Dismantling the Irish fishing fleet will not preserve fish stocks
Plans that will reduce the Irish whitefish fleet by more than 30% will not preserve fish stocks in Irish waters.
That’s according to the Irish Fish Producers Organisation, which says European vessels will instead fish for these stocks in our waters.
The Killybegs-based IFPO was responding to the €60m dismantling plan recently announced by the Minister of the Navy.
IFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said the scheme must be accompanied by plans to develop and support a greener and more innovative Irish fishing industry.
“Many fish producers are forced to scrap because fuel costs mean they simply cannot afford to go to sea. We estimate that around 60 whitefish fishing vessels will be scrapped as part of the dismantling.
“This will create up to 500 permanent layoffs and directly impact the livelihoods of up to 300 families in the coastal community. There will also be a ripple effect on the maritime services industry and the economy. wider coast.
“Rising fuel prices have been offset in other European countries by EU fuel subsidies of 30%. But once again the Irish government failed to support our fishing fleet, refused to pass on these subsidies, leaving us at a competitive disadvantage. ”
O’Donnell says the fuel crisis is just the latest nail in the coffin, after decades of government neglect of the Irish fishing industry.
“The quotas were so unfair and so small that the industry had no alternative to dismantling. We are constantly losing out to other EU states.
“For example, Belgium has a coastline of 67k, while the Irish coastline is 4,400k, which is 12% of EU waters. However, the Belgian fish processing sector achieved a turnover of 961 million euros in 2019* against only 622 million euros for Ireland. Germany has a coastline of 2,389 km, but in 2019 the turnover of its fish processing sector was 2,196 million euros in 2019.
“Furthermore, over the last eight years the Irish industry has fallen from third place in Europe to 10th place. The decommissioning program will reduce the whitefish fleet to a third of its 2006 size.
“The big question is where are the fish? Who catches the fish in our waters and thus outstrips the Irish fishing industry?
“We have the best and most productive waters in Europe. Irish fish farmers have contributed to the sustainable management of fish stocks, while others have been able to exploit the resources of our rich waters. Decommissioning is our government’s solution to a historic legacy of non-delivery for industry and coastal communities.
“Everyone agrees on the need to preserve fish stocks. But we need a level playing field in Europe for the Irish fleet and we have never had that. Ireland has the richest waters in Europe, representing more than six times our land mass. Yet the Irish government’s record is one of lost and untapped opportunities for our fishing industry. They have NEVER sought or obtained a fair share of EU quotas to fish in our own waters.
O’Donnell says many will have no choice but to take advantage of the permanent scrap. “But the government must also support the program with positive coherent policies for the longer-term development of the fishing industry.”
“We need a vision for the whitefish fleet that addresses global green agendas and creates a safer and more innovative industry that harnesses the best technology. We need to build economic resilience and support sustainable employment at sea and in coastal communities. Other EU states have generated economic growth and opportunity in their fisheries sectors. It is high time that Ireland did the same.
“We call on the Minister of Marine to support the decommissioning program with development plans that will create a sustainable future for our fishing fleet and our coastal communities.”
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