Three Sinn Féin Deputies have brought forward the Island Fisheries Bill in Dáil Éireann today in a bid to protect the livelihoods of offshore island fishermen.
Martin Kenny TD, Martin Ferris TD and Pearse Doherty TD are proposing the Island Fisheries (Heritage Licence) Bill 2017, while representatives of island fishers watch from the public gallery.
Sligo–Leitrim representative Deputy Kenny said: “I am delighted to be speaking today on this Bill which is an attempt to address the depopulation of our offshore islands by giving local fishermen and women back the ability to make a living as they have traditionally done.
“It was a recommendation of the joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that legislation to protect traditional fishing practices on the islands be introduced and I am delighted that Sinn Féin has done this.
“This Bill sets out to fulfil that recommendation, paving the way for a special licence to be available only to island fishers.
“It is intended to make life on our offshore islands more sustainable and help reverse the decline in island populations that has been ongoing over the decades.
“This legislation aims to ensure that offshore island based fishing communities have their rights to practice long established traditional fishing methods and practices protected and recognised in law.
“Island communities and small island fishermen are unable to make a living from fishing, as existing Common Fisheries Policy rules and quota restrictions often prevent them from fishing their own coastal waters.
“Working with the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation (IIMRO), we have developed this Heritage Licence Bill. The Bill allows for the allocation of a portion of appropriate quota to the island fishers specifically to fish within the six mile territorial limit including the baseline.
“The Bill seeks to facilitate the continuation of traditional fishing practices on our offshore islands and provide for the issuing of licences to island fishermen which will be confined to those who are habitually resident on an island and who are engaged in small-scale coastal fishing to earn a living.
“The term ‘small scale coastal fishing’ is defined as, fishing carried out by fishing vessels of an overall length of less than 12 metres and not using towed fishing gear.”Tags: