Call for 'Irish-caught' label to protect local fishing industry

 

IRISH-CAUGHT seafood must be labelled as such to protect the marine industry, the Irish Fishermen’s Organisation (IFO) has said.

Minister of State for Fisheries Tony Killeen must also move to “decriminalise” fishermen if the indigenous industry is to offer a viable economic alternative in the current recession, the IFO has said.

“Irish consumers have a right to choice and to buy Irish fish where possible in order to protect our industry,” said IFO representative Caitlín Uí Aodha, one of the State’s first female skippers to qualify several decades ago.

“The amount of fish now being imported through our airports is almost as big as the catch Irish boats are landing. We believe that most Irish consumers would be glad to purchase Irish fish if given the choice through proper labeling,” she has said.

The Irish fishing industry “has, over the last 36 years, been very poorly served by Irish governments and Europe,” she said, and it was time that administrative sanctions, as favoured by the EU, were initiated by the Government.

The current system of criminal sanctions was tightened by former minister for the marine Noel Dempsey.

“It is a known fact that most fish landed in La Coruna in Spain is taken from Irish waters with little or no inspections taking place, as the number of Spanish fishery officers is minimal. This compares to almost one fishery officer per boat in Ireland.

“EU member states have taken up to €200 billion worth of fish from Irish waters since accession,” Ms Uí Aodha said.

“We get only 4 per cent of Europe’s quota in our own waters while countries like France are allowed to take six to seven times that amount in quota. We now face further restrictive regulations from Europe in the guise of cod protection as they try to find ingenious ways of closing our fisheries down,” she said.