Mon, 04 Dec 2023

DUBLIN, Ireland: As many as one-third of the nation's offshore fishing fleet has applied to be decommissioned, according to media reports.

Some 64 fishing boats, out of the total 180, have requested to be decommissioned. Of those, 19 are reportedly from Castletownbere in Co Cork.

However, local officials are raising alarms, since Castletownbere's economy is so reliant on the fishing industry.

The requests for decommissioning is a result of the Brexit Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), in which Ireland agreed with the EU to reduce the number of fish that Irish boats could catch. The agreement has made it increasingly difficult for Irish fishermen to earn a living.

"My income has gone down over the past few years, but my costs have shot up. The margins are now just too narrow," said Alan Carleton, who applied to decommission his family's trawler Syracuse, as quoted by the Irish Examiner.

While Carleton expects to be paid some 800,000 euros to decommission, he said most of that money will be used to repay bank loans.

"People don't realize the costs that are involved in fishing," he added. "We see other nations fishing in our own waters and being able to catch far more than we can.

"That's because they have governments who are prepared to stand up to the EU and fight for their rights to catch more fish."

Patrick Murphy, CEO of South and Southwest Fish Producers Organisation, noted, "It is incredible that the EU country contributing the greatest amount of water and fish to Europe's Common Fishery policy is wiping out a third of its family owned and operated fishing operations," as reported by the Irish Examiner.

Also, past SSFPO chairman Damien Turner said, "The disappearance of our fishing villages and towns is happening right in front of our very eyes. This is probably the last wake-up call that can be made: The industry is dying, it can be saved, but it needs more help," as reported by the Irish Examiner.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said the government is implementing the recommendations of the Seafood taskforce, which was brought together to respond changes imposed by Brexit.

"The taskforce recommended a voluntary permanent cessation scheme targeted at whitefish polyvalent and beam trawl vessels, with the objective of removing 8,000 GT and 21,000 KW should be put in place.

"The objective of the Taskforce Recommendation was to voluntarily reduce the size of the fleet by a specified amount so as to improve the viability of the remaining fleet by making available more quota to that fleet."

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