Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: SFPA must work with fishermen, not against them

Pringle: SFPA must work with fishermen, not against them

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority must work with fishermen and fishing communities, and not against them.

The deputy also repeated his call for Government to renegotiate the Common Fisheries Policy.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “When communities can look to official support and proportionate rules, we then could have an industry that supports all in rural Ireland.

“That is not too much for anyone to ask and I think that’s all that the fishermen are asking for at this stage. And it would do you well, minister, to listen to what they are saying and get the department and the SFPA on board and working with the fishermen, rather than working against the fishermen, because that’s unfortunately the way things are in the industry at the moment and that is the root of the problem.”

Deputy Pringle was speaking today during statements on fisheries and coastal communities.

He said: “The fiasco of the weighting system and how it is being dealt with by the department and the SFPA is a telling case in point. Why is it that rather than deal with supposed wrongdoers the SFPA and the department damn all of the industry? Surely the thing to do would be deal with the problems and let everyone else work on.

“We have had the crazy situation where the pelagic industry has had to take a judicial review to get a fair hearing in relation to a solution to the problem because the SFPA would not make a decision.”

He said: “We continue to be left with the treatment of the whitefish fleet and the weighting disaster. For example look at how monkfish have been treated when they land in order to get an accurate weight. If the ice is not removed fully that will be taken as the weight of the fish and the boat will lose out, but they don’t matter really it seems. That certainly is the way that fishermen feel and I have to say I don’t disagree with them.

“Why is it that the SFPA, if they have a job to do, cannot work with the fishermen to achieve the aim? There is an attitude apparently that they are all out to do the system and so we will behave that way.

“The problem is that the system has always outdone the fishermen. The root of all these problems can be found at our negotiations to join the EEC as it was then,” he said.

The deputy said: “But then according to Garrett Fitzgerald ‘they never treated us as badly again’ as they treated fishing and fishing rights on our accession to the EEC.

“The reality is, and it can’t be said often enough, that they didn’t have to treat us as badly again because we became net contributors to the EEC on the day we joined.”

He concluded: “Unless we deal with that and deal with that through the negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy next year, unless we actively deal with that and an Irish government goes to Europe and says they’re going to deal with this and deal with this properly, this problem will be ongoing, unfortunately.”