Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle, has slammed the Government for again failing to support Ireland’s fishing industry.
Deputy Pringle said: “I said it in the Dáil last week: The fishing industry has had no support from the Irish government and no support from Europe, either.”
He said another blow came earlier this year, when Norway unilaterally declared a 55% increase in its mackerel quota.
Following the EU/UK Brexit deal in December, Ireland already faced a reduction of 26% of mackerel quota by 2026, with 60% of the reduction applied this year.
Deputy Pringle said: “Minister McConalogue and the Government didn’t talk to Europe – they just rolled over. Which is what they do for the fishing industry.”
The deputy contacted Minister McConalogue about Norway’s unilateral decision, and also raised the issue of Norwegian ships coming to Killybegs with mackerel for processing.
Deputy Pringle said: “What are they going to do? Kowtow to Europe, that’s what.”
In his response to Deputy Pringle, the minister acknowledged that mackerel remains Ireland’s most important fishery, saying it underpins the important Irish pelagic fish processing industry in the north west.
“The minister also said that he has called on EU Commissioner Sinkevièius to reject completely the unilateral action by Norway. He said that while the EU and UK have an agreed framework for fisheries, there is no such bilateral agreement between Norway (and Faroes) and the UK. This was the justification the countries used for increasing their share, he said.
“That’s not good enough, Deputy Pringle said.”
The deputy has consistently raised the need for Ireland to renegotiate the Common Fisheries Policy.
He added “It is well beyond time that the wrongs that were done to our fishing community as we negotiated to join the EU were corrected.
“They won’t do that – the will is not there. Sadly, that’s the only solution,” he said.
The Killybegs-based TD also noted that in recent weeks factories in Killybegs have accepted mackerel from Norwegian ships for processing. In his response, Minister McConalogue said landings by non-EU vessels can only take place in EU ports that have been designated for this purpose. Killybegs and Castletownbere in County Cork have been so designated, he said.
Deputy Pringle said: “The same people complaining about the quota Norway was giving itself accepted that quota to process it in Killybegs.
“I know they’re caught between a rock and a hard place, but how can people stand up and fight for the industry when they’re not willing to do it themselves?
“Clearly from the letter, Minister McConalogue is saying there is nothing we can do about this and they’re just rolling over on it – again,” Deputy Pringle said.