Thursday, 6 August 2020

FISHY fakes

THE whistleblower who exposed dodgy dealings in Ireland’s fishing industry still can’t get a licence to go to sea. Maverick mariner Pat Cannon’s wrangle with red-tape has left him driving a taxi at weekends to make ends meet while his fishing boat stays tied up. He’s convinced he’s being victimised by officials after he blew the whistle on so-called illegal catches of ‘black-fish’ being sold to the fish processing industry. His allegations in 2004 sparked a huge investigation resulting in Ireland’s fish quota being cut after a threat of multi-million euro fine by the European Commission. “I’m 99 per cent certain I’m the only boat owner in Ireland who was not allowed to transfer his tonnage from one boat to another,” he stated. He also discovered that his licence to fish had been withdrawn without his knowledge. He found out when a potential buyer for his boat made enquiries. “At the moment my boat is tied up at Killybegs Pier going to loss,” he said.
The County Donegal man, who previously took successful legal action against the Department said that he believes he is being singled out. He added that complaints he made again individual officers have been ignored. Pat stirred up controversy when he wrote to the Irish and Norwegian governments and the European Union about widespread illegal practices. His campaign resulted in a massive Garda operation which saw raids on fish processing factories, boats and offices. A probe into illegal landings in Scotland discovered that more than €40 million worth of illegal Irish fish had been landed there over a four-year period. The Irish government was also forced to accept a cut in the country’s fish quota after an investigation by the EU. On one occasion in 2006 fishery officers found two large boats unloading illegal catches while their tracking systems suggested they were 25 miles out to sea.

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