BY SIOBHAN CRONIN
AGRICULTURE, Food and Marine Minister Simon Coveney TD has said he will sign into law a declaration to manage fishing activities in Roaringwater Bay in West Cork.
‘There are features in Roaringwater Bay which are particularly sensitive to certain fishing activities, and we must ensure that the integrity of the Special Areas of Conservation is protected,’ the Minister said.
He added that protecting the ecosystem of marine conservation sites protects the quality of our marine environment and is ‘another step towards harnessing our ocean wealth in a sustainable way’.
The Minister was speaking after he welcomed the appointments of the chair and vice-chair of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF).
The NIFF has been set up to facilitate the development of a coherent inshore sector voice by encouraging inshore fishing communities to discuss their fishing issues and generate commonly-supported initiatives.
Ciaran Quinn of the North West region was appointed as the first industry-led chair of the Forum, with Eddie Moore of the South West region as his vice-chair.
Speaking in relation to the recently announced Seafood Development Programme, the Minister said: ‘While there is a provisional allocation of €6m targeted at the inshore sector, in practice there is much more in the Seafood Development Programme for inshore fishing communities including CFP implementation support, processing development schemes and community-led development.’
The Minister and the NIFF also discussed the need for the imminent introduction of conservation measures for razor clam fishing in the Irish Sea.
‘At the first NIFF meeting in January I heard serious concerns from delegates about the sustainability of the razor clam fishery,’ he said.
Having given careful consideration to industry proposals and to scientific advice, it is clear to me that the fishery is under intense pressure and action is needed.
‘To address the risk of collapse in this fishery I am preparing to introduce interim outtake limits and to monitor fishing effort on a real-time basis but it is already apparent that access to the fishery will need to be managed to prevent over-exploitation.’
Minister Coveney said he had asked the NIFF to facilitate development of a managed access programme for the fishery to ensure that the valuable market for this fishery can be maintained.
He said that anyone currently considering fleet investment for this fishery should ‘exercise considerable caution’ as the fishery is already under significant pressure and access may become conditional on retrospective records of fishing activity.