The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has noted the ruling by Judge Brian O’Callaghan on the 23rd May 2019 who imposed a fine of €2,500 in addition to forfeiture of €165,000 of catch and gear on the Spanish vessel, the Virxen da Blanca, following a guilty plea..
The species on-board consisted of mainly Blue Shark with a small quantity of Mako Shark also onboard. The Spanish vessel, Virxen da Blanca with registration 3-LU-22-05 was detained by the Irish Naval Service Ship the LÉ William Butler Yeats approximately 150 nautical miles south of Ireland and escorted into Castletownbere where it was handed over to the An Garda Siochana on Friday 31st August 2018, who were assisted by the SFPA.
Commenting on the verdict, Dr Steele Chair of Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority stated that this operation highlights the success of interagency co-operation between the Irish Naval Service, An Gardai and the SFPA: “The Irish Naval Service play a strategic role in the enforcement of at sea activities and work closely with the SFPA in undertaking risk based inspections at sea. Information compiled by officers of the SFPA and passed to the Navy resulted in the detention of this fishing vessel, which has now resulted in a prosecution following a guilty plea.”
Dr Susan Steele reiterated the SFPA’s commitment to preventing illegal fishing and in particular illegal shark fishing: “We have zero tolerance for vessels removing fins from sharks in our waters. Luckily this infringement was detected and we will continue to work with authorities across Europe to deter and detect any future illegal shark fishing violations.”
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.