The country’s fishermen were praised today for a day of action in protest at what they claim are extremist measures to prosecute them for fishing offences.
Hundreds of furious fishermen protested in Cork, Waterford, Galway and Dublin ports against the controversial new Fisheries Bill and insisted it would not be accepted.
“This is a powerful, dignified, united and disciplined protest against the extremist measures and approach contained in the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill,” a spokesman said.
“And it is testament not only to the strength of feeling in the industry against the Bill, but also to the professionalism of the crews and skippers of the hundreds of vessels which took part."
The protesters also paid tribute to TDs who supported their demonstrations today.
“The Government must listen to the united voice of the industry and be prepared to introduce an on-the-spot system of sanctions for all but the most serious fisheries offences, as applies throughout the EU and is the clearly stated preference of the EU,” the spokesman said.
The fishing organisations also said they appreciated the great co-operation of the port authorities and gardaí and the motoring public in Dublin during the demonstrations.
The Bill is currently going through the Dail, but if enacted fishermen claimed the measures included are draconian and would threaten fishermen’s livelihoods.
A spokesman warned the proposals could lead to heavy legal costs, fines of up to €200,000 and the confiscation of their fishing equipment.
The campaign is being organised by the ISWFO, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation and the Irish South and East Fishermen’s Organisation.
Fishermen have been campaigning for administrative penalties, such as fishing bans or a penalty points-style system, to be used instead of the courts.
But the Government said the Bill is intended to update ageing legislation, creating a Sea Fisheries Protection Authority to stop illegal fishing and the depletion of fish stocks.