BAN Inshore Fishing of Large vessels in Irish waters NOW!

BAN Inshore Fishing of Large vessels in Irish waters NOW!

12 August 2022
Signatures: 65Next Goal: 100
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by ORCA Ireland


ORCA Ireland conducts vital research on large whales off the south coast of Ireland using the latest technologies, from Citizen Science with the Observers App, to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones, and more recently real-time Bioacoustics research using Machine Learning. Each year, we record hundreds of large baleen whales off the south coast of Ireland, including some of the largest animals on Earth the fin whale, and the more sought-after charismatic humpback whale.

This year, we have encountered very limited numbers of large whales, with a stark presence of lots of seals offshore. Seals that are generally found in Roaringwater Bay Special Area of Conservation (S.A.C.) are traveling further and further offshore in search for prey, while large whales are almost entirely absent from inshore waters along the south coast.

On the 1st of January 2020, the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Michael Creed announced that vessels over 18 meters will be excluded from trawling in inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone following a public consultation with over 900 submissions.

Mr Creed conceded to a phased system for vessels over 18 metres in length fishing for sprat during 2020 and 2021, however, following legal pushback through appeals challenging the new policy Directive by Irish inshore fisherman, a High Court ruling overturned the Government ban on trawling by larger fishing vessels within the Irish six nautical mile limit. 

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) said that the overruling of the Ban was “deeply disappointing” and “extremely worrying”.

Fast-forward to 2022, and we are finally seeing the impacts of over-fishing for forage fish species such as sprat with the absence of large whales as ecosystem indicators of ocean health. The inshore sector appears to have now completely collapsed.

ORCA Ireland is demanding the current Fianna Fáil TD and Minister for Marine, Mr. Charlie McConalogue provide IMMEDIATE new protection of inshore waters which would both support our small scale and island fishermen, the sea angling and whale watching sectors, and could provide wider ecosystem benefits, including for nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks.

Pair trawling is a fishing practice where two boats drag between them a single large net with small meshing. It is an activity that targets sprat, which goes on to be processed into fishmeal. Sprat are small schooling fish species that form large shoals and are a keystone of the marine ecosystem being food for larger fish such as cod, as well as marine mammals and seabirds. No total allowable quota figure is set for this fishery and much marine life can be also killed as bycatch. Bycatch is the unintentional capture of non-target species and often results in high levels of mortality for seals, dolphins, or anything else in its path, such as migrating salmon or juvenile sea bass.

Bottom trawling scrapes a net across the seafloor and completely destroys important habitats for fish spawning.

Cod stocks have "virtually collapsed" in the Irish Sea, and haddock and whiting are also in trouble, described as "severely depleted" by the Marine Institute's Stock Book. 

These destructive fishing practices need to be phased out NOW!

Long-term management plans, where scientists, industry, and managers develop plans that allow stocks to recover and develop ways in which they can be harvested sustainably, are needed.

Please SIGN & SHARE this petition to protect Irish forage fish stocks from vessels over 18 meters, including pair trawlers, and reinstate the BAN  immediately with a phased approach over 2022/2023. 



Support now
Signatures: 65Next Goal: 100
Support now