SIR – I think the article on sprat fishing in last week’s paper did not paint the full picture. Sprat fishing, or midwater trawling, uses a net that is less than 22 millimetres in size, a €2 coin would not be able to fall through.
A few weeks ago a pair of trawlers landed 200 tons of ‘sprat’ in Castletownbere after an afternoon’s trawling in the Glengarriff harbour area. The catch contained sprat, mackerel, shrimp, but also small juvenile fish of many other commercially-caught species.
Putting aside the fact that Glengarriff harbour is a marine protected area and should probably not have trawlers in it anyway. The ‘sprat’ being caught is not for human consumption, it’s processed into pellets for feeding farmed salmon.
A joint statement from the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association CLG (NIFA) and the National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation CLG (NIFO), who account for more than 80% of Irish fishing vessels and responsible for over 50% of people employed in the fishing industry, stated that the restrictions on trawling activity inside the 6 nautical miles (nm) limit was ‘undoubtedly the most significant policy decision made in the history of the state in terms of supporting Ireland’s Inshore fishing sector. From a social, economic, environmental and moral perspective this was the right decision.’
If midwater trawling by huge trawlers inside the 6nm limit continues then the inshore fishing sector faces a very uncertain future and possibly a complete collapse.
I agree with Patrick Murphy that the Irish fishing industry is about to collapse, however the catching of tons of juvenile fish in every bay and inlet around Ireland is, in my view, only going to exacerbate the speed of that collapse.