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Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Detains Fishing Vessel

Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Detains Fishing Vessel

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) have today (21st June 2023) detained a fishing vessel, in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for alleged non-compliance with European fisheries legislation.  An inspection was conducted from the European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA’s) Offshore Patrol Vessel on Tuesday 20th June 2023 which followed a risk-based approach that focused on gear and fishing area, not by the registered flag of the vessel.*  

The Union Inspectors, one of whom was an Irish inspector from the SFPA, were operating from onboard the EFCA chartered offshore patrol vessel “Ocean Protector”, conducted an inspection on the 20th June 2023. The vessel was found to be fishing using gillnets and it is alleged that the vessel was not using any acoustic deterrent devices (ADD) on over 15,000 metres of fishing gear. Gillnets are made of monofilament nylon mesh that is invisible underwater and therefore acts as a hazard to cetaceans and other marine mammals. By utilising ADDs or “pingers” to emit a certain frequency at regular intervals, pingers warn cetaceans such as dolphins of the presence of the obstacle and enable them to avoid the nets and deter them from swimming into nets, becoming entangled and drowning. Cetaceans are part of the prohibited species list and catching and landing this species represent a threat to the conservation status of the species which includes all species of dolphins, porpoises, and whales.

The SFPA has been using enhanced technologies both at sea and ashore to verify compliance with the requirements for such gear to have ADDs. The vessel is obliged to comply with the EU legislative requirements and have ADDs attached at a minimum of 200 metre intervals (when digital devices are being used) or 100 metre intervals if analogue devices are in use.  These devices are required on any bottom-set gillnet or entangling net for vessels over 12m in ICES Divisions VIId, e, f, g, h, and j.  The vessel was operating in VIIj and has been escorted to Castletownbere, Co. Cork where it was handed over to An Garda Siochana and Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers of the SFPA for further assessment and investigation.
The Master is scheduled to appear in court later this evening.


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Notes to Editors
*The Joint Deployment Plans (JDP) framework provides the legal basis where the relationships of joint deployment of inspections assets/inspectors are set and are applicable to all assets of the concerned Member States and EFCA. When operating in EU waters, the EFCA inspectors always have Union Inspectors from Members States onboard and they are the leading inspectors.

About the SFPA
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation of the sea-fisheries and the sea-food production sectors. It promotes compliance  with the EU Common Fisheries Policy, sea-fisheries law and food safety law relating to fish and fish products, verifies compliance and, where necessary, enforces it. Its mandate covers all  fishing vessels operating within Ireland’s 200-mile limit, over 2,000 Irish registered fishing vessels wherever they operate, and all seafood produced in Ireland’s seafood processing companies. The SFPA operates through a network of regional port offices situated at Ireland’s main fishery harbours.
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