The fishermen of the South & West Fish Producers Organisation based in Castletownbere say they are formulating a plan of action to prevent a missile/rocket firing exercise in part of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the South-West of Ireland this week.
In recent days the Department of Transport said it was advised by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) of a missile/rocket firing exercise by the French military which is due to take place from 2am to 4pm between June 23 and June 25.
In a marine notice, the Department said that the exercise may be postponed and instead take place at the same time on another date within the period of June 24 to July 7 and will be undertaken in part of the Irish EEZ with vessels and crew advised of safety risks in the operational area.
Speaking about the scheduled exercise, CEO of IS&WFPO Patrick Murphy said that members are considering taking action to disrupt the activities.
It follows a planned protest by the organisation in January of this year against an operation by the Russian navy.
Russia subsequently agreed to move the drills.
The fisherman are now calling on the Irish and French Governments to provide a similar outcome to their concerns.
Mr Murphy expressed concerns that military sonar and live missile launches have the potential to “severely disrupt” the annual migratory path of fish and interrupt the breeding season of Mackerel and other migratory fish species.
“The Albacore Tuna fishery is opening for Irish vessels on June 23 in the waters of our continental shelf which could potentially be disrupted by these live-fire exercises whilst also we believe this will cause untold damage to marine wildlife like whales and dolphins that are greatly affected by underwater noise,” he said.
Mr Murphy said that member fishermen are implementing a plan to highlight these exercises and considering a course of action that may disrupt the French military exercises due to take place this week.
“The seas around Ireland are our workplace and while it can be a dangerous and hostile environment to make a living from, we and our natural resources deserve the right to protection from unnecessary and dangerous actions by foreign powers.
“The consequences of naval exercises throughout the world’s oceans and seas have been well studied and documented, and their effect on especially whales and dolphins shows increased strandings and mortalities for weeks and months after the event."