CEO of the Castletownbere-based Irish South & West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) Patrick Murphy has described as an ‘injustice’ the manner in which the 2020 quota for blue whiting has been distributed following a deal struck in London last week between the European Union, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
He was highly-critical of Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, who welcomed the agreement, which he said ‘provides welcome stability in this important fishery for Irish fishermen.’
Mr Murphy said his organisation’s frustrations with ‘the Irish Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed – appointed to serve all of the people of this country equally – in his announcing to the country how pleased he is that, once again, 18 people owning 23 fishing vessels are to receive the benefit of 91% of a national quota of 38,500 tonnes of fish, being the €11.5 million in value blue whiting fishery allocated to Ireland’s fishermen.
‘In this same fishery,’ he pointed out, ‘27 other fishermen, holding exactly the same licence entitlements under his Department’s policy are forced to go into a lottery, with the lucky recipients of a permit to fish each getting a maximum of 400 tonnes. This year their 9% share of Ireland’s national quota equals 3,460 tonnes allowing a mere eight boats to partake in the fishery.
‘This is eight out of 27 fishing boats receiving some 400 tonnes each, or thereabouts, while each and every one of the guaranteed 23 RSW sector segment boats will get a massive 1,523 tonnes each. The remaining 19 boats not in the protected RSW segment of Ireland’s fleet will get nothing and will remain tied to the pier wall.’
Mr Murphy asked: ‘So when the Minister speaks of Stability for our Fisheries Sector in these uncertain times, exactly which fishery sector is he talking about?’
Minister Creed pointed out ‘In these uncertain times, stability for our fisheries sector is always welcome. The agreement reached following the negotiations this week, in which Ireland was an active participant, will provide a quota worth approximately €11.5 million for our fishermen next year.
‘This follows the international negotiations two weeks ago which agreed to a 41% increase in the mackerel quotas for 2020 in line with the scientific advice, giving Ireland a mackerel quota of over 78,000 tonnes worth over €80m directly to our catching sector for 2020.’