Ireland’s fishing fleet is four times larger and many orders more powerful than in the 1950′s when its industrialisation commenced. Its expansion has all but eliminated the fish resources on which it depends. Government policy strives to shore up an insolvent industry with whatever subsidies it can get from the European Union while, at the same time, appeasing the most powerful elements within it by making whatever fish remain available to them.
I first contacted Dr. Edward Fahy post 2007 having read his industry reports on whelk fishing off the coast of north County Wicklow. It was clear from his writing that Ed Fahy was a scientist with not just a professional approach to his job, but a deep interest in the marine environment and a far seeing vision of the need to balance sustainable exploitation of the seas and oceans that surround us against profit for its own sake.
Having witnessed first hand environmental destruction wrought by Government sanctioned mussel dredging off the County Wicklow coastline, which I try to highlight at every opportunity, it is timely, especially given imminent reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, that Dr. Fahy has published a true, fully referenced account of Ireland’s commercial sea fishing industry to date. The narrative examines the development of destructive fishing methods, the growing size of fishing vessels and the correlated evolution of fishermen’s representation and the increasing influence of wealthier elements within it, and how the interaction of financial, political, and biological issues culminated in a centralised fisheries-political establishment where the majority of fishermen have little or no voice and science accommodates heavier exploitation rather than prudent management.
Full review to follow.
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