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Flotilla of fishermen stage protest in Dublin over cuts to Irish fishing quotas

Irish fishermen have said that declining fishing quotas have made it difficult to make a living and warned of the consequences of Brexit on coastal communities.

More than 50 trawlers from fishing communities made their way to Dublin Port on Wednesday as part of a protest over the cut to EU fishing quotas and the impact of Brexit.

The flotilla travelled in convoy to St John Rodgerson’s Quay and held a protest outside the Dail, which is sitting in the Convention Centre in Dublin.

Watch: Why is fishing so important in Brexit talks?

Those in the fishing industry say the Brexit deal struck last December has led to a loss of 43 million euro and a reduction in the national quota of 15% for this year.

A letter was delivered to Irish Premier Micheal Martin which outlined the difficulties facing the industry.

Tom Kennedy, from Dingle, Co Kerry, said the quotas are unfair.

“It is difficult to make a living. Before Brexit our quotas were too small, but now it’s unworkable,” he added.

“Brexit has taken a lot from us. Fishermen can’t afford the payments on their boats.

“There’s a lot of foreign vessels in Irish waters as they have most of the quotas.”

Fishermen protesting over cuts to quotas, the impact of Brexit and the EU Common Fisheries Policy outside the Convention Centre in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Tony Byrne, from Ringsend in Dublin, said: “We came to tell our politicians about the harm they are doing to the fishing industry by not listening to us and not fighting our corner in Europe.

“They don’t appear to care about us. The Department of Marine is known locally as the Department Against the Marine.

“Brexit has compounded the bad deal we got originally and it’s made it worse because of the cuts. What we lost this year, we will lose more next year and over the years.

“Come 2025, we will all be redundant and we own the richest fishing waters in the world. We have the world’s richest resource and we have managed to give it away.

“European boats have more quotas than Irish boats in Irish waters. It doesn’t make sense.”

Derek McBrearty, from Donegal, works at a marine refrigeration company.

His business services the fishing industry and 90% of their business is generated through fishing boats and processing factories in Ireland.

“The reduced quotas are going to have a huge impact on the service industry like ourselves because reduced quotas means reduced turnover for the vessel which means reduced spend on services,” Mr McBrearty said.

Fishermen protesting outside the Convention Centre in Dublin
Fishermen protesting outside the Convention Centre in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“We supply refits and new equipment, and the fishermen won’t have the budget to spend so we are here to support our customers.

“We have seen a huge change, because once something so dramatic happens in an industry, it sends a shockwave straight away as they have to tighten up the purse strings.

Watch: 10 ways to Brexit proof your finances

“We are expecting a few quiet years and it’s hard to plan for that.”

Aontu councillor Jim Codd said that many trawlers travelled from Rosslare Harbour and Kilmore Quay.

“This is rural Ireland coming into the centre of the city to be heard. These fishermen have been under severe strain for decades now and they haven’t been listened to,” Mr Codd said.

Trawlers from all around the Irish coast gathered outside the Convention Centre in Dublin
Trawlers from all around the Irish coast gathered outside the Convention Centre in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“We are demanding that the politicians come down from their ivory tower and listen to rural Ireland.

“Skippers have told me that the French have multiples of what we have in monkfish, as they do in haddock and other species.

“There are Irish boats registering under the Spanish flag rather than continue under the Irish system as this allows them to catch multiples.

“There is a crisis in rural Ireland.”