states right across Europe, fishing within kilometres of our coastline, while we ourselves the country most adjacent to it would have the least carbon footprint if we were allowed to fish. 

“We have a very pro-environmental Commissioner in Sinkevicius and there is talk that the carbon footprint of fishing needs to be a factor in any review of the common fisheries policy, and if that were to occur, it can only help Ireland because at present you have the multiple stocks of fish around the Irish coast, you have thousands of vessels traveling thousands of miles round trip in order to get here to fish and the most adjacent or nearest fleet is tide up for at least ten months of the year by-and-large.” 

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