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Fishing industry must be overhauled

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  • Fishing industry must be overhauled

    Irish sea-fishing policies are aiding an environmental disaster
    and wasting millions of euro of public money, writes Eamon Ryan
    The days of fresh cod with chips are almost gone. Cod in the Irish
    Sea is now on the verge of extinction and the evidence from the
    Grand Banks in Canada is that once stocks go below a certain level
    they will never recover, even if fishing is stopped completely.
    Despite a call from scientists for an end to fishing for cod in
    Irish waters, our trawlers continue to head out in the vain hope
    that there might still be some fish out there that have, so far,
    got away.
    This instinct in a skipper to do whatever he can to catch fish can
    be understood by anyone who has ever held out a rod and line.
    However, left unchecked it has led to the massive overexploitation
    of our sea fisheries as powerful new engines, and new sonar and
    hauling devices, allow boats hunt down even the breeding stock for
    the next generation of fish.
    The blame for this evolving scandal lies more properly with the
    politicians who have routinely ignored the scientific advice and
    instead looked after the short-term interests of the fishing
    The madness of this approach is seen in the annual scramble to get
    as much as possible out of the annual December European Council
    negotiations on fishing quotas.
    The central flaw in this European fisheries system is that it is
    in effect a self-regulating regime. Individual quotas for boats
    are allocated by fisheries producer groups rather than by an
    independent auditing agency.
    This makes it almost impossible for naval vessels to know whether
    boats are fishing above their quota or not. While the regulation
    logbooks are eventually filled out to match what is officially
    expected, the actual landing of illegal (known as "black") fish
    are believed to be a multiple of this legal quota.

    Last week a Marine Institute scientist told an Oireachtas
    Committee that the European Union figures and total allowable
    catches were not based on science, but on something "plucked out
    of the air", as scientists no longer believe the landing
    statistics because of misreporting and under-reporting.
    Recent allegations of illegal landings by Irish boats in the
    Scottish port of Peterhead gave the first public indication of the
    extent of the problem. Landings from Irish vessels worth up to €40
    million were said to have been hidden in underground storage
    facilities at a fish-processing plant and were never properly
    A further major problem is that fishermen routinely dump 50 per
    cent of their catch overboard as unwanted dead fish. This is
    because the fish are too small or may not conform with the quota
    that a particular boat is licensed to catch.
    These "discards" are never officially recorded, but they further
    reduce the spawning stock for future generations. This makes a
    mockery of any conservation policies that are being put in place.
    The fishermen say they do not trust evidence being put forward by
    the scientists, and at the same time scientists have an almost
    impossible task, given that so much of current fishing activity
    goes unreported.
    The scandal for the Irish public is not only that we are
    overseeing one of the greatest environmental disasters of our
    times, but also that we are wasting hundreds of millions of
    taxpayers money in the process. The value of the entire legal
    catch landed in Irish ports in 2004 was only €200 million, while
    the cost of fishery protection services alone was estimated at
    some €110 million.
    Over the last five years the Government allocated some €50 million
    of public money for the development of our fishing fleet. This
    included the building of new vessels to target deep-sea stocks,
    which the scientists are now demanding be closed down as
    unsustainable fisheries. We have been catching fish that were up
    to 180-years-old and which take 30 years to reach sexual maturity,
    which makes them vulnerable to being wiped out in one generation.
    The fishing has also destroyed many of the mid-Atlantic coral
    reefs we have only recently discovered as these fisheries trawl
    nets over one mile beneath the ocean surface.
    The Government is now allocating €45 million to provide for the
    decommissioning of the vessels in the same white fish fleet.
    Some of the Wexford scallop boats being decommissioned were only
    given licences in the last five years, when a cap on additional
    fishing capacity in that fleet had already been recommended.
    The Government also spent some €75 million in developing Killybegs
    port to support the massive expansion of the mackerel and herring
    fisheries. Some 12 new boats were introduced in the last five
    years at the same time those stocks were clearly decreasing.
    The official 45,000-tonne national mackerel quota could be caught
    by the 24 supertrawlers based in Killybegs in a matter of days.
    The Atlantic Dawn alone can carry 7,000 tonnes of fish.
    Killybegs is like a ghost town, as landings have dried up since
    the regulation of the port was tightened up following allegations
    of illegal quota management by the fleet.
    This huge expenditure of public money in supporting a system that
    is in need of radical reform can no longer be tolerated. It is
    also in the interests of the fishermen that a more transparent and
    fair regulatory system exists so that no one boat owner can be
    seen to have a particular advantage, and so that stocks survive
    into the future.
    A new Sea Fisheries Jurisdiction Bill has been introduced in the
    Dáil to try and tighten up our enforcement regulations. However,
    it is believed that Minister for State for the Marine Pat "the
    Cope" Gallagher has being arguing within Fianna Fáil for a more
    cautious approach to be taken. The Bill is back for discussion
    again next week, when it is expected that several new amendments
    will be proposed which could weaken its provisions.
    It is a scandal that anyone would want the current situation to
    continue rather than being dramatically reformed and overhauled.
    If we keep going the way we are at present, we will end up with
    nothing other than plankton and chips on our menu.
    Eamon Ryan TD is Green Party spokesman for communications, marine
    and natural resources

    Irish Times 17/01/06

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

  • #2
    Irish sea-fishing policies

    Having studied this a few years ago in university, I am only too aware of this damage that has been occurring for several decades now and unfortunately not too many are. As the over fishing and “over throw” policies and practices are of enormous concern, I’m afraid the news gets worse!

    Deep sea trawling of the coral is the real threat to the rather sensitive indigenous eco system. It is literally turning the coral into rubble on the sea bed.

    Fisheries may also affect deep sea ecosystems through removal of the fish predators from the food web. The Convention of Biological Diversity obliges countries to protect and research both the economic (fish, shellfish, seaweed) and ecosystem (sea bed species of indirect economic importance) aspects of biodiversity, but it has yet to be implemented in Ireland.

    Possible solutions see link below.

    BBC, News, BBC News, news online, world, uk, international, foreign, british, online, service


    IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE: Image courtesy of Jan Helge Fossa, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen/Royal Society
    Attached Files


    • #3
      This is world wide problem for which there is no cure. No one country can stop it alone and there is simply no political will to form unified national alliance. As one who once profited from trawling I understand too well why the fishing industry will resist voluntary or forced quotas. As long as there is a market fishermen will continue to seek fish even if it's the last one. It's a vicious circle since rarity increases the going price.

      Much of the blame can be laid against the great factory ships modern technology and pure greed. When the inevitable does happen the fisheries industry will simply switch to a different deepwater species until some international treaty is introduced to finally stop the madness. But don't hold your breath.

      "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."

      Marcus Aurelius Roman Emperor (161 to 180 A.D.)


      • #4
        some international treaty is introduced to finally stop the madness
        That might happen for deep sea species sooner than you'd think.


        • #5
          Ireland among worst countries for breaching fish quotas
          19/01/2006 - 13:30:30

          The European Commission has identified Ireland as one of the worst countries for breaching EU fishing quotas.

          In its latest report on the situation, the body said Ireland and Spain had the worst records for exceeding agreed fishing limits in 2004.

          It said Britain, Denmark and Sweden were the only three member states fully complying with the restrictions.


          • #6
            This is something I know a tremendous amount about; believe me improvements are coming.
            "Are they trying to shoot down the other drone? "

            "No, they're trying to fly the tank"


            • #7
              "believe me improvements are coming"

              Glad to hear it, but could you please elaborate on the above statement?

              Thank you,



              • #8
                I think what trell is inferring is that in his occupation he would be privvy to details about this topic that he is unable to go into greater detail about, as said details are not yet in the public domain, and if he were to give them away, he would be in breach of his contract.

                Who are you anyway criodan? You have yet to formally introduce yourself.

                Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                • #9
                  This is something I know a tremendous amount about; believe me improvements are coming.
                  So do I, and I'd be very surprised.


                  • #10
                    Come on guys, if there is something to tell, spill it. Otherwise whats the point of this wink wink nudge nudge carry on?

                    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Goldie fish
                      Come on guys, if there is something to tell, spill it. Otherwise whats the point of this wink wink nudge nudge carry on?
                      exactly, for how much longer can i enjoy my friday night cod and chips?
                      You're even dumber than I tell people

                      You might have been infected but you never were a bore


                      • #12
                        Govt slammed over Fisheries Bill

                        02 February 2006 20:02
                        There were rowdy scenes in the Dáil this morning as Fine Gael's John Perry raised tomorrow's planned demonstrations by fishermen against the Sea Fisheries Amendment Bill.

                        Deputy Perry claimed the industry was being destroyed by the Government, and that the legislation was opposed by 20 Fianna Fáil backbenchers.

                        The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, accused Deputy Perry of being a 'disgrace', and of trying to leave the Irish taxpayer exposed to fines of hundreds of millions of euro.

                        The Tánaiste, Mary Harney, said it was important from taxpayers' perspective that the legislation should be passed as soon as possible.

                        Meanwhile, 40 boats from Killybegs are on their way to Dublin and other ports around the coast for tomorrow's protests against the bill.

                        A flotilla of most of the bigger vessels from the fishing fleet in Killybegs left early this morning, with most of them heading for Dublin and Galway.

                        They will link up on the way with other Donegal boats already fishing at sea, some of them as far away as Norway.

                        Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                        • #13
                          The equipment and the boats and gear have just got bigger less labour intensive can fish in weather and places that were impossible years ago. In a village I know well there used to be 80 fishermen fishing tforty years ago drifting for salmon. It was in those days very labour intensive, fishing only in the estuary because the nets were too coarse to use in the clear water off shore,nets had to be roped to each year by hand, taken out of the boats over the weekend and dried, lots of hauling and setting nets and realtively short nets 300 M long because of the strong tides and oars or small outboards the main means of propulsion.
                          Now nets are purchased roped and ready to be used,the nets are fine so they can be used off the coast in the clear water and ten -20 miles can be set and left out for extended periods as the tides are not so strong. Two to three guys can use the same length but better quality than 40 boats 80 years ago. Who owns the boats, Well not the small guy but an investor, company, local holtelier, solicitor, etc.
                          If people want to preserve traditional eways of life they have to go back to using trad and sustainable methods. Fishing is like hunting it will soon be only fish farming.


                          • #14
                            Protest over Fisheries Bill continuing

                            03 February 2006 20:16
                            Fishing vessels taking part in today's protest over the Sea Fisheries Bill are docked at Dublin Port.

                            Dublin Port officials say there are 47 trawlers in total at the port.

                            The vessels are expected to begin leaving at 7.30pm. The smaller vessels will leave first, leading to a number of bridge lifts at the East Link.


                            There will then be a break, before the larger vessels begin leaving at around 11pm.

                            Dublin Port Company says it does not expect any disruption to shipping, and only minimal disruption to traffic flow in the area during these periods.

                            Officials said the trawlers had stuck to the agreed plan and had obeyed instructions, causing minimal disruption to the port's activities.

                            As well as Dublin, the protests are centred in Cork, Wateford and Galway.

                            Fishermen are demanding an end to what they claim is the Government's attempt to criminalise them in the provisions of the Sea Fisheries Bill.

                            The Government says it must include criminal provisions in the bill. EU fisheries officials have said they favour administrative penalties, in line with most other countries.

                            Today's protest is the first major joint action of the country's fishing organisations. The groups' leaders say it is a sign of the anger against the bill.

                            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                            • #15
                              EU agrees new fishing controls
                              Tuesday, 20 October 2009 11:27
                              European fisheries ministers have agreed a new control regime to prevent fishermen across the EU from landing illegal catches.

                              The agreement, which was reached in the early hours of the morning in Luxembourg, follows persistent reports of undeclared and illegal catches that the European Commission claims have been undermining conservation efforts.

                              The new controls include a penalty points system whereby repeat offenders could have their fishing licence suspended and permanently withdrawn.

                              AdvertisementMember states whose fishing fleets are persistent offenders could also have EU funding withheld.

                              There will also be new controls on recreational fishing if it is considered to threaten endangered stocks.

                              The new rules follow recognition that different rules and sanctions across the European fisheries sector have meant a largely unlevel playing field.

                              Last night's deal covers a range of issues including traceability, new technologies, harmonising fines and inspection regimes, and how to control illegal fishing outside the waters surrounding member states.

                              The Irish Government has welcomed the deal.

                              The Minister of State at the Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tony Killeen TD, said Irish fishermen had nothing to fear from the new controls since they have 'already moved substantially to a culture of compliance'.

                              Following late night negotiations member states agreed to water down new obligations on smaller vessels to carry satellite surveillance equipment which could be used to ensure fishing boats are not fishing where they are not supposed to.

                              The European Commission wanted boats of 10m in length to carry the equipment, but this was increased to 12m, with an exemption for boats going on trips for 24 hours or less.

                              There will also be controls on recreational fishing if it is deemed injurious to endangered stocks such as cod, but Irish officials insist that this will not have a major impact on Irish fishermen.

                              The new controls should span the entire length of the sector from net to plate, with new checks at catch, landing and sale stages to prevent fraud at all levels.

                              All produce should theoretically be traceable throughout the market chain.

                              European fisheries ministers have agreed a new control regime to prevent fishermen across the EU from landing illegal catches.

                              Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.