“Thrown under the bus” – After perceived slights, Ireland taking harder line against EU

The Persorsa Dos being detained by the Irish Navy in 2020.

Ireland is taking a harder line on E.U. vessels entering its waters, with the Irish navy recently detaining a Spanish trawler, the Pesorsa Dos, for fishing offenses in Irish waters, including leaving nets in the water longer than the time permitted under E.U. rules.

After the deal on Brexit, which according to Irish fishing groups resulted in Ireland ceding 40 percent of its E.U. fishing quota to the U.K., there are signs that Ireland is taking a more nationalistic approach to its fisheries management. 

Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) CEO Aodh O’Donnell said his organization “welcomes increased activity by our Navy in protecting our valuable fish stocks, despite the fact that we have concerns about whether they have sufficient resources for this task.”

“It’s in the interests of the Irish fishing industry that Ireland’s marine resources are sustainably managed and protected, particularly in the context of the small fishing quotas that we have in our own rich coastal waters,” he said.

Ireland is expected to be more vigilant after losing out in Brexit, according to Spanish fishery representative Ramon Manuel Muniz, president of the Asociación Española de Titulados Náutico-Pesqueros (Aeitinape). Several Aeitinape members unload their trawlers at the Irish port of Castletownbere, from where its fish is trucked to Spain.

Michael Collins, an Irish member of parliament for the Castletownbere region, recently called on Ireland’s navy to be better resourced to track and seize vessels fishing illegally in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone. He suggested the Irish navy is incapable of adequately patrolling Ireland’s exclusive economic zone due to understaffing and lack of resources.

In recent years, fishery ministers of both Ireland and Spain have lobbied the European Commission against some of its proposed fisheries reforms. At a Council of Fisheries Ministers of the E.U. in September 2022, Spain Fishery Minister Luis Planas joined with the Irish and French delegations to push to allow the continuance of bottom trawling in 41 of 87 sensitive areas of the northeast Atlantic mapped for protection by the E.C., according to La Voz de Galicia.

Ireland lost a quarter of the economic value of its fishery stocks in the Brexit settlement, and the country’s fishing organizations are determined not to see more of its marine resources traded away, according to John Lynch, chair of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation. Lynch said Irish fishermen are asking the E.U. to give them a quota to fish tuna while also swapping Irish quota in certain species for access to quota currently held by France and Spain.

Otherwise, he claimed, the Irish fleet facing decommissioning, having already been reduced from 330 to 120 vessels between 2006 and 2020 due to a shrinking of its quotas under the E.U.’s common fisheries policy, though E.U. subsidies have also helped pay for a modernization of some Irish vessels. And Irish vessels – including the Atlantic Dawn – have also received ...

Photo courtesy of Irish Navy Service

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