A Galway senator has warned this week that the fishing crisis which is besetting the west of Ireland will do the mackerel industry irreparable damage if the Goverment does not take action soon.
According to Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames the mackerel fishing industry in the west has been left “high and dry” by a Government that is standing idly by while the sector is critically damaged beyond repair.
At present there is an ongoing legal dispute relating to boat size and quotas. This has severely affected the fishing industy which has seen 350 fishermen and 50 trawlers grounded and unable to fish until the dispute has been resolved. This has also had a knock-on effect on four fish processing factories, at Ros A Mhil, Dingle, Castletownbere and Baltimore, and on associated local businesses.
“Fisheries have told me they are fearful that if speedy resolution is not sought by the Government soon, they will be forced to lay off as many as 30 staff and will lose the customers they cannot supply – customers they fear that, once lost, will be impossible to regain. In short, failure to act now will see our mackerel industry decimated forever.
“In the meantime while our boats in the west are grounded and our factories lying idle, large fleets of foreign trawlers are continuing to fish off the west coast. Where is Minister Killeen, the Minister responsible for the industry, during this time and what, if anything is he doing to resolve the situation?
“This is the busiest time of year for mackerel fishermen who are losing out exponentially as their catch is generally higher in fat and oil at this time of year, giving them a greater return. The longer this situation is dragged on the greater the financial implications for local fishermen,” she said.
Senator Healy Eames has further warned that if the fishing crisis is allowed to continue it will mean irreparable damage to jobs in the west and to the future of local fishing fleets. She has called on Minister Killeen to intervene and to bring about a final and lasting resolution to the issue.