Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said it is crucial that any future legislation on fisheries is drawn up with small scale fisheries in mind.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after meeting with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation.
Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the EU Fisheries Committee, met with the groups in Brussels where she had invited them to attend a hearing on the future of small scale fisheries.
“Legislators and policy makers need to take into account not just the unique needs of our small-scale fisheries but the unique benefits these fisheries bring,” she said.
“Compared to industrialised large scale fishing operations, traditional small scale fishing is much more closely tied to the community and the cultural identity of an area.
“It is a way of life and one that means small scale fishers are much more aware of the need to preserve our oceans. In many ways they act as custodians of the sea because it is in their own interest to ensure that stocks are maintained and the marine environment is not adversely effected by human behaviour.
“In writing up legislation that is skewed towards large scale industrialised fishing we not only risk losing small-scale fisheries, we risk losing a unique part of our heritage and the guardians of our ports and seas.
“It’s therefore crucial that policy-makers bear this in mind. The top down way in which fisheries decision making has been mismanaged, undermined and neglected needs to end, not least for the sake of our oceans themselves.
“No industry is more at risk due to Brexit than our small scale fisheries. The loose regulations around supertrawlers and pulse-trawling, combined with the possibility of boats being shunted out of British waters and into Irish waters is a double blow it may not survive.
“The Irish Government must demand that the EU make special provision for our indigenous fishing industry, recognising the unique, existential threat it faces.”