Ireland’s fishing fleet too large

overkillAccording to a recently published book – Overkill ! by Edward Fahy – Irelands fishing fleet is four times larger and many orders more powerful than in the 1950s when its industrialisation commenced.

The author suggests its expansion has all but eliminated the fish resources on which it depends and the Irish Government is shoring up an insolvent industry with whatever subsidies it can get from the European Union while at the same time appeasing the most powerful elements within it by making whatever fish remain available to them.

According to the publicity material, Overkill! is the story of a reckless rush to riches which degenerated into bankruptcy and fraud, and of a marine environment damaged, possibly beyond repair.

It examines the adoption of destructive fishing methods, the growing size of fishing vessels, the correlated evolution of fishermen’s representation and the increasing influence of the wealthier elements within it.

The interaction of financial, political and biological issues culminated in a centralised politicised fisheries establishment in which the majority of fishermen have little or no voice and in which scientific advice accommodates heavier exploitation rather than the prudent management of what is left.

Marine fisheries have a disproportionate influence on political life although they make a tiny contribution to national wealth.

Notwithstanding widespread public concern, the industry shelters behind a folksy traditional image nurtured by the establishment.

Overkill! explains how overfishing is accommodated, and even encouraged, by state subsidy: today more than half of the first sale price fetched by landings is contributed by the taxpayer as gas-guzzling vessels sieve ever more water to extract whatever marine life still survives.

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