Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has welcomed the appointment of a dedicated spokesperson on fisheries by Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald. Sinn Féin appointed Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn to the role of fisheries spokesperson despite the fact that the Fianna Fáil – Fine Gael – Green Party Government have chosen not to appoint a dedicated minister to the fisheries brief.
“Our sea fisheries and our maritime economy have been neglected by successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments for decades. They turned their backs on coastal communities and pursued policies that had the single aim of running down our fishing industry.
“In government terms Fisheries is currently a small section within the Department of Agriculture. This Government has appointed a senior minister and two junior ministers to this department, none of whom has been given dedicated responsibility for Fisheries. This neatly sums of the approach and priorities of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – three ministers in the agriculture brief and none for fisheries.
“We are an island nation in the North Atlantic. We have a proud maritime tradition. Our territorial waters are amongst the largest in Europe. We should have one of the most sustainable and productive fishing industries in the world. Instead we have a fishing fleet that gets smaller every year and an industry that struggles to attract young people.
“We regularly witness large Spanish and French trawlers in Irish ports landing fish caught in Irish waters, while our boats are tied up for want of quota. So-called super trawlers are frequent visitors to our waters. These factory ships carry out industrial-scale fishing in our waters and seem to be entirely exempt from inspection or policing.
“We cannot go on having governments that squander the potential of our island, that tie the hands of our own inshore fishing industry, and that gift our precious natural resources to multinational fishing conglomerates that have no interest in sustainability or environmental protection.
“We need a dramatically different approach and I am delighted that Sinn Féin has appointed a dedicated spokesperson for fisheries. I intend to work very closely with Pádraig Mac Lochlainn to hold this Government to account and to contribute to policy that seeks to deliver on the huge potential of our coastal communities and of our marine natural resources.”