Donegal Sinn Féin TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty have stated that the landing rules for fish at Killybegs and across the State “make no sense” and are a “further threat to the fishing and fish processing industry in Donegal and Ireland”.
There have been calls for clarity over the rules after an incident last week at Killybegs Harbour where a Danish trawler carrying whiting for two local fish processors declined to land 1,200 tons of produce. The objection arose when the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) sought to undertake an inspection which would include supervising the weighing before transport of a fishing vessel at Killybegs harbour.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said: “Last week, a Danish fishing vessel was forced to turn back from the harbour at Killybegs with almost 1300 ton of blue whiting that should have been processed at a local fish factory for human consumption on the international market. This meant a serious loss of income to that local business and their workers.
“Representatives of the fishing industry and the fish processing industry have spoken out about this incident. They are adamant that what the SFPA was requesting of the owner of this fishing vessel makes no sense.
Sinn Féin share the serious concerns of the industry and we also believe that these landing rules make no sense. We are challenging Minister McConalogue and the SFPA to explain why different landing rules apply in other harbours across the European Union?
“We are also challenging the Minister and the SFPA to explain how blue whiting can be fit for human consumption when these Irish landing rules insist on the fish being weighed without the water that keeps them fresh (dry weighing)”.
Deputy Pearse Doherty said: “There is consternation in the fishing industry and community of Killybegs over this debacle. This is a further threat to the fishing and fish processing industry in Donegal and Ireland.
“The fish processing industry have developed a weighing system, at considerable cost, that can be located on the harbour at Killybegs that would both allow the SFPA to weigh the fish in line with landing rules and keep them fresh for human consumption.
“The SFPA have refused to avail of this solution, even after a High Court ruling last year, essentially asking them to do so. I am calling on the Minister to insist that the SFPA urgently introduce a weighing system at the harbour side that does not destroy the quality of the fish. One possibility is for the SFPA to take into their ownership, the weighing system developed by the industry and calibrate and certify it to their satisfaction.
“One way or the other, the Minister and the SFPA need to urgently sort this out or huge and potentially irreversible damage will be done to our local industry that is so vital to the South West of Donegal”.