A flotilla of fishing vessels sailed down into Dublin today to protest the loss of fishing quotas in both UK and Irish waters for Irish fishermen post-Brexit. The flotilla, boasting approximately 50 vessels, stopped outside the National Convention Centre, currently hosting the Dáil due to Covid-19 measures, for a ‘Show and Tell’ rally which saw a thousand-strong crowd assembled outside.
The event marks the second protest of its kind in recent months, the previous occurring within the boundaries of the Quays of Cork city. Having arrived the previous night, fishermen from across the country voiced their concerns of an industry on the brink and an Irish Government asleep at the wheel following Brexit.
These recent protests, attended by many in the industry, were prompted by what can only be described as a totally disastrous bout of international diplomacy by the Irish Government. Post-Brexit, Irish fishermen have found themselves unable to catch a sufficient number of fish, both in their own waters and beyond, as well as having serious difficulties landing the small amount of fish they are permitted to catch, all as a result of increasingly arbitrary and draconian EU legislation. All this despite Ireland having the largest marine territory within the bloc.
In this sense, what is happening in the Irish fishing industry is not unique. Irish Farmers too have been put out to pasture as a result of the ramming through of the recent Climate Action Bill, which is likely to have drastic consequences for the industry, including massively reducing the national herd. The bill was prompted by extremely zealous emissions targets for Ireland set by the EU.
This recent, extremely negative impact the EU has had on Irish primary industries has raised significant questions as to the value of Ireland remaining in the bloc. Despite the costs of membership seemingly ever-increasing, the associated benefits are becoming few and far between. Ireland, thanks to the expert negotiating of the Irish Government, will be net contributors to the EU recovery fund. And despite a lot of sabre rattling from Brussels, the bloc has been rather inept at effectively aiding its member states, with projects such as its sourcing of Covid vaccines being disastrous, especially when compared to similar efforts by the now independently operating United Kingdom.
While some seem to be relatively hopeful that some sort of solution will be found for the industry’s perils, for now Irish fishing remains in seriously choppy waters to say the least. Lacking any meaningful support from the Irish Government, the industry looks like it will remain under the thumb of questionable quota allocation and penalties, all handed down from on high by European bureaucrats. While it does seem that a token concession may be granted by the Government in the coming months, the overall fortunes of the industry it seems will be inextricably tied to the ballot box.