Report by – Belfast Telegraph
|IRISH trawlermen using drift nets are wrecking international salmon conservation efforts, it was claimed today. Orri Vigfusson, international chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, said the Republics Minister of the Marine, Pat The Cope Gallagher, is completely wrong in thinking Ireland has substantially reduced the impact its drift nets make on Europes fragile stocks of wild Atlantic salmon. Recently the Minister defended Irelands conservation record by laiming it had progressively cut its take of salmon. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mr Vigfusson. “Ireland has grown even greedier than it was a decade ago.”
Recent figures from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) show that while the commercial catches of all the other EU nations have slumped over the last decade, Irelands share of the total tonnage taken by EU nations has all but doubled. In terms of actual numbers, the 517,571 salmon killed by the Irish nets during the last three years is over 30% more than the number they were taking ten years ago. Stocks of wild salmon in both North America and Europe have dropped to perilously low levels in recent years. Mr Vigfusson, whose organisation has been trying for years to cut drift netting to safe levels, said: “These salmon could have restored the rivers of Europe. “Ironically, Irish rivers are probably the greatest sufferers because more and more of them are falling well below safe conservation limits. Yet the Fishery Minister happily handed out quotas that allowed these nets to kill well over 500,000 salmon since 2001.” NASF has finished a range of voluntary no-fishing agreements throughout the Northern hemisphere by compensating fishermen who stop salmon fishing.