Declining fish stock is one the major challenges to the Irish fishing industry. One of Ireland’s most important fisheries, Celtic Sea herring, was closed last year just 48 hours after the seasonal fishery opened due to the small size of fish caught. Reduced levels of these fish also have an impact on animals who depend on them such as whales and dolphins.
Overfishing in EU seas has been happening for decades but this was set to stop with a deadline to adopt sustainable fisheries set to 2020. However, EU Ministers were accused of ignoring the science, defending the status quo and continuing on the path of ecological collapse by Irish wildlife advocates following the latest set of quotas which were agreed in December.
Scientists recommended eight fish stocks important for Ireland which should have no fish caught in 2020. Cod is one of these but rather than stop cod fishing, the 2020 Irish quota was reduced by a third to 1,252 tonnes. The quota of another fish stock in a poor state, whiting, was reduced by 22% but trawlers are still allowed to catch 4,761 tonnes.
Compared to other EU countries, Ireland is near the top of the league table. A recent report by the New Economics Foundation which examined EU overfishing over the past 20 years found that Ireland had the second highest percentage of fish quotas (24%) above scientifically advised levels.
Monitoring of these quotas has also been identified as a problem in Ireland. A 2018 audit by the EU Commission in Killybegs found “severe and significant weaknesses in the Irish control system”. An inquiry into these issues is ongoing but if Ireland is not adequately monitoring its fish catches, could this put its already threatened stocks into more jeopardy?
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to find out what impact overfishing has had on the Irish fishing industry and wildlife who depend on the fish stocks.
Through FOIs and extensive research, we want to investigate who is responsible for declining fish stocks, what can be done to improve them and if the significant weaknesses in control systems have been rectified.
By talking to experts and reading reports, we want to look into whether science had been ignored in the pursuit of profit, and which fisheries are threatened to close in the coming years.
Have you any information that you think would help this investigation, contact us at [email protected]
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