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SDWF write to Minister about pair trawling in the Shannon Estuary

The SDWF propose that no pelagic fishing should occur within the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation.

The issue is no so much of porpoise or dolphin bycatch in pelagic trawlers but the ecological effect of removal of large numbers of important prey items. The ecological impact of removal of important prey items could be result in changes to the distribution of the species in the bay (in contravention of a stated conservation objective of the EU Habitats Directive). The removal of herring, and sprat could have a significant impact on their foraging efficiency and hence on the life histories of bottlenose dolphins especially their reproductive fitness. There is no evidence that local depletion of fish species does not adversely affect small cetaceans for which the SAC are designated and thus we think the precautionary principle should apply.

SDWF recommend there should be no fishing or removal of important pelagic species such as herring or sprat the Lower River Shannon SAC until it can be shown not to have any significant impact on the foraging behaviour and requirements of bottlenose dolphin.

The SDWF have been raising this issue since 2004 and are considering taking it to the European Court of Justice. SDWF are not opposed to commercial fishing and have always been very supportive of the fishing industry and coastal communities and work together on many issues.

The extent of SACs for cetaceans in Ireland is tiny and these habitats are supposed to represent some of the best available in Ireland for these species. If authorities cannot show there is NO impact of fishing especially on the removal of important prey items then they should not be allowed to fish in these sites.

 


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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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