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Pair-trawling in the Shannon estuary SAC

The SDWF have again raised the issue, with the Department of Marine, over pair-trawling within the Shannon estuary SAC . Commercial fishing is a notifiable activity and it should be monitored to ensure effective mitigation is developed to ensure any impact is minimal.

In 2001 the SDWF raised the issue of the impact of pair-trawlers fishing sprat and herring within the Shannon estuary SAC and it's potential impact on bottlenose dolphins. The DCMNR thought there was no risk to the dolphins despite evidence that pair-trawling elsewhere does catch dolphins and there has been no monitoring or research on this activity in the estuary. The SDWF did not agree with the DCMNR assumptions and suggested a monitoring programme should be put in place to quantify any interactions.

Since 2001, the size of trawlers fishing in the estuary each autumn has increased and concerns have again been raised with the SDWF over the impact of this activity on bottlenose dolphins.

The SDWF wrote to the Minister of Marine in March 2004 highlighting these legitimate concerns. After a number of follow up letters which received no official response, Eamon Ryan TD, Fisheries Spokesperson for the Green Party put a Dail question to the DCMNR on behalf of the SDWF. This solicited a written response, which once again suggested their was no evidence of any interactions and the likely impact of this activity would be small.

While the SDWF agree there may indeed by no or minimal impact, there are no data to support either viewpoint. Commercial fishing is a notifiable activity and like other notifiable activities such as dolphin-wathing or dredge disposal, should be the subject of a monitoring programme to quantify any interactions and ensure mitigation measures are developed and implimented if any potential impact is demonstrated.

Until this activity in the estuary is quantified and any potential impact investigated, the SDWF will continue to raise this important issue with the appropriate authority. The Shannon estuary is the only marine protected site for dolphins in Ireland and thus it deserves a more cautious approach when carrying out potential damaging activities. The SDWF promotes the precautionary principal when considering all notifiable activities carried out in the estuary.

 


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The SDWF is supported by the following agencies... Shannon Development Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Marine Institute Clare County Council Kilrush Urban District Counil
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