Sinn Fein’s spokesman for Fisheries and the Marine Padraig Mac Lochlainn has appealed directly to Ireland’s Fisheries Minister Charlie McConalogue, requesting that he ensure that the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) reaches an agreement with the fishing industry.
Responding to reports in the Irish industry press and by the Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance concerning the challenges facing Ireland’s pelagic industry, Padraig Mac Lochlainn stated that ‘thousands of tonnes in quota loss have been mentioned and tens of millions of euros of EU funding may also be lost.’
‘The Minister will be aware that there is great alarm in our fishing sector at these reports and I understand that the fishermen and the fish producers, especially in Killybegs, seriously dispute what is being reported – and naturally they are deeply worried and there has been a significant hit on the quota,’ he commented.
‘The industry has asked the Minister to go back and to fight for additional quota and for more equal burden-sharing and he has said that he will do that – but people are very suspicious as to why this reported additional huge cut to the quota is out now in the public domain,’ he said, asking if there is an attempt to silence the industry and to prevent fishermen from presenting a united front?
‘Will the Minister appeal this decision – if it is a decision of the European Commission – to ensure that there is no reduction in quota? We cannot tolerate this as we need additional, not less, quota and I ask the Minister to intervene urgently,’ Padraig Mac Lochlainn stated.
Referring specifically to issues in Killybegs and the ongoing standoff between the SFPA and the pelagic sector, Padraig Mac Lochlainn made a direct call to the Minister to intervene in the situation, primarily focusing on approaches to weighing pelagic catches.
‘My understanding is, and it is very reasonable, that there needs to be a removal of the water weight that is essential for the protection of the fish and to weigh it accurately. The pelagic industry has devised a system there, which is of a National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) approved standard,’ he said.
While the industry developed this system for accurate weighing of catches without detriment to the quality of the fish being landed – the SFPA has insisted on sticking to the old pattern of tubs and weigh bridges, despite the industry’s weighing system having been approved by NSAI.