Breen highlights the importance of West Clare Fishing Industry during Dail Debate.

May 12th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Last week Fine Gael introduced the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Fixed Penalty Notice)(Amendment) Bill 2009 during Private Members time which is designed to deal with a long standing grievance of the fishing community which now has Ireland as the only maritime jurisdiction within the European Union without a system of administrative sanctions for fishery offences.

Complimenting his colleagues Deputies Jim O’Keeffe and Michael Creed for drafting the Bill, Deputy said that “Ireland is one of the few countries that do not have a combined system of on-the-spot fines and criminal sanctions. He said that “Generations of people living along the coastal areas have relied on fishing for their livelihoods. However, competition, restrictions and quotas have forced many fishermen to moor their boats permanently. Those who remain in the industry feel they are being hounded by restriction and regulation. This is a very good Bill which will harmonise our law with the European Union in the way infringements are sanctioned. The Bill provides for the introduction of a points system similar to that which applies in many other countries.”

Deputy Breen highlighted the importance of the fishing industry in his own country, particularly for the “many fishermen who live in the coastal villages from the cliffs of Moher, Liscannor and all the way down to Quilty, Carrigaholt, Doonbeg and various other small villages. The main types of fishing in County Clare are for crab and lobster and these account for the biggest landings. A total of 90% of the crab and lobster catches are exported to France and Spain.”

Deputy Breen said that the problem with lobster and crab fishing is “that prices have
fallen substantially. A few months ago, lobster and crab fetched €18 per kilo while today the price is down to €10 per kilo. Most fishermen will say they cannot make a living out of those prices. Cheap lobster and crab is being imported into Europe from the United States and Canada to be processed here as if it were an EU product. Fishermen’s incomes must be put back on line again.”

He went on to point out the significant contribution that local fishermen in County Clare have undertaken in “lobster management and conservation with courses funded by BIM and the Government.”

Deputy Breen added that “fish stocks could be wiped out if a parasite which caused a severe outbreak in the United States was to make its way into EU waters”.

Deputy Breen calling for cross party support for the Bill said that it is “essential to have a level playing pitch across Europe so that the same system of control applies to Irish and foreign vessels operating in our waters.”