• Fish are a renewable resource because they can renew their numbers though breeding.
  • Fish can be depleted if they are over-exploited

Why over fishing takes place!

Big ships: Some of today’s trawlers are as tall as seven storey buildings and as long as Croke Park. These ‘super-trawlers’ often travel together in fleets, which usually include a factory ship that processes the fish at sea. This system allows trawlers to fish for months on end. They kill vast quantities of fish, which can be stored for long periods of time in massive refrigerated holds.

Modern Equipment: Modern boats are so well equipped that it is very difficult for fish to escape them:

  • Echo sounders and sonar equipment are used to located fish while radar recooks the location for nearby rocks or ships
  • Powerful motorised cranes and winches can haul huge catches on board
  • Huge nets can catch many tonnes of fish at a time. Gill Nets of up to 21 kilometres long hand like massive curtains in the water. Trawl Nets are used to scoop up fish from the sea bed.

Easy Targets: Some fish are very easy to catch. Big shoals of cod, for example gather together to spawn in the Irish sea each spring. They are easy to catch at such times because they move slowly and close together.

Fact: if over fishing continues at its present rate, all world fish stocks will collapse within 50 years.

What is being done to save our fish stocks?

Fishing Fleets: have been reduced in size to lessen the pressure on fish stocks. Ireland’s fishing fleet is to be reduced by one third.

Quotas: They European Union has set quotas or limits on the quantities of fish that each of its member states can catch each year. These quotas are reduced when fish stocks become dangerously low.

Irish Navy Fishery Protection Vessels: patrol our coast to prevent poaching by foreign trawlers.

Fishery Exclusion Zone: have been set up to reduce the amount of fishing that takes place in rich coastal fishing grounds. For example, only Irish boats can normally fish within 10 km of the Irish coast.