THE National Marine Institute must be called on by the government to carry out a study on how Irish waters will be impacted by additional vessels fishing here next January when the UK officially leaves the EU.
That’s according to Patrick Murphy, head of the Castletownbere based Irish South & West Fish Producers’ Organisation, who said the industry had now entered a critical period of fighting for survival before Brexit comes into play next January.
‘But no one is asking simple questions, like how many boats will be allowed to fish here and what will their limits be?’ he said.
The West Cork fishing industry is already in life-support mode, he said, after a tough winter followed by Covid-19.
‘The people of West Cork now really need to think about their locality and what’s important to them and how they would feel if the fishing industry was taken away from here,’ he said.
‘This is the time to be asking questions, to be making noise about what is going to happen to our coastal communities,’ he stressed.
He described the situation as being similar to two builders who bought a site together and developed plans to build 40 houses.
‘But before they dug any ground, one said he was pulling out and took back his 50% of the land and told the other to do whatever he wanted. And then the other just decided to go ahead and to shrink the plans to make them fit.
‘This is what the Common Fisheries Policy intends if Brexit goes ahead, to shrink the amount of fish to boats and allow people fish away which will destroy the industry.’
He highlighted how Ireland has the biologically important waters, which are the feeding ground of Europe. ‘If we destroy the nursery, there’ll be no fishing,’ he said.
Mr Murphy said he’s asked two Taoisigh for a scientific evaluation of how additional fishing efforts will impact our waters, to no avail.
‘People in West Cork need to understand that fishing represents 84% of the economic driver in the Beara Peninsula. If you take that away, it’s like taking away the foundation blocks of a house, the whole thing starts to collapse.’
Mr Murphy also said the fact that our Navy is understrength reflects how little the government care about the fishing industry.
It has been reported that the UK has ordered five new naval vessels which will work as fishery protection patrols. However the Irish Naval Service tied up two ships over a year ago because of a lack of crews, and it’s feared the same fate awaits two more before the end of this year.