Points System for Serious Infringements - effective from 21st January 2021
Ireland’s points system for serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), required under EU law, is now in effect. This follows the establishment of of the Points System on the 21st January 2021 with the appointment of the independent Determination Panel made up of three legal professionals nominated by the Attorney General. All EU Member States are obliged to establish a points system to be applied to the licence holders of fishing vessels when a serious infringement of CFP rules is detected. The points system is intended by the EU to be a more immediate and harmonised sanction so that regardless of where in the EU a serious infringement is committed, the licence holder will receive the same number of points.
The Determination Panel will consider suspected infringements that are notified to them by Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers and whether points should apply. Twelve serious infringements of the CFP are covered under the Irish points system with varying points applying, in keeping with the points systems already in place in other EU countries. Detailed rules¹ regarding the effect of the accumulation of points are also included in the EU regulations², requiring the establishment of a points systems. These include the suspension or permanent withdrawal of a licence. An independent Appeals Officer has also been nominated by the Attorney General and appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The Statutory Instrument³ for the points system that will be applied in Ireland was published August 2020 in Iris Oifigiúil. It regulates the procedures around the points system including matters such as the notification to sea fishing vessel licence holders and the time limits that apply as well as the requirements around submissions, appeals and decisions. The Statutory Instrument also provides for the establishment of the independent determination panel and the procedures in relation to notifications to it of suspected serious infringements by the SFPA, submissions by the vessel licence holders and appeals in relation to a decision of the determination panel.
There are further details outlining the effects of accumulation of points and the circumstances under which points expire or are removed.
¹ The list of serious infringements with points attached is contained in Annex XXX of EU Regulation 404/2011 and is available on the SFPA website. In determining whether an alleged serious infringement has occurred, the Determination Panel shall have regard to the criteria set out in Art. 3(2) of EU Regulation 1005/2008
² Commission Regulation 404/2011 *& Commission Regulation 1224 / 2009*
³ Statutory Instrument number 318/2020*
* denotes official and not consolidated Acts.