The Fishing Daily Podcast Serie 2 Episode 16 –Paraig O’Sullivan from Ballydavid in Co Kerry and Robert Kearney from Lenan, Co Donegal. call on Minister not to forget the Irish inshore sector when it comes to the spurdog quota.
Irish inshore fishermen call on Minister for spurdog quota
The announcement by ICES of a spurdog quota for the first time since 2009 has been warmly welcomed by fishermen. That reception extends to two counts. One being the economic benefits that another fisher will bring to the fleet, and the second being the environmental benefits of fishing the stock.
Since 2009, when the EU Commission banned the spurdog fishery, most inshore boats lost a valuable means of income. Having lost salmon fishing and herring fishing, most boats were left with no alternative to turn to shellfish such as crab, lobster and crawfish.
This overdependence on one stock, such as crab, meant that fishermen were openly volatile to the markets. As long as prices remained steady, then they could predict a source of income. When markets were bad, they were left fishing at a loss just to fulfil contracts.
On the ecological front, stocks such as crab became overfished because there are no quotas or pot restrictions in place. Every year more and more pots appeared. As this happened, spurdog number exploded, putting pressure on the marine ecosystem as they fed on juvenile fish and shellfish. With no natural enemies the stock thrived as they fed on the young of the fish stocks the fishermen were now depending on.
This was leading to an ecological disaster in the marine environment.
As Robert explains:
“What I’ve seen in the last 10-12 years between the spurdogs and the salmon, and all, all we’ve always seen stuff being taken away but there’s never nothing to replace, no, there’s never a replacement for it, so it’s just getting to the stage where we’re targeting the one species.”
Paraig agreed saying in the southwest the inshore boats ended up targeting one species instead of diversifying as they used to. He says:
It would take the targeting away from one species for certain times of the year, which would be a great thing.”
They believe that the return to a diverse inshore fishery would encourage young people to opt into fishing as a career, rather than rural areas such as the Dingle Peninsula and Inishowen becoming desolate due to emigration.
With the Agriculture and Fisheries (AGRIFISH) Council meeting starting on Sunday 11 December, both fishermen are calling on the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to ensure that the Irish inshore fleet receive a quota as he promised at Lenan Pier in the summer of 2021.
“He came to the pier, and he told us he would help us out.”
Now fishermen like Paraig and Robert are hoping he will keep his word.
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