CHILLY conditions kept revellers away from the seaside resort of Kilkee this summer; now it seems the fish are shying clear too.
Year upon year, Limerick fishermen descend upon the coastal town anticipating waters swarming with mackerel.
Last weekend, the Kilkee Fishing Club failed to catch one.
Corbally native Ray O’ Halloran - a member of the Kilkee Fishing Club – describes the situation as an “unbelievable shortage”.
“I’ve never seen the likes of it. A number of men around here have been fishing all of their lives and they’ve never seen anything like it.
“This is a huge problem, we’re talking all the way from Loop Head to Doonbeg. My feeling is that the foreign trawlers are sucking them all up and not giving the fish a chance to get to our coasts.”
“There seems to be none around the west coast. If you go further north you will get mackerel,” he added
Fergal Deegan, of Live95FM, gave a further insight into the scale of the problem.
“There were 14 lads in the water for two hours. We didn’t get one. We’d normally be giving them away but there’s a shortage this year. I went to the fishmonger the following morning and he had none. This is the first time I’ve seen anything like it.
“You’d hear rumours there’s a fishing boat out in the bay hoovering them up but I’m not so sure. I think the water is too cold. Some of the locals think that’s the reason the fish aren’t coming in.”
“One of my friends spent nine hours on a boat fishing over the last couple of weeks. He’s caught four pollack and one mackerel. This would never have been heard of before like.”
Fishmonger Paul Cusack of Rene Cusacks in Raheen, says the store has yet to feel the effects of the shortage and isn’t going to be panicking any time soon.
“Effectively the stock is not in trouble. I’ve been hearing things like this for the last 40 years so I’m not going to be ringing any alarm bells yet,” he said.
Last month, Minister for Agriculture and Marine Simon Coveney expressed his worry about the overfishing of mackerel by the Faroese and Icelandic vessels, who increased their quota without international agreement.
Ireland’s mackerel quota was increased this year. by the EU. In 2010 it was 62,641 and was worth approximately €60m to the Irish economy. In 2011 Ireland’s quota is 10 percent larger, up to 68,700 and should be worth an estimated €75m to the Irish economy.