There can be no doubt that since Ireland joined the European Union, its fishing industry has suffered some serious blows directly and indirectly. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been time and time again questioned as to who is really gaining and losing.

Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney in 2012 stated that “it is impossible to control foreign fleets in Irish waters”.

So have too many consecutive Ireland  governments taken that position and then decided to do absolute nothing? Not even trying to even re-address any percentage? It looks that way to many.They have thrown their hands up in the air and made out "It's too hard" it seems?

Many involved within the fishing industry (those still around and struggling to stay there) have been trying to convince Irish departments and representatives to do something on this for years. If we do not have the resources to fully stem a tide of unfairness in numbers of foreign fleets physically, then we must also look and push for better regulatory checks and more fair balances at European level. This applies to numbers of foreign fleets allowed & fish amounts they are taking away from Ireland’s sea regions.

Ireland, England, Denmark & Norway, began talks to join the EEC on 30th June, 1970. The same day, the original six EEC members introduced Regulation 2141/70. This included the infamous clause on fisheries – “Equal access to a common resource without discrimination” and candidates for membership were told they would have to accept this as a condition of entry to the EEC. This was the foundation of the CFP. Subsequent regulations and rules after this was additions or in respect to Ireland often negative imposed changes to the detriment of Irelands fishing community.

Paddy Hillery (Minister for Foreign Affairs) was the person heading Irish negotiations. His assistant was Brendan O’Kelly (Chairman of B.I.M). Hillery resisted what was asked of him. Mr. O’Kelly was sent home and the next day Hillery capitulated and signed! (reference: Irish Times article of 30/12/’95 by Lorna Siggins). Subsequently questions have bed asked “Did Hillery sign under duress to gain entry to the EEC? Was this gunpoint diplomacy? Did the EEC come to this with “Clean Hands to the table of eventual agreement documents to be signed?”

Previously, during the United Nations Conference on the “Law of the Sea” May 1975, the right of countries including Ireland to declare an exclusive two-hundred-mile zone around our coast was accepted. This right had also been signed away. Irelands Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.) and fisheries would thereafter be governed by Brussels. Ireland’s E.E.Z. is ten times our land mass.

In 2012 there was a fishingforjustice.eu quote by those involved in Irelands fishing industry:

We gave away our fish, worth billions of Euros, our E.E.Z., our oil and gas and now they want us to sell the ESB, Aer Lingus, an Bord Gais etc. At the same time, they want to ban turf cutting!”

How right they were!

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A Heavy Cost.

Ireland gives over €1 Billion of its natural economic resources, on a regular basis, to other EU countries. We do this while still trying to austerity recover and look for money from foreign banks and investors. As of 2012 Irish vessels fishing for the very valuable demersal species have a mere 4% of the European quota. The rest is taken away by other EU vessels.

The result has been that through imposed restrictions alone, Ireland's fishing industry has been badly devastated. Where coast communities once thrived and traditions in Irish families were passed down regarding skills and financial ability to thrive in the industry, what was gained in poor excessive return was resulting young people from same communities emigrating in numbers! They no longer allowed with their family and friends to fish once own working waters.

Many see what has happened as an injustice to the economy of Ireland, its entire people and not just to fishermen and coastal communities that have been directly affected. Some seeking resolutions of the matter suggest withdrawal from the EU. Others suggest withdrawal from the CFP. Both are connected and influence each other though. Externally, those that wish Ireland to stay quiet and capitulate, state any such actions would be “disruptive of community solidarity, offensive to our neighbours and would cause grave irritation”. What about at home?

It’s been suggested that real regionalisation where each country is responsible for fish stocks in its own waters is another possible solution. This alone could be worth billions of Euro and further thousands of jobs in Ireland for its people.

We should be attempting to resolve this matter most urgently but it’s become on a slow burner.

It’s fine that we continue working in peaceful harmony with our European neighbours. We should do so under a greater established, fairer CFP system. This, we should push for and see as a basic starting point regarding future renegotiations.

Ireland’s elected representatives should stronger stand their ground for its people, its industries, fishing in this case and say here too ”Enough is enough!” Why not?

Ireland’s people we believe, do not wish to be default divisive regarding EEC solidarity, offensive to our neighbours or cause irritation but we must seek greater fairness regarding matters that would see Ireland economically better off as a whole, communities better off individually and would see Ireland’s sons and daughters being able to greater stay at home amid their family and friends. They all deserve a greater chance of they being able to carry on Ireland based working traditions while not only surviving a life in a fishing industry but being less under strain too, just to be only scraping by.  Our elected representatives on all this should be doing far better for their home voters instead of caving to EU demands and giving little strong representation.

Frankly, some of our elected travelling across to Europe to represent us, need to grow a harder backbone, stop being bullied and work for Ireland’s people first, more often.

If they are to do better, it’s not just in Ireland interests they will be acting, they will be also aiding others in direction too, which is heading towards their own sea fishing crisis also.

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Sea Fishing – What Governments Is Not Telling You!

Like animals that criss-cross lands daily on Ireland soil and people too travelling in their various transports, sometimes areas or borders are hard to define and quite often don’t be seen where they start and finish. The same notion also applies to the fish off Ireland’s shores – but not just there alone. Fish come and go at great speed, sometimes up to 70 Kilometres an hour, across many official territories without a thought. They don’t know any different so why should they be concerned? The result from all this travelling though, leads at times for fishermen, to a sometimes complicated process and race in order to catch their watery prey. Ireland’s own fishermen on coastal boats has much suffered from this it seems, at times!

64% of the world ocean surface is defined as “The common heritage of mankind”. The high seas as such, has been defined in international law. It sounds grand but stark reality is far different from the legal niceties that many have signed up to in agreement – but at sea, lesser numbers actually stick to! Example: since 2010 the proportion of Tuna and similar like species being exploited, has over grown from 28% to a larger 36% …and growing still with others too!

Facts: Fishing hauls are worth $16 Billion yearly. Many areas are deprived the chance to then replenish themselves as almost 90% are fished to either sustainable full limits or way beyond. Sea fishing, especially with super trawlers with their lengthy and deep nets, disturb and often dig up seabed’s. Otter boards and other net parts run hard and deliberate wakes or unsettles resting sea life so they can be then caught. This in turn either disturbs or destroys not only the extensive sea life existing there too but the underwater plant life that is used to feed and shelter many ordinary and exotic creatures of the sea. Even rocks as much as up to 20+ tonnes are disturbed. Coral reefs, which have built up over decades or centuries can be devastated with their plant and fish life, in a single afternoons reaping by one ship! There are many super-trawlers from same number of states!

As of 2014 less than 1% of total seas gain a degree of complete legal protection. A review of 144 studies, The Economist (July 16th 2016) concludes that in order to preserve and more importantly restore ecosystems, 30% of the oceans should be designated as MPA’s (Marine Protected Areas). The UN has decided to look into this matter with some urgency.

In 2014, for the first time, more fish were farmed for human eating than were actually caught in the wild. To quote the Economist report “Farm-fish now outstrips global beef production. Feedstocks however are often poor and storage facilities inadequate.”

Further state research and investment funding therefore is needed for fish-farming to grow. This in turn can help save and revitalise sea-stocks too – giving them a chance to raise again.