Sea Echoes: The impact of trawlers on small boat inshore fishermen

It seems that Youghal is not the only place where the expected run of mackerel did not occur this year.

Following William Walsh’s email last week about not seeing any mackerel in Youghal on the East Cork coastline, responses from other parts of the coastline also lamented the lack of mackerel. 

Cork Harbour anglers told me mackerel did arrive, but not in as big numbers as in previous years.

Some readers complained about “trawlers fishing in the bays, right up to the shoreline and affecting small boat inshore fishermen…” 

“Powerful boats only catching sprat for fishmeal, but denying small boat fishermen a chance for a living…. They should not be trawling in the bays…,” were amongst comments, as were: “Trawlers catching sprat in Bantry Bay up to the shoreline and in other bays and inlets. Something has to be done about it. Sprat are feed for other fish. Inshore fishing will be destroyed."

The catching of sprat for fishmeal has also been causing concern in the Shannon Estuary and was commented on by the Chief Science Officer of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group whose headquarters are on the Estuary at Kilrush. 

Dr Simon Berrow said on my radio programme. This Island Nation: “Sprat are a hugely important forage fish for whales, dolphins, seabirds, cod, haddock and tuna. There is no quota for sprat so no restrictions on how much can be caught. 500 tonnes of sprat was removed from the Shannon Estuary by two fishing vessels in under a week. It is a marine-protected area under EU law for bottlenose dolphins."

"That’s enough food to sustain the whole population for between 200-300 days. The sprat from the Shannon was sold for fishmeal in Killybegs at €150 per tonne. The current price for commercial refuse collection is €180 per tonne, which suggests we value our rubbish higher than we value sprat.” 

BORD PLEANALA ATTITUDE 

The treatment of the Cork Harbour community and, in particular, the harbourside village of Ringaskiddy in relation to yet another deferment of a decision about the proposed Indaver incinerator was described to me this week as “scandalous” and it is hard to disagree with the description. 

After the Bord deferred its ‘decision date’ for the ninth time I was told in the village: "Treating people in the manner in which this State board is doing to the people of the area is disgraceful. It is time we were left in peace and that an unwelcome company goes away from our community.” 

NAVAL BASE COMMANDER RETIRES 

Commodore Hugh Tully, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, who was based at operational headquarters in Haulbowline, Cork Harbour, retired on Friday. When the occasion was marked by an official stand-down parade at the Base. He became Flag Officer in November 2013 during a 40-year career when he also served as Officer Commanding Naval Operations Command and also commanded Ireland's Flagship, LÉ Eithne from 2006 to 2008. He served two years as a UN Military Observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in Israel and Lebanon and commanded LÉ Aoife and LÉ Orla.

MARITIME COLLEGE

I hear that Conor Mowlds who has been Head of the National Maritime College of Ireland is to become Commercial Manager at Cork Port. Originally from Dublin, he has previously worked in technical ship management and business development in the public and private sectors in the UK and Ireland.

ARCTIC MELTING FASTER 

The Arctic is melting faster than at any time in at least the last 1,500 years, according to climate scientists. The bleak assessment comes from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based on the work of 85 scientists in 12 nations 

Email: tommacsweeneymarine@gmail.com 

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