Irish fishermen erupt at ‘worst deal of the lot’ – ‘EU knows our government is weak!’

UK and EU agree new £333 million fishing deal

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Irish fishing groups have warned their livelihoods are at stake because of quota cutbacks and the impact of the Brexit deal. Fishers have demanded traditional access to fishing grounds around Rockall be reinstated immediately.

Under the trade deal secured by Boris Johnson, the EU was allowed to keep 75 percent of the value of the fish it now catches in UK waters.

Around 25 percent would be returned to British fishermen over a transition period until June 2026.

However, under new terms, the Irish fishing industry has been hit hard as the value of the mackerel quota is expected to fall by €15million this year and by €27.5million in 2026.

The quota value for prawns will also drop by around €4.93million and by €8.22million in 2026.

To make matters worse for the Irish fishing industry, the European Commission moved to require catch to be weighed on the pier instead of in factories or a buyer’s premises.

This move has sparked outrage within the fishing industry with one fisherman arguing the EU knows the Irish government is “weak”.

Séamus O’Flaherty, who runs 19 vessels from Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford, said: “They’re squeezing us too much.

“We came out with the worst deal of the lot and all the Government could say was that it could have been worse.

“We were disproportionately hit because the EU knows that our Government are so weak on fishing that they’ll get away with anything.”

He added: “We basically want the Government to start fighting for us.

“We’re allowed to catch 15 percent of the fish that’s in our waters.

“That is just ridiculous.

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“We’ve put up with it up until now because maybe the fishermen were just not united [before Brexit cuts].”

Seán O’Donoghue, chief executive of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, also lashed out at the EU’s “stone-age” move.

He said: “You’re expected to take the fish out of a box that’s iced, put it into a box that isn’t iced, weigh it and then put the ice back into the fish again.”

Mr O’Donoghue criticised Brussels for not publishing the audit and said it left fishermen having to “prove our innocence” against findings.

He added the industry has been hit by a “not one” but a “second tsunami”.

He said: “To put it in weather terms, we’ve been hit with not one tsunami but a second tsunami and that’s the problem.

“I’ve said this to the Taoiseach and the Ministers: I’m not interested in their sympathy.

“I’m interested in action.”

Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, admitted he recognised the impact of the Brexit deal.

A spokesperson said: “When he met with EU fisheries ministers [last] week he made clear that Ireland will be seeking a review of the historic relative stability sharing arrangements within the EU in order to compensate for the imbalance in the quota transfers under the [trade and co-operation agreement with UK].”

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