Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada has warned that landing obligations discriminate against Irish fishermen.
The Ireland South MEP, who sits on the EU Fisheries Committee, was speaking after hosting Irish fishing representatives from Munster at a European Parliament public hearing.
She said: ‘It was a pleasure to have the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation over, and I was happy that the Committee accepted my proposal to have Irish fishermen address the Committee as official speakers, as their voices need to be heard.
‘The difficulties surrounding the landing obligations for Irish fishing communities is unquestionable. Simply put, there is a shocking lack of port facilities.
‘Whilst landing obligations may be easier to implement in countries where fishermen only fish for a single species and have little to no mixed fisheries, the fact is that Ireland has many mixed fisheries, which means that Irish fishers have to move fishing grounds to legally catch their allocated quota. It makes it very difficult for fishers to be financially viable as a result.’
Ms Ní Riada explained: ‘The extra expenses incurred from this practice include extra fuel, provisions, maintenance and crew costs for longer hours as well as other additional costs imposed on the fishermen.
‘There is also the extra strain on the stability of the vessels themselves, with a greater risk of them being compromised due to unwanted catches having to be retained on board until they are stored separately and landed.
‘This leads to increased costs, jeopardising the financial viability of these businesses, the majority which are family-owned. All signs point towards the landing obligations wreaking economic havoc if no measures are put in place to help fishermen or invest in port facilities to handle larger volumes of landings.
‘Quite frankly, the landing obligations do discriminate against Ireland as we consider fisheries to be a national resource in a way it isn’t in any other EU Member State,’ she maintains.
‘Stakeholders, the European Commission and Irish authorities need to recognise the major problems that exist with the landing obligations and work to provide a level playing field for Irish fishermen.’