A report on the impact of the Corca Dhuibhne salmon drift net fishery on the west Kerry region has been published today (18th April) by Údarás na Gaeltachta. Arising from requests by fishermen in Baile na nGall Mc Iver consulting were commissioned to carry out an appraisal of the economic, social and heritage impact of the fishery on behalf of Taighde Mara Teo., a subsidiary of Údarás na Gaeltachta.
The study found that the total landed value of the salmon catch in 2005 was €610,000 with the average value of the catch per licence being €15,600. The major salmon processors in the area, Iasc Uí Mhathúna Teo., De Brún Iasc Teo., and Ó Cátháin Iasc Teo. provide employment to almost one hundred local people. This employment generates an annual income of approximately €1.1m. in the region. In 2005 the total number of salmon processed was approximately 16,000, which gave total revenue to the processors of approximately €1.8m on salmon products.
The main conclusions of the report were
- While the drift net fishery in Corca Dhuibhne is not a major player in terms of the Irish fisheries industry, it is significant in the local context and directly impacts on the livelihood of individuals involved in fishing. It has some significance to the local fish processing industry and local restaurants but is of lesser significance to the local hotel industry.
- There is no doubt that a range of forces, internal and external, continue to work towards the elimination of drift net fishing in Ireland and that the likelihood is that there will be further ongoing reductions in quota sizes over the coming years.
- Conservation of salmon stocks is an issue of major concern throughout the European community and Ireland shares that concern, but there are major differences of opinion regarding how to address this issue.
- Drift net fishing for salmon during the season is a significant part of the portfolio of incomes for the local fishing community and its demise will have a major impact on those that depend on the sea for their livelihood.
- This may be somewhat akin to death by a thousand cuts for the wild salmon fishery in the region. In this context it is better to be proactive in terms of seeking solutions now rather than waiting until the situation is more difficult to rectify.
- Most people from both within and outside the region would agree with the importance of ensuring the continuation of the culture and way of life of the region. Therefore it is likely that any measures taken in pursuit of this agenda would garner support from a wide cross-section of the community.
The report recommends
- Given the significance of the fishery to local fishermen, Údarás na Gaeltachta, although its statutory remit is limited in this sector, should investigate the possibility of facilitating the development of this currently vibrant fishing resource as an ongoing source of income in the Gaeltacht area. This should be undertaken in cooperation with Fáilte Ireland, the South Western Regional Fisheries Board and Bord Iascaigh Mhara. This would involve providing support to the local fishing community to enable them to develop additional economic activities based on their skills and experience and utilising the resources at their disposal.
- There is a potential opportunity to build on the unique Gaeltacht personality and the fishing tradition of the region by developing a sea fishing tourism co-op where the licences are handed in in return for investment in a unique sea fishing tourism project which could operate over many months, not just the two months of the current salmon fishing season.
- All relevant State agencies should support the case for adequate compensation for those fishermen who wish to voluntarily relinquish their drift net licences so as to enable them invest in alternative economic and marine activities.
- All relevant State agencies should collaborate during the current year on an initiative aimed at ensuring that the salmon fishermen are given satisfactory access to alternative species of fish in the event of the removal or significant curtailment of the current licensing regime.
- Údarás na Gaeltachta should work with other vibrant state agencies to investigate the possibility of utilising the skills and expertise of the fishermen in activities such as salmon ranching. This would ultimately help to increase salmon stock levels thus ensuring the continuation of this resource.