15th March 2023
Irish Wildlife Trust calls for urgent action to ban trawling and dredging in inshore waters
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has written to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Minister for Biodiversity and Land Use, Pippa Hackett, urging them to act swiftly to protect inshore waters and to ban all trawling within six nautical miles of the coast.
The call comes after a ruling from the Court of Appeals
that has again overturned a ban on trawling by vessels over 18 metres in length which was originally brought into force in January 2020
. Five years after then-minister Michael Creed launched a public consultation on the measures, which were widely supported by inshore fishermen, anglers and environmental groups, we are back at square one. Trawling, including pair trawling for small fish such as sprat, is recognised as unacceptably destructive and has wide-ranging impacts on marine ecosystems.
The original ban only applied to trawling with vessels over 18m however we believe that new measures must go much further given the rapidly deteriorating state of marine biodiversity. This means banning the use of all mobile/towed gears in these waters. This would include bottom and mid-water trawling as well as dredging the seafloor. Such a ban is urgently needed to allow for the recovery of marine life and is provided for in a number of EU directives and regulations which, in Ireland, are mostly unimplemented.
Protecting inshore waters is recognised as vital not only for the protection of biodiversity but also for fishing communities that depend upon them. Trawling and dredging not only destroys marine life, but are fishing methods that release vast amounts of carbon from the sea floor and are generally associated with high volumes of ‘bycatch’, i.e. unwanted catches that are subsequently dumped (despite this being illegal).
Along with the designations of Marine Protected Areas and the proper management of fishing activities elsewhere, a trawling and dredging ban would help to restore marine biodiversity and livelihoods that depend on it.
IWT Campaign Officer Pádraic Fogarty says “It’s incredibly disappointing that five year’s work has produced no changes to the destructive practices that are happening in our seas. At some point we need to get real about putting restrictions on what’s allowed as well as complying with the numerous regulations and directives that we have signed up to over the last three decades. If something good can come from this debacle it would mean finally banning trawling and dredging from inshore waters.”