Friday 16 November 2018

Hang marine minister, insist outraged salmon fishermen

Dara deFaoite

DISGRUNTLED fishermen have begun a poster campaign calling for Marine Minister Noel Dempsey to be publicly hanged.

The 8ft by 4ft, hate-filled posters, have sprung up in one of the country's prettiest fishing villages. They target the Fianna Fail party and Mr Dempsey in the wake of the recent ban on drift-net fishing for salmon.

'Fianna Fail done what the English failed to do and killed over 600 years of tradition', reads one of the posters, which are plastered on any available wall or telegraph pole in the picturesque Waterford village of Passage East. 'Noel Dempsey should be hanged, not Saddam - Fianna Fail Out', reads another.

Hard-hitting graffiti and postering has erupted in coastal areas from Waterford to Donegal following Mr Dempsey's announcement last week of an all-out ban on drift-net fishing of salmon from January 1.

Ireland had been the only country in the EU not to have imposed such a ban, which was adopted following a warning from the Independent Salmon Group that the salmon population would fall to "catastrophic" levels if drift-net fishing was not banned immediately.

Net fishermen in Waterford are furious, however, over what they call a "paltry compensation package thrown up on the back of a ban" which they claim was "foisted" upon them.

"Concerned fishermen signed up to a voluntary package to temporarily halt fishing earlier this year, while the department was supposed to put counters into the rivers to assess salmon levels," said Michael Connors, chairman of the Waterford Estuary Fisherman's Association.


"Those counters never went into the water and now we've been hit with a compulsory ban with a compensation package that's nothing but insulting."

Fishermen will share ?25m in compensation, based on catches in the last five years. It will be paid over three years, if desired, to ease tax payments.

Monofilament nets must be decommissioned before a fisherman can qualify. A package of ?5m will be made available to help coastal communities hit hardest by the ban.

According to Mr Connors, "most of this compensation will go to the West on catch quota, with an average of ?2,020 going to fishermen in the south-east".

"We have up to 39pc of all of the spawning salmon stocks in the country in the rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir," said Mr Connors.

"Some of the men here have had licences for over 60 years, and now they're being offered a ?2,000 buy-out for a lifetime's work. This poster campaign which you see around towns in Waterford today, aimed at Ministers Cullen, Dempsey and others, is just the start of a protest which will be most felt by them come next year's election."

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