Thursday, 14 March 2019
Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)
The example of the Donegal fisherman with a Northern licence is not a sole example. It applies to a minority of inshore fishermen across the entire coast. When we discuss why that is the case, we get to the nub of the issue, namely, we do not have a one-size fits all playing pitch across the island in terms of licences. For example, cost and tonnage are not consistent across the island. It is tempting for fishermen to use the loophole of a Northern address to obtain a licence. As I said, there is not a level playing pitch and it is not fair. These are the issues that need to be resolved. I do not think anybody could argue that it is fair that a person in Kerry or Donegal would have to pay X for a licence while people in the North pay a lot less. People are going to take advantage of an opportunity. We need to address that. We need to ensure there is a level playing pitch, such that every fisherman has the same opportunity to fish in Irish waters.
When it comes to the corporate issue, we get to the nub of the issue again. The headlines in the last couple of weeks have been about two Irish fishermen fishing out of Kilkeel, arrested and taken to court and calling for the issues to be addressed. Who could argue with that? Nobody in this Chamber could do so. The Minister has confirmed today that this legislation legalises access to the zero to six nautical mile zone for inshore fisheries for corporate interests within the European Union.