Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation producer organisation (IIMRO) is calling for an urgent new scientific study on pollack to be carried out so that accurate and up to date stock data can be collected to properly inform fisheries management.

The recent closure of the pollack fishery based on advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES)1 is causing a disproportionate social impact on island and inshore fishing communities.

IIMRO say that the current ICES advice is based on a new stock assessment benchmark which used a flawed survey methodology that should never have been accepted. It has resulted in the closure of the pollack fishery across a huge sea area from the West of Scotland to the French coast. Such a drastic and socially destructive action based on flawed data will not improve the stock or any conservation objectives.

IIMRO chairperson Jerry Early stated : “Pollack has become one of the few remaining species we were permitted to fish on our Islands. We cannot accept the flawed scientific data behind this fishery closure and we offer to work hand in hand with the relevant bodies to provide accurate data.”

The pollack closure has recently been highlighted by fisherwoman and IIMRO member Muireann Kavanagh, aged 14, who is based on Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal, Ireland. She has fished pollack with her uncle for the past two seasons from a small boat using a darróg. This is a traditional wooden frame for holding the line and the six hooks used to catch pollock from the inshore waters around her island home2. This is a highly selective and low-impact fishing method, which provides a high quality catch for sale and local consumption

The Kavanagh Family, Arranmore Island. L-R: Anthon Kavanagh, Neily Kavanagh,Séamus Kavanagh Front: Muireann Kavanagh © IIMRO

The Kavanagh Family, Arranmore Island. L-R: Anthony Kavanagh, Neily Kavanagh, Séamus Kavanagh Front: Muireann Kavanagh © IIMRO

Muireann Kavanagh said: “Fishing is in my blood. I don’t see why I am being forced to stop a tradition that goes back hundreds of years in my family. It looks like my future has been decided for me by the Government and the EU.”

IIMRO PO members are offering to participate in a new scientific program to collect line caught pollack samples from inshore waters which will give realistic data on pollack stocks around the Irish coast and improve data for pollack management.