Island fishermen have started to catch herring in Manx waters for the first time in 25 years.

An agreement between the Isle of Man and UK governments allows Manx boats to catch up to 100 tonnes of herring this year, and could quadruple by 2026.

Manx fishermen had been free to catch herring for centuries before the EU Common Fisheries Policy introduced quotas in the 1980s.

But by the time stocks had recovered the island had been excluded – driving most fishermen to focus their efforts on scallops.

Adie Kinrade was the first local fisherman to successfully apply for funding from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) to kit out his vessel ‘Our Sara Jane’.

The department made £150,000 available for the industry to diversify, which has all been taken up.

Upon landing the historic first catch, he said: ‘Today is a little piece of history.

‘When I was a kid the herring fishery was huge in the Isle of Man and then obviously it died out for one reason or another.

‘It’s just nice when the fish are literally a mile off shore that we can go out of Douglas and come back with what we have caught today.’

Mr Kinrade, and his five-strong crew, completed a series of trials with their new equipment before successfully hauling their first large catch of 12 tonnes on Tuesday.

Adie Kinrade
Adie Kinrade (Isle of Man Government)

Skipper Melvin Reid said: ‘This is my 44th year fishing, but all I have ever done is scallops and queenies. We were like kids today, when we saw a full net of herring come in. It was amazing.

‘If we could get more next year it would mean three, or four, or five boats could stay and catch this herring, which would make everyone happy.

Mr Kinrade added: ‘This year, we have managed to get our own gear and nets with help from the Government – so now we have to do our bit, and go out and catch them.’

A newly agreed quota for langoustines will come into place in 2024.

This will be set initially at 100 tonnes but could rise to 235 tonnes by 2026.

Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister, Clare Barber MHK said: ‘This is a landmark day for the Manx fishing industry.

‘The quotas are a once-in-a-generation opportunity and I can’t wait to see more Manx boats fishing for herring in the coming years.

‘The quotas will increase over the next few years to support a sustainable herring industry worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and a potentially more lucrative langoustine industry.’

The fist herring in 25 years has been caught in Manx waters
The fist herring in 25 years has been caught in Manx waters (Isle of Man Government)

Two more Manx boats have received funding to diversify their vessels from DEFA and are in the process of being fitted out.

David Beard, chairman of the Manx Fish Producers Organisation, said: ‘This is a very special day. Historically, catching herring was a staple of the Manx fishing industry.

‘With newly allocated quota we can once again fish for herring in our own waters, allowing a small number of boats to diversify from the shellfish fisheries.

‘As with all Manx fisheries we will manage the fishery sustainably to ensure lasting results.’

The Isle of Man Government’s deal was part of negotiations in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU, which resulted in increases to the British share of quotas that are applied to EU and British fishing fleets.