Dozens of fishing crews across Donegal have had to tie their boats up as the markets for their produce have been shut by the coronavirus lockdown.
Ireland’s main markets of France, Spain and Italy have shut down which is wrecking exports.
Of almost 2,000 fishing boats around the Irish coast, as many as 75% have either ‘tied up’ in harbour or will be forced to do so soon as their markets close.
Ports such as Killybegs and Greencastle have seen boats tied up since the lockdown went into place.
Killybegs was the most important port for landings in 2018 accounting for 130,055 tonnes – 60% – of all by Irish vessels.
Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation chief John Ward fears the industry is ‘not very far away’ from a crisis point.
‘There’s a lot of fishing vessels tying up that fish the white species such as cod, haddock and prawns.
‘They are under huge pressure at the moment because a lot of that fish would go to export markets, particularly in France and Spain.
‘The actual close-down means that the markets are closed for them at the moment, a lot of fishing vessels are going to have to tie up very shortly because there’s just nowhere for them to sell their fish.
‘So many outlets in so many countries are completely closed, hotels, restaurants and the like.
‘Vessels are still fishing but a lot are coming under pressure and some have already stopped fishing and others are looking at having to stop fishing.
‘The export market’s the problem, they could go fishing but they wouldn’t have anywhere to sell it and the domestic market is not a huge market.
‘Our main markets are France, Spain and Italy, we sell lots of our prawns to Italy,’ he said.
Fishermen stuck in harbour are now having to rely on recently announced Government support for their income.
John added: ‘The individual crews can avail of the various Government supports of social welfare but there’s still huge problems there for the boat owners until see what kind of supports are coming out of the EU and national governments.’
‘Bord Bia are starting a promotion to get people eating more fish and support the industry in these difficult times. Fish is good for you and it’s a sustainable resource.’
A Bord Bia nationwide campaign, planned before the killer virus outbreak, is about to be launched by promoting fish as a healthy food source.Tags: