"Unsustainable fishing for sprat" must be banned within the six nautical miles around the Irish coasts according to Independent Galway West TD, Catherine Connolly.
Dep Connolly said that there is "an urgent need" for the Government to take action on the issue, especially as a government directive in this regard was introduced in 2019.
The directive excluded licenced vessels of 18 metres, or above, from operating trawl or seine nets inside the six nautical mile zone, while at the same time providing for a transition phase of two years to allow the larger vessels to make alternative arrangements.
The purpose of the directive was to achieve more sustainable management of the coastal areas, with a view to ensuring the restoration of biodiversity, the better management of fish stocks, and sustainable employment for local fishermen.
An 'urgent' problem
A number of operators of larger vessels challenged this directive in the High Court and on July 31 2020 the High Court quashed the directive, albeit on very narrow grounds related to the consultation process. However, the Court accepted that the Government was fully entitled to take the necessary steps to ensure the sustainability of sprat stocks.
"Unfortunately, since that time, the Government has failed to act on the judgment," said Dep Connolly. "This has resulted in a situation where the larger vessels are free to operate trawl or seine nets, but this is simply not sustainable. This problem must be resolved urgently."