The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) welcomes the sentence given at Cork Circuit Court this week ( 27th July 2015) in which Mr Klas Meijvogel, a Dutch National and Master of the Wiron 5, a UK registered pelagic freezer vessel, was fined €500 and ordered to forfeit fish and gear to the value of €399,960. Mr Meijvogel was found guilty by a jury last month of having automatic grading equipment on board which was fitted in a way that did not ensure the immediate freezing of graded fish and did not prevent the return of marine organisms to the sea¹.
The case arose following a routine joint inspection of the Wiron 5 by a Sea-Fisheries Protection Officer from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Naval Officers from the LÉ Samuel Beckett on the 11th February last. The vessel was one of two detained by the Naval Service for alleged breaches of EU fishery regulations approximately 30 miles west of the Blasket Islands and escorted to the port of Cobh.
Commenting on the verdict, Susan Steele, Chair of the SFPA said: “This is an important outcome for the fishing industry. High grading is an illegal practice that can significantly affect the sustainability of fish stocks. With the support of the Naval Service, the SFPA is committed to the implementation of the new Landing Obligation and the detection of all illegal fishing. Today’s result is significant and is due to the dedicated work of the teams in the SFPA and the naval service.”
The SFPA has also noted the verdict yesterday in Wexford circuit court involving Mr James Devlin, Master of the FV Jimmy. Mr Devlin entered plea in on nine charges in relation to fishing in excess monkfish and megrim in September 2013. Sentencing in that case will take place in October.
¹ The fitting of grading equipment is permissible. However, it is essential to the conservation of fisheries resources that grading is not a means for selecting the most profitable fish to retain.
For further press information, please contact:
Eleanor Buckley, Communications Manager, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
023 885 93 46/ 087 920 3658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ger McCarthy, Weber Shandwick
01 679 8600/ 086 233 3590 or email: GMcCarthy2@webershandwick.com