Interview with Loïc Jourdain: Ireland, fishing and the EU

13 days ago
To reclaim his rights, an Irish salmon fisher spent eight years battling a bureaucratic nightmare between the coast of Donegal to the European institutions in ...

English subtitle

It's the story of a small fisher
that lives on a small island.
It's the father of a family
that I followed for 8 years.
And this small fisher has lost
all of his fishing rights,
for several reasons.
He went on a quest for 8 years
to try and understand why he was
a victim of all of this,
and how he could change things.
I met this fisher on a dock.
I live on the northern coast of
Donegal in Ireland.
And people introduced me to him
as being a different kind of fisher,
since he was one of the few
that dared to express himself.
It's important to know that Irish people
are very calm, very diplomatic.
They have been victims
of the recession for a long time...
John was a little different; he wasn't afraid
of going on the radio, answering journalists
He wanted to change things.
I started working with him slowly,
on the first issue which was
not being able to fish salmon,
he was banned from fishing salmon.
The story developed and became European.
Europe was linked to the national decisions...
So he decided to go to Brussels,
surround himself with fishers that
had the same problems,
to understand why and how it works.
My view of Europe has completely changed,
as it did for the protagonist,
because he quickly realised that:
Firstly, we are welcome there,
Secondly, things weren't
as black and white
as people make them out to be.
You can get much more help from Europe
than from your own country.
An open Europe, very democratic,
because we had access to everything,
however we wished.
We were allowed to film the
meetings without asking for approval,
we could help during the meetings
and John could take part in debates,
and me as well with my cameraman.
Europe doesn't destroy regions
and traditions...
It's all linked to the relationship
between member states and Europe.
If you take John's case and
traditional salmon fishing,
you will find that Europe wanted to
protect the salmon population.
But Europe never said:
"We prohibit everyone to fish salmon"
What happened was that Ireland,
for pressure reasons, lobbying and tourism,
decided to drastically
stop salmon fishing.
But Europe never asked Ireland to do that.
The member states are always free to
adapt and transform
laws and objectives that are
given by Europe.
That's what John discovers in the film,
that the Irish government didn't take his
minority into account.
When you go to Brussels,
to the Parliament or the Commission,
you are welcome.
We were told very often that:
"But where are you, citizens?"
John came as a small fisher,
and everyone around him asked:
"Why aren't you here more often?
Why don't you come?
The doors are always open."
But I think that it's very difficult for
because he's Irish.
Irish people don't have this knack,
this energy,
to say no.
John is the victim of his Irish nature.
They are very humble people,
especially those living on the islands
and from Donegal.
It's the poorest region in Ireland,
and probably the poorest in Europe.
On top of it all, he's a fisher.
He would wake up every morning at 3 am,
set off for the sea, he has his family.
So every citizen should becoming more engaged,
do a little bit of politics,
but in the noble sense of the word,
meaning simply become interested
in societal issues,
become interested in positive things,
in negative things.
You have to be there, you have to go.
You have to show your interest.
I think if politicians would feel as though
all generations, especially the
newest one,
are concerned,
things would change
even faster.