The deadlock continues between the European Union, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands over the disputed Mackerel catch after negotiations to find a compromise broke down in Reykjevik, Iceland last week. ICES the scientific body that monitors the overall Mackerel stock have expressed serious concern at the failure to find agreement. Fishermen realise that the ongoing situation could do serious damage to long-term sustainability of the overall Mackerel stocks and would eventually lead to a big reduction in future Irish Mackerel quotas.
Joey Murrin former CEO of the KFO said that after a lifetime involved in the fishing industry both as a fisherman and as an administrator, born and reared in Killybegs he did not need a fancy name title to voice his opinion on issues that could enhance or hurt the town or its fishing industry.
He said “This is not about personalities or upmanships. This is about reading the warning signs for the future. Iceland have increased their Mackerel catch from practically zero in 2006 to 156,000 tonnes in 2011 while the Faroes have increased their catch level six fold over the last two years to 150,000 tonnes in 2011.
“The Dutch Fishing company Parlevlite & Vander Plas already have a processing factory in the Faroe Islands processing 600 tonnes of Mackerel per day. Delta Seafoods in conjunction with one of the Faroe Islands’ leading pelagic groups Varidin are opening a new processing factory in the summer that will process 1,000 tonnes of Mackerel per day.
“It is not enough to hijack 30% of the total allowable catch but to look for access to EU waters as part of the deal is a bit rich.”
Murrin continued, “The suspicion is that Iceland and the Faroes will continue to hammer the Mackerel stocks this coming season to strengthen their position for a bigger share of the catch in future negotiations.”
He added that he was accused of scare mongering a few weeks ago and now all of a sudden this has become a very serious problem. He said that everyone on the planet knows that mackerel is the lifeblood of Killybegs.
“With the continuous decline of the white fish fleet which had been the breadwinners for many families, the pelagic fleet has now become the main breadwinner for Killybegs and has to be protected and supported.”
He was proud to be part of this development from day one when the original pioneers met Brendan O’Kelly, the then Chairman of BIM with a vision for the future.
He supported this development down through the years through thick and thin when it had many critics and only for this development the Dutch or some other European countries would be catching our pelagic quotas now.
“The Killybegs Fishing Industry has suffered 50% job losses over the past ten to 15 years through modern technology in the processing industry and fishing activity reduced to approximately five months of the year.
“It would now be criminal to allow two countries outside the European Union to continue this reckless exploitation of a mackerel stock and put its long-term sustainability in doubt and the economies of fishing communities at risk.
“Serious action must be taken - the talking is over. There is too much at risk. It is heartening to know that Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney is supportive of strong action being taken and Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP is at the forefront in preparing proposals for tough trade sanctions for presentation to the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament.”