Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD has described today’s news that the European Commission has approved an €80 million decommissioning scheme to reduce the size of the Irish fishing fleet by another 60 vessels as a “tragic blow”.
This will take the size of the offshore fleet over 18 metres to about one third of what it was in 2006 (280 down to 100).
Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:
“Today’s announcement is another tragic blow to our fishing and coastal communities. The intentional and managed collapse of our fishing industry is truly shocking for an island nation that should be maximising the immense and precious resource for our people from the seas around us.
“Reducing the size of the Irish fishing fleet to one third of what it was 15 years ago is a damning indictment of successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led Irish Governments that have allowed our precious fishing resource to be taken from our people.
“Every single day our fishermen have to sit back and watch the hoovering up of massive volumes of fish from our own waters and then transported back to various European fishing ports.
“Decommissioning will be accepted by some in the industry that have been broken by bureaucracy, inequality and unfairness from the unjust Common Fisheries Policy, and facilitated by a Department of Marine and successive Irish Governments that have been unwilling to stand up and fight Ireland’s corner.
“We are paying the political and practical price of many years of weak representation at the negotiating table in the EU.
“Even at this late stage, I would appeal to the Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and his Department to seek to amend this scheme to one where retirees could pass on their entitlements, (tonnage and horsepower) to young fishermen.
“To do anything else is to just wave the white flag of surrender rather than to fight for what is right, a fair share of the fish in Irish waters for our own fishing communities.”