THE CEO of the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation has reacted angrily to the lack of protection afforded to Irish fishermen following the recent Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the UK and the EU.
Under the terms of the recent trade agreement, EU fishing boats will have to reduce the quantity of fish caught in British waters by 25%. This has caused considerable anger amongst Irish fishing groups, who met with the Taoiseach and Ministers Simom Coveney and Charlie McConalogue this week.
CEO Patrick Murphy said: “We were pleased with the meeting until we heard the Taoiseach announce two measures that were never discussed. He has announced a tie-up scheme and a decommissioning scheme. They brought in a tie-up scheme earlier this year which didn’t work. A decommissioning scheme is essentially getting rid of jobs. We are totally opposed to them,” he said.
Mr Murphy said he is shocked that Irish politicians have bowed to EU's demands to ensure this trade deal is accepted.
“The EU wants the Irish fishermen to pay the price which is unacceptable. It is unbelievable that the leaders of this country are willing to sacrifice their own citizens for the good of the EU. The EU is rewarding the UK for leaving with more fish and they are getting that from Ireland.”
The CEO wants the Taoiseach to stand up for the best interests of the Irish fishing industry and to protect coastal communities.
“The Taoiseach met us previously in Castletownbere and agreed that we were being treated appallingly. Since he took over as Taoiseach, he has made it worse. It is not too late. We would hope our political leaders will go to the EU and fight our battle. Our hope was they would look for zonal attachment and save jobs in coastal communities. Our politicians are not doing enough to protect our best interests,” he added.
Mr Murphy voiced his concerns that this latest agreement will ensure the industry will be wiped out in the future.
“Our industry is dying and nobody is helping us. There is great anger out there amongst members. People are leaving in their droves. There is no young person going into the industry. Our fishing grounds and rights are being taken off us. Our fish is being given away. It is the extermination of our industry.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged that the post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and the EU will have a “significant negative impact” on the Irish fishing industry.
In a statement issued, a Government spokesperson said the Taoiseach and his ministers were “fully committed to engaging with the representative bodies and working with and for the sector and coastal communities”.