The southeast ‘salmon wars’ of the late eighties and nineties – which saw frequent clashes involving patrol boats and local fishermen – were recalled by Waterford TD John Deasy in the Dáil, who cited such harassment as one of the reasons for the flight from the seas over the past decade.

Speaking on the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Fixed Penalty Notice) (Amendment) Bill, the Dungarvan deputy said: “This Bill has brought to my mind the fishing industry in Waterford or what is left of it. I could not find any definitive figures for the number of people in County Waterford or nationally who are making a living from the sea. I did some research and found some reports done over the past ten years which give an idea of what has happened to the industry generally.

“In 1999 the report, the National Investment Priorities for the Irish Seafood Industry 2000-2006, prepared by the national strategy review group on the Common Fisheries Policy, stated the industry, comprising fishing, aquaculture, processing and ancillary sectors, employed 15,832 people directly between full-time and part-time jobs.

“In 2003, a report from EUROSTAT and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries put employment at 10,584 for the entire sector including fishing, aquaculture, processing and ancillary sectors, a reduction of 5,000 jobs since the 1999 report. In 2006, a Marine Institute report, Sea Change, estimated direct and indirect employment in the industry stood at 5,960.”

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