DUBLIN (Reuters) – Irish fishermen sent a flotilla of around 100 trawlers up the River Liffey in the centre of Dublin on Wednesday in protest at being hit harder than most member states by the Brexit trade deal the European Union struck with Britain.
Around 1,000 people protested along the city’s main river overlooked by Dublin’s financial centre, including many who sailed overnight from all around the country. One man from Youghal, in the southern county of Cork, told Reuters he sailed for 18 hours to attend.
Under the deal reached late last year, Ireland will lose around 15% of its fishing quota share by 2026 as a result of a quota transfer from the EU to Britain, according to Irish government data.
That is almost twice the level due to be given up by the French fishing sector as a proportion of quota value, the data showed.
“We’ve been robbed,” Patrick Murphy, Chief Executive Officer at Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation told the Newstalk radio station ahead of the protest.
“This is just unbearable and is going to lead to many boats being scrapped and put out of business. It’ll be the end of communities around our coastlines everywhere.”
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that the government believed an unfair burden was played on the Irish fishing industry under the trade agreement and that it was pursuing the issue with the European Commission.
“Rightly or wrongly, the Commission’s assertion is that there was overfishing of our quota and it wants to claw some of that back,” Martin told parliament.
“We are resisting that. We will need to deploy all legal tools at our disposal to resist it. We need to reset our relationship with Europe regarding fishing.”
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Clodagh Kilcoyne; Editing by Alex Richardson)