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Ireland Bans Drift Netting for Salmon

Nov 02,2006 SACN


After years of protests by groups concerned at the continued depletion of the once almost abundant stocks of salmon in the North East Atlantic, the Irish Government have finally decided to end the drift net fishery.

This will be good news for the many enterprises, and those whose livelihoods depend upon the valuable recreational salmon fisheries in Europe, although for many the move comes far too late.

Ireland Online

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News release

1 November 2006

Salmon & Trout Association applauds brave decision to close the Irish Drift Net Fishery

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) welcomes the Irish Government’s decision to ratify the Irish Salmon Group’s Report recommendation to end all drift netting for salmon off the Republic of Ireland’s coast from 2007.  This is a major and vital step forward in Atlantic salmon conservation.

S&TA’s director, Paul Knight, says, “the Irish Government, and in particular, Noel Dempsey T.D., the Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, should be congratulated for tackling a difficult issue with a robust policy decision in favour of salmon conservation, especially that the drift net fishery should close permanently, with a fair compensation package paid to commercial fishermen who will be impacted by the closure.”

Knight continues, “this will benefit not only Irish rivers, but those in England, Wales, Scotland and several other European countries.  Irish drift nets stop salmon from returning to rivers in countries with endangered and protected salmon populations.  Every wild salmon that is able to survive life at sea and swim back to its home river to spawn is critical for the survival of that river’s unique salmon population.”

The decision is just reward for the pressure exerted on the Irish Government over many years by NGO groups and individuals, including Niall Green of Stop Drift Nets Now, Brian Marshall of the Wessex Salmon & Rivers Trust, Orri Vigfusson of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, the European Anglers Alliance and the S&TA, who raised support for action and ensured that the issue remained central to agendas within the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) over the past decade.

However, there are potential problems with the implementation of some of the Irish Salmon Group’s secondary recommendations, not least being the suggestion that the sale of rod caught salmon should be permitted.  S&TA, many of whose members fish in Ireland and spend significant amounts of money in local community economies, strongly opposes such a recommendation, on the grounds that the point of slaughter will merely be moved from the ocean to the riverbank, thus potentially negating any benefit to conservation of stocks.

S&TA also believes that catch and release of fly-caught fish should be used on Irish rivers as a management tool, allowing the socio economic benefits of angling to continue while, at the same time, allowing the vast majority of salmon to escape to spawn. 

The presence of anglers on the riverbank is a deterrent to poaching, and anglers are often the first people to pick up the signs of pollution incidents or any other problems affecting the health of rivers.  Income derived from anglers is also a major source of funding in-river management and conservation projects. 

“Now, there must be a commitment to fund increased anti-poaching enforcement to ensure that salmon saved from the drift nets do not end up illegally killed and sold.”

“However”, Knight concludes, “the major issue here is that Irish drift netting will be banned, and this is a tremendous and needed boost to European salmon conservation. 

ENDS

For further information

Carmel Jorgensen, S&TA tel. 0207 283 5838

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) established in 1903 is the only organisation representing all game anglers in the UK at the highest levels to influence and change Government legislation, policy and management practices to protect and improve the water environment and the quality of fishing. S&TA promotes flyfishing by introducing people of all backgrounds to game angling and communicating the environmental, social and economic benefits of angling.

NASCO is an inter-governmental organisation comprising all countries in the North Atlantic area which have significant salmon populations.  It develops standards for the management of salmon and monitors the status of stocks through commissions with the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).  NASCO has signed all Parties up to resolutions covering the Precautionary Principle, the ending of all Mixed Stock Fisheries in home waters and the Williamsburg Resolution, which seeks to reduce the impact of aquaculture on wild salmonid species.

Carmel Jorgensen

Policy, Campaigns and Communications

S&TA (Salmon & Trout Association) UK

Tel. 020 7283 5838

Email. carmel@salmon-trout.org

Web. www.salmon-trout.org

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Wild Atlantic Salmon to run free from Irish driftnets.
- Irish and European anglers welcome Government decision to close the Irish Drift Net Fishery

 
From the office of EAA in Brussels, November 2nd, 2006.

 
The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and Federation of Irish Salmon and Seatrout Anglers (FISSTA) welcomed the decision by the Irish Government to adopt the Independent Salmon Group Report to end mixed stock fisheries immediately.

A compensation fund of € 30 mill. has been approved to pay commercial driftnet fishermen over 5 times their annual salmon income so that Ireland will no longer be in breach of the EU Habitats directive in 2007.  

The Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey TD, is to be applauded for taking the Independent Salmon Group's (ISG) recommendations to ban drift-netting to the Cabinet against much opposition. The rivers of Europe can now hope for a recovery process to begin as their salmon will no longer be intercepted by the Irish driftnets. Others in the feeding countries such as  Greenland, Faroe Islands and Iceland will now see some reward for their decision to forego netting rights to fish for salmon as a part of an international drive to help speed the recovery.

The EAA were joined in Brussels today with Ireland's premier salmon angling body, Federation of Irish Salmon and Seatrout Anglers (FISSTA), who has led the campaign for the lifetime of six Irish Governments in conjunction with the  North Atlantic Salmon Fund.
 
In 2004, FISSTA decided to form a united angling and stakeholders group to lobby the politicians in what later became known as 'Stopnow'.
 
The success of this single issue campaign hastened the decision to end such a damaging practice which was long overdue and all anglers are delighted that no more salmon will be lost to the commercial nets off the Irish coast. Scientific evidence has long supported the need for this ban to ensure the long-term survival of  Irish & EU salmon stocks.
 
The office of EAA has assisted FISSTA in ensuring that all EU obligations in the protection of the salmon habitat are met and has led the non Government organisations campaign at NASCO for over 15 years.
 
The EAA and FISSTA are delighted that the efforts by all involved in the long campaign to convince the Irish Government  to end this damaging practice to our wild Atlantic salmon has been listened at last by this Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey TD, and is to be commended in taking the ISG reccomendations to ban drift-netting to the Cabinet for such a historic decision.
 
With this success, now comes the responsibility for Irish salmon anglers and stakeholders to ensure that the benefits of more salmon returning to Irish rivers are translated into enhanced stocks and a sustainable angling and recreational industry. EAA assemblies will continue to hear from FISSTA on level of progress and will hopefully encourage many of our five million EAA members to include Ireland in their future angling holiday plans to view that wonderful scene of our wild Atlantic salmon leaping the waterfalls on their way back to their natal pool for spawning.
Ends

Notes to Editors:
 
For more information contact:
FISSTA National Secretary Noel CARR, Mobile 353 87 23 52 001
EAA, Secretary General Jan KAPPEL, 32 (0)2 2286 5956; email@eaa-europe.org
 
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EAA, European Anglers Alliance is the pan-European umbrella organisation for recreational angling having as members angling peak bodies from 17 European nations with 5 million affiliated anglers.
Web: www.eaa-europe.org
 
FISSTA, Federation of Irish Salmon and Seatrout Anglers is the Irish salmon affiliated member of EAA.
FISSTA is The voice of the Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Angler.
Web: www.fissta.com

Stop Now! campaign: http://www.stopnow.ie/
Some campaign supporters: http://www.stopnow.ie/links.html

 
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Press release from Irish Government:

Dublin, 1st November 2006

Noel Dempsey T.D., the Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, today announced that the Government has adopted the key recommendations of the report by the Independent Working Group on Salmon. The key recommendation of this report is the creation of a hardship fund for those affected by the compulsory buy-out of drift net fishermen.

The Government's primary motivation in adopting the report is that of conservation of the wild salmon species, which has long been regarded as one of Ireland's most prized fish, instilled in our traditional mythology as the Bradán feasa, the salmon of knowledge, and valued as a cultural and economic resource.

Expert scientific advice available shows marine survival of salmon in the North Atlantic has decreased significantly in the past decade. Less than half to one third of the salmon returning to rivers in the 1970s and 1980s are currently returning to Irish rivers. In this regard it is vital to afford every protection to the remaining stocks and to clearly prioritise conservation over catch. The current imperative must be to maintain stocks above conservation limits or at the very least halt the decline.

The Government realise that these proposals will entail hardship for commercial fishermen and vulnerable coastal communities. To offset this they have established a hardship scheme for those affected. This fund, worth over €25 million, will give each fishermen a payment equal to six times their average annual catch over the period 2001-2005 multiplied by the average price per salmon over the period (€23). Each fisherman will also receive a payment equal to six times the current licence fee.
 
Although the scheme is compulsory for drift net fishermen the scheme will also be open to other commercial Salmon fishermen who use nets such as snap and draft.
An additional €5 million fund will be available for a community support scheme. This support scheme is designed to aid the development of those communities where the
impact of the cessation of drift netting will be hardest felt and provide alternative employment and economic opportunities for those affected.

From now on we can expect our management of wild salmon will be based on an individual river basis. This is a quantum leap from our previous management of the fishery and will ensure that we can optimise the potential benefit of returning salmon, as well as ensuring that in each river salmon stocks will in time return to a healthy status.
This means that the harvest of salmon, by any means, will be restricted to those stocks of rivers that are judged by the scientific advice as meeting their conservation limits. Commercial fishing and recreational angling can continue only on the scientifically identified exploitable surplus.

 
However in the region of 68,000 fish that might otherwise have been taken in the at-sea drift-net fishery in 2007 will be available for redistribution to their natal rivers. As a consequence of the redistribution of the foregone at-sea drift-net catch up to ten rivers, which would otherwise not meet their conservation limit in 2007, will now have a surplus over the conservation limit requirement.

 
The National Salmon Commission, in the context of the report, will now bring forward advice to the Minster on measures for management of the wild salmon fishery in 2007. Regulations governing the management of the 2007 season will be published for public consultation before the end of the year.ENDS

For further media information, please contact:
Olive Stephens, Press Advisor 353 1 678 2440 / Mobile: 087 760 1642
Ken Cleary, Press Officer: Office 353 1 678 2441 / Mobile: 087 905 9618
Email: press.office@dcmnr.gov.ie
 
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ISG, Independent Salmon Group
- Report of the Independent Salmon Group - Managing for the Conservation of our National Salmon Resource in 2007 and beyond; here:
http://www.dcmnr.gov.ie/Marine/Inland Fisheries Marine Leisure and Research/Inland Fisheries/Report of the Independent Salmon Group.htm



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