Home > About Us > Press & News > Press Releases > 25/2/2014 Lost Opportunity For Fisheries Coastal Communities And Islands

“The Oireachtas Sub-Committee Report on Fisheries, Sustainable Rural, Coastal and Island Communities is an interesting and overdue initiative but lamentable by fact, it is not more penetrating in its scope and consultation” according to Sea Fisheries spokesperson for Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS). “Unless immediately developed and informing the current consultations for EU funds, it will be an opportunity lost and inestimable financial loss to those communities”

In fact, and despite approaches, the ISS and numerous stakeholders were ignored in the committee’s consultations, a matter contributing in part to data deficits and some inherent bias.

No doubt committee members were well intended, though easy targets for the big lobby groups and unless these deficits are addressed in the Operational Programmes for Fisheries and Aquaculture and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) consultations currently underway, their recommendations will have little impact with the inevitable and repeated outcome (of successive CFPs(Common Fisheries Policy)), of disproportionate funds and support, to the heavily subsidised minority of large, un-sustainable fishing (< 200 large vessels)and exporting interests, bleeding their communities and economies of common resource. Unless funds are weighed in favour of the numerically superior sustainable inshore fishers (>2000 vessels) and their dependents, and not to their exclusion, these communities have a bleak future.

“This committee and EU commission needs to be far more pro-active and incentivise community representation and stakeholders, rather than merely calling for it, if these communities are to benefit at all by CFP reform. The small inshore fisheries are of critical importance to the socio-economic make-up of these communities” according to ISS. ” This report at best, can serve as platform for further debate and planning, that these communities may qualify for a fair share of EU and EMFF investment to become sustainable”.

Time is no friend to these communities, new EMFF funds are already under pressure and unless this committee and LEADER groups speak for these communities now, it will be too late”

To this end the Sea Fisheries Advisory Group of the ISS is seeking urgent meetings with Commissioner Damanaki, Minister Coveney and the Oireachtas sub-Committee

For further comment: Phone 061 325783; 01 492268; txt.087 3245423

Further Comment:

Patsy Peril,
Sea Fisheries Advisory Group (SFAG)
Irish Seal Sanctuary
00353 61 325763,

Johnny Woodlock,
Sea Fisheries Advisory Group (SFAG)
Irish Seal Sanctuary
00353 1 8492268

Response to the report now follows:

Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS) Response to Oireachtas sub Committee on Fisheries, Sustainable Rural, Coastal and Island Communities.

ISS seeks Urgent Meeting with Committee, Minister and Commissioner.

The ISS welcomes the Oireachtas sub-Committee report on Fisheries Sustainable, Rural, Coastal and Island Communities as an interesting and overdue initiative but laments the fact it was not wider and more penetrating in its scope and consultation. Indeed, the ISS/Sea Fisheries Advisory Group (SFAG), long active on NWWRAC and these very issues), as an active advocate for coastal communities, as many others, was ignored as a stakeholder. The initiative however must be developed.

The Joint sub-Committee was both limited and self-limiting in its approach as the Recommendations(R 1-29), over 5 Sectors (Inshore Fisheries; Angling; Seaweed; Aquaculture; Marine Tourism) reveal. They are a pastiche of old and new, informed, conjecture and opinion poorly held together, serving to highlight some of the needs of these communities with grave information deficits, yet limiting their access to funds and help.

The ISS and ISS/SFAG has long consulted , even more widely over time and adds its observations, to develop the discussion and further inform it, that practical outcomes may follow for these long neglected communities and funds leveraged to achieve them.

These observations go to the sub-Committee with further invitation to meet; to Minister for timely incorporation in current Operational Programme (OP) for Seafood Development : and Commissioner Damanaki and her Cabinet to ensure compliance, progress and accountability for taxpayer and European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), inclusion and voice for the horde of marginalised members of these communities (“human discards”, as ISS has identified them in Dublin Castle Socio-Economic conference with BIM, NWWRAC October 2010 to address this subject).

So the one hand the ISS welcomes this voluminous, if inconsistent report, calls on the Minister and Commissioner to address the issues and contents raised in the context of ISS submissions for Fully Documented Fisheries (FDFs), equity and inclusion and on the other hand, cautions against it’s piecemeal implementation or gathering dust, while coastal communities are lost again in the wake of well conceived but ill developed OP and CFP Reforms and EMFF apportionments. The opportunity is now and timing perfect for inclusive planning.

At the outset of the report Professor Stephen Hynes of SEMRU is cited on socio-economic data. Professor Hynes and SEMRU have been starved of resources since their inception and this vital work requires immediate redress and resourcing. Arising from socio-economic and fisheries data deficits, Ireland has been outstanding in its failure to input the Data Framework Directive limiting opportunity and chance to apply and access funds for “inclusion”. To access EMFF funds and transfer funds from capitalisation of fleet to diversification, X-cutting measures, leveraging off development funds (ERDF), as encouraged by DG Mare requires provision of such data ( R 1, 3,6,17,23, 27)
The report also highlights inadequate resources for Natura sites and MPAs, long pointed to by ENGO community and backlog of aquaculture licenses outside Natura sites. Further funds hinge on addressing these. (R 10, 16, 17, 19, 22)

Currently Ireland is developing its OP for Fisheries and separately Aquaculture, arising from the backlog and deficit of resources. Future EMFF payments will be conditional on compliance and adequate resourcing and the ISS is working to strengthen the monitoring of these programmes, closely watched by DG Mare. (R 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21)

The ISS concurs with the committee’s reference to fragmented governance of marine and data deficiencies as obstacle to integrated development and coastal zone mgt. across the 5 sectors addressed. These, CFP Reform and exclusive access to inshore fisheries all depend on FDFs, without which the mid term review of last OP reported recovery would not be possible. This has been a central tenet of all ISS submissions. (1, 2, 8, 14, 22)

The ISS calls for a dedicated Minister and Dept of Marine with a single agency for Coastal Zone Management.

ISS has called for positions on BoDs of Marine Institute, BIM, SFPA, HOOW etc in knowledge these bodies all require deeper and wider stakeholder representation. This need is evident throughout the report, reflecting their submissions and absence of critical analysis by committee.

A new training authority is required to fill new monitoring and enforcement roles; positions in R+D; Diversification, Aquaculture, Tourism etc. These positions need be independent of development and planning authorities and independently resourced.
R 4)

Conflicts ( R 10, 12, 18, 25, 29 ) remain all too apparent in issues such as return of drift netting for multi stock salmon ; aquaculture ; dual licensed vessels; access to resource and funds.

In the latter case there is clear need, as demanded by DG Mare for a voice for the small vessels (<10m) of the inshore sector, representing 75% of operators yet having access to <20% of resources. It is a priority for sustainability, recovery and development of this sector and those dependent communities, that the disproportionate representation of large POs be addressed and balanced. These need be represented on the (R)ACs, a forum overlooked by this committee and more democratic and better resourced FLAGs. (R 13, 20, 22)

Exclusive access to 6 mile zone for vessels (<15m) has long been sought by ISS (R 14). Extension of 12 mile limit (R 15) goes way beyond this sub-committees remit and needs addressing at EU level, as Ireland adopted Lisbon, according exclusive competence in fisheries beyond 6 miles to EU….this does not seem clearly understood by this committee or they are indulging in populist rhetoric. This would be a cruel expectation to create without political consideration. The ISS would much prefer discussion took place in orderly and cohesive way, delivering according to immediate priorities and needs (R 14, 15, 20)

The report is remiss in failing to recommend monitoring (at only 0.02% of fishing trips), control (2000 M.I. and 1,200 Navy hours and enforcement  not just of Irish but EU vessels) and in this context till Irish inshore fleet can fish responsibly and free of unfair competition, independent monitoring and enforcement will remain an issue, demanding of ever more resources.

ISS recommends full discussion of this report and widest possible reporting on it to inform upcoming OP and CFP Reforms (discards and regionalisation barely addressed); FDFs to follow and secure compliance; voice for the marginalised and the collection and submission of fisheries and socio-economic data to Data Collection Framework to secure best possible equitable outcomes of funding and cohesion for coastal and island communities.

Brendan Price EuroProBiol on behalf of ISS/SFAG

For Further comment:

Patsy Peril, Chair SFAG 00353 61 325763; Johnny Woodlock, Sec. SFAG 00353 1 8492268