They stole our fish...

Michael Herman

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Hi guys, I came across this Anti EU slogan so many times in Ireland. Can somebody give me a deeper explanation. I am not Irish and I wonder if this is just cheap populist Nationalism or are there facts to support this? What are your views?
 

shweeney

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I have heard it said that the Irish govt (of the time) sold out the fishermen (a smallish industry) in favour of a better deal for the farmers (a major industry) - I don't know how true that is.

In the context of Brexit, one of the Brexiteers complaints was about foreign fishing boats in UK waters, but AFAIK this is largely as a result of UK fishermen in past decades selling on their quotas as they retired and eventually those quotas ending up in the hands of EU fishermen. Also many of the fishing quota agreements pre-dated or were originally separate from the EEC/EU.
 

Gordon Gekko

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As I understand it, Irish fishermen sold themselves down the river somewhat.

Say they were catching 200 tons of fish a year. The authorities came and asked them how much fish they were catching. Because they were fiddling their taxes and were therefore wary of the authorities, they said 150 tons. The problem with that was the authorities then reported the 150 ton figure to the EU and the quota was then based on it rather than the true figure.

A case of “penny-wise, pound-foolish” as a tax fiddle became a perpetual loss of income.
 

Michael Herman

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I was under the impression that people complain that large trawlers from other EU countries were allowed to fish the Irish waters since Ireland joined the EEC. I am not familiar with quotas and the EU fishing policies but it seems a repeating stereotype that other EU Nations steal the Irish fish.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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According to Eurostat the fishing and aquaculture sector accounts for about 0.07% of economic activity in Ireland.

Maybe be generous and assume it was three times greater fifty years ago before we joined the EU.

That would make it about one fifth of one per cent of the economy.



That's not very much.
 
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jpd

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According to Eurostat the fishing and agriculture sector accounts for about 0.07% of economic activity in Ireland.
Whatever about fishing, I can't believe agriculture only counts for 0.07% - something fishy here

Eurostat has fisheries output valued at €138M and agriculture output at € 8,000M

would that be 7% and not 0.07%
 
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odyssey06

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I would not say they stole our fish, but from some conversations about Ireland and the EU you would think it was a one way street and it was just about the EU giving us money. But fisheries was certainly a significant asset that Ireland brought to the EU table, even if it wasn't one perhaps we were utilising fully. The presence of so many non-Irish fishing trawlers in Irish waters attests to this.
 

Purple

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Whatever about fishing, I can't believe agriculture only counts for 0.07% - something fishy here

Eurostat has fisheries output valued at €138M and agriculture output at € 8,000M

would that be 7% and not 0.07%
Agriculture accounts for about 7% of the economy and 8.5% of employment.

The real boost is in the welfare payments that farmers receive from the EU as it accounts for about 56% of farm incomes.
 

Dermot

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Listening to debates over the years I would gather that Ireland would have conceded quit an amount on fisheries in order to gain concessions on farming The farming lobby was and is much stronger than the fisheries lobby in Ireland.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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Agriculture accounts for about 7% of the economy and 8.5% of employment.

The real boost is in the welfare payments that farmers receive from the EU as it accounts for about 56% of farm incomes.
Output of the entire agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector was about €3.5 billion, or about 2% or modified GNI (aka GNI*) in 2017. This is pretty much what leaves the farm gate, is landed at the pier, and is cut in the forest.

The issue is that everyone involved in agriculture likes to add the output of the food processing sector (8.8bn, or 4.8% of GNI*) on top, as this makes the sector look a lot larger and more productive. In fact, much of the food processing sector has nothing at all to do with the agriculture sector!

You have to go to the UN trade database to find out, but Ireland has a lot of very obscure food exports. For example Ireland exported nearly $500m 'food preparations not elsewhere specified' in 2017. It is not at all clear what this is, but it is likely bulk ingredients or concentrates, as the value is an incredible $7 per kilo!

This is down to clever scientists in big food companies based in Ireland (some Irish-owned, some foreign-owned). For sure, Paddy down the farm is not producing anything with a wholesale price of $7 per kilo. The primary agriculture sector (everything as far as the farm gate) is deeply unproductive. It generates wages and profits of only €1 billion per year for its 100,000 employees - not counting the subsidies it receives which are nearly as much!

All of this demands a very sophisticated understanding of economic statistics. Sadly, it's something completely lacking in the Irish media, which just parrots the propaganda of the sector as it comes along.
 

Purple

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NoRegretsCoyote, I agree. Kerry Group is one of the biggest food ingredient companies in the world and probably accounts for a good chunk of that €500 million. What is referred to as Primary Agriculture (paddy down the farm) accounts for 2% with everything else accounting for the rest. It would be interesting to know how much of the EU welfare payments we receive go to primary producers and how much goes to everything else. It would also be interesting to know how many primary producers have moved into more value added production over the last 10-15 years. I get the impression that such moved are significant drivers in the sector.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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NoRegretsCoyote, I agree. Kerry Group is one of the biggest food ingredient companies in the world and probably accounts for a good chunk of that €500 million. What is referred to as Primary Agriculture (paddy down the farm) accounts for 2% with everything else accounting for the rest. It would be interesting to know how much of the EU welfare payments we receive go to primary producers and how much goes to everything else. It would also be interesting to know how many primary producers have moved into more value added production over the last 10-15 years. I get the impression that such moved are significant drivers in the sector.
Pretty much all of the subsidies go to the farmer, not the processers.

I don't have time to look into this in detail.

But very roughly:
1) Much livestock farming in Ireland wouldn't exist except for subsidies
2) Tillage is reasonably productive although there is not much due to climate
3) Intensive poultry probably pays its way too.
4) The dairy sector is productive on global markets, and increasingly so, although consolidation in the sector would be beneficial
 
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