Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Brendan Byrne CEO of Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association calls for all of Government approach in order that we secure additional quota when talks resume

As we enter the second year after the disastrous Trade and Co operation agreement (TCA) Ireland still has not secured one ounce of additional fish through the process of burden sharing, this proves once again that our EU colleagues simply do not understand the pressures the Irish Fishing industry is under at present.

There is little to be festively cheerful about regarding the fisheries council talks, but in reality, was it going to be any different? Had we really asked for any substantial burden sharing proposals in advance? The IFPEA concerns in advance of these talks was always , that with the complete lack of broad support in real terms for the burden sharing principle within our EU colleagues, that we could leave these talks in a worse position than entering them and unless we made creditable alternative proposals based on the principles of levelling up , so that over time we claw back that what we have unfairly lost then in these talks we could end up with nothing additional. Regrettably that seems to be the situation and all the time – time itself moves on.

We do welcome of course the fact that there is still light at the end of the tunnel in terms of Danish mackerel, and the critical period between now and the end of March 2022 must involve an all of Government approach in order that we secure this additional quota amounting to a possible 12,000 mt. But, even if we secure this additional quota it is still only a fraction of what is already lost.

The plight of the white fish sector still remains unresolved, and more than any other segment it requires additional quota and opportunity, and yet the talks outcome today has very little for them.

At present we have a crisis in the processing industry with scarcity of supply particularly in the white fish sector, and some operators having to ration their order books- so as to provide each customer with something as opposed to failing completely to supply the entire customer base. This is the hard realities facing some processors at present and the backdrop in which we are operating as a fish processing industry. The same is the reality in the shellfish and nephrops sectors and yet we are failing to get active engagement from our EU colleagues on these matters. We cannot no longer stand idly by in a stupor and do nothing for these families and communities and that is not a singular political charge, this is a charge against us as a nation state.

Its no longer a case of moral support that we require from our EU colleagues, these are the same coastal members states that annually reap the benefits from the seas that surround our Island. It is time for us to get additional actual quota rights and increased fishing rights in the waters that surround our own island for the entire Irish fishing industry across the board. Zonal attachment has to mean something in terms of our rights, and it must be the basis of the way forward for dealing with the historical unfairness of the CFP since 1983 in addition to addressing the actual disproportionate losses of the Brexit deal 2020.

I am calling on a whole of Government approach to be manifested behind the efforts of the next 3 months, and that this approach be given the status of a national priority by the Government ,for focus to be given on all segments of the industry and a concerted effort be made to once and for all addresses the unfairness of the TCA and the hard realities of over 40 years of fisheries neglect by successive Governments added Brendan Byrne CEO of Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association.

Brexit was a once in a lifetime negative impact on the fishing industry let our reaction as a nation state be the long overdue fight back to secure the future of what is our best natural resource that we have failed since we joined the ECC in 1973. Our future generations deserve nothing less.