The FD Podcast Series 1 Episode 22 – Oliver McBride speaks to Cllr Jim Codd, Aontú of Wexford County Council on the recent detention and arrest of the Kilmore Quay based beam trawler Mary J and claims Irish fishermen being pressurised to leave the industry.
It seems like it is only the Irish are overfishing - Cllr Jim Codd
On Monday 30 November, an Irish-registered beam trawler, the Mary J from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford was put off her fishing grounds by the Irish Navy boat, the William Butler Yeats.
The Mary J WD-17 was fishing along with another Kilmore Quay based fishing vessel on grounds south of Cork when they received a call from the Navy over the VHF allegedly stating “This is the warship William Butler Yeats. Prepare for boarding’.
At the time, there were Belgium trawlers working in the same area.
“The two Kilmore Quay fishing vessels were fishing an area of Irish waters, along with four Belgian vessels when an Irish navy ship approached,” says Jim. “It ignored the Belgian boats and engaged the Kilmore ships with the following stark warning.”
The Mary J was boarded and escorted back to Kilmore Quay Harbour where the Navy carried out their investigations before handing the case over to An Garda Síochana.
On Friday night, 03 December, Cllr Jim Codd said that he was called to an emergency meeting in Kilmore Quay where boat owners and fishermen expressed concerns over the incident. The feeling amongst the fishermen was that the Navy was racking up fisheries patrols and checks in order to harass them into taking the Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme that the Seafood Sector Task Force approved in their report. There were also concerns express that the Government was only interested in boosting the seafood processing industry at the expense of the fishing fleet, when they got €90 million for improvements and €63m was offered to remove 30 percent of the whitefish fleet from the equation.
Jim speaks frankly on the podcast about the issues facing fishermen and their families, along with the impact these cuts will have on coastal communities. He asks why the Government has abandoned fishermen. He recalls meeting Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue in Kilmore Quay on his visit, where the Minister promised fishermen that he would stand by them and not allow the fleet to be cut, but now the talk is of decommissioning, and he says that the fishermen on the south-east coast of Ireland feel that this arrest of the Mary J is a signal to leave the industry.
Listen to the podcast for more.