Last week during a routine SFPA inshore patrol, Sea Fisheries Protection Officers, deployed along the southwest coast, confiscated 48 live undersize crawfish and returned them safely to the sea.
A file is currently being prepared for consideration by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Crawfish, also known as European spiny lobster or Crayfish, are one of our most at risk species and are listed as vulnerable and decreasing by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are also the highest value crustacean species caught in Irish waters achieving prices of €30 - €40 per kilo on landing. Crawfish are primarily caught in inshore waters around the south and southwest coast and are an important source of revenue for the inshore fleet during the summer months.Protection of these valuable stocks depends on a range of legal measures enforced by the SFPA, just one of which is the ‘minimum conservation reference size’ (MCRS).
The MCRS for Crawfish taken from International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) sub-areas VI and VII has been established as a carapace size of 110mm.
- It is prohibited for the master or person in charge of an Irish sea-fishing boat to cause or permit the boat or any person to have onboard, land, or tranship Crawfish that fall below the MCRS.
- No person shall display, sell, offer for sale or store for the purposes of selling any Crawfish that fall below MCRS.
- Crawfish below MCRS must be handled with care and promptly released back into the sea alive without delay.
The intent behind the MCRS is to allow the animals to attain full sexual maturity and have a reasonable opportunity to reproduce before being harvested and consumed. By illegally removing immature animals from an already vulnerable stock is likely to result in further stock depletion.
An SFPA spokesperson commented:
Trade in undersize fish not only damages the stocks but it also impacts the communities who depend on them. Illegal fishing is unfair to the majority of inshore fishermen who fish sustainably and within regulations. The inshore patrols undertaken by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority are a vital tool in our work to protect stocks.
We encourage buyers at all stages of the food chain, restaurateurs, processors and consumers to be aware of the minimum size and please let us know if you are offered undersized fish for sale. If you have any concerns regarding fisheries control, seafood fraud and/ or seafood safety please contact the SFPA through our Confidential Line channels. Call our Confidential Line on 1800 76 76 76. Send us an email to email@example.com. Alternatively, complete our Confidential Report form.
Notes to Editor
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. For further information visit: www.sfpa.ie