Government to introduce salmon drift-netting ban

Wed, Nov 1, 2006, 00:00

The Government has adopted the key recommendations of a report which calls for the creation of a hardship fund for those affected by the compulsory buy-out of 800 salmon drift-net fishermen.

Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey said the Government would establish a fund of €30 million to compensate the fishermen and help provide them with alternative employment.

The Independent Salmon Group report published last week called for an end to drift-netting for salmon at sea and a ban on angling for salmon in a number of vulnerable rivers in the east and southeast. The ban will be in place from next January.

"The Government's primary motivation in adopting the report is that of conservation of the wild salmon species, which has long been regarded as one of Ireland's most prized fish, instilled in our traditional mythology as the Bradán feasa, the salmon of knowledge, and valued as a cultural and economic resource," Mr Dempsey said in statement following a Cabinet meeting today.

He said expert scientific advice shows marine survival of salmon in the North Atlantic has decreased significantly in the past decade, with less than half to one third of the salmon returning to rivers in the 1970s and 1980s are currently returning to Irish rivers.

"In this regard it is vital to afford every protection to the remaining stocks and to clearly prioritise conservation over catch," he said,

Mr Dempsey said the Government recognises the ban on drift netting will "entail hardship for commercial fishermen and vulnerable coastal communities".

He said €25 million would be made available, which means each fisherman will get a payment equal to six times their average annual catch for the past five years multiplied by the average price per salmon over the period, which is calculated at €23.

Each fisherman will also receive a payment equal to six times the current licence fee.

A further €5 million will be available for a support scheme designed to help communities hardest hit by the ban to create alternative employment.