Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Irish Fishermen
Fishermen organise flotilla to Taoiseach’s Cork Office
Irish Fishermen unite to raise awareness and seek the support of the public
On Wednesday May 26th, Irish Fishermen will launch a campaign to raise public awareness of the plundering of our greatest natural resource using a Show and Tell Event.
In co-operation with the Port of Cork Company and An Garda Siochana, fishing vessels will assemble off Roches Point, Cork Harbour and steam up the River Lee to the quays in Cork City where the Show and Tell will be held.
After a short Show and Tell – fishermen and their families will walk in solidarity to Taoiseach Michael Martins office on Evergreen Road in Turners Cross to hand deliver a letter outlining the plight of the industry.
The fishermen wish to invite the public to come and view these vessels, meet the men and women who work these vessels, hear their stories and talk with our representatives.
We have chosen carefully the title of our campaign:
Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities!
You may be familiar with these words from the Irish Proclamation, where it states
“The Irish Republic guarantees ………equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens”.
That is what we expect nothing more, nothing less.
Date: Wed 26th May 2021
Location: Cork City and Harbour
Flotilla Assembly Time: Roches Point – 7.00am, Horgan’s Quay, Public Address –12:00 midday, Handover of critical Issues Taoiseach’s Cork office – following Public Address
Media contact: Patrick Murphy, IS&WFPO – 086 2360001 – [email protected]
As a consequence of a series of draconian measures introduced by Irish Government and the EU Commission targeted against those working in the Irish fishing industry, Irish fishermen claim they will lose millions of Euro of earnings if we are not given a fair share of the fish that swim in our waters. UK have 75% of fish in their waters Ireland reduced to 15% in Irish Waters.
Moreover, it is estimated that Job Losses of 4,000 or more in both the Catching sector at sea and the Processing sector onshore will inevitably follow these savage Cuts.
The re-introduction of Administrative penalty points system on a vessel and its fishing licence in tandem with the proposed introduction of penalty points on the Skipper’s personal licence will inflict untold damage on an already decimated fleet.
Following the Christmas Eve theft by the Brexit agreement of a large proportion of Irish fish of in excess of 20% from an already long recognised historically poor share of fish quotas in our own waters, this spells the end of our fishing tradition in many of our ports and Harbours.
What makes this unbearable is that this is happening during a global pandemic, where the Irish fishing fleet was designated an essential service for the continuity of food supply and fishermen were asked to put aside their fears of being hundreds of miles away from medical help if it were needed for the benefit of our people. One would think that our Government should thank us like all others on the front line and recognise our vulnerability as an Industry and the importance of maintaining the National Fleet for the rebuilding of our Island Nation and its people.
Many businesses throughout the country, through no fault of their own, will not survive the current climate financially. The countless job losses, financial worries these people have of maintaining mortgage payments and putting food on their tables is unimaginable. The vast majority of our members share these worries but not because they cannot trade or continue the profession that was passed down to them from their fathers and mothers but because their rights have been stripped away and they now find themselves the pawn on the chess board of Europe to be sacrificed so larger countries may triumph.
We know that capitulation by fishermen to these draconian measures will sound the death knell to our Industry which will also lead to the wipe out of our coastal communities as State Agency reports such as those from BIM show the importance of our Fishing Industry in maintaining the economic and cultural wellbeing of rural communities all along our rugged Island Coastline.
The recent setting up of the Ministerial Task force to assist the industry shows some recognition by Government that our Industry is on the verge of collapse with morale within our Industry having never been lower and with talks of the usual Departmental solution of a decommissioning scheme seen as a way to permanently wipe out another chunk of the fleet.
Industry are completely bewildered as to why the Government is ignoring the vast source of revenue the industry contributes to the State through our Exports. By crippling an entire industry and turning their back on taxable income so badly needed for funding our Health Care system, to address our countries housing crisis, to contribute to our national exchequer that pays the salaries of our hard pressed frontline workers who deserve so much more, we assert that this is unforgivable and reckless.
The final straw for those working in our Industry is the EU Commission 2018 Audit on the competent Authorities (SFPA) ability to implement their Control Plan that led to their decision to once again punish the fishermen but not the responsible Authority by revoking article 60 of 1224/2009 without giving any notice to our Industry.
Fish will now have to be weighed on the pier, in a process the same Authority admitted under questioning in the Oireachtas recently is a retrograde step and will damage the quality of fish. This is a totally unacceptable practice that undermines the thousands of Irish Fishermen who put to sea every day in pursuit of earning a livelihood for themselves, their families and communities. This is a food product and Vessels & their crews work hard to bring ashore a premium product recognised worldwide.
Refrigerated fish holds, ice making machines, freezer holds and refrigerated salt water plants have all been installed at great financial cost to fishermen. Producers likewise have spent vast sums to have the very highest standards of hygiene while handling this product. We are now to ignore this best practice, and weigh on piers open to all the elements and wild life such as sea gulls. This could potentially damage Ireland’s reputation as a leading sea food provider.
We cannot stand idly by and allow the reputation of our high quality food products be devalued contrary to current food and Hygiene Regulations.
Fishers just like all other citizens must have the same rights if an alleged offence is committed – that is to say, in our Courts system and, just like all other Citizens where an allegation of wrongdoing is made, such allegations must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” and NOT “on the balance of probabilities”.
It is not a big ask to have equal opportunities to mirror that of our European fishermen and indeed the UK vessels fishing in our waters. It is long past time that we receive a fair share of fish Quota in our waters. It is neither reasonable nor just to expect the Irish Fleet to remain in port while foreign fleets with multiples of our quota in our waters remain fishing unimpeded thus denying our Fishers the right to earn a living, but also denying the State a valuable revenue source and Fishing Communities all along our coastline an essential source of employment.
When Jobs are lost to our Fishing Industry as a direct result of the Brexit Agreement there are NO other sources of employment with which to replace them leading to an inevitable continuing drift away from our coast to the cities.
This destruction of the fishing industry and the give-away of Ireland’s renewable Natural Resource cannot continue.
The failed and discredited EU Common Fisheries Policy is now undergoing Review. Now is the time we need our Department and Government together with our MEP’s and each and every Member of the Dail and Seanad to step up to the mark and fulfil their obligations of Equal Opportunities for all our Citizens and a fair and just apportioning of Fish Quotas away from the Fisheries Super-States.
A former Minister for the Marine stated on the RTE program a number of years ago, that Ireland had insufficient quota. Questions need to be asked as to why he and all the successive ministers have done literally nothing to rectify this situation. In fact, the current Government and Minister have only added to a bad situation by allowing Ireland to take the brunt of another fish giveaway to appease other European countries and thereby seal the Brexit deal with the UK.
We need to reverse this once and for all and we ask all members of the public to support us.