Ní Riada brings fishermen to meet EU advisors
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has facilitated a meeting between Irish fishermen and the group that advises the European Commission on stock sustainability.
The Ireland South MEP brought together representatives from the Irish South and West Fish Producer's Organisation (ISWFPO) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to discuss a range of issues.
Ms Ní Riada said the meeting had been constructive but raised a number of questions.
"The ISWFPO raised the issue of landing obligations with ICES who clarified that there was no scientific advice given by them on the landing obligation, that there was none requested and consequently it could be established that there was no scientific basis for the landing obligation.
"This begs the question, what was the basis for the landing obligation rule; was it politically motivated by the powers that be? The ISWFPO made clear their members feel it is a recipe for disaster.
"The impact of seismic surveys on spawning stocks and larvae was also raised; particularly in reference to the effects of large scale seismic survey operations in all waters on fish stocks as evidence has suggested it is having a detrimental effect.
"The scientific and ecological impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by supertrawlers was also a major concern, especially regarding over-catch and by-catch.
"A discussion was also had on the value of Irish fishermen being given a scientific quota by Irish national authorities so that scientific data can be collected by Irish fishermen. This is then used with anecdotal evidence to evaluate the health of various stocks and to make a stronger case for larger quotas for Irish fishermen.
"All in all it was a constructive and revealing meeting. The very fact I was able to facilitate it is an improvement in itself as the intention was to give Irish fishermen, particularly the small-scale, inshore fleet and coastal communities, a direct line of communication with this international scientific body.
"This influential group is now well aware that Irish fishermen often feel excluded from the decision making process whilst the wealthy fishing cartels, who have most to gain and lose from the advice ICES gives to the EU, are often involved in every aspect of the process."Hopefully this is the beginning of a change in that unhealthy culture."