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Inshore Fishermen More Worried About 6-Limit Reversal Than Brexit

“The potential medium-to-long term negative impacts of the High Court ruling on the inshore sector are likely to be far more severe than that of any ‘No Deal Brexit’ particularly when looked at in terms of equitable access to fisheries resources,” says the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association. It has responded to the High Court ruling overturning a government ban on trawling by fishing vessels over 18 metres within a six-nautical mile inshore limit.

NIFA has described the judgement as “deeply disappointing and “extremely worrying.” The Association has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue to reinstate without delay the Directive imposing the ban which, it said, created a huge opportunity for the inshore sector.

The inshore sector says that, “if that opportunity is to be denied as a result of the High Court decision,” it faces an uncertain future and possibly a complete collapse. “The majority of the resources inside that zone are harvested by a very small number of larger trawlers. Over previous decades, the inshore sector has lost much opportunity and entitlement to access fishery resources previously available to it,” NIFA said.

The judgement has increased division within the industry. Catching of Sprat within six miles, much of it alleged by environmental interests to have been sold for fishmeal, has been a particular issue. They are predatory food for other fish species caught by inshore vessels in the sector and therefore vital within the food chain. This has led to calls for a detailed scientific study of sprat.

The MARINE TIMES was contacted this week by a representative from a group of owners excluded by the Directive from fishing within six miles, stating they were “not PO members” and not involved in the legal proceedings and who expressed understanding of the ‘smaller boats concerns’ and were critical of larger boats fishing sprat particularly inside six miles. This fisherman said that his fellow-owners felt they had been unfairly treated, because the Directive did not take into consideration safety issues for trawlers not big enough to deal with weather conditions outside six miles, which had been made to then Minister Michael Creed before he introduced the Directive.

“We got absolutely no consideration and no hearing for our situation. We wouldn’t have the same licences that bigger boats have and can’t go to deeper waters as far as them. We might be pushed or have to go into the six-mile zone in some situations, but we got no hearing or understanding of our situation, none at all,” this fisherman said.