The Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) has issued a statement calling for “leadership and mediation” in regards to the protests which occurred yesterday in the fishing port of Dingle, Co Kerry.
Fishermen and locals blockaded the pier in Dingle in an action to stop French and Spanish boats landing. The communities objections were to the 40 or so crew who they feared were not observing social distancing protocol which has been put in place by the Irish Government in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
The statement reads:
“A coastal communities fear from inaction following the Irish South and West raising concerns expressed to them from local people in the community, has resulted in the inevitable reaction, the blockading of the small coastal port of Dingle in County Kerry.
“When we as Europeans should be working together fear has overtaken compassion and conflict is the result.
“The irony is we as rural and urban communities are bombarded with warning after warning to isolate keep our distance act in our neighbour’s interest to stop the spread of this killer virus to our most vulnerable in our society.
“These coastal communities were not listened to and sadly have decided to act themselves in their belief they are doing right by their old and sick.
“However, we must remember Spanish people depend on this fish and have under the 2013 Common fishery Policy the right to enter our EEZ to catch the shared resource of fish stocks that inhabit our waters.
“Many feel that the policy that has remained the same for 40 years and is not fair to Ireland with a poor share in many Demersal stocks such as Hake, Monk and Haddock believe it is not shared proportionately to reflect the fishing communities of Ireland need of a fair share who have seen their fleet decimated in decommissioning schemes where Island communities, small ports and harbours see their boats and fishermen disappearing before their eyes.
“It is understandable when Irish vessels currently have no market in Spain or France, then to see Spanish and French vessels fishing flat out landing in our ports with our boats tied up, it has to be understood tensions are bound to surface as well.
“I feel all conflict can be resolved through communication and a lot of understanding but we need this to be put in place immediately.
“We are all rightly concerned not only for our future but our present and this is a time for leadership and mediation to address the concerns of these frightened communities.”