Rural Independents demand the government and the Minister for the Marine to disallow Norway from taking Irish fish stocks
Rural TDs accuse the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, of losing control of Irish waters and badly disappointing our fishing fleets.
Repeating the disastrous post-Brexit fish quota giveaway, by now giving Norway unrestricted access to our blue whiting stock, would be an unforgivable “kick in the teeth” to Ireland’s indigenous fishing industry, according to the Rural Independent TDs.
Speaking from Castletownbere today (Saturday, 9th December), ahead of the annual EU fisheries Council, which begins tomorrow, the Rural TD for Cork South-West, Deputy Michael Collins, stated:
“Successive governments, over the last forty years, have conspired to give away over 50 percent of our national fish quota. No further giveaways can be tolerated. Instead, the government must ‘wake up’ and ‘recognise’ that controlling the resources in our national waters is a matter of fundamental national interest.
“Norway’s latest bold request – for a second consecutive year – to seek unrestricted access to Ireland’s rich blue whiting fishing grounds, located in territorial waters about 70 km north-west of Donegal, must be staunchly blocked.
“The request, if approved, would leave Norwegian vessels catching most, if not all, of the blue whiting quota in Irish waters, with our boats restricted and thus many driven out of business.”
“It’s not as if Ireland has a quota to give away. Currently, Irish fishers are only allowed to catch a mere 3 percent of blue whiting stocks, while Norwegians can catch up to 18 percent (six times Ireland’s catch), within EU waters. In monetary terms, Irish fishers can only catch a tiny proportion of the estimated €200 million value of blue whiting in our own territorial waters, while foreign vessels scoop up most of the fish.
“In contextual terms, Norway is a country with a similar population to Ireland’s. Yet, they have over 6,000 fishing boats in contrast to Ireland’s meagre 180. Over 90 percent of the fish caught by Norwegian fishers comes from waters outside their nominal control. This illustrates how their fishing sector is flourishing, while the Irish sector is wilting under the joint stewardship of inept successive Irish governments who have given away our quotas to powerful EU bureaucrats.
“To add insult to injury, this current government has all but abandoned our sector, where they are forcing a decommissioning scheme to drive fishers out of existence.
“That is why we firmly believe that giving away any more of our fish stock would be unconscionable, especially without one single dividend for our fishing industry in return. Our sector has already lost €43 million per annum in quota, under the watch of Minister Charlie McConalogue, during his botched handling of the Brexit quota carve-up.
“Norway has no legal agreement with the EU to justify this request. Therefore, the Irish government must ‘wake-up’ and establish a very robust position that protects its national interest and fishing sector. Any decision at EU level on this matter will be ‘political’ and not ‘technical, meaning the Minister cannot hide behind bureaucracy on this one.
“The livelihoods of Irish fishers cannot again be ‘thrown to the wolves’ to protect access to arctic cod quotas for the Spanish and French. That is why we fully support the fishing industry’s calls for a complete deferral of any further negotiations on this issue until the New Year.”
“We are also seeking a full and open debate in the Dail about this, prior to any deal being signed, to ensure consideration and debate of its implications and to highlight the sector’s concerns on the floor of the house.”
“We are also calling on Minister McConalogue to staunchly defend the interests of our fishers at the annual fishery Council talks which begin tomorrow, to ensure an increase in fishing opportunities and no more quota giveaways in 2023. The Minister must also outrightly oppose any Norwegian deal at the meeting.”
“It is essential that this government develops a nationalist backbone when it comes to fisheries, because empty words and platitudes are driving the sector into extinction. Another Brexit quota giveaway simply cannot occur. Minister McConalogue must use his ‘voice’ at the Fisheries Council level and have this matter deferred. ‘Nodding with the pack’, to curry favour with the Brussels elites, is not an option,” concluded Deputy Collins.
Source: Press Release