Recently established Irish fishing industry group IFSA has hit back at Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD for describing the new organisation in reply to a Parliamentary question as ‘not being of relevance to the industry.’
Responding to the Minister’s comment, Irish Fishing and Seafood Alliance chairman Cormac Burke stated that the comment is a ‘dismissive attitude is a slap in the face to the 4250 people in Ireland’s coastal communities and gives weight to the belief that this Government continues to ignore Ireland’s marine sector and to neglect it to an almost criminal degree.’
He said that IFSA has in the weeks it has been existence posed a series of tough questions for the Minister and his department.
‘How did Ireland end up being hardest hit of all EU nations in the bungled Brexit deal i.e., an overall loss of 15% of Irish quota while other nations suffered only a 6% loss?’ he asked.
‘Why have you consistently stated that you fought “tooth and nail” to protect Ireland’s case in the Brexit deal when that is clearly not true, as evidenced in Ireland, under your care in this case, coming out with the worst fisheries deal in the history of the Ireland/EEC (EU) relationship?’
He added that IFSA has also asked why Ireland has not sought to challenge the EU Commission on its rulings of the Irish fishing industry, and why Ireland continues to accept EU Commission threats of penalising of minor infringements in the Irish fishing industry when the same Commission turns a blind eye to infringements elsewhere.
Cormac Burke asked why the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is allowed to continue a regime of unwarranted prosecution and trumped up charges against the fishing industry when even the Government’s own Price Waterhouse Cooper independent report showed this body to be dysfunctional and out of control?
IFSA states that Department of Marine officials continually appeal court rulings in favour of fishermen plaintiffs, threatening that the department has the financial resources to prolong legal proceedings, even when the court ruling has clearly gone against their case.
‘Why is your ‘industry lip-service’ Task Force only composed of people and groups who are unlikely to challenge your plans for a fleet decommissioning scheme and what was the point in establishing such a Force in the first place if you had already made clear to them that a decommissioning scheme was your preferred outcome of recommendation?’ Cormac Burke asked.
‘These are extremely serious points of discussion and while you may attempt to dismiss the IFSA as an organisation, you are certainly in breach of your duties as a marine minister if you blindly refuse to address the questions being asked on behalf of Ireland’s fishing and seafood industries.’