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Fishing sector feels heat from super-trawlers



The fishing industry in Galway fears that foreign super-trawlers could be responsible for decimating stocks of white fish off the west coast.

Local fish processing plant Iasc Mhara Teo in Ros a Mhíl, and local fishermen, are alarmed by the presence of super-trawlers off Galway that capable of catching quantities of fish well beyond what they are entitled to.

The numbers of herring off the west coast of Ireland has depleted rapidly in recent years and stocks are now deemed so low that Irish fishermen are not allowed to catch herring this year off Galway.

“This is the first year that there has been no quota for herring in the west,” said Cathal Groonell managing director of Iasc Mhara Teo, which employs 35 people, ten full-time and 25 seasonally.

“The stocks have been declining for ten years. Last year the quota was about 2,000 tonnes. There is no quota this year. We’ll know for sure in December but the indications are that there won’t be a quota for herring off the west coast next year either,” he explained.

Mr Groonell said that his operation in Ros a Mhíl is monitored closely by the authorities but the super trawlers don’t face similar scrutiny.

“They are like elephants out in the sea that nobody monitors. There are six or seven inspectors from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) who are based out here, and I don’t mind that, that’s right. And they monitor what we do and what catch is landed by local trawlers.

“But there is no monitoring of the super-trawlers. The SFPA even have CCTV cameras in our factory, which shows live exactly what we are doing. Yet there is no monitoring of the super trawlers. They’re the untouchables,” he said.

Iasc Mhara Teo processes mackerel and herring but the super-trawlers are capable of catching, processing and storing many multiples of what onshore plants are capable of; and way above the quotas.

Mr Groonell said there are other factors that contribute to the decline in stocks but he blames the super-trawlers.

“The problem is getting worse. They used to come here for maybe three months and then they’d fish off the coast of Africa. But now they come here and stay maybe nine months because they have been run out of African waters because the communities there realise the affect they are having. They haven’t been run out of Connemara but they are having a similar negative impact.

“They are entitled to fish here but once they reach their quota they should be made leave. They should be monitored and once they catch what they are entitled to they should have to move on. They are too big. There is no need for trawlers of that size. People say without them we wouldn’t land what we need but that’s rubbish.”

Galway West Fine Gael TD, Sean Kyne raised the issue with Marine Minister Simon Coveney in the Dáil. He expressed alarm that the largest and second largest vessels in the World are fishing in Irish waters at present. Deputy Kyne said he was given assurances from the Minister in relation to inspections.

“They have the capacity to catch and process quantities of fish way beyond allocated quotas. The fact that such trawlers can operate in very inclement weather has heightened fears that breaches of fisheries rules and regulations could go undetected. Ireland’s maritime territory stretches far into the Atlantic and is over ten times larger than our land territory which poses immense challenges in monitoring and controlling activities, including fishing.

“I am encouraged by Minister Coveney’s assurances that our Naval Service and Sea Fisheries Protection Authority have up to date technology which shows all of the vessels in our territorial waters at any given time and are currently using this technology to monitor the super-trawlers in question. A further concern, however, relates to the inability, because of inclement weather, to physically board and inspect the activities and catches by these super-trawlers. While the safety of our Naval Officers and the SFPA workers must always be paramount, I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that officers will carry out inspections out as soon as weather conditions permit.”

Mr Gronell, commended Deputy Kyne for raising the issue, however, said on-board inspections and ongoing monitoring must commence from the moment these big ‘monsters’ enter Irish waters.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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