A major west coast retail fish supplier has pledged to sell only Irish-caught fish and shellfish during the current Covid-19 restrictions to support the Irish inshore fleet.
Parisian-born Stefan Griesbach of Gannet Fishmongers in Galway says that he is “out the door” with online orders and the current crisis is an “opportunity for the Irish inshore fleet to reassert itself”.
Larger vessels rely on export markets for the longer trips, involving substantial fuel bills, while the inshore sector is “ideally placed” to ensure fresh food is supplied to the domestic Irish market, Mr Griesbach noted.
Mr Griesbach, whose 15-year-old company is using 100% compostable and sustainable packaging, was commenting during a week when a dramatic collapse in export markets for seafood has hit the Irish whitefish fleet.
There have also been protests in the Irish south-west fishing ports over perceived lack of public health monitoring of French and Spanish vessels landing catches.
Seven Irish fishing organisations have condemned what they described as “blockades” in the south-west, and said that such protests were “alarmist” and “unnecessary”.
The seven groups, including the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the Irish Fish Producer’s Organisation, and Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-Op, said that they enjoyed cordial relationships with French and Spanish counterparts, and there was a need to maintain a seafood supply to both Irish and European markets.
The statement was welcomed by Minister for Marine Michael Creed, who said it was “vital for all of us at this time to keep critical food supply lines, such as fishing activity, open and functioning through this period”.
The Department of Transport is requiring all vessels entering Irish ports to furnish a maritime declaration of health at least 24 hours ahead of arrival, and entry may be refused in a case of incomplete reporting.
Speaking in a personal capacity, south-west fishing industry representative Patrick Murphy said a lack of communication by the authorities had prompted the protests, which were fuelled by fear.
“I won’t condemn any communities for expressing their fears, in the absence of proper communication,” Mr Murphy said.
He said the seven organisations and Mr Creed were now needlessly “escalating” a situation with their statements.