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Environmentalists attempt to prey on a gullible public

IWT anti fishing industry propaganda article “more holes than a trawler’s net” - Cormac Burke, IFSA

A recent article (Oct 16th) by the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) accuses several fishing industry representatives of being ‘in denial of the facts’ and claims that, in particular, the Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance are ignoring the statements of ICES on fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic.

The IWT article, with the dramatic attention-grabbing headline of “Toxic Denial”, attempts to portray the Irish fishing industry as nothing more than pillagers of the sea who hold no regard for the environment, the status of fish stocks or for the future management of the marine resource as a whole.

But in attempting to do so, it is unfortunate that the IWT (a) use reports on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that have already been debunked by internationally-acclaimed senior scientists; (b) refer to the “overfishing” of several species of fish that in fact are not commercially fished by any Irish vessel; (c) castigate industry representatives such as Cormac Burke and Patrick Murphy for their comments while they themselves [IWT] release statements without any author’s name and hide their identity behind that organisation’s title so that they cannot be directly held accountable for the intentional poorly research articles they produce (unlike the industry people they are attacking who are at least willing to put their names to their comments).


The ‘expert report’ that the IWT are basing their ‘data’ on was in fact completely debunked by scientists in December 2021 and was then retracted by its authors - (see )- leading to a further comment by scientists that “Retraction of flawed MPA study implicates larger problems in MPA science” — in a nutshell, science says that there is, in reality, absolutely no evidence that the fishing industry creates more carbon than the aviation industry, in fact the opposite is true.

And, while the IWT sneer at the statement by IS&WFPO CEO Patrick Murphy that this industry is constantly “wrongfully accused” of overfishing, they also complain of the IFSA Chairman Cormac Burke’s opinion on the lack of genuine research into the need for MPAs, they cherry-picked a few dramatic statements without any basis.

The term ‘overfishing’ is used several times in IWT statements and yet apparently not once have they checked to see how fishing is actually monitored, recorded and regulated in this country.

Within the context of the EU fisheries regime, Ireland has the most rigid fisheries monitoring system and the highest rate of compliance throughout the EU.

Every fish stock has its quota (which is based on ICES advice to the EU Commission every year) and every vessel going to sea knows its allowance for that trip for each species - mandatory on board cameras observe at-sea activities; every time the net is hauled and the fish handled the volume and quantity must be recorded in an electronic logbook; the location of ALL vessels, via an AIS system, at all times is observed and recorded by the monitoring authority; and when the vessel comes ashore, the catch is checked by the authorities to ensure it tallies with the logbook. And n the case of the larger pelagic vessels (mackerel, scad, herring) this bulk fish must be weighed at the pier side and again checked in the fish processing factories.

In essence, it is virtually impossible for any vessel in the Irish fleet to ‘overfish’ without being caught and facing serious penalties which could amount to hundreds of thousands of euros.

Meanwhile IWT claim that spurdogs are a “declining species due to overfishing”, but here’s a fact that any fisherman in Ireland could have told them:

Since 2009 when Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki sanctioned the banning of the commercial catching of all members of the shark family (a regulation brought in to cease the activities of foreign longline vessels who were targeting sharks purely for their fins), there has been zero TAC quota for spurdogs in Ireland (or elsewhere in the EU).

Indeed the slightest effort of research by the IWT would have brought them to the very recent (Oct 4th) article in The Fishing Daily that the same ICES organisation that the IWT seem to hold in such esteem is now recommending a re-opening of the spurdog fishery with a NE Atlantic quota of 17,355 tonnes for 2023 and 17,855 tonnes for 2024.

Also, while selecting bits and pieces of ICES data to suit their own agenda, the IWT unsurprisingly seem to have missed this one, from an ICES 2019 report:

“The main pressures on the Northeast Atlantic ecosystems all originate from vessels, either fishing, military activity, or shipping.

“However, in regard to fisheries, strong management measures are in place to prevent overfishing, to allow stock recovery, and to protect vulnerable species and deep-water stocks” .

All in all, the appearance of this IWT piece of propaganda on their website (right under the ‘donate to the IWT’ tab of course) is nothing more than another attack on an already over-regulated industry and it has less to do with environmental concern than it has to do with an agenda of scaremongering the public and gathering more donations - but hey, when do these people ever let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Cormac Burke,

Chairman, Irish Fishing & Seafood Alliance

The IWT article can be seen in full at:

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