Speaking on his return from the ‘Inequality in Fisheries’ conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard said that what local fishing needs is a strong voice at the heart of the Brexit negotiations fighting for the local industry.
The South Down MLA said:
“I was delighted to participate in the conference in Brussels and have the opportunity to meet with fish producers’ organisations from all over Ireland and a broad range of elected representatives from our coastal communities.
“It was an eye-opener to meet with representatives of the fishing industry in Spain and Portugal also, and to hear that their problems are the same as ours; unequal distribution of quota and a perception that they are ‘over policed’ while super trawlers seem to be able to wreak havoc in our oceans with no regulation or consequences.
“We heard evidence of the amount of fish that these huge vessels, the size of a football pitch, discard, never mind catch, off the Irish coast and the damage they do to the seabed, to all marine life in their path, and to the livelihoods of fishers trying to make their living in the inshore sector.
“The constant refrain from officialdom is that we can do nothing about this. However, by the end of the conference, there was resolve to start to do something at home and in Brussels to stop these vessels doing what they like and destroying the environment and people’s livelihoods.
“I would like to give special thanks to my Sinn Féin colleague, Liadh Ní Riada MEP, for organising the conference and inviting such a wide range of people representing various interests in the sector from Ireland and abroad.”