The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has called for immediate political action to alleviate the soaring cost of fuel, which it says has many fishermen ‘on the brink’ and is causing untold hardship and anxiety for the industry.

The Irish government has been given approval for a support scheme for the sector such as is already in place in many other EU states, said KFO chief executive Seán O’Donoghue – but while governments in those countries have acted swiftly to provide their fleets with financial support to offset the spike in fuel costs, the Irish government has as yet made no move to help.

He said: “It genuinely beggars belief that our minister can stand idly by and effectively refuse to release funds which the European parliament has approved for fishermen in light of the extreme escalation in fuel costs for their vessels.

“We met Minister McConalogue on 6 July and implored him to act swiftly, with the average Irish fishing trawler now paying 70% more for diesel since March 2022 to remain at sea to earn a living.

“Approximately half of our members’ gross earnings are now gone on putting fuel in their boats. This is not sustainable, given that a break-even situation is 60 cent per litre – fishermen having been consistently paying over 105 cent per litre since March.

“Moreover, it’s placing Irish vessels at a major disadvantage compared to our EU counterparts which have had the scheme implemented in their respective countries. The government is trying to fob us off with pithy soundbites stating they’re ‘acutely conscious’ of our plight, but that’s simply no use.

“This is a real bitter pill which fishermen cannot swallow. The money is in place – it’s just a matter of the minister acting and affording the industry some support in a time of spiralling need.”

Mr O’Donoghue added that the fuel support package should not be confused with ongoing government engagement with the pelagic sector regarding a scheme to mitigate against the loss of €35m of mackerel quota since the Brexit transition in January 2021.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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