Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

We warned you! Furious Irish ex-diplomat turns on EU as ‘foreign vessels plunder’ waters

EU: Bocquet on ‘realignment mechanisms’ in fishing waters

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And to make things worse, Ray Bassett said there had been a tendency to blame the fishermen themselves, rather than Brussels, in many quarters. Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, was speaking after Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, unveiled plans for a demonstration aimed at highlighting the raw deal his members believe they are currently getting.

Ireland’s fishermen are furious at the loss of 15 per cent overall quota in the Brexit deal, as well as the reintroduction of an administrative penalty points system.

They are also angry at EU requirements for them to weigh catches at ports rather than elsewhere as a result of claims that some are failing to be honest in their declarations.

Irish fishermen have complained that since Brexit, they are losing out as a result of the large numbers of vessels from other members of the EU27, especially France and Spain, in their waters.

Mr Bassett, a persistent critic of the EU, told Express.co.uk: “The treatment of the Irish Fishing industry by the EU and the Irish Government is nothing short of disgraceful.

“Our membership of the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has resulted in the wholescale plunder of our marine resources by foreign vessels.”

Prior to Brexit, UK fishermen had been very unhappy with the terms of the Commons Fisheries Policy, whereby they were only allocated 40 percent of the fish stocks, Mr Bassett pointed out.

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However, he added: “The Irish situation is much worse with only 16 percent of the fish in Irish waters allocated to Irish fishermen.

“The Irish Government has been spineless in standing up for their rights.

“The whole situation is a severe embarrassment to the Government and the pro-EU lobby here and there is a reluctance to even cover this scandal in case it increases support for euroscepticism.”

Mr Bassett, an advocate of Ireland following the UK’s lead with a so-called Irexit, said: “Just like Ireland’s large net contributions to the EU budget and the Covid Recovery Funds, the mainstream pro-EU media would prefer to keep it hidden and away from the general public.

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“In some cases elements of the media have tried to demonise the fishermen as a counterweight to the terrible injustices that our fishing industry has faced.

“The policy seems to be to blame the victim rather than criticise the CFP.”

Mr Bassett explained: “The Irish fishermen are a very reasonable and moderate group.

“Their demonstration against the series of blows inflicted on them by the EU is to be organised in a very orderly manner and hopefully will force the Irish media to take note.”

Speaking today, Mr Murphy told RTE’s Tom McSweeney: “This is not just about this generation of fishermen, it’s about generations of fishermen to come.

“We are not being treated fairly by either the EU or the government who are not protecting the natural resource of Ireland to which Irish people should have the major rights.

“Fishermen don’t want to be in this situation.

“It is not what they want to be doing, but they are left with no choice; things are so bad.

“The fishing industry is a vital part of our coastal economy and we need community support for it.

“Until the public see what is happening here I don’t think they realise what is being given away.”

“These fishermen are very resolved in what they are doing.”

The planned flotilla of boats will muster at 7am on Wednesday at Roche’s Point in Cork before sailing up the River Lee to the city quays.

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