Fine Gael hypocrisy on super trawlers exposed - Ní Riada
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has challenged Fine Gael representatives to join her in standing up for small scale and inshore fishermen.
The Ireland South MEP said the party's hypocrisy on the rights of small scale fishermen was exposed when their parliamentary group opposed her amendments to fisheries legislation.
Ms Ní Riada had put forward amendments which would distinguish between small, sustainable operations and destructive super trawlers and factory vessels.
“I had put forward amendments to fisheries legislation on how fishing vessels could be better characterised and defined," she said.
“There are major flaws in legislation that do not properly distinguish between small and large industrial fishing vessels.
“The European People's Party (EPP), which is the parliamentary group that Fine Gael MEPs belong to, were in charge of that legislation. Shamefully, they opposed my amendments that called for greater expansion of the characterisations for large vessels exceeding a certain length to include not just gross tonnage and engine power but also cargo and fuel capacity, processing ability and output in the criteria.
“Thankfully, we still managed to get the majority of our amendments through into the legislation and we will also be pushing the Irish government in the Council to support this position. If successful this legislation will be a step in the right direction in tackling super trawlers whilst not impeding small-scale fishermen.
"There needs to be a proper separation of small boats from large vessels in this regard, especially super trawlers, and I would like to encourage the Fine Gael government and their MEPs, such as Seán Kelly and Deirdre Clune, to actually defend the interests of small-scale Irish fishermen in the EPP in that regard and take a leaf from Sinn Féin's book by putting forward concrete proposals of their own.
“Other than the rare superficial statement or parliamentary question Fine Gael have not presented or even supported any initiatives to protect Irish fishermen and our coastal communities, or reduce access to Irish Waters for super trawlers.
"Paying lip service to the issues Irish fishing communities face will not help an industry that is in ever deepening crisis; they must join with other Irish MEPS to act in their defence."