Dedicated Fisheries and Marine Minister needed to save Ireland’s dying fishing industry – MEP Walsh

A Minister of State with specific responsibility for fisheries and marine is needed to undo the historical wrongs which have decimated the Irish fishing industry, according to a Fine Gael MEP.

MEP Maria Walsh visited Killybegs with Minister for European Affairs Jennifer Carroll MacNeill where they met with representatives from the fishing industry, including the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association and the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation.  

Maria Walsh, MEP for Midlands-North West, said:

“Ireland is the fishbowl of Europe – yet our own trawlers lie idle in harbours along our coast for 11 months of the year. The sector has faced significant challenges particularly in the post-Brexit years since 2021, during which the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been under the leadership of Fianna Fáil. 

“Compounding pressure on an already struggling industry, Irish fishermen and women lost 15% of their quota overnight as part of the EU-UK’s Brexit deal. The sector is now on a downward trajectory; combined overall seafood exports decreased by 14% between 2022 and 2023.  

“While those of us sitting in the European Parliament have a significant role to play, the power to truly revive this industry lies with the Government who have the ability to influence outcomes at the European Council. In recognition of the importance of the industry to our national economy, I propose the introduction of a new Minister of State dedicated to Fisheries and the Marine. 

“Year after year, the fishing industry has been disappointed with the outcome of EU quote negotiations. The situation as it currently stands is not working, and we need a Minister dedicated to working with, and working for, this industry which is a cornerstone of our economy and rural communities.