Large trawlers banned from Irish coast

Published on
January 2, 2019

Ireland’s government has announced there will be a ban on trawlers over 18 meters in length operating inside six nautical miles of the country’s coast. The new regulations will come into effect from January 2020.

The decision follows an extensive public consultation process, initiated in April 2018, which attracted over 900 submissions from interested parties. 

Confirming the move, Michael Creed, Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food and the marine, said that there had been a “compelling case” for excluding trawling by large vessels in coastal waters.

“I am satisfied that there are sufficient fishing opportunities for these vessels outside of six nautical miles. I also believe that these actions will provide wider ecosystem benefits, including for nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks. I am very conscious of the exclusive reliance of small-scale and island fishermen on inshore waters and the benefits this change will bring for those fishermen. I firmly believe that this will, in the medium-term, provide ecosystem and nursery stock benefits for all fishermen.”

Creed also expects these measures to provide opportunities for further development of the small-scale inshore and the sea-angling sectors, which the government has committed to in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

The minister further announced that there will be a transition period of three years for vessels over 18 meters targeting sprat. This transition is in order to allow a period of adjustment for these vessels, as this fishery is concentrated inside the six-nautical-mile zone.

“I recognize that effective change needs time,” Creed said. “I have had an extensive and prolonged consultation to flag consideration of change. Allowing a transition period for those vessels involved in the sprat fishery will ensure that the vessels have adequate time to transition to other fishing activities.”

He will therefore ask Ireland’s seafood development agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to offer affected vessel owners technical assistance to adjust to other fisheries during the transition process.

Over 18-meter vessels will continue to be permitted inside six nautical miles to trawl for sprat only until 2022. A total allowable catch (TAC) of up to 2,000 metric tons (MT), reflecting a reduction on recent years, will be permitted for these vessels during 2020, reducing to 1,000 MT in 2021. 

All trawling activity by over 18-meter vessels for sprat, inside the six-mile limit, will end from the beginning of 2022. 

Photo courtesy of John Dally/Geograph

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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