The IWT has called for Ministerial intervention following High Court ruling
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to place a moratorium on trawling inside the six-mile limit following the High Court ruling which quashed Policy Directive 1 of 2019, introduced into legislation by then DAFM Minister Michael Creed TD, following a public consultation.
This Policy Directive had the effect of excluding fishing vessels exceeding 18 metres in overall length from operating trawl or seine nets inside a 6 nautical mile zone, including inside the baselines, subject to a phasing out of sprat fishing over a two year period from 01 January, 2020.
The High Court quashed the Policy Directive when Mr Justice Michael MacGrath found the applicants were successful on sole ground that the respondents (Minister for the Marine) failed to comply with the consultation process which was laid out.
Following the High Court ruling the IWT has written to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD and Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, calling for a halt to all trawling in this zone until a new arrangement can be put in place.
The original decision to ban trawling by boats over 18m in length came after a public consultation in 2018 which was roundly supported by low-impact fishers in smaller boats, anglers, environmental groups and members of the public. It was heralded at the time as the single most important move to protect fisheries and marine biodiversity.
The IWT claim there is consequently widespread anger and dismay that this has now been undone.
IWT Campaign Officer Pádraic Fogarty says “We’re urging Ministers Hackett and McConalogue to act swiftly on this High Court decision and to tell us how the trawling ban can be reinstated on a permanent basis. Until then we need to see all inshore trawling shut down so that any recovery in marine life which may have been underway is not completely undone.
“Trawling for small fish such as sprat removes the principal food source for sea life, whether its whales, dolphins or larger fish. Bottom trawling, which scrapes a net across the sea floor, obliterates important habitats for fish spawning and should be phased out across our seas.”