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Boost for Donegal fishing industry

By C.J.McGinley

ISLANDERS and inshore fishermen across Donegal are describing as highly significant an EU decision to remove “unnecessary technical conservation measures”.

The amendments agreed by the EU mean that fishermen in Donegal will now be able to resume fishing for cod, whiting and haddock. It will also mean small inshore fishermen in ports like Bunbeg, Downings and Fanad along with island fishermen will no longer have to steam out 50 miles into dangerous waters to make a living. The new measures will come into effect early in the New Year.

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It follows a vote in European Parliament (564 in favour, 61 against) to approve the key amendments proposed by Ireland North West MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher.

Speaking to the Donegal News on Friday, Mr Jerry Early from Arranmore, has now called on the government to ease restrictions banning salmon fishing off the Donegal coast.

‘What can be done’

“This shows what can be done when fishermen on the islands come together and push politically for changes to EU rules and legislation. The amendments allow us to go back out fishing for cod, whitefish and haddock and is a small, but signficant step on the road to recovery for the beleagured fishing sector,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it comes too late for many fishermen who were forced to leave the sector due to draconian laws. In the mid-80s we had up to 150 commercial fisheremen on Arranmore – today there are about. If the EU can make changes to its laws – why can’t our national government follow suit and open up our salmon fisheries again. It is a crazy situation when look out every night and sea  ‘Spanish Armada’ with foreign boats plundering ourrwaters, but we can’t fish because of national and EU restrictions,” he added.

The Agreement permits the use of gill nets and tangle nets, south of 59 degrees North within the defined area for Cod Recovery. This means that in effect, fishermen in Donegal will be able to target haddock and other species with gill and tangle nets.

Island and small fishermen will also be able to target lesser spotted dogfish with gill and tangle nets, within three miles of the coastline and for 10 days per month. Lesser spotted dogfish can be used for bait to catch lobster and crab.

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Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland