A survival plan for Donegal islands is calling for an ease on the 2006 ban on salmon fishing and for inshore island fishermen to be allowed to fish more species.
The report outlines a three-year plan to save and maintain the communities on Árainn Mhór, Inis Boffine and Tory Island and states that, “small, offshore island communities are special cases”.
Árainn Mhór fisherman and island spokesperson Jerry Early said the island has lost 40 percent of its population since 1988, a decrease he said was twice the national average. He attributed the population drop to the restrictions on fishing.
The report states that scientists agree there is a surplus of wild salmon in the Atlantic Ocean and Mr. Early said, “We could fish in an ecologically friendly way and also in a very sustainable way,” he said. “And it’s not about us becoming wealthy, wealthy, wealthy fishermen. This is just a basic resource that we have. It’s not going to cost the government a single penny.”
Mr. Early said island fishermen already have the boats, the capabilities and the licenses.
“How would the farmers feel if today they were sitting on the side of the road with their tractors, looking at their fields and unable to go to plow them.”
Dinny McGinley, TD, minister of state for the Gaeltacht, launched the report on Arranmore on Monday. Sinn Féin TD, and Thomas Pringle, independent TD, were also at the launch and Mr. Early said they have promised their support.
He said he encouraged by the way the elected officials “decided this was bigger than party politics.
“They realise islands are at a crossroads,” he said.