fishing environmental groups letter

Irish fishing & environmental groups have issed a joint letter to the Minister for Marine calling for the reintroduction of the six-mile ban

A joint statement in relation to the High Court Judicial Review on restrictions on trawling activity inside the 6nm limit has been issued by fishing and environmental groups to the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

The letter, sent to the Minister this morning, has been 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.

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The joint letter asks the Minister to reinstate a ban on fishing vessels 18 metres and over from operating inside the six-mile limit; a ban that was introduced into law by former Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed following a public consultation. Subsequently, the ban was challenged and overturned in the High Court when Mr Justice MacGrath ruled that the applicants were successful on sole ground that the respondents (the Minister for the Marine) failed to comply with the consultation process which was laid out.

The letter that was sent this morning reads:

Dear Minister McConalogue, 

Responding to news that Ireland’s High Court has found that the ban on vessels larger than 18m from operating within the country’s six nautical mile inshore waters was void and of no legal effect, our organisations representing the interests of a healthy marine environment and a sustainable inshore fishing sector call on you to take the necessary steps to reinstate the ban.

The policy directive introduced in 2018 was one of the most important fisheries policy shifts in the history of the state and was broadly welcomed as being the right decision from a social, economic, environmental and social justice perspective. According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the majority of the over 900 stakeholder submissions made in response to the Minister’s review of fishing access inside the 6 nautical mile zone (6nm zone) supported restrictions on large trawlers based on environmental, economic and gear conflict issues.

The rationale behind the ban was supported by expert analysis by the Marine Institute and the Bord Iascaigh Mhara. These reports highlighted that restricting the access of larger vessels inside the 6nm zone would lead to improved protection of coastal environments and essential fish habitat, benefitting marine biodiversity and commercially exploited fish stocks. They highlighted the socio- economic benefits for the smaller inshore vessels, that constitute the vast majority of Ireland’s registered fishing vessels. The potential benefits included diversification opportunities, more jobs, and added value of landings. Improved management of inshore waters could be achieved by aligning fishing more closely with local ecological and environmental objectives and by reducing conflict between mobile and static gears. For coastal communities and consumers benefits could include a strengthening of the link between local fish resources and local economies with spin-off benefits for the sustainability of supply chains and local businesses.

All these potential benefits remain within reach. It is deeply disappointing and extremely worrying to us that the new dawn in the management of our inshore environment is under threat from what

appears to be a technicality. The Policy Directive created a huge opportunity for the inshore sector and if that opportunity is to be denied, then the sector in its current form faces a very uncertain future and possibly a complete collapse.

We call on you to take decisive action to prioritise sustainable fisheries management in Ireland’s inshore waters in the interest of the vast majority of Irish fishers, coastal communities and marine wildlife, instead of the demands of a privileged minority.

Signed by:

Shane McIntyre, Director, National Inshore Fisheries Organisation

Alex Crowley, General Secretary, National Inshore Fisheries Organisation &  National Inshore Fisheries Association

Kieran Healy, Director, National Inshore Fisheries Association

Gary Freemantle, Interim CEO, An Taisce

Nicolas P. Williams, CEO, Birdwatch Ireland

Derry O’Farrell, Director, Cork Environmental Forum

Gill Weyman, Chair, Cork Nature Network

Mark Boyden, Director, Coomhola Salmon Trust Ltd., Chair Sustainable Water Network

Karen Ciesielski, CEO, Environmental Pillar

Tony Lowes, Trustee and Director, Friends of the Irish Environment

Johnny Woodlock, Board Member, Irish Seal Sanctuary

Dr Simon Berrow, CEO, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group

Pádraig Fogarty, Campaign Officer, Irish Wildlife Trust

Pascale Moerhrle, Executive Director, Oceana in Europe

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, Our Fish

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director, Seas at Risk

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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Joint Letter from Fishing and Environmental Groups sent to Minister

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