(2)Drift Net Ban Discussion 2007

In defence of the compulsory ban on drift net fishing Noel  Dempsey Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural resources said

“the current imperative must be to maintain stocks above conservation limits”.

It will be obvious to those who fish responsibly with an eye to the future, that conservation limits are necessary for surplus abundance. Insufficient reproductive capacity can only lead to diminishing returns and an unsustainable fishing stock. Fishermen well know that stocks need to be protected and can be devastated by over fishing.

It has been reported that to offset hardship, a 25 Million Euro fund will give each fisherman (or license holder) a payment equal to Six times their average annual catch over the period 2001 – 2005 in addition to x6 the current license fee. The debate will no doubt rage for a good while yet about the true value of a salmon. That may seem fair to some and unfair to others. For example a Salmon is much more valuable to a subsistence fisherman than its raw commercial value. A salmon’s value is greater than the price as a commercial commodity. Time, energy, effort, dedication are expended to produce an invaluable harvest that provides food and sustenance, useful subsistence employment and adds immeasurable value to the local community.

The Government, in buying out drift net licenses, will have a good deal of responsibility to ensure the future value of Wild Atlantic Salmon is increased. The Government will be responsible to improve and enhance the status of Atlantic salmon in Ireland. In 10 – 20 years from now will the salmon returning to Ireland will be more abundant a consequence? The Government needs to be sure that salmon will be nurtured back to full health. At some point in the future Salmon rivers will be well managed to produce great runs, and there will be a healthy self sustaining stock of salmon that will be harvested in an optimally sustainable way. I guess then there would be an opportunity to repurchase responsibly managed licenses from the state.   

Fish counters may provide useful scientific information on stock levels in particular rivers and will require funding and a commitment to install. Anglers will also have a very important role to play, by providing information via their clubs and catch returns and have a responsibility to ensure the fish in their rivers are well managed and protected. The Government ultimately now has a big responsibility to ensure that Ireland’s salmon are still around in years to come and implement the policies needed to rebuild a great resource that was once taken for granted. Habitat improvements, tackling pollution, fisheries protection, access to spawning and nursery areas, and stewardship are required which apparently the main body of drift net fishermen were not interested in.  To restore Ireland’s salmon population is a great national goal and adds value to Ireland’s uniqueness in the brave new world of environmental awareness. We all have the opportunity to do our bit by thinking globally and acting locally. Salmon are an interdependent species. Ireland is not the only country with a vested interest in salmon born in Irish rivers. For example fishing practices in Greenland, Iceland, Faeroes, in Irish coasts or in our home rivers will affect the status of Irish Salmon. International bodies like North Atlantic salmon Conservation Organisation( NASCO), North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) represent an opportunity to find a common global purpose for salmon management in an Irish context. NASCO and NASF have negotiated for reduced fishing in these far off countries around the North Atlantic which they argue prevents Irish salmon from being caught in far off waters. It is well known that a major reason for reduced salmon catches in the 70s and early 80,s was due to fisheries in Greenland and Faroes. How desperate would the situation be if these countries continued to exercise their “rights” to fish for Irish salmon in their own home waters? We all need to be responsible for Wild Atlantic Salmon to ensure future abundance and indeed survival of this great species. There are real opportunities to work to a North Atlantic agenda in an Irish context. The newly established Marine Institute in Galway and similar organisations need to grasp the opportunity to get involved with the global imperatives and seek partnerships and opportunities for research and sustainable fishing practices.

There will be many challenges ahead but it is hoped that common sense and cooperation between fishermen, anglers, scientists and policy makers will prevail to ensure the survival of our great Atlantic Salmon. If we can collectively achieve future abundance for Wild Atlantic Salmon then we will have been inspired by the fish of knowledge. I hope that Wild Running Atlantic Salmon are still a highly valued resource and abundant in the years and centuries to come.

There must be someone out there who knows the answer!

Yours sincerely

Brendan Kerr

19 Swanston Gardens


EH10 7DJ


 Other Comments / notes

Decision making that benefits the greater good dominates in a democracy and sometimes individuals need to compromise on individual and irresponsible freedoms to exploit beyond reason. There will always be those who wish to exploit fish stocks in their own interest at the expense of the greater good. For those whose aim is to make some euros the rewards will be generally attractive as they will get the commercial value of their catch in compensation. For those who value their fishing and catching fish beyond their raw commercial value then a different formula is required. The maximum community benefit can only come from fishing that is sustainable and builds for a better tomorrow by those who care. The greater good needs to dominate decision making and no one can responsibly over exploit fish stocks. Protesters are calling for communities and coastal villages to be saved. Any natural resource can be depleted and its ability to provide abundance compromised. A truly successful strategy requires a big improvement in the salmon population for example.

How valuable is a salmon? Arguably the value of catching fish is far greater than the raw commercial value. It is very difficult to put a value on a traditional activity that in itself provides economic utility. 

Compulsory for drift netters and optional for snap and draft nets. Drift netters are indeed taking the Lion’s share of the salmon caught in Ireland and the blame. Rightly or wrongly. Some will  fish responsibly with the greater good in mind and will have a vested interest to contribute to measures which improve the future. If the coastal communities of Ireland are to save themselves for salmon fishing extinction then they need to enforce their own strict conservation measures. Raw commercial fishing which is predominately financially assessed  without consideration for total economic utility is destined to fail because the resource on which it depends would be fished out. Fishing that is sustainable and values the activity beyond the raw supermarket value and where subsistence fishing occurs in harmony with conservation, enhancement, development will improve sustainably and lead to a better future. 

 In addition there is a 5million fund for community support .. can we have more definition for this!

  the article in the Skipper says The scheme is designed to aid the development of communities where the impact of the cessation of drift netting will be hardest felt and provide alternative employment and economic opportunities for those effected ??????

 Welcomed by

NASF  Orri “ We campaigned for this for 14 years and are delighted that the Irish Cabinet  ( the Irish people ) has taken this action. It is not an easy choice to make in face of vested interests that have shown no concern for the future of the salmon resource” he said

 FISSTA  (Edward power) happy

Martin Territ Director of  the European commission Representation in Ireland “ this means Ireland ( the people of Ireland will now take the necessary steps to fully comply with the Habitats directive( Need to investigate what this means and be specific about the plans)


 Minister Dempsey decision to introduce a ban ……. Who will listen. Is it a democratic decision

 Why is IS and WFO disappointed in the decision.

It is suggested that lack of fish counters are the problem. Who cares! Stewardship and responsibility. By all means hold on to your license. What will the Gov / state do with the acquisition of rights to fish for salmon.

My advice would be to care for the future. Protect our interests. If it is only the commercial value we are interested in reward us commercially. If our interest is a true reflection of the value of Wild running Atlantic salmon there will be future benefits.

How good is the water quality and habitat to allow a high production of parr.

How many will survive in their river / lake to go to sea.

When they get to sea how many will survive

When they head back home how many will be exploited like Manna from heaven.

How many will get back to their spawning rivers

Will they survive, pollution drought nets seals lures etc 

The government of the day now has a responsibility to look after the interests of those who care about great natural resources like salmon Cf Turkies at Christmas a point well made P.9

Fishermen! You have  a responsibility to look after your own future and protect the future. Once a great resource like salmon is gone it is gone for ever. What else can be done. It is essential that the correct action is taken today.

Who owns salmon? Generally it those who own a resource privately or through shared tenant ownership who are responsible to build future value.  Who has the licence? State or individual the owner grants permission to fish, form the state. The facts that the state are buying back the licenses in the name of conservation to improve the prospect for the greater future salmon indicates they are paying people not to fish. It would make good business sense to buy something which will provide an immediate utility factor or grow in value. It would only be a good decision to invest in order to generate future revenue or value. It is extremely difficult to put a value on an individuals value attached to a salmon. Not only are they making a payout but they are losing revenue from issuing rights to catch salmon. In a democratic society the greater good needs to be considered. Those that fish need to consider their responsibility to their own future. Everyone who fishes has a responsibility not to overfish. I am sure that if those who fish can demonstrate that they have the future in mind they can be allowed to fish only in a way that is sustainable and which offers the prospect of a more abundant future.

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