Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security: Statements

 

5:25 pm

Photo of Thomas PringleThomas Pringle (Donegal, Independent)

I have been contacted by many constituents in my hometown of Killybegs regarding the decision by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, to use a weighing system which renders the fish unfit for human consumption. It can be hard for people outside the community to understand the significance of this or realise the effect it has had, but this is a community in decline, unfortunately, which is now threatened with the prospect of even further decline. The SFPA’s actions have caused incredible uncertainty among the local people of my town who fear for their jobs and their livelihoods. The sad thing about this is that the decline is because of Government inertia and not because of declining resources.

The fishing community has taken blow after blow in the last couple of decades, beginning with our negotiations to join the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy. The effects of this have been felt in all our fishing towns, not only by our fishermen, but by our factory workers, our netmakers, yardsmen, truck drivers, boat painters, administration workers, as well as our tourism and hospitality industry. The knock-on effects are endless and although this may seem like a small problem in Dublin, it is having a colossal effect on Killybegs and other towns across the country. It is very easy for Department officials to make such detrimental decisions without knowing their consequences. This issue is far from their doorstep but it is right on mine. My constituents and I are extremely worried about the future of our town. I had hoped that having a Minister with responsibility for the marine from Donegal would have changed things, even slightly, but sadly we have not seen a positive effect yet. The feeling of disconnect and the lack of respect for fishing communities remains. We still do not have enough quota while, at the same time, other nations have more quota in our waters than they can catch and the Department is happy to go along with that.

Why have we not been given the full rights to catch fish in our own waters when other countries do not use up their quota? Our industry is dying while other countries thrive off our waters. We make up 12% of all fishing grounds and waters of the European Union. We contribute hugely but get almost nothing in return. No other European country would accept this. Why do we accept this? I urge the Minister to think of the people on the ground, the community and the local workers, who are feeling the worst effects of SFPA and European decisions as well as bad Government policy. It is high time he listened to his constituents and stood up for the fishing communities in his county. Developing a policy for a review of the Common Fisheries Policy that benefits all would be a very good start.

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