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Treble body blow of Brexit, Covid and Quota cuts will wipe out Coastal Communities

Coastal communities and villages face being wiped-out by a “treble body blow” of Brexit, fish quota cuts and Covid unless government policy changes dramatically and works with the Fishing industry to avert disaster, according to a new Report published by the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO).

The Report “Saving Seafood and Harnessing our Ocean Wealth” says that Ireland’s Fishing industry is being short-changed by disproportionate cuts imposed on Irish Fishers with equally disproportionate benefits conferred on British, French, Dutch and Spanish Fishers in circumstances where the Irish Fleet has been reduced to catching barely €200 Million’s worth of fish in each year as the value of British catches increases to almost €1 Billion’s worth of fish per annum.

Meanwhile the value of Spanish, French, Dutch-German, British and Lithuanian catches in Irish waters remains at close to €2 Billion per annum. To these Cuts must be added the lack of investment in Irish Fishing and inertia regarding the EU Common Fisheries policy. But it adds that an investment package of €330 million in the sector could create thousands of environmentally and economically sustainable jobs and boost Ireland’s exports and green food brand.

“At a time when Covid-19 and bank closures are devastating rural coastal communities, the huge potential of Ireland’s fishing industry could be a life saver providing a healthy and climate friendly food substance and boosting SME jobs and exports. Instead, our industry is dying from disinvestment and policy discrimination”, ISWFPO CEO Patrick Murphy said today.

The ISWFPO are calling on government to change the “relative stability” provision of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) due in 2023 and to signal an intention to do so urgently.

“Irish fishing vessels cannot continue to suffer discrimination in our own waters,” Mr. Murphy said.

The report, researched and compiled by Octavian Research consultants, adds that
• Ireland has the potential to create up to 5,000 new jobs in the fishing industry based on comparison with Portugal[1]. At just 23.1 kg per person, Ireland’s per capita fish consumption is less than half that of Portugal’s, despite a longer coastline and much higher GDP
• Compared to Meat, Fish production is responsible for significantly lower levels of carbon emission and significantly healthier as a food option
• The wind-down of Oil and Gas exploration makes Fishing now the only unique industry of natural competitive advantage for half a million people who live in coastal regions
• Proposes an investment of €330 million from government in the sector to compensate for past underinvestment.

“In communities already hit hardest by Brexit, Covid-19 and threatened bank closures we can and should be creating jobs – not destroying – jobs in Fishing to compensate. By acting now to remove ‘relative stability’ from the 2023 CFP and by investing in and working with us, we can turn this into an industry that drives recovery in coastal regions. Government should commit to this strategy now”, Mr. Murphy said.