A candidate in the upcoming local elections has called on all candidates to sign a pledge denouncing the use of electronic monitoring equipment to criminalise local fishermen. Sinn Féin candidate Mick Roche said that the EU were in the process of branding hard working fishermen in a similar category to paedophiles and demanded that local government finally make a stand for these forgotten communities.
Mr Roche said;
"Only two groups of people will be electronically tagged in our society according to the government and the EU; sex criminals and fishermen. This is completely unacceptable and yet another attempt by the powers that be to criminalise a group of people who have been consistently abandoned. This policy of criminalisation is very real and exists because fishing communities are uniting and fighting back. This is an attempt to turn public opinion against them and it will fail."
"Where Sinn Féin accepts that the use of systems such as VMS and AIS to monitor vessels positions in view of safety and potential rescue operations is necessary, we cannot see the justification in using electronic equipment to monitor a trawlers daily catch. Such a measure sends out a false message that fishing crews cannot be trusted, that they are wrong to contemplate landing even an iota over any quota and that there is a necessity to police this community because they are against conservation. This is completely wrong."
"The fishing community in Kilmore Quay supports conservation and knows more about it than many in either the IFI or the SFPA. Trawlers are sticking to quotas, even though they know that many of their EU competitors are not doing the same and by doing so themselves they are being faced with extinction. Trawler crews are busy and do not have the time to enter in the data required under the electronic monitoring system. They would have to hire on another crew member to do so but cannot even afford to pay the crews they have at the moment."
"Local government has unfortunately been very quite on the plight of our fishing communities. They have stood idly by while Minister Coveney has insulted the fishermen by consistently refusing to meet with them. They have said nothing as trawlers have disappeared and more and more young fishermen have left the industry and emigrated. They have put up no resistance against the criminalisation of communities like Kilmore Quay. I am calling on every single person contesting the next elections to make a pledge to these fishing communities to stand against every aspect of this criminalisation policy and to truly represent this forgotten minority."