IRELAND - A new collaborative research initiative, involving Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) scientists and a number of former eel fishermen, aims to further develop national knowledge of eels and their medium to longer term potential for recovery.
Based on management advice from IFI the existing conservations measures, in Ireland’s Eel Management Plan (EMP) agreed by the EU under EC Regulation 1100/2007, will remain in place up to mid-2018.
Joe McHugh T.D., Minister with responsibility for Natural Resources, said: “IFI has submitted advice and recommendations on Ireland’s EMP in the period 2015-18. These recommendations are cognisant of the independent scientific recommendations from the Standing Scientific Committee on Eels (SSCE) which underline the risk in opening fisheries at this time."
“I am anxious that a scientific fishery involving some of the stakeholders is undertaken for the next three years to increase data and knowledge ahead of further review and I have secured funding to start the research in 2016. This would facilitate a better informed decision on the outlook for the stock over the next few years and beyond and also the prospects for a return to commercial fishing activity.”
The Minister also pointed out that IFI would examine the data derived from the new initiative annually and review recommendations on management measures if the research supported this. He also pointed out that while some river basin districts appeared to attain the escapement targets set in the EU regulation but the regulation clearly required attainment of targets over the long term.
He said: “Progress has been made since 2009 when the protection actions were introduced with some rivers basins showing encouraging signs, but we cannot undermine that progress by undoing key conservation measures because we have some green shoots.”
Minister Mc Hugh also emphasised that he fully appreciates the demographics of the former fishermen and the difficulties experienced by them since 2009.
“I want to use the new scientific research to better explore the potential for short to medium term recovery of the fishery and prospects for fishing in the future. We have put in place measures to protect eel stocks but based on the research outcome I will be better placed to consider the longer term socio-economic impacts on fishermen and communities and what measures it may be possible to put in place for fishermen.”
The measures currently in place under Ireland’s EMP principally involve a cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market and mitigation of the impact of hydropower installations.
TheFishSite News Desk