Call for Eel Fishers to engage in public consultation
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has urged eel fishers to engage with public consultation on the EU Eel Regulation. Speaking following communication with the EU Commissioner responsible for implementation of the rules, Carthy said:
“The Commission is currently in the process of conducting the second scheduled evaluation of the Eel Regulation, where it will assess the effectiveness of management measures taken across Europe to preserve eel stock.
“The Eel Regulation was adopted in 2007 in response to drastically depleting eel stocks in Europe. Since then, the various Member States have adopted measures of varying rigidity to reach the requirement of ensuring 40% escapement of adult eels to the sea.
“Ireland was the only country that actually chose to implement an outright ban, and up until recently, eel fishers have had no recourse to compensation.
“The science on the best way to preserve stock is actually far from conclusive. In fact during the last assessment of the rules in 2014, restocking measures taken in many Member States had had little effect on increased eel escapement. Therefore I wrote to the Commissioner last month to ask what studies were being prepared to guide Member States in the management and conservation methods.
“The eel sector in Ireland faces uncertainties about whether this ban will ever be lifted. But more than this, fishers who lost their way of living are keen to know that the ban is not in vain. At the very least, we should be able to know whether actions taken by the Government are sufficient to reverse depletion trends.
“I would urge all eel fishers to engage with the public consultation and give their views on the ongoing ban and methods being used to recover stock. This can be done by filling out an online questionnaire at the below link.
“Finally, I am glad to have received confirmation as well from the Commissioner that there are no EU level rules preventing the extension of the FLAG (Fishery Local Action Groups) Scheme to inland fishing communities.
“Currently the Irish Government only allows fisher men and women who live within 10km from the coastline to set up and participate in FLAG projects and initiatives. Sinn Féin believes that given the indefinite eel fishing ban in place in Ireland, it would be unfair to isolate these fishers from important community fora such as FLAGs, through which to voice their concerns and participate in actions.
“I am glad that the Commissioner agreed with me on this point, and have raised this issue with the Minister already directly”.