Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fishermen send out an S.O.S. to Minister Coveney

By Councillor Johnny Mythen

Fishermen along the east coast are very concerned that their operations may be tied-up over the coming days and weeks as the ice plants in the three major ports are temporary closed due to health and safety concerns. The fact that the three are closed at the one time is causing and will cause, huge losses to the economy of the south-east Including Kilmore.
Understanding the health and safety of workers has to be paramount and BIM are correct to give priority to the well being of its employees and contractors. However, the current level of risk is due to under-resourcing of the fisheries sector by consecutive governments over a number of decades. And this baby is now rocking on the lap of Minister Simon Coveney.

For all their talk of recovery, this government is lurching from one crisis to another, which is impacting on both jobs and growth.

Fishermen without ice are like crops without sunshine. Their catch arriving back to shore in saleable condition is solely dependent on fresh ice. While there is still a limited supply of ice in each plant, unless we have an immediate resolution to the personnel shortages in the next day or two, these fishing boats will, in effect, be tied to the harbour wall. This will have a huge negative impact on the local economy, fishermen, and those employed in the supporting and processing industries.

The Minister has fallen asleep at the helm here. He would have been easily able to avert this crisis before it began by assigning additional resources to these plants. I am calling on him now to personally intervene in order to bring these plants back into operation immediately. In the meantime, ice must be supplied to fishermen at no extra cost because the south-east and Wexford's fishing Industry is the life blood of our local economy. 

It is astonishing that the fishing industry in three of Ireland's biggest harbours would be allowed to grind to a halt. The lack of interest and political will, which has caused the downgrading of the industry over the years, is squarely to blame. This situation underlines the urgent need for a Government to fully commit and  get behind  our fishing and maritime industries, and recognise  that our fisheries add a significant portion to our Islands exports and is and will always be at the heart of a fair recovery for our coastal communities.