Thursday, 3 June 2021
Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage
Ruairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
I agree with some of the sentiments Deputy Ó Cuív expressed. It is a fact that fisheries have been an afterthought for many years. That is the reason we are here last thing on a Thursday evening. We all accept that we got a terrible deal on fisheries on accession to the European Economic Community. It is always the group that gets sold down the river, for want of a better term, so it is not shocking that fishermen have huge difficulties with the deal that was struck on Brexit and the trade and co-operation agreement, TCA. We do not have a great history of protecting our sovereign territory and our sovereign waters. We came to a decision on Rockall in 1988. Deputy Brady and others spoke earlier about the need to revisit that decision in a post-Brexit world, particularly as regards fishing quotas and ensuring we can provide the fishing industry within this State with what it needs to survive.
This Bill has been sold as a consolidation or a cleaning up.
To be fair, some of that is to be welcomed. However, there are major failings in this legislation and on that basis we will not be supporting this Bill. A major level of stakeholder engagement is required. Like many Deputies, I have been contacted by many people in the fishing industry regarding the difficulties they are experiencing and the worries they have concerning the marine planning framework and all the other necessary infrastructure which will be required if we want to develop our capacity in offshore wind power generation.
We must ensure that we involve all the stakeholders and all those in the fishing industry in the interests of ensuring sustainability. It should be no different to how we should be dealing with the Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, negotiations for farming. That aspect should be about delivering a sufficient amount of money to as many farmers as possible to sustain family farms from the perspective of securing for the rest of us a steady supply of very good quality food. That is what must be done.
I have had several engagements with some organisations and companies looking at developing offshore wind projects. In that context, we must ensure that the framework is correct and, beyond that, we must also ensure that the right pieces are put in place regarding guaranteeing consultation. We must also ensure there is payback for all the communities concerned and ensure the sustainability of the fishing industry.