The role of the SFPA is to protect sea-fisheries resources and support their sustainable development through promoting, verifying and enforcing compliance with national and European laws. We believe in a level playing field. In practice, that means that all fishermen and vessels should be compliant with sea-fisheries regulations, regardless of the vessel’s flag, fishing location or the port where they land their catch and should be subject to the same regulatory regime by the control authorities. We monitor vessels operating within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone electronically with the support of the Naval Service and review and assess their declared catches for compliance with EU sea-fisheries legislation. We also inspect vessels inshore and on landing. At sea, surveillance is provided by the Naval Service and the Air Corps, operating under a service level agreement between the Department of Defence and the SFPA, while on board inspections are undertaken by the Naval Service, or by joint Naval Service /SFPA teams.
We monitor and inspect food safety controls on fishing vessels and in aquaculture production areas (eg mussels and oysters) as well as in establishments handling, preparing and processing seafood up to but excluding retail sale.
Our role in seafood safety includes the implementation of European hygiene package legislation as well as the inspection and health certification of export consignments. Under service contract to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the SFPA is responsible for audits and inspections of food businesses (including fishing vessels) in the seafood sector to assess compliance with food safety legislation.
The SFPA maintains Ireland’s shellfish classification system for shellfish production areas. This classifies production areas according to water quality in line with European food regulations and determines whether the harvested shellfish can be sold or supplied directly for human consumption. We also implement the National Marine Biotoxin Monitoring programme in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Molluscan Shellfish Safety Committee, which ensures that only fish that are safe to eat are harvested and placed on the market.
The SFPA supports a sustainable and profitable commercial fishing sector, while protecting and conserving fisheries resources for long-term exploitation. The continued health of Ireland’s economy and coastal communities is dependent upon our natural resources being used sustainably. It is important for Ireland to have well-managed fisheries and the SFPA will continue to engage with the fishing industry to promote compliance with the essential requirements of the legislation.
Local communities play a vital role in protecting our fisheries resources and ensuring that bad practices or illegal fishing activities are effectively addressed. With this in mind the SFPA have introduced a confidential telephone line at 1800 76 76 76. We encourage anyone who is aware of any suspect activity to contact us on this number with the relevant information.