KFO brands Minister’s review “inappropriate, a distraction from Brexit and a waste of time”
The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has stated that a review proposed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine could see the industry in the North West deprived of more than €10million of a mackerel catch in 2017.
The KFO believes that the course of action being adopted by Minister Michael Creed is fundamentally flawed and endeavours to penalise the Refrigerated Seawater (RSW) sector in a disproportionate and unfair manner.
The review is in direct contravention of a Ministerial policy decision of 2009 which was revised and confirmed in 2011.
KFO Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue said, “Last year, our boats were hit with a 15% cut in mackerel quota. Now that there has been an increase in the Irish quota, the Minister appears open to the idea of making it available to 27 vessels in the polyvalent sector who have a mackerel entitlement for no valid reason other than purely parochial. This is something we cannot and will not stand idly by and accept.
“If this is allowed to happen, it would result in the loss of jobs at sea in Donegal as well as employment ashore in the highly developed pelagic industry in the North West.
Moreover, it ignores the fact that those 27 vessels who stand to benefit from this ludicrous review have already been boosted by a mackerel tonnage percentage increase of 750% since the year 2000.”
Mr O’Donoghue said the KFO was opposing the review in the strongest possible terms saying it amounted to nothing more than a significant distraction from the uncertainty and major challenges posed by Brexit for the industry as well as the Minster. The Irish RSW fleet in Killybegs has invested heavily in specialised vessels which has played a major role in developing a mackerel fishery in this country and establishing a credible track record in catching mackerel prior to introduction of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and quotas system in 1983. Without this excellent track record, Ireland’s current 21.2 % percentage share of the western TAC would probably be only in the region of 1% to 2%.
He said that the serious concern caused to his members by the review in addition to the looming Brexit issue and the related uncertainty around fishing access and share, has heightened anxiety and created genuine fear about the future of the industry among fishermen.
“In 2011, a High Level Group on Job Creation was established by the then Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, which targeted the creation of 250 new jobs in Killybegs. This review being initiated by Minister Coveney’s successor makes the attainment of such targets practically impossible should the current sharing arrangements be changed,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.