Fish and chips could be removed from Irish menus over rising fuel costs
"One way or the other, the public is going to pay."
Fish producers have warned that traditional fish and chips meals may have to be removed from Irish menus over the spiraling cost of fuel.
The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) has said that the recent uptick in fuel prices has meant that some of the Irish fishing fleet cannot afford to go to sea.
As a result of this, the IS&WFPO and seven other aquaculture and fishing groups are calling on the Government to act now to claim available European Union funds to compensate the seafood sector.
Speaking to Patricia Messinger on C103's Cork Today Show, CEO of IS&WFPO Patrick Murphy described the current situation as fishermen "standing in quicksand".
"They have two choices. They can allow themselves to sink which is tie up to pier and not go fishing," he explained.
"Or they can struggle and try and get out of it but by doing that, we all know, you sink faster.
"We need our Minister [Charlie McConalogue] to throw us a lifeline to pull us out of the quicksand."
Asked if we were in danger of losing traditional fish and chips from Irish menus, Murphy responded:
"Well, if we're not in danger of losing it, you're losing it from the Irish side. So the Irish boats won't be supplying it because they won't be fishing and that's the truth.
"What will happen then is we're going to have a knock-on effect. So, we have food coming from other parts of the globe, right, that we can buy here.
"We'll be taking the food out of the mouths of those in the likes of Africa... where they'll be catching the fish and exporting it in here.
"It'll be a double whammy. We'll be causing harm and upset and lack of food in other places if we don't catch it in our own waters."
Murphy added that this would also mean that the cost of fish would rise, stating: "One way or the other, the public is going to pay."
Speaking about the EU funds available, the CEO told the programme: "This money is there. It's under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund. It's like the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] for the farming community.
"We were told there's €6 million there that hasn't been spent and if that doesn't get spent, it goes back to Europe.
"So, that money is what we're looking for the Minister to give us."
Murphy was then asked why he believes the Government has not yet availed of the EU funds.
"I think there's a mindset now in the Department and in the top of Government at the Cabinet table that we can't differentiate between one group or another and if we give money here, we should wait until October," he responded.
"It's too late to give us money in October. We won't have an industry."