CORK South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan has praised a decision by Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to urgently set up a fisheries taskforce to help the sector weather the post-Brexit trade deal.
The taskforce is expected to be made up of Irish fishermen and women, frontline fish producers and retailers as the industry attempts to stymie the loss of millions of euro.
'The minister has agreed to my request to establish a taskforce to deal with the severe impact of Brexit on the fishing industry,' Deputy O’Sullivan said.
'It is a necessary and positive step to help soften the blow of Brexit and to urgently respond to the undue burden and hardship falling on our fishing sector because of the Brexit deal.'
Minister McConalogue told the Dáil he’ll be meeting over the coming days with stakeholders from across the industry to discuss terms of reference for the group.
'The loss of fishing rights because of Brexit will severely damage not just the industry, but whole communities in the coming weeks and months,' Deputy O’Sullivan said.
'News of a dedicated taskforce is a positive step. Our fishermen and women know their trade better than anyone else, and their contributions will certainly help ease the burden and help map a new route through the unfair post-Brexit deal,' he added.
Meanwhile, Holly Cairns TD has called on the government to put crucial supports in place for the West Cork communities that have been impacted by Brexit.
Holly, the party’s spokesperson for the Marine, said:
'We are all aware of the considerable concerns of the fishing sector, which will see a total loss of €43m due to Ireland surrendering a greater percentage of quota than most other EU states. The government needs a clear strategy to meet the different needs of coastal and island communities. I welcome the Minister's willingness to consider a task force to focus on supporting the sector, I have been calling for this since early in the pandemic. The industry is facing a series of unique challenges that need tailored solutions.'
She noted there are also ongoing issues around the designation of ports for landings of UK registered Northern Ireland boats. 'The excessive re-registering costs are simply not an option for many without assistance. In addition, the requirement for 24-hour notice of landing is simply unworkable.'
For many small scale fishermen and women, it feels like the government is 'working against them rather than fighting for them', the Deputy added. 'They represent the type of sustainable fishing that has been practised for generations in West Cork and other coastal and island communities. However, successive governments have focused on the larger, more lucrative (for the few), and more damaging types of fishing. It is essential that the Minister facilitates the granting of purchaser organisation status to small scale representative groups to better reflect small and family businesses and island and coastal communities, who are often overshadowed by the larger players. Ireland has a diverse coastline with different requirements at regional level.'