Irish fishing boats will tomorrow (9th May) join an EU-wide protest about plans to further restrict bottom fishing. The protest is being organised by the European Bottom Fisheries Alliance (EBFA) who say 28% of the fishing fleet has disappeared in the last 20 years due to restrictions.
“Fishers have made huge efforts to protect the marine environment and recover fish stocks,” says EBFA chair, Iván López van der Veen. He says thousands of Km2 have been closed to bottom fishing, putting the future at stake. The EU are now proposing to ban bottom-trawling in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC s)
The protest will be supported by the Irish Fish Producers Organisation, who say such a ban will create a 30% reduction in available fishing grounds. IFPO chief executive Aodh O Donnell says ‘’many of our key species such as scallops and Dublin Bay Prawns have been fished for generations by family-run businesses using bottom fishing systems. They represent a traditional way of life and are the economic and social strength for many communities, some of which will be put at risk.”
“Our members fully support the conservation of fishing stocks and species and adhere to quota restrictions to promote the long-term sustainability of our oceans. As stakeholders, we have a vested interest in maintaining healthy seas. We are delivering on the sustainability targets.”
“But the harsh reality is that we have never had a fair share of EU quotas. We’ve taken the biggest quota hit post-Brexit, and as a result, we are decommissioning a third of our whitefish fleet. Despite all of this adversity, we are now facing another potential huge cut in fishing opportunities.”
“We are committed to conducting responsible fishing in ways which utilise technical measures that protect and conserve marine life. The Irish fishing sector is leading the way in working with the Irish Sea Fisheries Board in developing and applying innovative trawling techniques. The EU should be talking to the fishing industry about these effective innovative options, instead of simply imposing a unilateral ban. This proposed ban will prevent trawling in large areas of traditional fishing grounds which are of critical importance to IFPO members and many other Irish fishing vessels.”
The protest takes place at mid-day on 9th May – the Day of Europe. Fishers taking part will “sound the horn of our vessels, as the call of distress it signifies,” says the IBFA.
The IFPO is urging its members to take part. “The key message is that the entire industry is in solidarity in protesting against the actions of the EU,” says Aodh O Donnell.