The Irish South and West responds to our Government’s decision to put Irish Men & Women out of work so to benefit other countries’ Coastal Communities.

Recent Statements on Brexit and on fishing emanating from our political leadership have pushed many Fishing Communities and many of those engaged in Ireland’s Fishing Industry over the edge. 

A line in the sand has been drawn beneath the Irish Fishing Industry and as happened with the Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland where Irish land was stripped from the Irish by the English Crown and colonized with settlers from Great Britain Europe has now confiscated our seas and our fish while aided and abetted by our feckless Politicians and Government agencies.

We in the Industry have spent most of our days since Christmas Eve desperately trying to calculate the devastation that is foisted upon our Irish people by the Agreement reached between the UK and EU without a shred of assistance from our Department Officials.  

The score reads:               Ireland 1      –         United Kingdom 99

Minister McConalogue’s Statement to the Irish Examiner of 29th December 2020 that the Irish Fishing Industry will take “a lot of pain upfront” resulting from Brexit is shameful with he callously dismissing the permanent loss of 15% of the Irish People’s ever renewable Natural Resource in Fishing this year, rising to 25% over the next five years. This is a National Asset which is to be stripped from us, traded and gifted as part of a deal with our nearest neighbour the UK and so called European partners.

This is a horrific betrayal of the negotiating Mandate the European Union said was in place to protect our rights as EU Citizens. Whoever this deal benefits among our European neighbours it certainly confers NO benefits on Irish Fishing Communities and inflicts only pain and loss.

Since Christmas Eve, a huge part of our time as leaders in the Industry has been spent trying to console and reassure our mentally tortured men and women Fishers who fear for their future, and for the futures of their families and often remote Communities.

While the Minister now acknowledges that this Industry will suffer the most intense pain in order to satisfy greater forces in International Trade he declares this giveaway as a positive for the entire State. At the same time he downplays the loss of what he says is only €35 million (per annum) in raw resource while singularly ignoring the very substantial losses in added-value generated by the processing and export-led added value bringing the total actual losses up to €87 million per annum. (REF BIM}

No account is taken of the very many other local Industries dotted along our coastline in isolated Villages and small Towns that are dependent upon this very significant loss in income of €87 million per annum in each and every year, forever!  

This article in the Irish Examiner identifies the Minister’s and Government’s blindness to the plight of the very many families of Irish Fishers the overwhelming majority of which reside among our Coastal Communities, most of which already teeter on the verge of economic and financial ruin. No account is taken of the Taxes paid by our Fishing Communities that support the very viability of these Communities; no account is taken of the money earned in Exports nor the goodwill earned by the presentation on the tables of Ireland, Europe and beyond of Irish Seafood caught in the raw and challenging  North Atlantic. No account is taken of the mental and financial wellbeing of very many families and small local businesses that depend on the fruits of the sea for their livelihoods.  

This is a disgrace and should be the source of huge embarrassment for anyone claiming that this wholly unwelcome, forced and imposed sacrifice is acceptable! 

The wounds inflicted on our Coastal Communities will be felt for many’s the long year to come with the Losses repeating in each and every following year. They will multiply very quickly over time resulting in €100’s of millions becoming Billions being lost to our Country and to our Coastal Communities that are supposed to be protected by the EU Common Fishery Policy and by our Irish Political class sent to Europe to represent us. 

It is from our very own Sea that others living in far-distant parts of Europe are gifted the spoils, contradicting all notions of fairness and Natural Justice and the supposed protections for remote Coastal Communities set forth in the CFP.

UK waters are almost identical to Irish waters insofar as both hold and contain the wealth of Europe’s Fish Stocks. This is where the Fish spawn and where juvenile Fish are nursed to maturity. Our neighbouring Fishers saw others gaining and holding the wealth of their waters and now their Country’s Leaders have successfully exited the hated Common Fishery Policy with enormous increases granted to English, Welsh, Scots and even Northern Irish Fishers under a concept known as Zonal Attachment.  

Zonal attachment” of a stock is the share of the stock residing within a particular country’s Economic zone, if necessary weighted by the time it spends in a country’s zone over a year. This, then, determines the share that each country gets of the total catch quota for that stock.1

We Irish Fishers are possessed of every bit as equal a Natural Right to fish in our own waters as are British Fishers but this Right has, once again been sacrificed with consummate ease by those we the people elected to protect our Rights and defend our Social and Economic Interests at home and in Europe. 

“The Fields of Athenry” remembers those who saw their land taken from them and who were then jailed for trying to grasp some of the crops sown in their own very fields to feed their families. Will it also be sung in decades to come to mourn future generations of lost and ghostlike Fishers all along our Coastal Communities when Fishing and the ways of the sea are but a distant memory? 

In 2021, will we once again live through repetition of the mistakes of history made between 1976 and 1982?

The Total Allowable Catch Figures for each and every Stock in EU Waters are calculated annually on the basis of Scientific Advice from bodies such as ICES and STECF and the Total Allowable Catch is then divided between Member States on the basis of a Formula constructed in 1982 called Relative Stability and which conferred enormous and wholly unequal shares in Fish Stocks in Irish Waters to our EU neighbours while granting scraps from the Rich Men’s Table to Irish Fishers. This formula wasn’t even defined until 2001 when the Policy had already been in force for 20 years, at which stage irreversible damage had already been inflicted on Irish Fishing Communities.

The very concept of Relative Stability that has underpinned the CFP since 1983 and which has enabled French, Spanish and Dutch Fishers to plunder our Waters ever since is dead: maimed and killed by the EU itself arising out of the “deal” with UK!!

We do not want a derisory sum of money of the kind being whispered in the Corridors of Power to be settled upon us in order to buy our silence and hasten the ending of hundreds of years-worth of renewable earnings worth Billions over time.  

We want what is right and we want what we a supposedly equal Member of the European Community is entitled to. We want to continue to catch Irish Fish in Irish waters for the benefit of our own local Irish Communities.

We do NOT want to be forced to give away these Fish to others and effectively end a way of life on our country’s coastline that can and should feed millions while providing sustainable Incomes for the tens of thousands of people who live in our Coastal Communities ……. for the moment!  

Allow Irish Fishers, just  like the English, Scots and Welsh Fishers, to be given the Right to catch a fair and equitable portion of the fish that swim and breed in our own Irish Waters so to save the Coastal Towns and Villages dotted all along our coast and the Communities who depend so much on fishing for their livelihoods! 

Dated 4th January 2021

Patrick Murphy


Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation CLG.

Contact Number – 086 – 2360001

[1] where the amount of any Stock is calculated on the share of the stock residing within a particular country’s Economic Zone, if necessary weighted by the time it spends in a country’s zone over a year. This, then determines the share that each country gets of the total catch quota for that stock.