I am advised that the latest and most accurate scientific information available indicates that in 2002 179,177 wild salmon were caught by drift nets, which represents 31% of the estimated total returning population before any exploitation.
My predecessor firmly ruled out buy-out as an effective means of achieving the shared objective of restoration of salmon stocks and instead promoted the policy of quotas to achieve catch reductions as the best instrument available to achieve this objective.
The issues inherent in a complete voluntary buy-out of the Irish commercial salmon sector are very complex. The international experience is also mixed. We need to caution against excessive raising of expectation about large amounts of compensation. Nor is it the case that all active commercial salmon fishermen are willing to be bought out. Simplistic solutions will not work.
The Central Fisheries Board is currently examining a number of options, including possible models for a buy-out-set-aside scheme, aimed at reducing the level of commercial exploitation of the salmon resource. The board will be informed in this regard by an independent report that it has commissioned, and expects to be finalised shortly, on the socio-economic value of the salmon resource. Pending the outcome of these reports, I remain to be convinced about buyouts as a cost efficient workable instrument.