Yesterday, in the AV room, I viewed an informative and disturbing film by Risteárd Ó Domhnaill called "The Atlantic". The film is a reminder of the mismanagement of Irish natural resources. It highlights the devastation of our coastal communities by the fishing quotas imposed by Brussels and the exploitation of our waters by super trawlers, which are permitted to operate without adequate scrutiny off our coast. A worrying feature was the contrast between the Norwegian Government's stance on maintaining control of its resources and doing deals for the benefit of its people and our natural resources being surrendered to big business. Gerry Kane, a fisherman who featured in the documentary, said Irish fishermen feel unrepresented by politicians and see super trawlers devastate fish stocks while they are tied up in port because of quotas. In one instance, 4,000 tonnes of fresh herring was dumped in the sea from a Dutch factory ship because they were not of the required size for processing. This is a criminal waste of perfectly good food and will lead to the devastation of our fish stocks. This can be contrasted with the arrest of Jerry Early from Arranmore Island, County Donegal, for having a net with the potential to catch salmon. The scrutiny of super trawlers is needed and this should be done by insisting each boat has an inspector on board to ensure they adhere to the rules. In Newfoundland and Norway, Ó Domhnaill filmed politicians who were different compared to their Irish counterparts. They were strong on natural resources and had stood up against big, powerful interests to fight for their local communities.
I don't know if it's a historical thing or a cultural thing in Ireland but we seem to turn our backs on the ocean and undervalue our coastal communities. I recommend that every single politician here in Leinster House makes it their business to see this film and see the devastation of our coastal communities and the loss of our fishing heritage.
This proud fishing tradition handed down through the generations is now in danger of being lost because of greed. Why was there not one representative of the Government parties at yesterday's presentation? Jerry Early was there and his father, an 84 year old fisherman, was also there. They talked about their culture and heritage and how in the old days the fishing tradition was passed down to the next generation. Jerry's 17 year old son is not a fisherman. It is a disgrace and this issue needs to be highlighted and addressed. More needs to be done for our fisherman. It is one of our top traditions and it is vital that we look after fishermen.