SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 11, April 2016 - Page 129

he small crab boat in Howth harbour is covered in a layer of salt and rust. The yellow paint is peeling around the edges but Michael Farren isn’t worried, his boat is trustworthy.

“Being a fisherman holds you closer to nature. You’re aware of nature and your vulnerability. You might be here tomorrow or you might fall over the side. You don’t take anything for granted,” Farren said.

As a young child Farren would look out from the classroom and see the pier busy with fishermen and filled with deep sea trawlers, small crab boats, and sailboats. So at fourteen, he jumped on his father’s boat and never got off. Now 47, he still wakes up every morning to catch crabs and lobsters.

However, today the pier is a lot less busy. The Howth fishermen are a shrinking number. Only a handful of Howth fishermen are left and when they retire there won’t be any younger generations waiting to replace them. Farren said he thinks his son “sees the poverty in fishing” and that’s why he won’t become a fisherman. Once Farren retires, the family fishing business will end with him. But that isn’t something he thinks about much.

“This is the kind of job you take one day at a time. You might not be here this time next year, God knows. If I could keep going, physically I would fish for as long as I can,” Farren said.

When Ireland joined the EU Farren remembers his uncle being told that Irish fishermen would be hurt the most. Soon enough tighter regulations and strict quotas made it very difficult for some fishermen.