Thursday 23 March 2017

Why this Irish trawling company missed out on a potential €100k for “extremely valuable” fish

Bluefin tuna fish are worth thousands in countries like Japan.

Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Trevor Devereux, an employee of O'Flaherty's trawling company with one of eight Bluefin tuna fish caught
Trevor Devereux, an employee of O'Flaherty's trawling company with one of eight Bluefin tuna fish caught

A trawling company which recently caught eight Bluefin tuna fish off the coast of Wexford says it made just €5,000, when it could have received up to €100,000 for each fish.

Due to Ireland’s fishing quotas, fishermen are not permitted to catch and sell Bluefin fish, which are protected under Irish law.

Employees of O’Flaherty’s Brothers Limited, based in Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford accidently caught eight of the fish which have been frequenting Irish waters.

In Japan, they can fetch up to €100,000 due to high demand, as the Bluefin is a popular form of sushi.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Agency granted a waiver to allow O’Flaherty’s to sell them for a total sum of €5,000.

However, Seamus O’Flaherty, one of the owners of the company, says Ireland’s economy could be benefitting a lot more from the influx of the “extremely valuable” fish.

“These fish are worth a fortune. While we got some money for them, we got nothing compared to what we could have done if we sold them to an established market in Japan, which we’re not allowed to do,” Mr O’Flaherty told Independent.ie.

“It’s a tragedy because there is a very valuable fishery off the Irish coast and the only people who are allowed to partake in it are the Spanish and French.

“There are a number of fishing programmes devoted to catching these big tuna, and Ireland’s tourism industry and economy could be benefitting much better than we are,” he added.

Mr O’Flaherty says recommendations had been made to former Minister for Marine Simon Coveney to introduce a proper quota for Bluefin tuna due to the high numbers of them swimming in Irish waters.

However, the fisherman claims that it won’t be introduced.

“The Spanish and French would have to give up some quota in order for this to happen, which basically means we have to ask the French and Spanish is it okay for us to fish off our own coast.

“You would wonder why we are celebrating the independence gained in 1916; we don’t seem to be very independent.

“In Australia, their economy makes thousands from fishing Black Marlin and making documentaries about them. Ireland could be doing the exact same with the Bluefin.”

Every year, the European Community fishing quotas are determined at the December meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Brussels.

According to the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency website, quotas are published in an annual Total Allowable Catch Regulation; this legislation fixes the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, to Union vessels, in certain non-Union waters. 

Bluefin tuna aren’t included in the quotas.

Requests have previously been made in the Dáil for a three tonne quota to be introduced for the fish.

Irish laws states: “A master may not catch, land or retain on board a boat, Bluefin Tuna, other than in accordance with a fishing authorisation as defined in the Control Regulation.”

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