West Cork fisheries facing “fear for our very future” over Mackerel quotas

THE Sunday Business Post Article on the 9th July titled “Donegal wins €10 million food fight over Mackerel, Creed to favour Killybegs over Cork for quota” has amused the Members of the Irish South and West Fish producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) when the Minister has yet to make a final decision on this issue.

We wonder who in their right mind would attack our Minister Michael Creeds integrity in such a callous manner, as to purport to say that any Minister, regardless of their brief, would stoop so low as to let another’s view point that may be different to others, to be punished by denying them a fair share of our nations natural resource. This is frankly disgusting.

The IS&WFPO have consistently said this has never been a grab for fish by one group of Irish fishermen from another group of Irish fishermen.

With regard to Brexit, we have asked for our Minister to please consider the setting up of a Task Force which would include Representatives from all Sectors of our Fishing Industry i.e. the Catch Sector, Processing Sector, Enforcement Agencies, Administration Agencies and, of course, our Marine Scientific Community to evaluate the potential hazards we will face as a consequence of Brexit.

We have identified two key areas for the attention of the proposed Task Force :-

  • The future share of the fish for our fishing boats if Relative Stability is to remain unchanged.

  • The effect the displacement of hundreds of foreign vessels will have on the fishing stocks off our coasts when the UK Fisheries Enforcement Agencies asks them to leave their waters.

With regard to the Mackerel, we have proven without question that this redistribution of Mackerel which is one of our Country’s Natural Resources between those who have an entitlement to catch them, will then allow for a redistribution of €9 million of Whitefish to the other 2,000 Irish fishing vessels, which in turn will help address the imbalance that currently exists in this hard pressed sector; 87% of Irelands Mackerel quota, 91 % of Irelands Blue whiting quota, 88.7 % of Irelands Horse Mackerel quota and 85% of Ireland’s allocation of Scandinavian Herring is given to 23 of our 2194 Irish registered vessels directly employing less than 200 people.

Each one of these vessels are entitled to apply for a Licence to participate in Irelands Tuna Fishery; they also choose not to participate in the Whitefish fishery but yet feel, in a country where our fish is classified as a National Resource that belong to us all, they should remain ring fenced and protected against loss of fishing quota while those in the other sectors must face the proposition of having to leave their industry as there is not enough there for them to make a viable living.

For too long the fishing resources which belong to this Nation are disproportionately given to a hand full of people. Should the article be found to be true however, we the members of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation will be left with no option but to take a case to challenge this alleged decision to the highest courts in Ireland and Europe if necessary, for this is about the survival of our industry and we cannot and we will not stand idly by while the rich get richer and the poor get wiped out.

Reaction from the Four pelagic processing factories:

  • Ilen Seafoods, Baltimore
  • Castletownbere Fisherman’s Co-operative
  • O Cathain Iasc Teo, Dingle
  • Iasc Mara, Rossaveal

It is with apprehension and fear for our very future and that of our communities, that we write this today, after having read the Sunday Business Post article titled “ Donegal Wins €10 Million food fight over Mackerel – Creed favour Killybegs over Cork for Quota”.

We cannot understand the subject of this article, surely our Minister Michael Creed will clarify to the media, that this story not only has no truth in it but also outline his thoughts on how he has been portrayed in this very damaging article to him personally.

Minister Michael Creed has been accused time and time again of parochial politics, we see nothing parochial in our Minister for fisheries making a decision that impacts the lives of hundreds of hard working families from Baltimore, Castletownbere, Dingle in Kerry to Rossaveal in Galway employed in our factories.

We have spoken to our Minister and made it abundantly clear that we do not own fishing vessels like the factories in Killybegs, we only have access to a maximum of 10% of the Irish Mackerel quota and this is reduced constantly by the buying power of the killybegs factories that are buying up any boat with Mackerel entitlements that come for sale.

We are again witnessing the formation of a monopoly cartel situation growing rapidly in our fishing Industry, mirroring that in our beef industry.

We ask our Minister to allow us to plan our work programme for the Autumn by giving the decision, we all feel needs to be given immediately, to avoid this nasty journalism that does nothing but ferment ill feelings and creates division in an Industry too small to be divided especially with the future threats from Brexit and the fast approaching Landing Obligation.

We believe if this is the Ministers decision this will result in job losses and a very strong possibility of factory closures on the south and west coast of Ireland.