HC Deb 22 July 1912 vol 41 cc820-1W

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland), whether the attention of the Fisheries Branch has been called to the damage alleged to be done to the herring fishery in county Donegal by the destruction of spawning fish during the first four months of the year, and by the practice of shooting nets before sundown; and whether it is intended to take any steps in the matter?


The Department are not prepared to take any steps to prevent the capture of spawning herrings. The practice of taking such fish by the fishermen of the United Kingdom has gone on from time immemorial. Many of the best herring fishings are for "full herrings"—that is, for herrings taken just before or during spawning time. It is very difficult in some places to stop the practice of shooting herring drift nets before sundown. Off parts of the Donegal coast the only announcement of sunset is the hauling down of the flag at the coastguard stations. In failing light and at a distance from the station it is often practically impossible to ascertain whether the flag has been hauled down or not. A suggestion was made by the Department that the time of sunset might be more clearly notified to certain fishermen by the firing of a rocket gun from Mulroy and Sheephaven stations; but this suggestion it was not found possible to adopt. The Department caused a notice to be distributed cautioning fishermen against a breach of the law in regard to the time before which herring drift nets should not be set; and legal proceedings will be instituted in any case in which the Department are furnished with particulars sufficient to justify such action. The commanders of the patrol vessels are also aware of the law, and will see that it is enforced whenever they have the opportunity of doing so.