Time for us to leave! Supertrawler plunder means Ireland must quit EU, says campaigner

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The Margiris, the second-largest fishing vessel in the world, has been detected less than eight nautical miles from Ireland’s territorial sea limit, according to tracking data. The Lithuanian flagged boat is owned by Dutch company Parlevliet and was banned from Australian waters in 2013 following protests from environmental and fishing groups amid fears it would cause huge destruction to marine life.

It also sparked backlash in the UK and fuelled Brexit sentiments when it fished in a conservtion zone off the coast of Sussex in 2019.

While the ship boasts of its “excellent reputation for sustainable fishing”, activists have called for the Margiris to be banned from every ocean due to the severe impact it can have on ecosystems.

Classed as a factory ship, the Margiris is capable of processing 250 tonnes of fish per day, and can carry 6,000 tonnes.

Hermann Kelly, president of the Irish Freedom Party, warned the presence of the vessel off the coast of Kerry is a key example of how, under the Common Fisheries Policy, EU boats are “hoovering up a massive amount of fish which is wealth out of Irish territorial waters”.

He said it was “very unjust” Irish fishermen had to stand by and watch “these foreign boats plundering our waters and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it”.

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He told Express.co.uk: “It’s an attack, undermining their livelihood.

“These fish are landed in the Netherlands, they’re landed in Spain, in France, they’re not even landed in Ireland.

“So Ireland doesn’t get any benefit from this huge portion of wealth which is off its coastline.

“Irish fishermen must accept a bad deal that they’ve got for 50 years because we signed up to be a subservient province of the European Union.”

The latest data on the Margiris shows the vessel was fishing of Ireland’s south-west coast on January 23, according to vesselfinder.com.

Campaigners have raised fears about the presence of European supertrawlers in Irish waters in recent days.

The Blue Planet Society posted photos of dead dolphins that washed up on the country’s shores.

In a Facebook post dated January 23, the group said: “Three more common dolphins have washed up dead in Ireland.

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“This takes the total to seven reported in the last week.

“Historically at this time of year the supertrawler fleet targets pelagic fish in Irish waters.

“In recent years this has coincided with a large number of dolphin deaths in this area. Several of these huge vessels are currently off Ireland’s west coast.

“It’s estimated that only around eight per cent of dolphins killed at sea by the nets of fishing vessels reach the shore.”

Campaigners have long warned that factory ships such as the Margiris can hoover up dolphins and other marine life unintentionally.

Mr Kelly believes if more Irish people knew of the consequences of EU boats in the nation’s waters it could cause a surge in euroscepticism.

Ireland’s marine minster Charlie McConalogue has raised concerns over the post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and the EU.

He claimed Ireland was disproportionally affected by the loss of quota and said member states had not “adequately respected” the principle of sharing the post-Brexit fishing burden.

He said: “We are not at all happy in relation to the additional burden we are taking and it is something I will be taking every opportunity to try and address.”

But Mr Kelly slapped down his comments, saying membership of the EU is causing Irish fishermen to suffer losses far greater than the consequences of the trade deal.

He called Mr McConalogue’s assessment “ridiculous”, adding: “It’s show for the public. He’s called the minister for agriculture, food and marine, but beyond the 12-mile limit he has absolutely no power whatsoever.

“These things are all decided in Brussels.”

Mr Kelly said out of the 27 member states, Ireland has “the worst deal” in regards to fishing “because we are a small country with a huge fishery and we only get a small part of that quota.”

He said: “Ireland has been treated unfairly by the EU in regards to fishing since the time we joined in 1973.

“It’s got nothing to do with Brexit and everything to do with the Common Fisheries Policy.

“We are one percent of the EU population and now that Brexit has happened, Ireland’s usefulness for the EU has come to an end and so we’re going to be at the bottom of the pile again in the European Union.”

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