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Is the EU allowing colonisation of Irish fishing waters?

“Farmers, fishers and foresters are the bedrock of the rural economy.” So said Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels this week when it was discussing a ‘Long-term Vision for Rural Areas.’  The Council agreed that support for these areas should reflect “the pivotal role they are playing to meet the economic, environmental and social challenges the EU and its Member States are facing”

It is time that the Irish fishing industry is given more prirority. For quite a while the industry’s representative organisations have been pointing out the serious difficulties it is facing, but Government response has not been forthright in raising the scenario of the industry in public in Ireland, or sufficiently enough to make an impact at EU level that would change the attitude of the EU Commission and larger Member States towards Ireland’s fishing rights.

As a comparison between Ireland and France, the EU Commissioner responsible for fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, posted on social media after a visit to the fishing industry in France: “I understand the crucial role of fisheries and the urgency for fleet renewal.” He had met with La Réunion’s artisanal fishermen representatives in France. “Frank yet constructive,” was his summary of the meeting. “Collaborating with the sector and scientists, we’re nearing a solution that aligns with their needs,” he said.

This contrasts strongly with the situation in Ireland where the EU has not encouraged fleet renewal but rather, has responsibility for forcing a reduction in the Irish fleet. This is because of its failure to gain a satisfactory Brexit deal for Ireland and then its failure to get equal sharing of the burden imposed by Brexit on Ireland’s coastal, fishing communities. ‘Burden sharing’ has not been agreed by any other Member State, nor insisted upon by the EU Commission. So much for the ‘community of the EU sharing as a community’

Isn’t it time for the EU Commissioner and the full Commisison to accept the repeated concern of the Irish industry which has been reduced by EU policies to an inferior position in fishing quotas compared with other fishing Member States. This, despite Ireland having the acknowledged richest fishing waters in Europe.

Why does Ireland not have a fairer share of these waters?

Irish Government failure to gain that is one answer. Another is what has been identified by Irish fishing industry representative organisations as the “colonisation” of Irish waters.

It is surely time to correct this.

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