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EDITORIAL: Where Was the Minister?  

While agreement was reached between the nation’s long-time dominant political parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for a historic Government Coalition, heralded with the statement: “We are an island nation, bound together by solidarity,” the Minister for the Marine was unable to find the time to discuss with the fishing industry the problems caused by the current Covid-19 Pandemic.

We are told that no reply has yet been received from the Minister or his Department, no meeting has been arranged.

What does this say about Government attitude towards the industry?

“Department officials ran the meeting, which had been sought for some time by the industry,” one source told the Marine Times. Another commented: “It is they who decide policy, not Minister Creed.”

There has been no public explanation why the Minister did not take part in the meeting.

A number of issues arising remain unresolved. The industry sought a temporary tie-up scheme. The Department issued a statement that no additional EMFF funding had been made available by the EU, though it had been sought. There are claims that some EMFF funding has not been spent, that excessive amounts were allocated to the SFPA for supervision and the Department has admitted that there are funds available. It said it was “working with BIM to identify possible savings within schemes on the basis that some projects are not now likely to proceed or are not a priority.”

It said a ‘Storage Aid Scheme’ is possible following the amendment to the EMFF which would allow fish to be stored on a temporary basis and be quickly re-introduced onto the market. This would “allow the fleet to continue to fish and support the continuation over the period of a supply of seafood for domestic and EU markets, while also providing a safety net if markets cannot be found for some catches.”

However, there is no indication of a positive response to the calls for BIM and Bord Bia to development the domestic market and promote seafood.

On this week’s Update you can read our report about the meeting and, in the Podcast, hear about the opportunity to promote the industry which should not be missed.

We also print the questions the MARINE TIMES put to the Department, the answers received and the lack of answers to other questions.

Fethard Harbour - waiting on news for a future for fishing! Photo by the Editor