IWDG concerned over world's largest trawlers fishing in Irish waters UPDATE4th Mar 2014
Irish Times picks up on IWDG concerns
4 March 2014
IWDG are concerned about ongoing fishing by some of the largest trawlers in the world in Irish waters. Reports that the world’s second largest super-trawler has arrived in Irish waters for the annual blue whiting campaign increases this concern.
The MFV Margiris is 143m long (429ft) and displaces 9,500 tonnes and is the second biggest trawler/factory ship afloat and her net drags a net bigger than a football field and, if stood on its end, would be almost twice as high as Ireland’s tallest building. Dutch super-trawlers have been active off the west coast since early January. Three 125m vessels were observed in Bantry Bay by the IWDG in February sheltering from bad weather. They were reported up off Co Mayo in January, west Cork in February and are expected in west Cork again in March.
Last year a peak in strandings of common dolphins off the Irish northwest was a result of fisheries bycatch and IWDG fears a similar high level of bycatch may occur. Already the number of common dolphin strandings this year (2014) is higher than any other year, bar 2013, for the same period, but the cause of this high stranding rate is unknown.
EU registered pelagic trawlers are required to impliment Bycatch Regulation 812/2004 which requires independent observers to monitor bycatch of marine mammals in pelagic trawlers. The IWDG considers that given the evidence of last year, we should insist that any large trawler suspected of having the potential to capture large numbers of cetaceans should be monitored. These vessels should also impliment mitigation measures including pingers (acoustic deterrents) to reduce any bycatch.
Failure to manage bycatch in these fisheries is in contradiction of the EU Habitats Directive, which affords all cetacean species strict protection within our EEZ, which is up to 200 nmls offshore.