Speaking in Cork today Liadh Ní Riada welcomed the policy submission made by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation, and gave a commitment to oppose the ongoing criminalisation of Irish fishermen. The Sinn Féin MEP was speaking following a policy briefing with the ISWFPO alongside Sinn Féin Dáil spokesperson on Agriculture and Fisheries Martin Ferris and West Cork Councillors Rachel McCarthy and Paul Hayes.
Liadh Ní Riada said:
“The way in which our fishing industry has been mismanaged, undermined and neglected by the state is a travesty.
“I met with representatives of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation and having listened to them it is very clear that the desperation felt by many fishermen is a result of the quota restrictions, penalty points system and the new landing obligations for stocks such as whitefish.
“In comparison to other EU member states, Ireland is in a weak position due to the limited amount of quota allocated to us. The implementation of the discard band for whitefish stocks such as cod, haddock and whiting will only further negatively impact many fishermen who already suffer under the burden of a very limited quota.”
“We also discussed the penalty point system for fishermen. I strongly believe this system is completely flawed and only serves to criminalise fishermen and prevent them from making a living. I want to examine potential alternatives to the current system.
“The quotas, such as those for whitefish, which are being being forced upon Irish fishermen, is unviable for them and so it is impossible for them to make a decent living this way.
“It is vitally important that the European Commission is made aware of these issues, I will be meeting my colleagues to discuss a possible initiative and working plan on the possible alternatives to the current broken quota system that we have in Ireland.
“Sinn Féin will continue to fight at home and in Europe to save what’s left of our fishing sector and allow fishermen to rebuild their industry and secure their livelihoods.”