The livelihood of the salmon fishermen in Waterford Harbour is being threatened by seals.
Times are tough for the salmon fishermen of Waterford Harbour as the salmon are not running as in previous years and their catch is smaller.
The salmon fishing season runs from 1 February until 15 August and it is this window that decides a fisherman's living standard from one season to the next. In a good year, the men working in the estuary can earn £500.
However, the 300 driftnet fishermen operating 150 boats around Passage East, Ballyhack, Duncannon and Dunmore are competing with seals for the salmon. These seals swim up the harbour from the Saltee Islands, take whatever salmon they can and at the same time, damage valuable salmon nets.
Fisherman Patsy Barron is convinced the Waterford Fishery Board should be taking appropriate steps to deal with the seal problem. The seal issue is not a new one, but it is an escalating problem.
There’s more seals in the Harbour this year, there’s at least 10 of them, one would be, or two would be the limit now, but now there’s about 10 of them.
The Waterford Fishery Board have offered a 30 schilling bounty for every seal shot by the fisherman but seals are not easy to shoot. Patsy thinks the Fishery Board should arrange a shoot in the closed season.
It’s not so essential to shoot every seal, if you shoot over them, they’ll go away, clear out altogether.
Desperate times have lead to desperate measures and the fishermen have taken it upon themselves to poison the seals. They are injecting some of their catch with poison and putting it back into the nets to tempt the seals. This is not legal, but it is solving the seal problem.
This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 9 June 1967. The reporter is Bill O’Herlihy.