"Eamon Ryan of the Green Party is pretty good on fisheries issues - so I dropped him the following letter....maybe he can get an answer out of the Minister....
Thanks for your response and apologies for the delay in getting back to you. We're all quite busy on the conservation front, mainly trying to find out precisely what our current government and EU partners are at regarding fisheries policies. It has made for a pretty grim study so far.
We would be pleased to meet with you at some point in the future when we have formalised more of our concerns regarding fisheries policy.
However, there is a matter of more pressing urgency that you might perhaps raise the next time Minister Pat Gallagher is taking questions.
You might be aware that in the last issue of the Marine Times (I see they published an article by yourself there too), the Minister published the following regulation which was accompanied by a statement from the CFB quoting the Minister as he appears to indicate that this legislation is solely for the benefit of recreational anglers:-
""tuna"" means Albacore (Thunnus alalunga), listed in the Annex, as well as Northern Albacore (Germo alalunga), referred to in Annex IE of Council Regulation (EC) No. 27/2005 of 22 December 20042;
""?I am delighted to have been able to open up these new species to Sea Anglers. Sea Angling is extremely socially valuable as both a widely available and healthy form of recreation. Perhaps most importantly Sea Angling is a sustainable activity and I hope this new regulation will enable many more people to experience the quiet enjoyment Sea Angling can provide?, said Minister for the Marine, Mr. Pat ?The Cope? Gallagher, TD.
And from the CFB press release:-
""The result of this regulation (S.I. 353 of 2005 ? Sea Fisheries (Tuna and Certain Other Species Fishing) Regulations 2005 ? PRN A5/1102) is to allow for the fishing for tuna and certain other species by means of fishing gears other than the type of gill net, driftnets, bottom set gill nets, trammel nets and entangling nets. This regulation is in operation since the 8 July 2005 and offers Irish and International anglers the opportunity to fish for bluefin tuna on rod and line from various sea angling centres nationwide.""
Eamon, what concerns me is that, (despite written requests for clarification both to the CFB and the Minister's Office both of which have been ignored), this legislation appears to pave the way for a commercial longline or other line based fishery for tuna.
Based on the damage done to West Atlantic tuna species by the commercial fisheries in the US & Canada, we really do not what the same to happen to the East Atlantic/Mediterranian tuna stocks, which are already being exploited in criminal and unsustainable manner in the form of tuna ranching (they capture wild juvenile fish and fatten them in a similar manner to farming salmon) whereby since the fish is not 'landed' when caught, it gets classed as farmed fish and the impact of the juvenile removal is not taken into account in any management plan.
Apparently the Marine Times editor has described reaction to this regulation by the Minister as ""controversial"". The whole piece of legislation looks vague and rushed, as did the CFB press release, which seems a bit confused on species involved. Bluefin tuna is a different species from Albacore, and were permits or 'authorisations' ever required for any sort of recreational tuna anglers in this country? Because they are now, as far as I can see. What impact this might have on our fledgling recreational tuna angling tourism industry remains to be seen.
Can you put the Minister under pressure to clarify the purpose of this legislation and if it is to introduce a commercial tuna fishery, how many authorisations have been applied for, granted, are anticipated etc? I'm considering requesting this information under the Freedom of Information Act. Do you think there is any point in this? Unfortunately, I can't use this tactic on the CFB, who appear to have a long history of ignoring the public when asked 'difficult' questions.
SACN Regional Co-Ordinator (Ireland)
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