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Fishermen unhappy with compensation

Fishermen unhappy with compensation

Anton McNulty

DRIFT-NET salmon fishermen in Mayo feel they have been forced to give up their livelihood without adequate compensation, following the ban on drift-net fishing from January 1.
At a meeting held last week in the Achill Sound Hotel, fishermen voiced their anger at how fishermen in the Bangor district have had their quota continuously reduced over the last number of years. They also expressed disappointment at the compensation package.
Mr Martin Kilbane, an Achill fisherman who chaired the meeting, said the majority of licence holders were likely to only receive between €5,000-€12,000 in compensation. He claimed salmon fishermen in England were getting in the region of £180,000 sterling for their licences.
There are 26 licence holders in the Achill area and last year only 30 tags were given to Achill fishermen compared to previous years where they could have got up to 200 tags.
It was decided that the compensation package would consist of €23 per fish caught for the next five years and, because of the small quota among fishermen in the Bangor region, they feel the package is inadequate. It was proposed that a set figure of €50,000 be paid per licence holder, in addition to double the amount of compensation for every fish caught.
There was anger among some fishermen who believe they were given false information by the NWRFB and the Government regarding the amount of fish getting into the rivers. They said they agreed to tagging and the quota system to help the anglers, but were again being penalised and punished and are angry the board might allow the anglers to catch and sell the fish in the future.
“In the Bangor area, we were very hard done by and have done everything the Government has asked us in the last six or seven years since the introduction of the tagging and they put us on individual quotas which was not done in other parts of the country. Many of us used to fish 20-30 days of the year but because of the quotas we were only able to fish two days of the year because we had caught the quota,” said Martin Kilbane.
Another meeting has been planned for January 12 to which local politicians will also be invited.