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Former EU Commissioner Accused of Doing Damage to Lobster Fishery

The Department of the Marine has not yet fully assessed the implications of the agreement which former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan agreed with the US. It has been hailed in America as “a great deal for our lobster industry.”

But it does not appear so good to Irish lobster fishermen.

While his defenders were being laudatory of Mr.Hogan’s value to Ireland’s trading interests internationally, there is no such praise from lobster fishermen who, on the contrary, believe he has damaged their business.

While engaged on his golfing trip to Ireland and conducting international negotiations at the same time - “in different time zones” while not golfing - as he told the media in an attempt to excuse himself for ‘Golfgate,’ Mr.Hogan agreed a deal with the United States to eliminate tariffs on imports of USA live and frozen lobster to the EU for five years. The return for the EU is a halving of tariffs for readymade meals, crystal glassware and, apparently, such items as lighters!

NIFA, the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association has condemned the deal and says it will have a serious impact on prices for an Irish export-led fishery.

US exports of lobsters into the EU are worth over $100m. annually. They may increase because of the deal which Mr.Hogan agreed with US Trade Negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, who hailed it as a great deal for American fishermen.

“EU must support Irish Lobster Fishers following removal of US lobster tariff” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called on EU authorities to announce financial supports for Irish fishers to be introduced following their Commission’s decision to lift previously imposed tariffs on live US lobster imports.

Criticising the decision where no consultation took place with Irish fishing representative groups, Mc Manus said;

“This is already a hugely damaging time for Ireland’s fishing communities. Covid-19 and an impending Brexit has left the sector struggling. The decision to now allow tariff-free imports of US lobster will have a major detrimental effect on Ireland’s inshore small fleet fishermen whose livelihoods are undoubtedly now at risk.

The Midlands Northwest MEP was critical of the Commission and Irish government. “The non-engagement of the Commission and the now resigned Fine Gael appointed Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan in advance of entering this free trade agreement is deeply disappointing. It’s a real kick in the teeth for Ireland’s fishers.

“It is yet another example of the now too familiar pattern of the Irish fishing sector being treated disgracefully by successive Irish Governments.”

MacManus concluded: “I will be seeking additional information as to how this trade agreement came about, exactly what benefits European citizens can expect to get as a result of this ‘deal’ but most importantly I will demand details as to what financial supports will be now put in place for Irish lobster fisher who will suffer as a result of this deal”