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SFPA notes court ruling on monkfish offences

SFPA notes court ruling on monkfish offences

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has noted the recent ruling in Wexford Circuit Court by Judge Cormac Quinn  (21st June 2019) who imposed a fine of €20,000 on Mr JFM Gracu, Master of the Irish-registered vessel Willie B, and ordered the forfeiture of catch and gear to the value of €15,900...Mr Gracu had entered a plea on a charge related to the failure to accurately record catches of monkfish in the European Fishery Logbook. The offence was detected on 13th of August 2018 in the port of Kilmore quay Co Wexford when SFPA Officers from Dunmore East, discovered 63 boxes of unrecorded monkfish.  The judge further ordered that a bond in place of €40000 should remain until all matters are finalised with all fines and forfeits paid.

Commenting on the verdict, Dr Steele Chair of Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority stated:  “Failure to record catches is a serious offence. Logbook regulations are critical to the effectiveness of quota management and non-compliance creates a clear risk to stock management. The fines imposed acknowledge the importance of the sustainable management of Ireland’s valuable fish stocks and the reputational damage breaches cause to the wider fishing industry and the state. The vast majority of fishers operate within the requirements of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Unfortunately, there are still some who fail to do so. We are committed to detecting all cases of illegal fishing in the interest of protecting our sea-fisheries resources and supporting their sustainable development.”

The SFPA ensures compliance with national fishing quotas, which ensures equality and fairness for all fishers and the continued sustainability of Ireland’s valuable marine resources.  It monitors all vessels operating within the Irish EEZ electronically with the support of the Naval Service, and reviews and assesses their declared catches for compliance with EU sea-fisheries legislation. Where non-compliances are found, prosecutions may follow as with any incident of non-compliance with the law.