The SFPA recognises Ireland’s important position as custodian of some of the largest and richest fishing waters within the European Union. The application of sea-fisheries conservation law is done to protect fish stocks and seek to avoid financial penalties being imposed on the State, and thereby the taxpayer, by the European Commission. Through promotion and compliance, the work of the Authority is directed towards leveling the competitive playing field by ensuring common standard of fisheries and food safety lay. But at times, it necessary to take enforcement action in the form of legal cases, in order to protect seafood safety and fisheries sustainability.
Below is an overview of enforcements actions most recently published in the SFPA's annual reports. Information on enforcement action in previous years is available in our Annual Reports.
During 2019, a total of 52 separate case files were initiated in the Irish Jurisdiction by the SFPA and the Naval Service by way of direct enforcement. Of the 52 cases, a total of 62 separate infringements were investigated.
Casefiles Opened in 2019
The 52 case files opened in 2019 consisted of 42 cases pertaining to fishing vessels registered in Ireland, 2 were British registered, 5 were Spanish registered, 1 was Portuguese. The remaining 2 cases were pertaining to food processing businesses. Of the 52 cases opened in 2019, 18 cases were also closed in 2019. The outcome of the 18 closed cases broadly fit into 4 categories. 8 cases concluded in the courts and were found guilty. 6 cases were closed as the DPP direction was that the case could not proceed. 2 cases had the probation act applied. 2 cases were closed following completion of a mutual assistance request. Of the 52 cases opened in 2019, 34 cases remained open at the end of 2019. Of these open cases, 14 case files were still being compiled and awaiting further evidence or proofs. 2 were pertaining to mutual assistance requests. In both these cases, the SFPA were awaiting information from another Member State before completing our submission. 13 cases were directed by the DPP to proceed, and the state were awaiting court dates. By the end of 2019, 5 cases were with the DPP awaiting direction.
Nature of the Suspected Infringements
Of the 52 case files opened in 2019, there were 62 individual infringements. These infringements broadly fall into the following categories:
No. of Suspected Infringements by Infringement Type
3 Boarding Ladder
30 Infringements in relation to catch/Logbook
2 Prohibited Species Cases 26 and 47
4 Failure to comply with Electronic Reporting or VMS
8 Infringements in relation to Operator Licencing /Authorisation Infringement
8 Undersize species
2 Fishing Gear
5 Fishing in excess of Quota