Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has told the Seanad that the review of the Common Fisheries Policy has so far completely failed to address the needs of Irish fishermen and coastal communities.
Speaking during a Seanad debate on the issue today (Wednesday, 20 July), Senator Ó Domhnaill heavily criticised the proposals announced last week by the European Commission, which he said would damage growth in the Irish fishing industry.
Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “The introduction of mandatory transferable quotas rights for all member States would be detrimental to the Irish fishing industry. It could see large buyers hoover up the majority of quotas, which means it would be only a matter of time before this key sector would be handed over to large EU companies. Essentially, an ill-conceived measure like this could wipe out Ireland’s fishing industry.
“In addition to this, the much anticipated greater regionalisation of the CFP has been totally diluted. We must fight against a one size fits all approach that fail smaller operators, instead of a localised management structure which could benefit all.
“I welcome the outline for a unique regime for small scale fisheries, however the proposals in their current form will exclude a large proportion of the Irish fleet. All boats under 15 metres must be included under these provisions, as more than 80% of the Irish fishing fleet falls under this category.
“It is feared that mackerel, one of the most important fisheries in European waters, will probably lose its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Sustainable Fisheries Certification because of the actions of the Faroe Islands and Iceland. The MSC accreditation was hard-won by Irish fishermen and their organisations, following years of good conservation and management. Now, because of the actions of the Faroe Islands and Iceland unilaterally seizing over 150,000 tonnes each of the mackerel stock this year, the scientific guidelines for safe maximum catch of this stock will be totally breached and the MSC will have little option but to withdraw its accreditation from all EU mackerel stocks.
“The behaviour by these fishermen is totally reckless and irresponsible. They are essentially plundering the stock by allocating themselves over 300,000 tonnes of mackerel this year – that’s 47% of the overall scientific advice for this species, compared with the 5% allocation they usually have.
“To add insult to injury the Faroe Islands have the largest factory in the world, The Lafayette, and can process 15,000 tonnes of fish per day. She’s in their waters and they’ve flagged in other vessels from other countries to try to ensure they catch the stock in their own waters.
“This is an absolute disaster for Ireland, and particularly the Northwest. The mainstay of our fishing industry is mackerel. We have a sale value of about €70 – 80 million for our mackerel every year. If this isn’t stopped, it’s only a matter of time before we find there will be no mackerel out there to catch. Thousands of jobs would be lost. We are not going to stand idly by and allow our stock to be plundered by others.
“I have called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to urgently press the European Commission to introduce trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the Commission have now confirmed that draft sanctions will be brought before EU Fisheries Ministers for consideration in October.”