An Unprecedented Collaboration has seen Fishing and Environmental Groups Call on Minister McConalogue to Reinstate Inshore Fishing Ban
In an unprecedented response to the recent decision by Ireland’s High Court to overturn the ban on fishing vessels larger than 18m from operating within six nautical miles of the coast, 15 fishing and environmental organisations, have come together for the first time to call on Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to take the steps necessary for the ban’s reinstatement.
The letter, sent to the Minister this morning, jointly signed by National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) and National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation (NIFO), Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce, Cork Environmental Forum, Cork Nature Network, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Environmental Pillar, Friends of the Irish Environment, Irish Seal Sanctuary, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Irish Wildlife Trust, Oceana, Seas at Risk, Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) and Our Fish, points out that the policy directive, introduced in 2018, “was one of the most important fisheries policy shifts in the history of the Irish state and was broadly welcomed as being the right decision from a social, economic, environmental and a social justice perspective”, and was backed by expert analysis by the Marine Institute and the Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
“When Michael Creed TD announced his decision to launch a public consultation that ultimately led to the directive, he was very clear that he wanted to create opportunity for the inshore sector. The manner he planned and subsequently created that opportunity also had far reaching environmental and socio economic benefits for our marine environment and wider coastal communities and economies”, said Alex Crowley of the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) and National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation (NIFO). “On that basis the proposal and the subsequent decision was broadly welcomed and supported by a broad spectrum of interests.”
“The fishing industry and environmental NGOs are often portrayed as opposing forces, however the reality is they have a common goal or vision for a healthy marine environment, therefore the issuing of this joint statement should come at no surprise”, continued Crowley. “Inshore fishers are acutely aware of the need for a healthy marine environment to support their businesses and way of life. As an economic sector and as a sector in society we are particularly exposed to negative environmental impacts.”
“Beneath the waves, a biodiversity crisis has been unfolding for many years”, said Fintan Kelly, Policy Officer at Birdwatch Ireland. “Overfishing has hollowed out marine ecosystems, and as fish stocks have collapsed, it is having a direct impact on the Irish fishing communities that depend on them. Ireland can and must do better. We are calling on Minister McConalogue to take decisive action to prioritise sustainable fisheries management in Ireland’s inshore waters on behalf of the vast majority of Irish fishers and coastal communities, instead of the demands of a privileged minority”
“The Minister must take steps to ensure that a ban on large trawlers within the 6 nautical mile limit is brought into effect as soon as possible, while ensuring that all affected stakeholders are afforded the right to consultation as highlighted in the court ruling”, concluded Kelly.
“This is a classic case of a technicality tripping up a brilliant idea. The Irish government can realise the huge environmental and social benefits of protecting Ireland’s coastal waters from industrial fishing and deliver on their ambitions to halt the biodiversity and climate emergency, by taking the necessary legal steps to reinstate the ban as a matter of priority”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director of Our Fish. “Reinstating the ban would actively help support hundreds of low-impact fishers and their coastal communities, deliver massive environmental benefits, and set an impressive example for other European countries to follow”.