Who’s being gulled?

Many regions on the outskirts of Dublin have been plagued in recent years by an invasion of aggressive gulls, which soil houses and clothes-lines and scatter refuse, as well as killing smaller birds.

Most people, it seems, have either not speculated about the cause of this new plague or else have put forward various explanations, most of them wide of the mark.

Gulls eat fish, and, more particularly, herrings. And almost all the herrings in the Irish Sea are gone. (That’s why there are none in the shops. Just ask in your local fish shop.) If there are no fish, the gulls move inland in search of food.

How did this happen? Because the state gave away Ireland’s fishery waters to twenty-seven other countries, several of which employ gigantic factory ships—ludicrously called “trawlers”—that suck up everything in the sea, until there is nothing left. And the Irish state has signed binding treaties to allow them.

Irish fishermen are given a very low quota, and can only fish for herrings for a few weeks each year. The bulk are taken by foreign trawlers and exported to the Continent, principally to Portugal, where they are processed—and, to add insult to injury, some of it is then exported back to Ireland. And so a low-cost and traditional staple of Irish households is no longer available.

According to Dr Karen Devine of DCU, fish with a commercial value of €201 billion were taken from Irish waters between 1975 and 2010—that’s a natural resource worth €201,000,000,000,000 over thirty-five years. The Irish fishing industry was allowed €17 billion of this (8½ per cent); the remaining €184 billion went to our EU “partners.”

Where are the investigative journalists, fearless pursuers of truth? Could it be that they know the truth and realise it would not please their employers?