Fishing and seafood organisations have come together to launch a #Fight4Fishing pre-election campaign for change at EU level.  They are asking MEPs to fight for the survival of their industry and for a fair share of EU fishing quotas.

Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) says they are launching their #fight4fishing campaign today and urging the public to support it. As part of the campaign, they’ve invited all the Midlands North-West candidates to a public meeting in Killybegs next Wednesday 22nd May.

Candidates confirmed to attend include sitting MEPs Chris MacManus (SF) and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Ind). Others confirmed include Senator Lisa Chambers, (FF) Dr Brian O’Boyle (PBP); James Reynolds (TNP), and Independents Peter Casey, Saoirse McHugh and John Waters

“We want to hear their views on the industry,” says Mr O Donnell. “We want to know what they aim to do to address the crisis we are facing.”

Fishing Bodies Unite in #Fight4Fishing Campaign

The IFPO has joined forces with the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO) and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) to highlight fishing issues in the election campaign. “Ireland has 12% of EU fishing waters but just 5.6% of EU fishing quotas and this huge disparity has to be addressed,” says Aodh O Donnell. “For too long, the Irish Government and the EU have ignored this injustice, and we need elected representatives who will demand change.”

KFO chief executive, Dominic Rihan says the cumulative value of Irish fishing quotas will have dropped by around €140m by 2025 due to Brexit. “The biggest share – 40% – of what the EU transferred to the UK after Brexit was taken from Irish quotas. There was no assessment of the far-reaching impacts this would have on an industry which was already struggling.”

IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne says the situation becomes even bleaker when you see what the EU is handing out to non-members. “Basically, the EU is allowing non-EU countries to catch more than 3 times as much fish as us this year alone… in our very own waters. Other EU and non-EU countries see growth in fishing, while our catches are shrinking.”

Public Urged to Support Pre-election #Fight4Fishing Campaign

The three fishing organisations are also appealing to the public to put EU election candidates under the spotlight on fishing issues. “Ask questions on the doorstep, post about fishing on social media, share our posts and demand change,” says Aodh O Donnell. “Our industry crisis affects not just the fishing fleet. It impacts coastal communities, support industries, restaurants, supermarkets and ordinary consumers who want to buy fresh Irish fish.”

Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA says the seafood industry is in decline.  “The bottom line is that our rich marine resources are being unfairly exploited by others with the EU’s consent.  We need effective representation at national and EU level to defend our resources, our fishing and seafood industries and our coastal communities.’’

Dominic Rihan of the KFO says the #fight4fishing campaign aims to educate EU election candidates about the grave state of the fishing and seafood industry. “Our Killybegs event will provide a forum for exchanging views and allow our community to raise their concerns.”

The Killybegs meeting with election candidates takes place at 7pm in the Tara Hotel, and will be chaired by Highland Radio presenter, Greg Hughes. Candidates will be invited to speak and take questions from the floor and the meeting is open to the public to attend on a first come first served basis.

The #fight4fishing or #cosaintiascaireachta campaign is also launching an online guidance sheet to show members of the public how they can help.  The help sheet provides fishing statistics, graphics to use on social media, and sample questions to ask candidates on the doorstep. You can check it out here:  https://ifpo.ie/fight4fishing/