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SFPA Publishes Updated Fisheries Information Notice on Fishery Measures for Crawfish for Irish Fishing Vessels

SFPA Publishes Updated Fisheries Information Notice on Fishery Measures for Crawfish for Irish Fishing Vessels

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) published an updated Fisheries Information Notice (FIN) on the 24th April 2023 on fishery measures for crawfish for Irish fishing vessels. Crawfish is a specifically protected species under Irish legislation and is listed as vulnerable and decreasing, as classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  The FIN has been updated to emphasize the importance of adhering to existing regulations to protect the vulnerable crawfish population.  

Updated FIN Contents

The updated FIN includes the following key updates:

  • enhanced visual representation of crawfish, enabling easier identification of v-notched species.
  • clear instructions on how to measure a crawfish correctly.
  • an updated map detailing the prohibition on the use of nets to target crawfish, and,
  • an overview of conservation measures being carried out by the Marine Institute, relevant to fishers.

Regulations Within Irish EEZ

The FIN outlines regulations within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for both commercial and recreational crawfish fishing. Only whole crawfish may be retained and landed by Irish fishing vessels.

Minimum Conservation Reference Size

The Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) for crawfish in the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) sub-areas VI and VII has been set at a carapace size of 110mm. It is illegal for an Irish sea-fishing vessel to have onboard, land, or tranship crawfish below the MCRS. Additionally, selling or storing crawfish below MCRS for sale is prohibited. To measure MCRS, the length of the carapace is taken from the tip of the rostrum to the mid-point of the distal edge of the carapace.

V-notched and Mutilated Crawfish Regulations

V-notched and mutilated crawfish are also subject to regulations. V-notched crawfish must not be retained, landed, or transhipped by any Irish sea-fishing vessel, and it is illegal to buy, handle, transport, process, store, or sell such crawfish. The same applies to mutilated crawfish that may have had their V-notch removed or concealed. 

Tagged Crawfish Reporting

Between 2019 and 2022, crawfish were tagged, V-notched, and released in outer Tralee Bay and south to the Blasket Islands. Fishers who capture a tagged crawfish are requested to report the catch location, tag number, and crawfish size using the contact number provided on the tag. Fishers’ cooperation in this research effort is invaluable for advancing crawfish conservation.

Prohibition of Fishing with Nets

Fishing with nets for crawfish in specified areas off the Kerry and Galway coasts remains prohibited. The SFPA urges fishers to review the updated FIN for detailed information on these restrictions and other relevant regulations.

Access the FIN: Commitment to Crawfish Conservation

The SFPA encourages fishers to revisit the updated FIN published here on the SFPA’s website to stay informed on crawfish regulations. Fishers’ commitment to understanding and complying with crawfish regulations is paramount to the preservation of the crawfish population. For additional information, please contact  sfpafood&fisheriessupport@sfpa.ies. By working together, we can make a difference in safeguarding this precious resource for future generations.