Irish Fish Producers have called for a fairer share of the rights to fish in the waters of our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). “Other nations catch about €250m worth of fish a year in our waters – almost twice as much as the Irish fleet catches,” says IFPO chief executive, Aodh O’Donnell.
He says the quotas allocated by the EU to the Irish fishing fleet amount to “a paltry 18% of the volume of fish in our 200-mile Zone every year. Other nations take the balance of the fish, but bizarrely some EU States are unable to catch their annual quota allocations in this EU zone.”
“So, we are calling on the EU to – at the very least – enable reallocation of annual ‘uncaught’ quotas in Ireland’s EEZ to Irish vessels, to give us a more equitable share.”
The IFPO statement follows a series of meetings in Brussels last week, arranged and hosted by SF MEP, Chris McManus. The meetings were attended by the IFPO, alongside the other fishing organisations.
The fishing organisations presented a united front, engaging with the EU marine and fisheries officials at the highest levels, says O’Donnell. “We met the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament (Pech) and the Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare).”
Mr O’Donnell says the team outlined ways of allocating the uncaught quotas of other EU states for species such as langoustines and monkfish, to Ireland. “We support calls for a sensible mechanism for an equitable redistribution of all the annual uncaught EU fish quota in EU waters. We acknowledge that any such redistribution would take account of the quota rights of each of these member states.”
“At present, non-EU fishing vessels can fish large volumes of pelagic fish on Ireland’s west coast, based on annual access agreements negotiated to benefit other EU States. At the same time, the Irish fleet finds itself tied up at port, hindered from catching these same fish by low quotas. This needs to be addressed in a meaningful way so that our share of the important catch is more equitable” `
The delegation said the quotas transferred to the UK under Brexit’sTrade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) were inequitable. “In particular, Irish fishing vessels were excluded from traditional fishing grounds in the waters around Rockall. So, we made the case that quotas needed to be adjusted to rebalance long term losses and to restore access to these areas.
He says fishing organisations are united in a call for an urgent review of how the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is implemented. “In particular, we want changes in how the annual quota of fish is allocated to the Irish fishing fleet and to rebalance the significant Brexit losses.
We also believe allocations should be based on having greater rights to fish in our own Zones . This would be more democratic, and reduce the carbon footprint of EU fishing vessels, as they would travel shorter distances. It would also strengthen the economic and social linkage between those catching the fish and their coastal communities.”
The IFPO say it’s also time now to examine diversification opportunities and allocate a quota for Atlantic bluefin tuna. “It’s proven to be in abundance and available on the West Coast within the Irish EEZ and could be worth €150 million annually in revenues to the Irish fishing and Tourism Sectors. This initiative could also impact favourably on the carbon footprint in terms of reducing long transit routes of distant water fleets to these waters from countries such as Japan, large vessels that travel halfway around the globe to harvest this high valued tuna fishery.”
The fishing industry delegation to Brussels was also supported by key fishermen stakeholders from Greencastle, Galway and Clogherhead with first hand contributions to the process.
The Sinn Fein delegation was arranged and led by MEP Chris MacManus and TD Padraig MacLochainn, and supported by TD’s Rose Conway Walsh, Johnny Mythen & Pa Daly. The SF team also included Cllr Tom Cunningham, Clogherhead and Cllr Conor Mc Guinness, West Waterford as well as area representatives Clare O Callaghan Cork SW, and Louis O Hara Galway East.
Mr Colm O Súilleabháin, Irish Permanent Representative and EU Marine attaché, also attended some meetings.
The fishing industry delegation also met several Irish MEPS including Fine Gael’s Colum Markey, a member of the fisheries committee, who has previously hosted a number of fishing industry meetings in Ireland and Brussels. Other MEPs they met on this trip included Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews, and Independent MEPS, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
The Commission officials took note of the submissions and undertook to have an additional follow up meeting in Ireland.