The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) reported on the 24th April 2015 that points have been assigned to the licence holders of three Irish vessels involved in serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in the 15 months since the new points system¹ was introduced in January 2014. One vessel was suspended from fishing for a defined period as a result². The new system followed on from EU legislation which required the introduction of a points' scheme for serious infringements in every Member State as part of measures to ensure a level playing field for fishers across the community.Under the new points for serious infringements system, the SFPA, the independent statutory body charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions, is obliged to apply points to the licence holder of any fishing vessel (Irish or non-Irish) operating in waters under Irish Jurisdiction that seriously infringes the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Susan Steele, Chair, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority said: “The points for serious infringements are significant sanctions which should deter non-compliance with the law across the EU so that national quotas are fairly and sustainably managed continuously. The SFPA is working to ensure that compliance is the norm for all vessels operating in our waters and to help protect and sustain Ireland’s valuable fisheries on which the livelihoods of some 7,000 Irish fishing industry workers depend.”
During the 15 month period to the 31st March 2015, points for serious infringements were also proposed for a further two Irish vessels. In one instance the licence holder’s appeal was upheld while the independent Appeals Officer’s hearing into the second case has been suspended pending the outcome of a High Court Appeal. The SFPA have made one determination to propose points for serious infringements by a non-Irish vessel, and have notified their counterparts in that country. Under EU law, the assigning of points to a fishing license remains a matter for competent authority of the Flag state.
Eleanor Buckley, Communications Manager, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
Tel: 023 885 93 46/ 087 920 3658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ger McCarthy, Weber Shandwick,
Tel: 01 679 8600/ 086 233 3590 or email: GMcCarthy2@webershandwick.com
About the SFPA
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority is the independent statutory body, legally charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions. The Authority enforces the EU Common Fisheries Policy and sea-fisheries law generally and food safety law relating to fish and fishery products.
¹The Points System – An Overview
The SFPA, which is legally charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions, is required to apply points to licence holders for serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy.
A licence holder may appeal a decision to assign them points to the independent Appeals Officer who, in turn, having considered the appeal (which may include an oral hearing) may confirm that the points shall be assigned to the holder of an Irish licence or notified to the flag Member state concerned or allow the appeal in which case the points are not assigned.
Under S.I. No. 3/2014 - European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2014, a party to an appeal may apply to the High Court regarding a decision of the Appeals Officer on a point of law. In such cases, the proposed points are suspended pending the outcome of the appeal. The determination of the High Court on such an appeal is final and conclusive.
Infringements which can warrant points when they are sufficiently serious include:
- failing to fulfil obligations to record and report catch or catch related data (including data to be transmitted by satellite vessel monitoring system);
- use of prohibited or non-compliant gear;
- falsification or concealing of markings, identity or registration of the vessel;
- concealing, tampering or disposal of evidence relating to an investigation;
- taking onboard, transhipping or landing of undersized fish;
- carrying out of fishing activities in a prohibited conservation area;
- fishing without a valid licence, authorisation or permit issued by the flag State or the relevant coastal State;
- fishing in a closed area or during a closed season, without or after attainment of a quota or beyond a closed depth;
- fishing for a stock which is subject to a moratorium or for which fishing is prohibited and,
- obstruction of the work of officials in the exercise of their duties in inspecting for compliance with the applicable conservation and management measures.
² In accordance with EU regulations, a maximum of 12 points for serious infringements can be applied on any one inspection. The assignment of points applies from the date the decision was made to assign them. They stay on the licence for a three year period which runs from the date of detection of the last serious infringement. A license will be clear of points in the three year period if there are no other convictions. Any vessel which accumulates more than 18 points will have its fishing licence suspended for at least two months.