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SFPA notes court ruling on skate fishing offences

SFPA notes court ruling on skate fishing offences

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has welcomed the ruling by Judge Seán O’Donnabháin on 4th November 2019 who imposed a fine of €20,000 in addition to the forfeiture of €60,000 of catch and gear on the Spanish vessel, the Novo Alborada, following a guilty plea at Cork Circuit Court..

The Spanish registered fishing vessel was detained in Castletownbere on 9th July 2019 for skate fishing infringements, resulting from a joint operation with the UK Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and An Gardaí. The master of the vessel, Manuel Juncal Juncal pleaded guilty to the charge of retention of a prohibited species of fish and a second charge of mis-reporting the vessel’s fishing activity on its logbook. Fifty-two boxes of critically endangered blue skate were incorrectly recorded as long-nosed skate in the vessel’s logbook.

Susan Steele, Chair, SFPA highlighted the success of this operation and praised the interagency co-operation.  “The blue skate is an endangered species that requires our protection and we have a zero tolerance approach to any vessels illegally fishing endangered species in our waters. We liaised with the UK MMO on this case and their close cooperation with Irish authorities led to the infringement being detected following inspection, which has now led to a successful prosecution. We will continue to work with authorities in the UK and across Europe to deter and detect any future illegal 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.