A new fishing lobby body has made a direct plea to EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki for a greater share of the EU white fish quota for Ireland.
Foreign boats, it was claimed, take over €1bn worth of fish from Irish waters annually, while the national fleet survives on a “miserable share” of the quotas.
In a letter to Ms Damanaki the new body, Fishing for Justice, said recent meetings on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy had been dominated by professionals, while fishermen did not have a chance to present their views.
Fishing for Justice was set up by campaigners Donal O’Driscoll of Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Tom Hassett from Cork City.
On their new website fishingforjustice.eu they said previous “reviews” of the policy merely perpetuated and continued injustices to the Irish fishing industry and Ireland lacked political clout in the wider field.
“Ireland, a peripheral island with some of the richest fishing waters in the EU and a 3,000-mile coastline, gets a mere 4% of the valuable demersal quotas,” they wrote.
“This is meant to serve over 2,000 vessels, while our so-called partners take over €1bn per annum from what we call our waters.”
They said that, as an island, Ireland was far from the markets and without any transport aid. The industry, they said, could no longer afford a situation whereby its EU partners could take so much benefit without any benefit to Ireland and a loss of fishing opportunities for our own fleet.
Fishing for Justice said a country burdened by austerity and the effects of a tough budget should not have to give away €1bn of its catch to Europe each year.
The Marine Institute, meanwhile, reckoned the value of the fish catch off Ireland was €1.18bn, while the Irish share was just €0.19bn, according to Mr O’Driscoll and Mr Hassett, who were formerly the founding chairman and secretary, respectively, of the Castletownbere-based Irish South and West Fishermen’s Organisation.
In their letter to the commissioner they added: “Ireland got a raw deal on fisheries when we joined the EU and that situation is still continuing.”
In a website statement, the pair referred to a statement by Fisheries Minister Simon Coveney that “it is impossible to control foreign fleets in Irish waters”.
The website noted: “We have been trying to convince Irish officialdom of this fact for years. As we know to our cost, it was and still is a policy of shoot the messenger.”
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