Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan has called on Minister Simon Coveney to urgently address the extremely low Irish white fish quota which he says is penalising fishermen all over the south.

Senator O’Donovan called for an urgent debate on this issue in the Seanad this week.

“White fish are vitally important to the industry in the South,” said Senator O’Donovan.

“Without an extra quota for fishermen here the industry will decline further. Fishermen are struggling to survive with the current quotas. What makes it worse is French trawlers have ten times the quota of Irish fleets and they can fish in Irish seas. Fishermen I have spoken to in Cork are furious and I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney to step up to the plate here.

“I demanded an urgent debate on this topic this week in the Seanad. The livelihoods of 700 people in the Irish fishing industry have been jeopardised.

“Also this week, an entire fleet of fishing vessels were tied up at Kilmore Quay in Wexford by the Sea Fishery Protection Agency (SFPA). Two boats in the fleet had overfished but the remaining 19 boats were prevented from fishing.

“The Minister is blaming the O’Flaherty brothers, who own the boats, for overfishing the seas. The fact is that he has failed to adequately negotiate quota trading with other EU countries that come nowhere near reaching their quotas. For instance, the French fished 38% of their monkfish and megrim quota last year.

“Minister Coveney needs to use his influence in Europe to negotiate with these countries to trade their quotas. An effective quota transfer between member states is a key part of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“The longer this dispute goes on, the bigger the hit is for the fishermen and the more the industry is put under threat.”