Government can no longer hide behind EU law on boating regulations – Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said that the Irish Government can no longer blame the EU for its contradictory policies on boating regulations. Ní Riada had asked the Commission whether any EU laws or regulations were to blame for the refusal by Irish authorities to license small inshore fishing vessels for use as passenger boats during sea-angling events.
Liadh Ní Riada said:
“Sea angling is an important sporting activity, and its potential to attract tourists to underdeveloped coastal zones of Ireland is a significant driver for local economies.
“This activity once depended on the use of small commercial fishing vessels, providing a valuable source of income for inshore fishermen. Since the introduction of passenger boat regulations by the Irish government in June 2002 the use of commercial fishing boats as passenger boats has been effectively banned.
“There are separate safety standards in force for passenger boats and for fishing vessels. Despite the fact that a vessel may meet, or indeed surpass, the safety standard laid down in both sets of regulations, it may not be licensed for both uses simultaneously.
“The response from the European Commission to my question made it very clear that the responsibility for this ban on dual-licensing does not have its origins in any EU law or regulation. At best it is a bureaucratic error that our Government is unwilling to fix, or at worst a Government policy that purposefully seeks to exclude hard-up fishermen from a secondary source of revenue.
“To my mind, this arbitrary and senseless limitation on the use of capital in underdeveloped rural economies is a barrier to rural development and economic diversification. I have been contacted by sea angling clubs and by inshore fishermen alike to raise this issue. I know of clubs that have had to limit the size of international angling competitions because there wasn't enough licensed passenger boats available in the locality, while perfectly seaworthy inshore fishing boats stayed tied to the harbour wall.
“Our coastal economies need support to grow and develop, but this ridiculous and bureaucratic ban is hindering that growth and squandering economic potential. While other European countries cash in on angling tourism, and while the EU invests in blue-growth and diversification in coastal economies, our dysfunctional Government once again thwarts the ability of rural and coastal communities to use their resources to promote economic growth.”