The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) welcomes the assessment of aquaculture and fishing activities in Roaring Water Bay in Cork but is concerned that proposed changes to activities there don’t go nearly far enough.
The Bay has long been designated as an area of high importance for nature conservation for its reefs, gardens of sea grass, porpoises, seals, otters and a myriad of other marine life. However to date it has been merely a ‘paper park’ with no actual regulation of activities in the Bay that are harmful to this priceless biodiversity. These include trawling, the use of tangle nets, trammel nets and other indiscriminate fishing practices that destroy habitats and result in untold by-catch of marine life. The Bay is also under threat from the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) which is designated as an alien invasive species under the European Alien Invasive Species Information Network and was recently proven to be breeding independently in Irish waters (click here to read more).
While welcoming the quality of the research carried out by the Marine Institute, and the proposal to halt trawling and dredging on sensitive habitats, the plan doesn’t go nearly far enough in its conservation aims. The IWT believes that all damaging fishing practices should be prohibited within the boundary of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in order to create a robust marine reserve. This would allow sustainable fishing to continue and create opportunities for other marine-based tourism.
Pádraic Fogarty, the IWT’s Campaign Officer, says that “there is a huge opportunity here for fishermen to increase their catches, and the value of their catch, as well as boosting the local economy through conservation. In Ireland we have no genuine marine reserves where damaging fishing practices are restricted and this has led to a free for all in our inshore areas. This results in diminishing returns for local communities and an ecological calamity bequeathed to the next generation.”
In October, 65 of the world’s leading marine scientists called on Minister Simon Coveney to create marine protected areas to address the ‘dramatic loss of biodiversity and fishing opportunity in the Irish Sea –here.
The full text of the IWT’s submission can be seen here.