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 Skipper defends giving away free fish

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PostSubject: Skipper defends giving away free fish   Sat 06 Oct 2012, 17:34

Skipper defends giving away free fish



The
public collect monkfish left at Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, by the owners
of the Saltees Quest, Séamus and John O'Flaherty.Photograph: Mary
Browne


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ÁINE McMAHON
FISHERIES
AUTHORITY officers have prepared a file for submission to the Director
of Public Prosecution after a Wexford trawler owner gave away fish
rather than discard them at sea.
Séamus O’Flaherty, who owns the
Saltees Quest, gave away fish at Kilmore Quay in Wexford yesterday
morning after the vessel exceeded its EU quota of monkfish. The vessel’s
skipper, Jimmy Byrne, said he took the action to oppose the EU rule
that requires over-quota fish to be thrown back in the sea.
The
crew, which returned to harbour on Wednesday night, were monitored by a
member of an Garda Síochána at Kilmore Quay before officers from the Sea
Fisheries Protection Authority arrived yesterday morning to investigate
the activity.
The authority, the statutory body that enforces
fishing regulations, condemned the actions of the crew. Fisheries
officers counted the catch of the Saltees Quest and prepared files for
submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The fisheries
authority said it found a substantial quantity of fish retained onboard
at Kilmore Quay, which the skipper logged as having been discarded. It
said all catches landed, including the fish caught by the Saltees Quest
that were undeclared as “discards”, are counted against the national
quota. By bringing the fish ashore, this detracts from the quota
available for allocation.
The authority said it would continue to deter similar actions, to prevent damage to the livelihoods of legitimate fishermen.
In
a statement, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority said: “A fishing
operation that results in large quantities of fish for which the vessel
does not have a quota is undesirable for everyone. A prudent response
would be to alter that operation – change fishing grounds or fishing
techniques to try to avoid unwanted catches in the first instance. The
quantities brought ashore as ‘discards’ in this morning’s landing are
not consistent with this type of responsible fishing.”
Mr Byrne
told The Irish Times he took the action of giving away the fish to draw
attention to what he describes as the crazy system of dumping dead fish
back into the water while thousands of people go hungry in Ireland.
“Four
hundred thousand people are unemployed and people are ashamed to admit
they don’t have enough money to feed themselves. Children are going to
school without breakfast or coming home to no dinner while we are
encouraged by the Government to throw these fish back into the sea. I
personally know people who are going hungry – this is why I had to take a
stand.”
Mr Byrne and his crew collected the fish, sorted them
into 130 boxes and left them on Kilmore Quay to give them away free to
the public.
Mr Byrne said he had always complied with EU fishing
regulations but became increasingly frustrated as his crew were told to
dump tons of dead fish into the sea when they had exceeded their quotas.
“I
have a certain quota of fish to catch and the monkfish end up getting
caught. There’s more monkfish in Ireland than ever before. I can’t tell
the monkfish not to go into the net. Plaice and cod land in the net too
but we have to throw them back.
“The Irish Government wants me to dump all these perfectly good fish into the sea but it’s pure madness,” he said.
Mr Byrne said there was an overwhelming response to the free monkfish and that people in Wexford were supportive of his action.
He said that Irish waters are becoming a graveyard because of the EU fishing regulations.


Source:-
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/1005/1224324909722.html
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