SEALS TURNING FISHERMEN INTO “ENDANGERED SPECIES” A Youghal fisherman says he is part of “an endangered species” after being forced to jettison net fishing in exchange for lobster pots dues to seals destroying his catch.
Barry Clohessy says he gave up the life he had embraced for 40 years because 90% of my catch was being destroyed by seals; monkfish, cod, skate, everything!” The Youghal man says “many fishermen” in the southeast who have responded likewise. “Fishermen are the endangered species here!” he insists. Harbour and grey seals are protected in Ireland, with Capel Island near Youghal, hosting colonies. “But no matter where you fish they are there”, Mr. Clohessy insists.
The fisherman was speaking after West Cork TD Michael Collins called for a seal cull amidst growing fears of inshore fishermen’s livelihoods being decimated. “It’s not about killing seals for no reason”, says the Independent deputy, but “common sense has to prevail”. Deputy Collins says he has endeavored to get the government to understand the issue more clearly but when he raised it in the Dáil earlier this year he “got very little response”. However, he intends to raise the matter again.
Tourism and conservation interests hold a more benign view of the baby faced pinnipeds, not least as slumbering attractions for family boat excursions. A biologist with the Irish Seal Sanctuary, Brendan Price, says there “is no scientific justification for a cull” which he feels could harm marine ecology. He recommends a change in fishing practices. “Fishermen need to look at the amount of waste discards, by-catch, and non-selective fishing gear”, he suggests. “Tangle nets and set nets at the bottom need to be outlawed and fishing under the noses of breeding groups is asking for trouble. This cannot be resolved by a single species approach”.
Meanwhile, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan has suggested “acoustic deterrents” to deter seals from eating fish being hauled on board. Hardly music to the ears of fishermen, however.
Story by Christy Parker - Courtesy of the Dungarvan Observer
Pictured: The shocking photo of Fisherman Finbarr Clohessy showing the destroyed Monkfish catch on board his boat the 'Kay Paula' at the quayside in Youghal, Co. Cork. The seals eat the body and leave the head and tail of the fish. ... See MoreSee Less