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Ireland’s Fishing Industry

Jun 14, 2023

[Music Break]

Today, in our 74th podcast, we’re examining a significant economic news piece while learning four key vocabulary words: “Death by a thousand cuts,” “Fleets,” “Quotas,” and “Scrap.”

Let’s take a look at today’s headline: “‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ for Ireland’s Fishing Fleets,” a topic discussed in The New York Times on May 31, 2023.

The phrase “Death by a thousand cuts” originates from an ancient method of torture, where the victim suffers from many small wounds, eventually leading to a painful end. In modern language, it’s used to describe a situation where many small problems or setbacks accumulate, leading to failure or collapse. In this context, the phrase is referring to the numerous challenges that are leading to a slow and painful struggle for the Irish fishing industry. “Fleets” is another term for groups of ships. In this headline, it paints a picture of the Irish fishing industry slowly and painfully struggling due to a multitude of small issues.

Let’s go over the headline once more: “’Death by a Thousand Cuts’ for Ireland’s Fishing Fleets”.

Now, for the subheadline: “Along Ireland’s coast, fishing has been a way of life for generations. But changes to the industry — including a cut in quotas after Brexit and a government plan to scrap boats — may see a way of life disappear.”

Here, “Quotas” are limits – in this context, it’s about the limit on the amount of fish that Ireland can catch. “Scrap” means to discard or get rid of, and in this case, it’s referring to the plan to discard the fishing boats.

This news is important because of the changes happening in the fishing industry after Britain’s exit from the European Union. These changes, along with the new fishing limits set by Brexit, have reduced the amount of fish that Irish boats can catch.

This change significantly affects the small coastal communities in Ireland, where fishing is not a big industry, but it has been the ‘backbone’. ‘Backbone’ here means the primary support or foundation. For some small coastal towns in Ireland, fishing has been the main source of income and livelihood.

To wrap up, I’d like to share an idiom relevant to our topic: “Weather the storm”. This means to stay strong during tough times or difficulties – something the fishing communities are aiming to do amidst these challenging times.

To recap, today’s key vocabulary words were: “Fleets,” “Quotas,” “Scrap,” and “Backbone,” and our idioms were “Weather the storm”, and “Death by a thousand cuts”.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with another vocabulary lesson for economists.

Photo credit: By Kenneth Allen, CC BY-SA 2.0,


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