The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has opened a public consultation on trawling activity inside the 6 nautical mile zone and the baselines.

The baseline and 6 mile limit of Ireland’s waters.

Readers may recall that several years ago, following a public consultation, the Minister banned trawlers over 18 metres from trawling inside this area, which would have ended the practice of pair trawling for sprat by large vessels, which has been the subject of much controversy in recent years. The ban was struck down by a High Court appeal, subsequently upheld by the Appeal Court, and pair trawling and inshore trawling by large fishing vessels has continued in the meantime.

European sprat (Source:

European sprat is a fundamental part of the marine food chain, as it links between
zooplankton and top predators (fish, birds and marine mammals). Removing large quantities of sprat may adversely impact on species dependent on them, from mackerel and inshore fish species up to humpback whales.  Many of the inshore areas trawled for sprat are protected sites designated under the Birds and Habitats Directives, and many more will be designated Marine Protected Areas in the future.

Ireland’s inshore marine protected areas. (Source: Irish Wildlife Trust)

The briefing documents provided by the Department are informative, and outline many of the benefits that a ban on pair trawling inside 6nm would have. These include:

  • Improved economic opportunity for smaller sea-fishing boats
  • Reduced environmental impact from trawling
  • Re-establishing links between local fish resources, local fleets and local economies
  • Reduced conflicts between mobile and static fishing gears
  • Improving availability of fish in inshore waters
  • Protection of fish recruitment and stock components
  • Improved management of inshore waters

These briefing documents are available online, and should be read before making a submission. Sea anglers, and indeed anglers in general, may be very interested in seeing greater protection of inshore fish stocks, and are encouraged to contribute their views.

If you would like to have your view taken into account, the public submission is open until 1pm on the 12th of April 2024.

Further information, briefing documents and how to make your submission are available online here: