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Supporting the Fishermen


The recent story, of a fisherman, distributing free monkfish to a hungry people, certainly mirrored that of the Gospel account, telling how Jesus, motivated a disgruntled crew, who caught nothing all night, to “Throw out into the deep” their nets for an abundant catch. I found it crazy to think, a pragmatic and generous fisherman, sharing a natural resource, with Irish citizens, should be now punished because of E. U. Bureaucratic guidelines. We all remember the thriving beetand sugar industry in this country now a distant memory because of similar disastrous guidelines.

FISHERIES AUTHORITY officers have prepared a file for submission to the Director of Public Prosecution after a Wexford trawler, owner gave away fish rather than discard them at sea. Séamus O’Flaherty, who owns the Saltees Quest, gave away free fish, at Kilmore Quay in Wexford after his vessel exceeded its EU quota of monkfish. The vessel’s skipper, Jimmy Byrne, said he took the action to oppose the EU rule that requires over-quota fish to be thrown back in the sea. The crew, which returned to harbour with an abundant supply of fresh Monk Fish, were monitored by a member of an Garda Síochána at Kilmore Quay before officers from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority have been delegated to investigate the activity.

This authority, a statutory body that enforces fishing regulations, has condemned the actions of the crew. Fisheries officers counted the catch of the Saltees Quest and prepared files for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Skipper shared why he took the action of giving away the fish to draw attention, to what he describes, as the “Crazy system of dumping dead fish back into the water while thousands of people go hungry in Ireland.” “Four hundred thousand people are unemployed and people are ashamed to admit they don’t have enough money to feed themselves. Children are going to school without breakfast or coming home to no dinner while we are encouraged by the Government to throw these fish back into the sea. I personally know people who are going hungry – this is why I had to take a stand.”

Mr Byrne and his crew collected the fish, sorted them into 130 boxes and left them on Kilmore Quay to give them away free to the public. Mr Byrne said he had always complied with EU fishing regulations but became increasingly frustrated as his crew were told to dump tons of dead fish into the sea when they had exceeded their quotas. “I have a certain quota of fish to catch and the monkfish end up getting caught. There’s more monkfish in Ireland than ever before. I can’t tell the monkfish not to go into the net. Plaice and cod land in the net too but we have to throw them back. The Irish Government wants me to dump all these perfectly good fish into the sea but it’s pure madness,” he said. Mr Byrne said there was an overwhelming response to the free monkfish and that people in Wexford were supportive of his action. He said that Irish waters are becoming a graveyard because of the EU fishing regulations.

In a time of great hardship and indeed when the storms of economic recession seem to intensify, this is a time for bold and courageous leadership. Perhaps that why, Jesus of Nazareth was never too far away from the stormy waters inviting us all to “Throw out into the deep for a rich catch”.



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