As an island nation fishing has always been economically and socially important to Ireland.
The natural, clean water around Ireland’s 7,500km of coastline has provided exceptionally good seafood for thousands of years, and it’s important to protect it for future generations.
The sailing boats, spears and makeshift nets our ancestors fished with didn’t pose any threat to jobs, the coastal environment or fish stocks, but modern fishing vessels and methods do.
Commercial trawlers can now travel vast distances across the ocean and some are fitted with hydraulically powered winches capable of scooping up several tonnes of fish in a single net.
During much of the 20th century relentless fishing and marine pollution pushed some fish stocks to the brink of extinction making it necessary to regulate the fishing industry.
Today, the interests of Irish fishermen, fishing communities and consumers of fish products are supported through the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The CFP is negotiated and agreed between all 28 Member States and initiatives that promote sustainable fishing have been encouraged and part funded by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).
Following three years of extensive consultation with industry representatives and negotiations between the European Commission, Member States and MEPs, the CFP has been substantially reformed and from 2014 will be financially supported through a new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
It’s often a controversial subject in Ireland but the CFP’s main aim is to protect the seafood industry and the marine environment for future generations.