This sector has been continually neglected by the government

Today’s large protest by fishers from around country highlights the frustration and fear felt by coastal communities, according to Social Democrats Agriculture, Food and the Marine Spokesperson Holly Cairns.

“This sector has been continually neglected by the government. Any marginal engagement was too little too late. In response to my questions on CAP negotiations, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, argues his position is based on what farmers need. It is notable the same standard is not applied to the fishing community.

“From the disastrous Brexit deal announced on Christmas week, to the ongoing issues with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority weighing systems, fishing communities have not been consulted before fundamental decisions about their livelihoods were made. This leads to understandable upset, confusion, and anger in coastal communities, who now fear for the future of the sector.

“Decisions at a European level are having a devastating impact on our fishing fleet and that needs to be called out, but we also need to call out the actions of this government. There is a clear inequality in the way the Minister allocates the mackerel quota. 98pc of the quota goes to fewer than 50 larger boats, while only 2pc to the inshore fisheries sector of almost 2,000 boats.

“As a result of this miniscule limit, smaller vessels cannot catch mackerel for the rest of the year. Even the smallest boats cannot go out and catch a few dozen mackerel for sale at a farmers’ market.

“I have asked the Minister to engage with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum on this issue immediately. Our inshore fisheries practise the type of sustainable fishing we should actively encourage and support.”

23 June, 2021


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