With the question of the value of fisheries very much to the fore given the recent spat between Scotland and Mann in Ireland the value of fisheries to small Island communities is also in focus.
Sinn Fein have introduced a complex proposal to protect fishing rights for the Island communities of the West Coast.
Traditional Island life there has been under threat for decades from both EU Fisheries policy and the advent of the Super Trawler which has exacerbated matters.
As I said it’s a complex but novel proposal and faces many hurdles not least that it falls foul of agreement with other States via the EU and indeed large commercial interests on the Irish mainland. I doubt that Sinn Fein has a major political vote in the sparsely populated Islands of the West but the level of community interest was clear by the fact that Islanders crammed the public gallery in the Dail to hear the debate.
Paradoxically the situation has a resonance with the situation we faced because it demonstrates that the interests of small communities are squeezed via international agreements. In our case it is the Fisheries Management Agreement with our larger neighbours who seem to see a ‘shared resource’ as ‘their resource’ and threaten and bully if we attempt to protect it.
Of course the analogy with Mann is not as black and white as the issues the Irish Bill seeks to address. The Isle of Man has a diverse economy and Fishing only provides a small fraction of our overall economic activity. In the Isles to the West of Ireland its a vital resource which they totally depend on – just as we did many decades ago.
Image: Owey Island, Co Donegal
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