The ‘Fair Recovery for Irish Fishermen’ Conference, which will address developing and future trends in the EU’s Fisheries Policy, will be chaired by Ireland South MEP Liadh Ní Riada in Dungarvan this Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the conference, which will be held at Lawlor’s Hotel, the Sinn Féin representative said she hopes the gathering would help to develop a focus “which our fishing industry deserves”.
Said Ms Ní Riada: “As Ireland’s only representative on the EU Fisheries Committee, I have endeavoured to be proactive voice for fishermen in Europe and in Ireland…
“This conference, which will bring together a broad cross-section of within the fishing industry to feed into a comprehensive national policy, is the first step in rejuvenating a sector that has been long neglected by successive governments.”
A chief policy plan of Ms Ní Riada’s, both before and after her election, has been her call for the creation of a ‘Single Boat Payment’ scheme, similar to the Single Farm Payment.
“This is an issue which I have highlighted with the European Commission – and if we are elected to government, my party would press for a renegotiated financial instrument that will accommodate the scheme under a truly reformed Common Fisheries Policy.”
She added: “We are also exploring legal avenues regarding illegal fishing by foreign trawlers and how they can be deterred; especially larger super-trawlers who are given space to buy up a disproportionate of quotas then fish past their quotas, reaping devastation on fish stocks and small fishermen as a result.
“I have also submitted a proposal for funding for a pilot project on the creation of a public insurance system for those in the fisheries sector who due to unforeseen events could by adversely impacted by a number of factors, such as natural disasters, forced stops being enforced by recovery plans or sudden restrictions on access to resources, all of which would cut incomes.”
Meanwhile, Ms Ní Riada has called on Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) to “take advantage” of European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to aid in better waste management.
Speaking after attending a ‘Waste Free Ocean’ conference held in Brussels last Thursday, Liadh Ní Riada said: “We heard of a pilot scheme underway in Italy where the community are working closely with the fishing industry and using incentives such as tourism, education and art to improve how they manage their waste.
“It involves such things as artists recycling the waste brought in for their creations and school pupils doing studies around the industry. This results in a relationships being developed and makes the ‘sea to table’ process more transparent to the locals.
“The fishing industry in Ireland is such a huge part of our community and we need to embrace it further – this project would be ideal in Ireland. The financial support needed to kick-start a scheme like this is available through the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) but our Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) need encouragement and support to do so.”
Echoing those sentiments, general election candidate, Senator David Cullinane stated: “The EMFF is there for the benefit of the FLAGs and therefore we need to start accessing it to ensure our industry is reaching its full potential.
“Awareness of and how to gain access to EMFF will be further discussed at the International Fisheries Conference that Liadh is hosting this Saturday in Dungarvan. And I am urging all fishermen from Waterford to attend the conference and voice their views and concerns”
The conference, which commences at 9am at Lawlor’s this Saturday, is open to all.