29th December 2015, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Over 2,745 inspections of fishing vessels¹ were undertaken within the Irish EEZ during 2015 according to provisional figures released today by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the state agency responsible for the verification and enforcement of EU and national sea-fisheries and food safety legislation. Ten vessels were detained for infringements by the Naval Service, which carries out all inspections at sea for the SFPA under a Service Level Agreement. These ranged from electronic reporting infringements such as under recording of catch to incorrect equipment on board.
All vessels operating within the Irish EEZ are continuously monitored electronically and their declared catches are reviewed and assessed by the SFPA. All inspections are undertaken using Risk Analysis system guidelines to identify fishing activity and fishing vessels that are considered high risk and require focussed inspections. Monitoring and inspections on landing are carried out exclusively by the SFPA. During 2015 a total of 1476 inspections were undertaken by Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers of the SFPA. 1078 boardings and inspections took place at sea by the Naval Service and the Air Corps. These included vessels from Belgium, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain and the UK.
Commenting on the figures, Susan Steele, Chair, SFPA said “Ireland’s sea-fisheries and seafood sectors together are worth an estimated €850 million annually to the Irish economy and over 11,000 people rely on them for their livelihoods². The SFPA is committed to playing its part in ensuring a strong future for the Irish fishing industry through the detection of all illegal fishing. This year, with the support of the Naval Service, we prioritized the implementation of the new Landing Obligation, which effectively bans the discarding of fish overboard and was introduced for pelagic fisheries in 2015. The generally low level of non-compliance reflects the genuine effort on the part of many fishermen to comply with the regulations.”
She added: “The Landing Obligation extends to the demersal fisheries on 1st January 2016. Again, we will be working to ensure that compliance is the norm for all vessels operating in our waters. We will be prioritising efforts aimed at deterring those who won’t comply and supporting those who do. In addition to our activity within the Irish EEZ, the SFPA is chairing the newly formed North Western Waters Control Expert Group, leading on the formulation of recommendations for ensuring compliance with the Landing Obligation for all pelagic fishers in North Western Waters. ”
In addition to inspections on landing and at sea, the SFPA carried out over 146 inshore inspections as part of the seasonal inshore patrols it carried out across the south, west and north west coasts from May to October with the support of the Naval Service and Air Corps as well as Inland Fisheries Ireland. The patrols are part of a range of conservation measures introduced by the SFPA to help protect the long term sustainability of Ireland’s valuable crab, lobster and whelk fisheries.
The SFPA also worked closely throughout the year with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the regulatory authorities of other relevant Member States in developing the annual Joint Deployment Plan (JDP) for the important pelagic and cod fisheries. The JDP co-ordinates the pooled national resources across Member States’ waters to ensure the efficient monitoring, control and surveillance of vessels engaged in the fishery³. During 2015 Ireland was involved in a number of joint operations in UK and Irish waters. The JDP for 2016 has been agreed by all Member States and will commence on 1st January 2016.
During 2015 the SFPA also continued to carry out Common Control Programme (CCP) inspections in relation to the Hake fishery with Spain, France and United Kingdom. This has included the exchange of sea-fisheries inspectors with SFPA inspectors observing landings in Spanish ports and the embarking on Spanish patrol vessels. These exchanges are designed to enhance the SFPA’s knowledge of the activities of Member States’ vessels in the Irish EEZ. The SFPA participated in a total of 45 inspections at sea as part of JDP and CCP patrols over the course of the year.
The SFPA enforces the EU Common Fisheries Policy and sea-fisheries law generally and food safety law relating to fish and fishery products. Its mandate covers all fishing vessels operating within Ireland’s 200 mile limit, over 2,115⁴ Irish registered fishing vessels wherever they operate and all seafood produced in Ireland’s 170⁵ seafood processing companies.
Eleanor Buckley, Communications Manager, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
Tel: 023 885 93 46/ 087 920 3658 or email email@example.com.
Ger McCarthy, Weber Shandwick,
Tel: 01 679 8600/ 086 233 3590 or email: GMcCarthy2@webershandwick.com
¹ During 2015 the Navy inspected 492 Irish registered vessels and 586 foreign registered vessels. A further 246 foreign vessels were inspected by the SFPA. Figures are as of 21st December 2015.
³The JDP’s communication facility between all relevant Member States allows for the efficient and effective exchange of information on vessel activity. This includes data from individual vessel’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)⁴ and Electronic Recording and Reporting System⁵ (ERS) information along with specific intelligence of vessel activities, which allows for the development of a coherent risk management strategy in carrying out our requirements. Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) provides real-time data on a vessel’s location, course and speed while the Electronic Recording and Reporting System (ERS) provides data on a vessel’s catch, landings, sales and shipments. ⁴http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/fisheries/seafisheriesadministration/seafisheriesadministration/seafishingfleetregister/
⁵BIM Irish Seafood Industry Fish Facts 2014
About the SFPA
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority is the independent statutory body, legally charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions. The Authority enforces the EU Common Fisheries Policy and sea-fisheries law generally and food safety law relating to fish and fishery products.