LATEST: 'Hang your heads in shame', Fishing boats line Cork quays to protest EU fishing deal

LATEST: 'Hang your heads in shame', Fishing boats line Cork quays to protest EU fishing deal

A flotilla of fishing vessels have arrived in Cork City to deliever a warning to Taoiseach Micheál Martin — "the industry is dying". Picture: Greg Murphy

LATEST: Fishing vessels have lined the quays of Cork City as Irish fishermen arrive to highlight what they say is unfair treatment of their industry. 

In an organised event, representatives from the industry will hold a demonstration at the quays at midday before walking to Turner's Cross to hand-deliver a letter to the office of Taoiseach Micheál Martin. 

 The flotilla of fishing boats passing Tivoli Docks on their way to the Port of Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The flotilla of fishing boats passing Tivoli Docks on their way to the Port of Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

UPDATED: A flotilla of fishing vessels has passed Roche’s Point as they make their way to the quays of Cork city for a “show and tell demonstration” intended to highlight what they describe as unfair treatment by the Government and the EU. 

"The fishing industry is a vital part of our coastal economy and we need our communities to show their support by attending the public address on the quays in Cork City at 12 Midday," organisers said. 

 The flotilla of fishing boats passing Blackrock Castle on their way to the Port of Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The flotilla of fishing boats passing Blackrock Castle on their way to the Port of Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

After the rally fishermen and their families plan to walk to the Taoiseach’s office in Turners Cross to hand-deliver a letter outlining the plight of the industry.

One Cork skipper, whose boat sank earlier this month, told The Echo the difficulties faced by fishermen make him question whether he will stay in the industry.

 Patrick Healy's fishing vessel the ‘Horizon’ caught fire in the early hours of May 14. 

“My crew and I tackled the fire with extinguishers and heavy hoses for around 15 or 20 minutes," he said. "The fire couldn’t be brought under control so we had to abandon the vessel. 

"We deployed the life raft and we got into that. We then waited for the help to come. The response from all the emergency services was very good. The Courtmacsherry Lifeboat brought us to shore."

He plans to attend the protest, and said his future is uncertain. 

“The current restrictions in the fishing industry present me with a huge question mark whether I will invest thousands into an industry that is being failed by the Irish Government," he said. "I just want to do the job I love. Going out to sea and making a living.

"We are trying to earn an honest living. Fishing is a natural resource and there should be a separate Minister of Fisheries. We are united. All we want is for the government to listen."

Mr Healy, who has worked as a fisherman for the past 13 years, said he just wants a ‘future’. 

“I had the trawler for three years. There is an immediate loss of four jobs. I would love to reinvest. I just want a future,” he said. 

EARLIER: THE quays in the city centre — Penrose, Horgan’s, and Albert Quays, are due to become temporary fishing port berths today when south coast fishermen arrive this morning for a “show and tell demonstration” as they plead with the public to support them in their hour of need.

“The public may find it hard to believe what we will tell them; that things are so bad within the industry, but it is the truth. We are not being treated fairly by either the EU or the government who are not protecting the natural resource of Ireland to which Irish people should have the major rights.”

That is what the South West Fish Producers’ Organisation, headquartered at Castletownbere in West Cork, with members in fishing ports throughout the county, says is the reason for the ‘flotilla’ of their boats heading to Cork Harbour today.

“Fishermen don’t want to be in this situation. It is not what they want to be doing, but they are left with no choice; things are so bad,” according to the organisation’s chief executive.

 A flotilla of fishing vessels approaching Roches Point, Co Cork as fishermen unite to raise awareness and seek the support of the public. The fishermen are en route to the constituency offices of Taoiseach Micheal Martin in Turner's Cross, to hand over a letter highlighting the plight of the industry.
A flotilla of fishing vessels approaching Roches Point, Co Cork as fishermen unite to raise awareness and seek the support of the public. The fishermen are en route to the constituency offices of Taoiseach Micheal Martin in Turner's Cross, to hand over a letter highlighting the plight of the industry.

“We’re down to 16% of the fish in our own waters and that is a crazy scenario,” said Patrick Murphy.

“This the fact. This is what we want to show and tell to the public. Fishermen are putting themselves before the public, to show them the boats they have, the huge investment, creating jobs, the families with long traditions who face being forced out of fishing.

“The fishing industry is a vital part of our coastal economy and we need community support. It is a dangerous job which they do every day and they deserve better treatment and recognition for it.”

The disastrous Brexit outcome means the industry is faced with a situation that leaves non-Irish EU boats with the biggest rights to catch fish in Irish waters.

The Taoiseach and government minsters have acknowledged that Ireland got the worst possible deal, of all EU nations, from the Brexit outcome.

“Despite all their promises, the government has not achieved any improvement in the situation. The EU has continued to support the bigger fishing nations in exploiting Irish waters,” according to the ISWFPO.

“This Irish natural resource is the major support for other EU nations, but not for Ireland. The government allows that to happen and is not doing enough to protect coastal communities in Cork and elsewhere around the country, so we have to show the public what the our situation is.”

The planned flotilla assembles at 7am at Roche’s Point and is then due to sail up the River Lee to Horgan’s Quay. All Covid health and safety restrictions are to be observed, with stewards to ensure compliance and crew staying with the boat groups during the demonstration at Horgan’s Quay.

The ‘show and tell event’ is being co-ordinated with the Port of Cork and An Garda Síochána to minimise any disruption to harbour traffic and commercial business, the fishermen’s organisation says.

“Irish fishermen and women are seeking public support to save our fishing industry.

“There should be a renegotiation of the Common Fisheries Policy so that Ireland is allocated a fair share of fish quotas that reflect the contribution of our fishing grounds to the EU.”

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