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STEPS TO RECOVERY…. Emerging from the Black Hole of Irish Fisheries

One year ago the Irish Seal Sanctuary ( ISS ) revealed the Black Hole, that Irish and EU fisheries has become. This Black Economy, which is repugnant to the Majority of operators in the Industry is built on minimum cost labour, which in cases has descended into blatant Slavery for undocumented workers. Together with Black Fish ( IUU … Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated ) on a grand scale the sustainable future of the entire Industry is threatened.
Our revelations were made to protect the fishing Industry and its most vulnerable workers from abuse and exploitation.
We are especially thankful to the Skipper (fishing industry newspaper) ,who alone bravely stood over the tradition of freedom of the press and put our statement to their readers in Ireland and the UK. The following issue of the Skipper published the replies to our article, and we were met by denial by those mostly controlling the industry . Further exposure of open coastal secrets by the UK based Guardian Newspaper, however unrepresentative, can not remain unaddressed any longer and the perpetrators must be severely sanctioned. Honest and brave whistleblowers have risked much to clean up and develop their industry, not to damage it.
” While One Man Is In Chains, I Can Never Be Free ”

As industrial fishing across Europe became a ‘race to the bottom,’ it drove labour costs down leading to many UK and Irish deck hands becoming under paid,and redundant, the human discards of CFP. Their positions were often filled by non-nationals open to exploitation. These often untrained, undocumented, and inexperienced fishing crews can create extreme operational and navigational hazards through no fault of theirs because of a language barrier and working conditions. Without a crew register, Ireland has little record of their movements or knowledge of their safety.
Many fishing boats are not fully compliant with ‘boats at sea’ regulations which demand a certain level of crew certification and training ,to perform operations in safety.

No Dragnet Response or Scapegoating.

The ISS has sounded this alarm with respect and in shared belief with many struggling to survive in fisheries, that coastal communities may have a sustainable future built on human dignity, equity and inclusivity. Following ISS representations and Dail intervention by Clare Daly T.D., Gardai have been re-instated with Santa Marta Group, tackling slavery at sea and Minister Coveney has appointed a Task Force.
* Victims must be the 1st Priority
* Victims of all flags must be encouraged forward and accommodated.
* Victims must NOT be subjected to knee-jerk,dragnet operation and simply deported.
* A Crew Register for nationals and non-nationals alike, recording training and experience, must be established.

A Word on Quotas

Amidst this madness 90% of quotas go to fewer and fewer large operators leaving the remainder of the fleet of c. 2000 vessels and entire inshore sector < 10% on which to survive and compete.Quotas should be monitored more closely and all sections of the fleet benefit from Irish quota in more equitable manner. The large boats need to respect the inshore fleet and allow them make a living. Allowing juvenile stocks mature will aid recovery for all. Inspection and regulation must apply to boats of all flags operating in our 200 mile EEZ.
* Those that profiteered by abuse and exploitation must compensate and face correction.
* Landing Obligation should moderate in favour of Fully Documented Fisheries.
* 4 Hour notice of landings and inspections must increase.
* All foreign landings must be inspected.
* Even discards must be accounted for so a further unsustainable wild fishery does not develop to meet the growing feed demands of carnivorous aquaculture.
Such initiatives will require co-operation and matching initiatives by our E.U. partners

Moving Forward

We in the ISS owe much of our success and volunteer safety over the years to fishermen, in our work on behalf of Seals, other sea creatures and their environment. We know these Fisherfolk on their own,- who want to see a future in the Industry for their families – cannot overcome the greed and corruption of the few who may have disgraced the Industry.To provide a sustainable future we cannot delay implementing the necessary action to achieve common goals of dignity,equity and inclusivity for all stake holders, in Coastal Communities .
This requires courageous leadership from our Politicians, sadly lacking to-date.
The ISS is available to assist and meet with all stakeholders.

ENDS

Further Comment or Information:

Patsy Peril Chair Sea Fisheries Advisory Group (SFAG), Irish Seal Sanctuary(ISS) 061 325783

Johnny Woodlock Secretary SFAG/ISS 087 6490533

Brendan Price CEO/ISS 087 3245423

John Daly Fisheries Advisor 086 2603738

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