GENERAL Election candidate, and former Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Alan Coleman has strongly criticised the of the Irish Government’s priority to police fishermen over drug importers.
Along the West Cork and Kerry coast Cllr Alan Coleman states that there is just one Customs officer - based in Bantry - with sole responsibility for monitoring drug importation along the coastline of West Cork. Meanwhile, there are more than 50 Fisheries officers covering that same stretch of coastline.
‘This sends a clear statement that the policing of hard-working, tax-paying fishermen is more important to the Government than battling the importing of illegal drugs that are causing irreparable damage to Irish society,’ claimed Cllr Coleman
He continued: ‘In the town of Castletownbere, alone there are more than 12 fisheries officers, this is extreme policing at its most draconian. Meanwhile, Irish fishing has been decimated by poor quotas for Irish boats in such a huge fishing zone.’
In 2015 the Sea-Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) carried out 1,476 inspections. There are just 2,115 Irish registered fishing boats.
When fishing boats land their catch ashore skippers and crew can be inspected for upwards of six hours, after spending up to ten days at sea: ‘This is an unnecessary cost, as well as being a waste of skipper and crew hours ashore. Fishermen have said to me they want to spend time with their families ashore,’ he said.
The SFPA states that it is ‘committed to ensuring a strong future for the Irish fishing industry,’ yet ‘with such strong policing, the industry and our coastal communities will be further decimated,’ said Cllr Coleman.
‘Fishermen who are creating jobs in the most rural parts of Ireland need to supported, not harassed’, he stated.