Friends of the Irish Environment have supported the call by the authors of a new study for more careful use of fertilizers to address the problem of Irish marine ‘dead zones'. Dead zones are caused when massive algal blooms fed from run off fertilizer die and decay, depleting oxygen and creating zones that can not support life.

The study shows that hundreds of regions of critically low oxygen now affect a combined area the size of New Zealand, and that they pose as great a threat to life in the world's oceans as overfishing and habitat loss.

It has identified 20 of the world's 400 marine ‘dead zones' along the Irish coast.

Irish Dead Zones include many of the best known estuaries, such as those of the Barrow, Blackwater, Bandon, Slayney, Suir, and Feale Rivers. Bays include Donegal Bay and Harbours include Castlteownbere, Killybegs, and Dungarven.

Read more.

Irish Dead Zone list

Irish Examiner


‘What I'm against is quotas', George Bush has explained. ‘I'm against hard quotas, quotas that basically delineate based upon whatever. However they delineate, quotas, I think, vulcanize society.'

Read the latest round - a debate in the Irish Times with the chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation. New EU figures now show the percentage of exploited stocks in the EU waters has risen in the last year from 80% to 88%.

Read the debate about quotas.

And visit our marine section and to read about the inshore destruction...


The environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment has responded strongly to the Federation of Irish Fisherman's call for the reduction of penalties for illegal fishing.

The Chairman of the Federation of Irish Fishermen Michael Walsh has claimed that ‘fishermen are being pursued like criminals and risk prosecution for trying to make a living' because of the ‘minefield of legislation'.

FIE claims that under the previous legislation Irish fishermen were apprehended breaking EU laws 138 times in 2005 but were fined just €417 on average.


‘While Irish fishermen constantly claim that Spanish fisherman are treated more leniently, in 2006 more than 3,000 prosecutions were initiated in Spain while there were only 26 prosecutions in Ireland.'

Organized crime
• Irish vessels landed more than 40,000 tons of mackerel through secret pipes under the quays at two Scottish ports between 2001 - and 2005, resulting in cuts in Ireland's quota.

• Two large Irish trawlers were apprehended unloading a huge catch of mackerel into a fleet of 20 lorries waiting at a west of Ireland quayside in 2005. Each lorry was driven by a number of people in sequence to break the chain of evidence and make prosecution impossible. The ‘blue box' used to track by satellite the movement of the fishing vessels had been tampered with and showed the location of the vessels as 25 miles off the Irish coast. This is organized crime.

Crashing stocks
Ireland's own Marine Institute pointed out in last year's ‘Stock Book',

• mackerel and blue whiting are currently overexploited
• stocks of cod, whiting and spurdog, and in the Irish sea sole, are severely depleted
• in the Celtic sea cod, plaice & herring are depleted
• the move towards deep water fishing for slow growing species is totally unsustainable
• in inshore fisheries the fishing power is in excess of what the resource can sustain

New legislation
The new legislation was introduced because under Irish and British law it is not possible to introduce effective administrative fines which would act as a deterrent. Serious fines and the power to confiscate catch and equipment cannot be imposed administratively under the terms of our Constitution.

The recent Report of the European Court of Auditors which states that the Commission has launched infringement procedures against this country because of the unreliability of catch data.

‘Ireland is already being prosecuted by the Commission for its failure to accurately reflect its catches. To lessen the penalties for illegal fishing would encourage moves within the Community to suspend payments of Community aid in the fisheries sector, a result that would help no one.'

Ways forward
A spokesman for the group pointed out that the recent Crawley Report points a way forward for the hard-pressed fishermen.

‘Efforts should be concentrated on implementing its recommendations for market development and innovation to enhance competitiveness, restructuring of the fleet and the processing industry and fisheries management.'


Verification and further information:
Tony Lowes 027 73131 / 087 2176316
Letter to Minister Coughlan:


Environmentalists warn over relaxing fishing controls
Call for Marine Protection Areas

As Irish fishermen meet with Ministers Smith and Killeen, Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] has written to the two Ministers and urged them  to heed the advice of its own Marine Institute.

FIE claims the message from the scientists is clear:

"the closure of the fisheries for the species at risk provide the highest probability of recovery for these species and is the ONLY advice possible in the context of the precautionary approach".

The fishermen's demand for payment for retiring boats Boat does nothing for the environment. The removal of these vessels will merely increase the quotas available to the more modern competitive fishing vessels.

FIE is urging the Ministers to adopt the best scientific advice and establish effective marine conservation areas where all fishing is excluded at all times. Easily enforced, this way forward allows fisherman to harvest the upwelling of fish that spill out of these highly productive areas and yet the stocks are protected from over-exploitation.

Listen to the debate between the fishermen and FIE on RTE's Morning Ireland news.

Press release

Letter to Ministers


The Government's rescinding of the Cockle Regulations for Waterford today has been welcomed by FIE, who had submitted a report on the subject recently to Minister Eamon Ryan and the European Commission. 

The situation in Waterford is only the tip of an iceberg. Inland fisheries for all of these species - cockles, razor clams, scallops, and whelks - are all seriously over fished and the current harvest is unsustainable.

The Government must review the licensing procedures as a matter of urgency, particularly in areas designated under European law for the protection of birds who rely on these food sources for their survival.

Read our report.


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