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A black day for coastal communities -- Ferris

1 November, 2006


Sinn Féin's Marine spokesperson Martin Ferris TD told the Joint Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources that 'today is a black day for coastal communities'. He was speaking during a discussion on Government proposals to force people out of the salmon drift-net fishing industry. Earlier, Deputy Ferris attended a march of 400 drift-net fishermen to the Dáil to demonstrate Sinn Féin's support for their campaign.

The Kerry North TD told the Committee: "This is a black day for small coastal communities across this island who have been treated with contempt by this administration, whose entire approach to the salmon fishing issue has been a disgrace and a shambles. Meaningless platitudes from the Minister acknowledging the hardship being suffered by fishermen are irrelevant when set next to the destruction of an industry.

"There are other options before the Government. They could choose to set aside for a number of years, suspending operation of the fishing licences while providing compensation, to try and determine whether salmon drift net fishing is the mainly responsible or the declining stocks we all acknowledge. They could choose to investigate scientific claims that it is pollution at the bottom of rivers that is causing the decline in salmon stock.

"But instead, the Government targets coastal communities, many of whose families have been involved in salmon fishing for generations. There is a man in my constituency who has been fishing like this for thirty years. Others are in their 50s and 60s and have been fishing for their entire lifetimes. What are these people to do? To live off the derisory compensation the Government is forcing them to take? Are they going to be forced into other fishing industries already under strain such as lobster fishing leading to a cascade effect all across the entire fishing industry?

"The Government has no answers to these questions and such is its scorn for Irish fishing communities it has no interest in finding them."

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