Outlining their red lines for Election 2020, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) have called on candidates in the upcoming election to outline their positions on fisheries, the future development of the Irish fishing industry and the CFP’s much maligned principle of Relative Stability.
In a letter sent to election candidates—which, they say, with the UK presenting their own Fisheries Bill today (January 29) in the House of Commons is more relevant than ever— the IS&WFPO pose a series of questions regarding candidates’ policy positions on fisheries and the marine environment “in this time of great upheaval triggered by Brexit.”
Among the questions posed by the Producer Organisation—which “represents upwards of 60 Fishing Vessels with crews averaging 7 men per boat with families dependant on the sustainability of the shared stocks in our Irish EEZ”—are questions regarding the future development of the industry, the potential fall-out from Brexit, and the future Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
With respect the CFP, and more specifically Relative Stability, they ask:
- What specifically is your position on the concept or principle of “Relative Stability” first introduced into Governance of the EU Fishing Industry in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of January 1983, that has underpinned and governed the rigged share-out of Fishing Resources in accordance with that CFP ever since, and has been the direct policy trigger leading to the decimation of the Irish fishing industry and coastal communities all along our coastline ever since?
- In the context of the overhaul and amendment of the CFP by the EU due this year and in the context of Brexit, do you undertake to campaign for the total removal of the concept of ”Relative Stability” from that policy if you are elected to Dáil Éireann?
On the future post-Brexit landscape of EU fisheries they ask:
- In the context of the overhaul and amendment of the CFP by the EU due this year, do you undertake, at the very minimum, both to campaign for and ensure that no Fishing Boat from any other EU Member State that is displaced from British Waters by Brexit will be allowed to fish in Irish Waters?
And in terms of some of the other challenges facing the Irish fleet they ask:
- Do you or your party have any policy addressing the fishing industry’s very serious concerns regarding recruitment, training and education of new entrants into our industry?
- If elected to Government will you undertake that Sea Fisheries and our Maritime Environment will, together constitute FULL Cabinet Ministerial Representation rather than being tacked on as an afterthought to some other area of responsibility as has, unfortunately, been the case for far too long?
These, say the IS&WFPO, are “Red Line issues” for them “in the context of an Irish Fishing Industry that is dying on its feet despite the fact that, at present, we hold some 20% (approx.) of Europe’s Fishing Waters bearing in excess of 30% of Fish-Stocks.”
These figures, they say, “will undergo dramatic expansion post-Brexit at which point Ireland will hold almost 30% of Europe’s Fishing Waters bearing upwards of 43% of Europe’s Fish Stocks.”
Image: Sarah David and Ronan Ross, Niall Duffy