CASTLETOWNBERE-based fishing organisation the Irish South & West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) was in Brussels this week to try and secure a better deal for Irish fishers as part of EU/Norway talks.
Along with Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFEA), IS&WPFO chief executive Patrick Murphy met with MEPs including Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher (FF) to articulate the importance of Irish unity in the talks.
‘Ireland suffered greatly from the Brexit negotiations and cannot allow this to be repeated in the EU and Norway negotiations happening this week,’ Mr Murphy told The Southern Star.
‘If Norway wants a new access deal to our waters, then Ireland must be given fish in return to mitigate the damage of the loss of 25% of our fish after Brexit,’ he added.
Our seafood exports delivered less than 1 % growth over the last five years, he said.
‘Yet Norway, a non-EU member, delivered seafood export growth of 25% in 2022, worth €14bn, compared to Ireland’s € 0.674bn.
‘Irish people in our coastal communities should benefit from the resource our waters represent.
‘Instead, other EU and non-EU fleets are increasingly permitted to catch more fish in our waters than our fishing families,’ he continued.
EU re-opened talks this week to consider Norway’s request to catch 450,000 tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters.
Talks broke down in December, after the Irish government opposed the proposals.
However, the Irish government, using Brexit readjustment funds from the Commission, will cull 64 out of 180 trawlers in the whitefish fleet, through decommissioning, said Mr Murphy.
‘Ireland must no longer attend the table as a perpetual pauper, we must be prepared to walk away and refuse to countenance any additional unfair deal with a non-EU member,’ said Mr Murphy.
‘The Minister has already shown resolve on this matter, and he has our full support at this crucial time, to help turn the tide for our coastal communities.’