Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Seafood Taskforce Final Report: Statements


1:55 pm

Photo of Johnny MythenJohnny Mythen (Wexford, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

One of the things that sticks out in this report and the Common Fisheries Policy is the phrase "level playing field". Where is this mythical level playing field when it comes to the Irish fishing fleet? No other nation had imposed upon it a 15% reduction in its fishing quotas, which will lead to the loss of up to €43 million per year. No other nation was asked to decommission a major portion of its fleet. No other nation was offered a voluntary tie-up scheme. A funding scheme is not the answer to fishers who, over decades, have built their modern fleets, their small prosperous coastal communities and provided the country with an industry valued at €1.22 billion per annum and employing more than 16,000 people.

The pretext is the premise that this will somehow reduce the number of fish caught and balance the books. All the while, Belgium, France and Spain are substantially investing in and adding to their fleets with modern super-trawlers being constructed as we speak. While we, once again, sacrifice our country's natural resources, we are allowing other countries to fish with impunity and receive all the benefits of the lucrative global superfood product.

As the saying goes, there is no use in closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. I hope and pray this is not the case here. It is in the Minister's hands, as the representative of the fishers of Ireland, to ensure burden sharing is proportionate to the quota transfers across the board. It has not gone unnoticed that Britain's first move in the Brexit negotiations was to stake its claim on territorial waters and use its fishing fleet as a trump card and for major bargaining leverage in the negotiations. It has not gone unnoticed that the 15% reduction in quotas has left our industry in a most disadvantaged place. This must be addressed and rectified in the review of the Common Fisheries Policy, which is due to be completed by 31 December 2022.

A full and comprehensive plan must be deployed and acted upon to protect what we have and to invest and grow our fishing aquaculture and processing industry in a responsible and sustainable way. These are valuable assets that belong to and enrich our nation. I find it incomprehensible when I see the future of fishers being bought off, with processors closing and job losses in order to facilitate France, Spain, Belgium and others reaping the rewards of our fishing waters for many years to come. Meanwhile our fishing boats are decommissioned and tied to the piers. I implore all stakeholders to put forward their case in a strong and bold manner, because the clock is ticking and there is no time to lose. The stakes are high for the sustainability and future of our fishing communities, including in Kilmore, Rosslare, Slade and Duncannon in my home county of Wexford.


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