Irish government defy scientific advice to support continued overfishing and depletion of marine environment

Published by Ian Carey on

Image: J Woodlock

December 14th 2016

Ireland’s degraded marine environment got no help this week as the Minister for the Marine Michael Creed continued the policy of overfishing.

Environmental groups have criticised the Minister for continuing to pursue overfishing in Irish waters with the announcement of the 2017 fish quotas.

This follows intensive negotiations at the annual EU Fisheries Council in Brussels earlier this week.

The Irish Wildlife Trust Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty, says: “Minister Creed is doing no one any favours in his prioritisation of certain sections of the fishing industry over the public good. In abandoning the Irish and Celtic Seas to a state of ecological degradation he is contributing to the decline of coastal communities and denying future generations the opportunities which come with healthy oceans. There is now an urgent need to close off large sections of the sea to harmful trawling to allow the recovery of beleaguered marine life. This is the only hope if we are to restore nature’s bounty and heritage which was once the life blood of coastal areas.”

The Irish Wildlife Trust said in a statement:

“We are disappointed with the outcome of the latest round of fish quota negotiations which will do little for coastal communities or the protection of the marine environment. Despite the fact that there is a legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020 it was business as usual for Minister Creed and his team in fighting long term scientific advice (produced by the Marine Institute at great public expense) in favour of short term gain.”

Irish fishermen face a 15 per cent reduction in the amount of cod they are allowed catch next year. The original proposal included a 19 per cent reduction in whitefish quotas

However, overall the total quota in weight of fish, including shellfish, will rise by 6 per cent on this year – from 216,222 to 233,610. This is due to rises in the quotas of haddock, whiting and Norway lobster.

Fishermen will be able to catch 25 per cent more haddock in the Irish Sea, as well as 21 per cent more whiting in the Celtic Sea. There is also a 9% rise in the amount of prawns that can be caught in the south and west coasts. The total worth of fish caught next year is expect to hit €280 million – up 6% on last year.

Speaking following the announcement Minister heralded the increased catch as a victory. He claimed on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme that the increased catch represents ‘respect for scientific advice’ despite the scientific advice calling for greater cuts in quotas.

The increased catch may represent a greater return for the fishing industry next year but it does not address the long term impact of a degraded marine environment to coastal communities in the long term.

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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.