Fishermen in Ireland have been hammered by policies that have undermined their rights over the decades. Overfishing by other nations in waters around Ireland, coupled with increased human impact on seas through mining exploration, pollution, global warming and so on, all result in reduced catches. The fishermen often 'blame' the Atlantic Seal population for the decrease in stocks. But Atlantic Seals are as much a victim as the Irish fishing industry. Rather than allowing for increasing antagonism between seals and fishermen (resulting in illegal shooting and trapping of seals) lobbying for the rights of fishermen to support research into the seal populations and ways for coexisting with the seal population would benefit both communities, as well as increasing the information we have about our coasts. It would also bring into question some of the highly questionable rights and laws that allowed the Irish government to sell the fishing rights to other nations.
Dear Minister Hogan,
I'm writing to highlight the issue of increasing tension between fishermen, particularly on the west coast of Ireland, and wildlife, particularly seals, which are seen as competitors for declining numbers of fish. The reasons are complex but various elements, including the legal boundaries of Irish fishing, pollution, over-fishing outside those boundaries, global warming, geological exploration, have contributed to a decline in numbers of fish available. This, alongside the protection of Atlantic Seals, has led to tension between seals and fishermen that was not prevalent in previous generations.
It's important to address this tension and attitude polarisation as a route to developing more understanding among communities and more opportunities for fishermen and their families. As a way of approaching this, I suggest that far more financial resources be made available to enable research into seals, using fishermen as the means of accessing the seal colonies. Then ideas of how to best work with tourism and other potentially cooperative industries could be explored.
I very much look forward to hearing your support for this petition.
With grateful thanks,
And kind regards,