The voice of the Irish fishing and seafood industry is now being heard in Europe, which is starting to deliver positive gains at home. That was the key message emerging from a special meeting in Killybegs this week, which was addressed by Fine Gael MEP, Colm Markey.
The meeting was co-hosted by Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO), Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA). Manus Boyle of the Dunkineely, Bruckless and Killybegs Branch of Fine Gael chaired the event, which was attended by a broad cross section of the seafood sector including stakeholders from other ports in Donegal, Galway and Cork.
“The catching and processing sectors pulled together to run a highly effective lobbying campaign,” O Donnell told the meeting. “This succeeded in keeping Norway out of the Irish Box. We still have a long way to go to secure our fair share of EU fishing quotas, but we are engaging directly with both the European Commission and the EU Parliament.”
Mr Markey agreed that there were still many issues to address at EU level. However, he added that attitudes in Europe to the Irish fishing and seafood industries had changed, and Irish voices were now getting a more receptive hearing.
Aodh O Donnell thanked Colm Markey MEP for his support at EU level, and the IFPEA’s Brendan Byrne for his co-operation and support for the lobbying campaign. He also thanked members of the fishing and seafood industry for taking part in the Killybegs event. “This meeting is not just a once-off, it is part of a process of engagement which we intend to maintain.”
Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA said he was delighted to co-host the meeting and it was important for the industry to stay united. “There was a frank and open discussion and exchange of views on the need to continue the fight at European level. We need to secure better outcomes, as we face the ongoing adverse impacts of the Irish transfer of quotas to the UK under Brexit. But together, we are a stronger voice, and we can achieve more for our industry and our coastal communities.