PQ: Fishing Industry

Thu, November 12, 2015

96. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps that are being taken to confirm the veracity of the allegations impinging on the reputation of the Irish fishing fleet in reports in newspapers of poor employment practices that should not be tolerated, and other measures alleged to circumvent our work permit and migration laws, to remedy the situation; and the action to be taken against the perpetrators, should wrong doing or criminality be found.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Government is very concerned about the allegations regarding the treatment of workers on Irish fishing trawlers. Following a decision taken at Cabinet on Tuesday 3rd November, it was decided to immediately establish an inter-departmental Task Force to examine the wide range of issues identified in the recent Guardian newspaper report and make recommendations on appropriate actions, based on a cross Governmental approach. I chaired the first meeting of the Task Force on Thursday 5th November and my colleague Minister of State, Ged Nash, from the Department of Jobs, Employment and Innovation also attended the meeting. Due to the complex nature of the issues arising, the Task Force includes high level representatives from the Departments of, Justice and Equality, Jobs Enterprise & Innovation, Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Attorney Generals office, An Garda Síochána, BIM, the Naval Service, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and my own Department.

In order to formulate the most appropriate and effective response, it is necessary to first establish a full understanding of the complex issues involved. At the first meeting of the Task Force, the State Authorities shared information on their individual remits and experiences and committed to producing a co-ordinated response. The meeting considered the complex issues arising from the Guardian article and among the key issues also discussed were information sharing, enforcement, permitting, licensing, exploitation, and trafficking.

As Minister with responsibility for chairing this cross Departmental Task Force, my main focus will be, to bring forward to Government a joined up State response in relation to the issues identified. Where appropriate, I consider that we need to take robust and proportionate immediate actions including any medium term changes to the regulatory and enforcement frameworks of the State.

The next meeting has been arranged for today, 12th November and I have invited a number of stakeholders to address the Taskforce.