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1m worth of cod dumped back in sea sparks outrage

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1m worth of cod dumped back in sea sparks outrage

Post by Admin on Mon 17 Nov - 18:28

1m worth of cod dumped back in sea sparks outrage
TAKEN FROM Independent.ie Web Search

By Maeve Sheehan

Sunday July 06 2008

AN estimated 45 tonnes of cod, worth 1m in the shops, was dumped back in the sea by fishing vessels off Dublin last week because of a "restrictive" quota system.

The claims were made by new group representing fishermen who are pressing the Government for urgent action on spiralling fuel costs and inadequate fishing quotas, which many claim are leaving them struggling to survive.

David Kirwan, a fisherman from Louth, claimed that 40 vessels fishing for prawns off Dublin last week were unintentionally catching four to six boxes of cod each day in their nets.

The dead cod had to be dumped back in the sea, as the fishermen were not allowed to land anything above their quota.

"If you calculate that each boat was taking in four to six boxes of cod, that works out at 45 tonnes of cod last week that was dumped back in the sea," he said.

"This is total waste. If we were allowed to land those fish it would go some way towards improving the situation for fishermen. As it is, anything we catch over and above our quota must be dumped."

The new "committee of 15" was set up following a meeting of 300 fishermen in Athlone last week, amid their growing concerns over the future of the Irish fishing industry.

The group plans a protest in Dublin during the visit of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on July 21. They claim thousands of fishermen are being hit by the rising cost of diesel coupled with an inadequate EU quota system that restricts the amount of fish they can land.

Fishermen have long complained that Irish fishing rights were negotiated away by the Government after joining the EU. The opening up of Ireland's waters gave fishing rights to other countries, which Irish fishermen claim are unfair.

French vessels fishing in Irish waters are allowed eight times more monkfish than Irish vessels, while Spain's quota for hake is five times that of Irish vessels.

Some fishermen now admit that there was flagrant flouting of the quota system over the years. The daily catch must be recorded in log books which are open to inspection, but a number of fishermen admitted last week that there was widespread falsification of the figures in the past. But they alleged the authorities turned a blind eye.

John Walsh, a Kinsale fisherman and a member of the new committee, said that as a result, "the bulk of scientific evidence of fish stocks is based on log books that have been falsified."

A new Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) was set up last year to police the industry and new criminal charges for breaches of the EU's fishing rules.

Fishermen have complained that the new authority is carrying out too few inspections on foreign vessels fishing in Irish waters.

"We want enforcement but we want fair enforcement and we want level enforcement across the EU," said Mr Kirwan.

However, figures from the SFPA showed that 6.7 per cent of Irish vessels landing fish in Irish ports were inspected last year, while 33 per cent of foreign vessels landing fish in Irish ports were inspected.

The fishing industry is currently undergoing a radical overhaul, following publication of an independent review published earlier this year.

- Maeve Sheehan
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