IFSA Chairman, Cormac Burke has slammed the Irish Wildlife Trust over their article on Sunday 16 October 2022, entitled “Toxic Denial”

IFSA Chairman, Cormac Burke has slammed the Irish Wildlife Trust over their article on Sunday 16 October 2022, entitled “Toxic Denial”

Irish Fishing and Seafood Alliance Chairman, Cormac Burke has slammed the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) over their article on Sunday 16 October 2022, entitled “Toxic Denial”, in which they relied on outdated debunked science to mislead the Irish public on claims of carbon emissions and overfishing.

The self-appointed guardians of Ireland’s wildlife have mounted a stern anti-fishing campaign using a wide range of methods to defame the Irish fishing industry and the latest propaganda article has “more holes in it than a trawler’s net” claims the IFSA Chair.

“The IWT article, with the dramatic attention-grabbing headline of “Toxic Denial”, attempts to portray the Irish fishing industry as nothing more than pillagers of the sea who hold no regard for the environment, the status of fish stocks or for the future management of the marine resource as a whole,” says Chairman Cormac Burke.

“But in trying to do so, it is unfortunate that the IWT (a) use reports on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that have already been debunked by internationally-acclaimed senior scientists; (b) refer to the “overfishing” of several species of fish that in fact are not commercially fished by any Irish vessel; (c) castigate industry representatives such as Cormac Burke and Patrick Murphy for their comments while they themselves [IWT] release statements without any author’s name and hide their identity behind that organisation’s title so that they cannot be directly held accountable for the intentional poorly researched articles they produce (unlike the industry people they are attacking who are at least willing to put their names to their comments).”

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The science the IWT relied on has of course, like a lot of “pop culture science”, has been debunked, but failing to either research the research or living in denial, the article ridicules the fishing industry.

The IFSA responds saying:

“… while the IWT sneer at the statement by IS&WFPO CEO Patrick Murphy that this industry is constantly “wrongfully accused” of overfishing, they also complain of the IFSA Chairman Cormac Burke’s opinion on the lack of genuine research into the need for MPAs, they cherry-picked a few dramatic statements without any basis.

“* The term ‘overfishing’ is used several times in IWT statements and yet apparently not once have they checked to see how fishing is actually monitored, recorded and regulated in this country.

Within the context of the EU fisheries regime, Ireland has the most rigid fisheries monitoring system and the highest rate of compliance throughout the EU.

“Every fish stock has its quota (which is based on ICES advice to the EU Commission every year) and every vessel going to sea knows its allowance for that trip for each species – mandatory on board cameras observe at-sea activities; every time the net is hauled and the fish handled the volume and quantity must be recorded in an electronic logbook; the location of ALL vessels, via an AIS system, at all times is observed and recorded by the monitoring authority; and when the vessel comes ashore, the catch is checked by the authorities to ensure it tallies with the logbook. And in the case of the larger pelagic vessels (mackerel, scad, herring) this bulk fish must be weighed at the pier side and again checked in the fish processing factories.

“In essence, it is virtually impossible for any vessel in the Irish fleet to ‘overfish’ without being caught and facing serious penalties which could amount to hundreds of thousands of euros.”

Not alone has the IWT article been misleading in terms of overfishing, the claim they made that spurdog stocks was in decline due to overfishing is also inaccurate. Coincidentally,a fish that has not been targeted by Irish fishermen since 2009 because it was banned by the then Commissioner for Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, who had sanctioned a ban on the catching commercially of all shark species.

In the 2023 round of ICES advice at the start of October, they recommended a total allowable catch of 17,355 tonnes of spurdog, and gave their sanction to 17,855 tonnes in 2024, which was far from signalling a decline in the species.

Responding to this, Cormac Burke writes:

“All in all, the appearance of this IWT piece of propaganda on their website (right under the ‘donate to the IWT’ tab of course) is nothing more than another attack on an already over-regulated industry and it has less to do with environmental concern than it has to do with an agenda of scaremongering the public and gathering more donations – but hey, when do these people ever let the truth get in the way of a good story?”

Irish Wildlife Trust slammed by IFSA Chair for misleading gullible public

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