THE Irish Federation of Sea Anglers claims that proposed new regulations could cause boat skippers to quit the sport.

The IFSA, set up in 1953, has never lost a competitor in the thousands of competitive events held since the foundation of the Federation over the past half century.

However, following the Fethard -on -Sea disaster, some commentators criticised the IFSA and claimed it was opposed to the introduction of the new Department for the Marine safety regulations under the The Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties Act) 2000. This amended the 1992 Act and brought sea angling boats within the definition of passenger boats.

It also had the effect that sea angling boats operating within three miles of land were brought within a regulatory framework for the first time.

“The IFSA requested time to discuss the provisions of the new Act with its affiliated sea angling clubs around the country, who traditionally used half deckers for their competitions – fished by native and foreign anglers alike,” said a spokesman.

“The boats are supplied for competitive events by angler/boat owners and fishermen supplementing their income from the very limited hire opportunities available in any given Irish summer. 

“We fear that if the new regulations are too expensive to implement, boat owners will withdraw from sea angling, which would have a catastrophic effect on mainly peripheral coastal areas of the country.” 
Brian Prendergast, IFSA chairman, estimates that 8000 sea anglers – at a cost of €200 per angling trip – compete in sea angling events around the country annually.
“The IFSA has always placed safety very high on its agenda, and its safety record proves that point,” added the IFSA spokesman.

“However, the recent maritime disasters have caused all water user organisations to re-examine their safety regulations.

“We are not opposed to increasing safety standards, and point to the present IFSA boat angling safety regulations in force which include fishing within three miles of land; the obligatory wearing of safety jackets by all competitors; a stipulation that all angling boats must fish within sight of each other; and the provision of a safety boat in all major events.

“The financial loss of  €1.6 million p.a. would be difficult for these disadvantaged locations to recoup from other tourism sources.

“There are also charter angling boats around the coast but there is not a sufficient number available to cater for all IFSA events, given their main purpose and emphasis in servicing the more lucrative overseas sea angling market.”

Within the past week a meeting of the Central Council of the IFSA was held in Dublin, and the present Department for the Marine Regulations – presently observed by all IFSA clubs – were reviewed. 

The day long meeting agreed to further strengthen its safety measures for all affiliated clubs. The new safety regulations agreed will be more stringent than those laid down currently by the Department for the Marine.

The Central Council, however, points out that the IFSA is only responsible for the members attached to its 200 affiliated clubs in the 32 counties, and other means must be employed to convey and implement Water Safety regulations for other non affiliated sea anglers, boat owners and other marine water sport enthusiasts.