Concerns are growing for the future of Ireland’s coarse stocks after a respected fisheries official revealed that huge shipments of bream and pike are regularly leaving the country destined for English fish markets.
Fears are growing that with dwindling eel stocks, those that have made their living from harvesting the species for decades will now start turning their attention to coarse fish species to make ends meet.
Fish like bream, pike and roach have become a regular feature on fishmongers’ slabs across the UK over the past 12 months, and now our trusted source - who wishes to remain anonymous - fears that increasing numbers will be illegally netted to meet the demand.
He told AT: “The eel industry could be a thing of the past by the end of February and that will leave around 400 people out of work. The majority will need to make a living straight away because there is no compensation.
“Some of these people only know about fishing, so my concern is they will turn to catching and selling other coarse fish.
“Species like bream and pike are the obvious target because there is clearly a market throughout Europe for them.”
The news will come as a further worry to anglers, as there are widespread fears that numerous other venues throughout the country are already being illegally raped of their stocks.
Angling journalist Geoff Cooper has kept a close eye on the situation over the last few years and is adamant that large-scale poaching is rife. He said: “Coarse fish are being caught in the south and sent to the north for distribution. The fisheries board knows what is going on and it is doing nothing about it. It just couldn’t care less about coarse fish here.”
However, senior figures from within the Central Fisheries Board have moved swiftly to dismiss such claims. Angling Information Officer Paul Bourke said: “We take equal care of all fish, regardless of whether they are coarse, game or sea species.
“We recognise there is a problem, but we are eradicating this by working with local clubs and responding quickly to poaching reports.
“We have several prosecutions pending against poachers, and I would urge anyone to get in touch with their local fisheries board should they witness any suspicious incidents.”
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