Government must ban drift-net salmon fishing
27 Oct 2006
Friends of the Earth welcomes the conclusions of the Independent Salmon Group are welcome. The Government's response will reveal much about the relationship between scientific advice and political decision-making. The expert group concludes that only an immediate end to drift-net fishing can avert a terminal decline of salmon stocks. And yet already TDs from coastal counties are arguing that drift-netting is a traditional practice and it is 'unrealistic' to impose a complete ban. They propose voluntary measures instead. It's hard to see how these TDs are representing the best interests of their constituents, given that the scientific reality is not negotiable. What these politicians are actually saying is the Government should let drift-netters catch all the salmon they want and discover for themselves that this is unsustainable rather than intervene to make salmon stocks, and fishing, sustainable into the future. Such abdication of political responsibility would put short-term self-interest above long-term public interest. In this case the survival of the salmon and the future of our coastal communities are at stake. But the Government is also promising a new climate change policy before the end of the year. A similarly slipshod approach to converting scientific imperatives into policy prescriptions in that case would promote chaos on a planetary scale.
This comment was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Irish Times from Friends of the Earth Director on Friday 27th October 2006.