'This will dramatically affect us': West Cork fishing representative to meet European Commission

The EU is considering granting Norway, a non-EU state, access to Irish waters to fish for blue whiting, in exchange for continued access to Norwegian waters for EU member states to fish for arctic cod.
'This will dramatically affect us': West Cork fishing representative to meet European Commission

Irish fishing industry reps in Brussels, left to right: Patrick Murphy (Irish South and West Fish Producer’s Organisation), Sean O’Donoghue (Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation), Brendan Byrne (Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association), and Aodh O’Donnell (Irish Fish Producer’s Organisation).

Representatives from the Irish fishing industry are due to meet with the European Commission in Brussels this afternoon, to look for “fair treatment” amidst ongoing negotiations between the EU and Norway about fishing quotas in Irish waters.

The EU is considering granting Norway, a non-EU state, access to Irish waters to fish for blue whiting, in exchange for continued access to Norwegian waters for EU member states to fish for arctic cod.

Fishing agreements are already currently in place between Norway and the EU, granting Norway 18% of the blue whiting quota for European and coastal states, compared to Ireland’s 3% share.

West Cork’s Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producer’s Organisation, said that Irish fishermen are looking for a proportionate increase in Irish fishing quotas in the negotiations, so that Norwegian fleets “don’t get free access into Irish waters to catch fish, while our boats are tied to the pier looking at them because they have a bigger quota in our own waters than we do”.

“This is a very sensitive issue for Ireland Inc. This is about our territorial waters, the Irish box, and allowing a non-EU member country to come in and take fish from us,” he said.

Mr Murphy said that Norway’s request access Irish waters will “dramatically affect us, our country, and our fishermen” who are already struggling following post-Brexit quota negotiations.

“We need more of this fish to sustain our fleet. This is a mechanism for getting that. Norway are going to catch their fish, and we hope they’ll catch their fish, but they want them in our waters. It’s easier, it’s more secure for them and the fish are better quality in our waters, so it’s to their advantage to come in and catch the fish here. It should be to our advantage that they’re looking for this in our waters,” he said.

DEAL

Mr Murphy has travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels, along with fellow industry representatives, as negotiations are resumed this week on the EU/Norway deal.

Mr Murphy said that Ireland should benefit from the deal, through an increased share in fishing quotas, rather than be used like a “colony”, a resource to benefit other EU states in accessing arctic cod.

“We do not want a scenario where, because we're a small coastal state, that the other European countries will ignore our requests, and go ahead regardless and take our national resources and use them to benefit their coastal communities. This reminds us of when Europe had colonies all over the world, and they dictated to the indigenous people of those colonies, and they had no choice,” he said.

“We’re not asking for the sun moon and stars here, we are asking for a proportionate amount of fish that mirrors what [Norway] are getting for access to their waters… We’re just looking for this reasonable request, and right request, to stop our fleet from being wiped out,” he added.

Mr Murphy and Mr Byrne were due to meet with the European Commission on Wednesday afternoon, to discuss the concerns of the Irish fishing industry, ahead of negotiations resuming for the EU/Norway deal this week.

Speaking in the Marine Institute in Galway on Tuesday, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said he was “pleased” a number of industry representatives would be in Brussels to “assist [his] team as the negotiations progress”.

“I advised that I am continuing to engage directly with Commissioner Sinkevicious, EU Commissioner for Fisheries and the Environment to ensure that he understands Irelands’ concerns and its priorities in these negotiations,” he said.

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