Reality bites: Ireland issues desperate plea to EU over ‘disproportionate’ fishing quotas

Cork fishing protest flotilla heads towards River Lee

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Since the UK quit the bloc, many French and Spanish fishermen who had previously visited UK waters now operate around the coast of Ireland instead, much to the frustration of Irish crews. The plight of Ireland’s fishermen has been compounded by a revision to the EU’s so-called derogation policy requiring them to weigh their catches at ports where they are landed, rather than elsewhere, to prevent alleged breaches of the rules.

Ireland’s Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue made his case at a meeting of the EU Fisheries Council, insisting the issue must be addressed in an upcoming review of the Common Fisheries Policy.

After the meeting, on June 28, he said: “I made clear at Council that the disproportionate burden placed on Ireland in terms of quota loss, under the Brexit TCA, must be addressed.

“And I will be relentless in pursuing this issue on behalf of the Irish fishing industry at every opportunity.

“I set down that in the upcoming Common Fisheries Policy review, I will be making the renegotiation of quota shares Ireland’s priority.”

EU fisheries ministers met to finalise the common policy of the EU27 with respect to the revision and strengthening of existing fisheries control rules prior to negotiations with the European parliament.

Mr McConalogue added: “Today’s agreement takes onboard a number of my key concerns.

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“This includes the derogation allowing for weighing of catch away from the quayside under certain conditions, including the application of a rigorous control plan.”

He explained: “I appreciate that the Commission has revoked Ireland’s current control plan, and Ireland’s control authority, the SFPA, is preparing a new revised control plan for submission to the Commission.

“It will be essential that the new control regulation will provide for the continuation of weighing of landings in factories as a derogation from the overall policy of weighing on the quayside when the required assurances are in place.

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“This derogation is necessary to reflect the unique geography of our fish processing industry, where most of our processing plants are not on the quayside.”

Mr McConalogue previously met with representatives of Ireland’s fishing industry after their high-profile protest in Dublin, which saw 74 Irish boats sail up the Liffey to highlight their concerns.

Fishing industry leaders later presented him with a petition prior to a two-hour meeting.

Afterwards, Mr McConalogue said: “I was joined by the representatives of the fishing industry this afternoon where we had constructive talks. I welcome continued engagement with the industry.”

Speaking in April, ex-diplomat Ray Bassett, a fierce critic of the European Union, lambasted what he called the “cringe-inducing meekness” of the Irish government, led by Taoiseach Michael Martin, when it came to defending the interests of Ireland’s fishing industry.

Speaking specifically about the derogation policy alternations, Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told “This is another example of Brussels directly running sections of Irish society.

“The meekness in the Irish response is cringe-inducing.

“Instead of standing up for our hard-pressed fishermen, it would appear that our authorities see their role as merely implementing the diktats of Brussels.”

He warned: “It seems that the EU is trying to destroy the Irish fishing industry.

“The Irish fishermen are deeply frustrated that they get so little of the fish in Irish waters compared to the Spanish, Dutch, French etc.

“That does not excuse any transgressions but it may help to explain them.

“It is particularly galling for our fishermen to see large factory ships in Irish waters, flying the flags of other EU member States, hoovering up huge quantities of fish.”

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