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Marine biologist advises to take advantage of warm-water species arriving in Irish waters

A leading marine biologist has come up with advice to take advantage of the situation where millions of sardines arrive in Irish waters.

Based on reports of warm water octopus on the south coast and a record-breaking haul of anchovies in Kerry in the past few weeks, it is estimated that more than 100 tonnes of sardines were unloaded in Dingle Harbour by the boats Fiona KIII and The Ocean Venture II.

Marine biologist and the director of Dingle OceanWorld, Kevin Flannery said that he is surprised by the large quantity of warm-water fish on the Kerry coast. “It’s fascinating; you have these Mediterranean warm-water species arriving in huge volumes in Irish waters. This could change the whole ambit of fishing, Mr. Flannery said.

“We’ve had three specific species that could be commercially developed since Christmas which are anchovies, sardines and octopus. We’ve lost 25% of catches to the British in Brexit. But now all of a sudden, we have huge volumes of these non-quota species in inshore Irish waters. They are quota free because they are so short lived.” Mr. Flannery added that he would ask state agencies and the Marine Department to take action as there is a resource and potential.

Moreover, he said, the marine agencies in Ireland need to develop the possibility of the shoals upon shoals of Spanish fish arriving on our coasts.

“Bord Bia have to look at the markets, BIM have to look at what vessels can fish them, and the Marine Institute have to look at the potential. We need to look at what stock of them is there, how long will it last, where are they spawning and what’s the market for them,” he said.

The marine biologist also said that countries like Iceland are developing new fisheries. “Iceland took it upon themselves when they found there was mackerel coming in there and they are taking over 100,000 tonnes per year.”

“I can’t see why we can’t look at the potential of anchovies and sardines and develop a fishery. For 40 years, I’ve been doing this and now we have this, it’s a huge resource and it has to be managed sustainably,” Mr. Flannery added.

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