Fishermen across Donegal are unable to fish at sea while neighbours from European countries are catching many lucrative species, Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn has told the Dail.
The Sinn Fein politician slammed quota allocations under the European Union’s current Common Fisheries Policy.
He said Irish fishermen are ‘staring out at the Irish exclusive economic zone’ while lucrative species including bluefin tuna are being landed.
Research has shown there are large shoals of the huge tuna off the north-west coast.
Many are being caught on a tag and release scheme by Irish fishermen but others are being landed to be sold by European fishermen.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn fishermen from the ‘Inishowen peninsula round the west of Donegal’ continue to get a raw deal under the quota system.
He said “I support a fairer share of mackerel, herring, spurdog and, indeed, arguably exclusively bluefin tuna if we can ever get one bloody fish to take back, rather than having to release it again.
“Bluefin tuna is one of the most lucrative, if not the most lucrative, species of fish in the world today”.
He said the species has made a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and that continental fleets are seeing a benefit under the EU quota system.
“It is now accepted by the Marine Institute and the Department that it is in abundance in our waters, yet Irish fishermen have to catch and release. They take tourists out, catch the fish, which is, by the way, feeding on our own fish, and release it. It is a predatory fish.
“It gets fattened up. All the countries of Europe and the world are catching these fish within our exclusive economic zone, and outside in international waters after they have been fattened here.
“We have not even got one fish. The allocation to the EU of bluefin tuna increased by something like 75 per cent in recent years because the species is doing well again, but we can only catch them on a rod and release them,” he said.