It's long past time that our fishing industry was given the attention it deserves - Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Speaking at the international conference on fisheries that she is hosting in Waterford, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has emphasised the necessity for a specific focus on developing and investing in the Irish fishing industry and uniting fishermen.
Liadh Ní Riada MEP said:
"Our fishing industry is only a shadow of its potential, and it is primarily because governments have ceded any semblance of real sovereignty over our own waters, combined with a lack of investment, a lack of vision and the urban-focused approach the government has taken with regards to economic development and diversification.
"Hundreds of family businesses, who have been fishing for generations, have disappeared and so many of our young people ar reluctant to pursue a career in fishing.
"The EU and the government justifies these facts by declaring that the CFP’s main aim is to protect all of Europe’s seafood industry and the environment, but what about protecting Ireland's fishermen?
"Sinn Féin believe that with the political will, a solid vision, and co-operation throughout the sector, together with a truly unified and organised Irish fishing industry, the Irish fishing industry can be a source of economic growth nationally that can effectively lobby the government and the EU.
"Irish fisheries despite its significant growth potential, is among the most underdeveloped of our natural industries, especially compared to agriculture.
On the approach Sinn Féin would take in government she said:
"We not only want to focus only on the problems facing the industry and the communities that depend upon it
"We also want to focus on a pro-active approach to the future of coastal communities in a holistic way, and seek to identify and develop solutions that take into account economic diversification, protection of fishermen, community development, supports for SME start-ups, social enterprises, uniting under one banner to lobby the government, the European institutions and potential allies abroad who share our interests,
"An active, economically and environmentally sustainable larger fishing fleet and fish processing facilities could transform the socio-economic landscape of the entire country.
"This is especially the case in peripheral areas, where it will inject new life into areas ravaged by state neglect, youth unemployment, emigration, austerity and corruption.
"We have endeavoured to be a proactive voice for fishermen in Europe and in Ireland. I am working to ensure that the voice of coastal communities and those who depend on the sea for their livelihoods will be heard."