New rules for weighing fish are ‘impractical’
Fishermen say the new rules for weighing fish caught in Irish waters are impractical, unreasonable and could affect the quality of their catch.
Since April, fish can no longer be transported far from where they are landed without being weighed first.
This follows a decision by the European Commission to revoke a derogation in Ireland that allowed the fishing industry here to weigh the fish after it was transported to the factory and not at landing.
Fish producer Joseph Walsh, who operates six boats in Ballycotton, says when the fish is brought ashore it must now be defrosted, weighed and re-iced before it can be transported to the factory.
Mr Walsh, who employs 50 people, says this raises many concerns, including quality, health and safety issues for workers at his plant who now have that added responsibility when collecting fish.
“This rule and rulebook was just thrown at us. Here is the new decision, like it or bundle it guys. It’s good if it’s practical, but it’s not,” says- he.
Mr. Walsh, and fish producers like him, want to see the waiver reinstated or a more practical system put back in place.
“It has to be reversed because it is totally impractical,” he said.
Mr Walsh was speaking from Union Hall, west Cork, where fish caught by one of his trawlers was now subject to the new weighing rules.
“Our industry has a lot of rules and regulations. I haven’t broken any of these. As far as I’m concerned, as there are in all industries, there are a few people who don’t. played by the rules, but I don’t think I and producers like me should be punished for the wrongdoing of a minority. “
The European Commission’s decision to revoke the derogation in favor of Ireland stems from a 2018 audit of Irish pelagic fisheries controls which found irregularities, including manipulation of weighing systems in some cases.
According to the industry newspaper, the Skipper, he felt that the risk of industry non-compliance with Common Fisheries Policy rules could not be minimized.
The Marine Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), which is responsible for enforcing the marine fisheries law and the seafood safety law, said in a statement this evening that the recent decision of the European Commission “is a clear marker of better compliance standards with fisheries controls across Europe”. .
He added that the SFPA is committed to fair and effective regulation, protecting and conserving fishery resources while ensuring a level playing field for all.
The authority is developing a new control plan for the European Commission “which would potentially be applicable to landings of most species, with the specific exception of pelagic bulk landings. SFPA will consult with industry during this process. process.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Walsh’s trawlers will be part of around 50 fishing boats – half of Ireland’s fleet – to sail up the River Lee from Roches Point to Cork City Docks on Wednesday.
The protest flotilla was organized by the Irish Southern and Western Fish Producers Organization (IS & WFPO) to highlight their frustration with what they say is their industry’s continued neglect and the new rules from Europe.
Fishermen, their families and fish producers also plan to deliver a petition to Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s constituency office, calling on him “to stand up for their industry.”
For every ten fish caught in Irish waters, Irish fishermen can only catch 1.5.
A public rally on Horgan’s Quay in Cork will follow at noon.