----- The Voice of Ireland's Fishing Industry and Maritime Community - Published Monthly, Established 1989 -----

June 2017 Issue - Vol 30 No.01

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Francis O'Donnell
Chief Executive, Irish Fishermens Producers Organisation

Trial by Facebook

The Chief Executive of the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation says that relationships between the Producer Organisations are being seriously tested by vested interests

May 2017 Issue Vol 29 No. 12

Technology is ubiquitous and instant knowledge transfer is now the norm. Some People live out their lives under the cover of their FACEBOOK PAGE or as comments or ‘Likes’ to comments posted by others. Social media has become a powerful media tool and therefore a strategic platform to drip ideas into the mainstream. FACEBOOK brings out the best in people and in equal measures the worst in people.

It can be great for highlighting social issues and pressurising people into simply doing the right thing. Our public representatives have embraced social media platforms with gusto as much as a counterbalance to negative publicity aimed at them.

A friend alerted me to the fact that comments were posted on Face Book about the IFPO. They read as follows:“Far more than simply Mackerel was discussed at this meeting. In fact, it was not just the KFO that was slow in sending Representatives to attend at and address the Meeting. Where were the IFPO and the IS&EastFPO? They did not bother attending at all. Why? Was this Committee of the Oireachtas not important enough for them?

This post, posted by one of the attendees representing the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation refers to a Joint Committee Meeting on Rural Affairs which was held in Dublin on the 26th of April on mackerel sharing. I was never informed about this meeting, nor was my board. The Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation were also kept in the dark. I wrote a very detailed letter to the chairman of this Committee, Peader Toibin, outlining my thoughts on what had taken place. I covered this in earlier pages of this publication (see letters page 33).

Airing our dirty washing like this is, I believe, necessary in some cases. A number of years ago the four Producer Organisations had reached a mature understanding to at least try and work together on issues. That relationship is being seriously tested by vested interests which is the last thing we need right now. Brexit is the biggest challenge facing us all. We need to be working together where possible, not posting comments which would give the impression that the IFPO and IS&EPO simply didn’t regard a meeting on mackerel sharing important enough to turn up to. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The IFPO were excluded even though we represent both Polyvalent and RSW vessels with mackerel entitlements. We also represent polyvalent general vessels that are supposed to get extra whitefish as a result of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 polyvalent vessels giving up their whitefish entitlements, something few have agreed to or even been canvassed on.

While I don’t use FACEBOOK I do have this opinion piece slot available to me every month. Unfortunately, on this occasion it has been used to correct the record on what was and still is a very deliberate and damaging strategy to damage the reputation of the IFPO and IS&EPO. Not being informed of a meeting is bad enough, viewing what happened at the meeting worse again, but being told on social media that you didn’t think it worthwhile to turn up is a step too far.

As I said at the beginning, FACEBOOK brings out the best in people and it would be fitting to use this media platform for the betterment of the Irish Fishing Industry rather than damage friendships and reputations for the short term gain of a few when the issues facing us are much longer term and very serious. Getting into a room and having differences is normal ‘rough-and- tumble’ stuff as we all have thick necks, assassination by way of blogging is cheap, unprofessional. Most of all it damages the credibility of those posting the blogs on FACEBOOK as it is easy to spot the disingenuous nature of such behaviour.