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Farming & Fisheries

Weather playing havoc for inshore sector fishermen

April 17th, 2024 4:40 PM

By Martin Claffey

Weather playing havoc for inshore sector fishermen Image
Desperate sea conditions have hampered fishing for months. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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INSHORE fishermen desperately need supports to deal with the exceptionally poor weather, the chairman of the National Inshore Fisherman’s Association (Nifa) said.

Nifa represents around 150 members, who between them operate over 200 inshore fishing vessels. The majority of its members – though not all – fish using boats under 12m. They are part of Ireland’s 2,000-strong inshore sector, who work within 12 nautical miles of shoreline.

Nifa chair Michael Desmond who fishes out of Roaringwater Bay said that the conditions experienced over the last five months have left members with no income.

‘We just can’t get out. I’m fishing all my life offshore and inshore and I’ve never seen anything like it,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘We are lucky to get out one day a week since Christmas.’

He urged the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to put financial supports in place for fishermen. ‘We are all self-employed. If we can’t get out, we have no income,’ said Mr Desmond, who said that some fisherman are taking other jobs to deal the desperate financial predicament.

Meanwhile a public consultation on Ireland’s six-mile limit launched in February closes on Friday April 12th. Currently there are no restrictions on fishing within Ireland’s six-mile limits, following a court judgment which ruled invalid a Government ban on trawling inside the limit.

Minister McConalogue initiated the consultation to asks respondent their views on four option:

Option 1: No change to the status quo

Option 2: All sea-fishing boats excluded from pair trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and baselines

Option 3: All sea-fishing boats over 18m in length overall excluded from trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and baselines

Option 4: All sea-fishing boats over 15m in length overall excluded from trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and baselines.

Nifa, representing the inshore back option 3: All sea-fishing boats over 18m in length overall excluded from trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and baselines.

This option has also been supported by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

However the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation rejects this opinion and is advocating for option 1: no change to the status quo. ISWFPO represents fishermen in the south and west coast of Ireland and has membership of primarily whitefish vessels ranging from 12m to 30m.

Patrick Murphy, ISWFPO chief executive, believes changes to the status quo on the six-mile limit would in effect ‘be putting more fishing families out of business’.

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