There was an early morning flurry of activity on the pier in Kilmore Quay in the early hours of Thursday morning (6th) as officers from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority boarded a trawler that had just returned after four days at sea.

The crew were questioned in relation to the haul which was said to exceed quotas and the boat was impounded for a time, before all of the fish were weighed and taken away.

Owner of the vessel, John O'Flaherty, one of a family of fishermen operating in the area, says that there has been an issue with quotas going back nearly 15 years.

'The boat was eventually released, but they took all the fish off and weighed it up,' he said. 'We had three fisheries officers down at 3 a.m. boarding us after being tied up for weeks with the weather.'

'With the quotas, there's very little time we can actually fish. It's minute, especially when you consider that there are French vessels coming over and working with six times our quota for monkfish for example and they're never subject to the same level of scrutiny and policing.'

John explains that they operate a mixed fishery enterprise, meaning that they could land anything in their nets. However, if for example they've fished the quota of sole for the month, but some more turns up while they're out fishing for cod, then under the regulations they are forced to dump the dead fish back into the ocean rather than bring them back to shore.

'It makes no sense,' said John. 'The quota has to do us from the first of the month to the end of the month. If we land any more, we have to dump it. The fish is still dead, but we have to dump it or risk being prosecuted. The way things are, under these parameters, we can only fish for about a week a month.'

'The crews and skippers down here are all fed up with it,' he continued. 'Some lads are thirty years at this and know nothing else; other than that they'd walk away. These lads deserve to be able to make a living. None of them want to be millionaires; they're just asking to make a living.'

Chairman of the Rosslare Municipal District, Cllr Ger Carthy, was present at the pier on Thursday morning and branded the treatment of local fishermen a disgrace. 'The double standards here need to cease,' he said.

'It's been a very difficult six weeks for people here in Kimore with the funerals of two local fishermen lost at sea. The O'Flaherty's and others spent days out searching for Willie Whelan. Now just as people are coming to terms with the loss, they have to deal with this.'

'The fishermen have been sold out by the government in times gone by and we need to look after our own fishermen in our own waters instead of worrying about British or EU quotas.

'The O'Flaherty's are one of the biggest employers in South Wexford.'

Continue Reading

on Independent.ie

Featured