Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has welcomed money from the European Fisheries Fund coming to Ireland but questioned why such a huge chunk of it has, essentially, been allocated to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA.)
The Ireland South MEP made the comments as it was announced that €147m had been allocated to Irish fishing from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the 2014 – 20202 time frame, with another €90m in match funding from the government but that €46.5m had been ring fenced for ‘control and compliance.’
“While any money being invested in the Irish fishing industry is to be welcomed I find it unusual that the largest chunk of the funding, over 30% has been earmarked for control and compliance,” she said.
“Essentially this means it will go to the SFPA who seem far more interested in harassing Irish fishing boats than using their powers to tackle the scourge of supertrawlers in our waters.
“I am constantly receiving complaints from fishermen that the SFPA are spending an inordinate amount of time and energy meticulously checking their small vessels, while refusing to use their considerable powers to keep the supertrawlers that are churning up Irish waters in check.
“This money would have been far better used had the greater bulk of it been put towards the Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAGs) programme.
“The FLAGs programme is a community lead diversification initiative that helps traditional fishing communities expand into areas such a tourism, heritage, aquaculture and other sectors so that they aren’t relying solely on an ever more stretched industry.
“It is of far more use to struggling coastal communities than a beefed up and over zealous SFPA.
“If this money must go to compliance and control then I hope that the SFPA will put it into resources that will allow them to do much more to keep a much tighter watch on the supertrawlers that are devastating these communities.”