The Fishing Decommissioning scheme is a shafting exercise by the government of our coastal communities, says Michael Collins TD – – Our News, Your Views

The Fishing Decommissioning scheme is a shafting exercise by the government of our coastal communities, says Michael Collins TD

This governmental scheme represents outright robbery, betrayal and neglect of coastal communities, allowing large foreign fleets to hoover up 85 per cent of the fishing quota off our coast.

Rural Independent TD for Cork South-West, Michael Collins, has described the European Commission’s approval of an €80 million decommissioning scheme, intended to reduce the Irish fishing fleet by a further 60 vessels, as another shafting exercise of the fishing sector, which is being treated deplorably by the current government.

Speaking from his Cork South-West constituency, Deputy Collins, said:

“This scheme represents nothing short of a blatant attack on the human rights of Irish fishermen and women. It also represents another full-scale offensive on rural and coastal communities, affecting the size of the offshore fleet – over 18 metres – by slashing it to about one-third of what it was in 2006 (280 down to 100).”

“The impact of drastically reducing the Irish fishing fleet is a result of successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led Irish governments deliberately cheating and mistreating both the sector and coastal communities; this is underhanded and below the belt.”

“Under the watch of the current Minister Charlie Mc Conalogue, the industry is being hollowed out and handed over to foreign vessels, as our fishermen are forced to keep their boats moored at piers, while 85 per cent of the fish in our coastal waters is scooped up and then transported to various European fishing ports.”

“The sense of betrayal and neglect felt by coastal communities, including here in west Cork, is palpable. Our fishermen are no longer allowed to harvest our natural resources, as foreign vessels are permitted to literally snatch food from Irish mouths.”

“The Irish fisheries industry has been in crisis for decades because of gross mismanagement and carelessness. However, under Minister Mc Conalogue’s supervision, the sector is being annihilated by Brexit’s quota sell-out deal and a scheme to decommission boats. His single-minded focus, on reducing Ireland’s fishing fleet, means his botched Brexit deal (amounting to a cut of at least 25 per cent in quota and income at a time when the sector is barely surviving) borders on treasonous.”

“Ultimately, this decommissioning scheme is an outcome of the Minister’s failure to protect the sector during the Brexit deal, which resulted in Ireland losing a staggering 23,496 tonnes of pelagic quota per annum, 8 per cent of our whitefish quota and 13 per cent of our prawn quota. The cumulative monetary value of this loss amounts to €43 million per annum for the Irish sector and demonstrates that our Minister was asleep at the wheel, while other EU member states secured attractive deals.”

“The unfortunate impact of the Brexit deal and this scheme will cost thousands of jobs in rural communities. Therefore, the government’s failure to advocate for this crucial industry, which directly supports 16,000 jobs in rural regions, indicates where its loyalties rest.”

“While the government will dress this scheme up in fancy media soundbites and spin, the reality is that it represents nothing more than more nails in the coffin of a precious indigenous sector.”

“Under this decommissioning scheme, anyone who signs up will be prohibited from passing on their entitlements (tonnage and horsepower) to younger fishermen. All in all, this serves to highlight the government’s strategy to eradicate Irish boats completely, permitting foreign vessels to grab 85 per cent of the fishing quota off our coasts,” concluded Deputy Collins.

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