In our interview, Francis O’Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation traces the origins of the Voisinage arrangement that allowed fishermen from both sides of the Irish border to fish within six nautical miles of each others’ coastline.
O’Donnell says Voisinage was “basically an exchange of letters between senior public servants in the ‘60s that worked well for over half a century” but that somewhere along the line it “morphed” into something completely different.
Mussel seed vessels were allowed enter Irish territorial waters and extract large amounts of mussel seed “causing the collapse of the mussel seed aquaculture industry”.
Describing the 2016 Supreme Court finding as “a watershed moment that has been misinterpreted”, O’Donnell reveals that fishing industry stakeholders have written to President Higgins to outline their concerns and have requested a presidential review.
“We believe this is of such magnitude and importance to us that we would like the President to look at it,” he says.