Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Wild Salmon Conservation
Question 311: To ask the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources if he is will allow island based salmon fishermen who did not participate in the salmon hardship scheme to re-fish wild salmon as part of a pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17346/11]
Question 312: To ask the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources the number of island based salmon fishermen who did not avail of the salmon hardship scheme,; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17347/11]
Question 313: To ask the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources if he will carry out a study into the impacts of allowing island based salmon fishermen who did not participate in the salmon hardship scheme to re-fish wild salmon and its impact on Ireland fulfilling its obligations under the Habitats Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17348/11]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 to 313, inclusive. together.
As the Deputy is aware, the primary motivation in aligning the management of the wild salmon fishery with the scientific advice to cease mixed stock fishing at sea, is the conservation of the wild salmon stocks. It is vital to afford every protection to the at-risk salmon stocks and to clearly prioritise conservation over catch. Ireland must fulfil its obligations under the Habitats Directive, namely to maintain or restore fish stocks, protected by the Directive, to favourable conservation status.
I am advised that there can be no question of relaxing the conservation measures other than in rivers where stocks are meeting conservation limits and where it is established that significant numbers of fish destined for other rivers are not intercepted. It is not envisaged, for these reasons due to the constraints of the Habitats Directive that drift netting in the open seas will be licensed in the future.
I am conscious of the impact of the cessation of the seasonal wild salmon fishery on island communities. This was addressed, I understand, in the allocation of €5 million which was provided for a Community Support Scheme, the focus of which was primarily on those communities where commercial salmon fishing was a well-established activity and where its withdrawal demonstrably impacted on the economic and social fabric of the area.
My Department does not hold any details in relation to the number of island-based fishermen who did not avail of the salmon hardship scheme.