Dáil debates

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Priority Questions

Naval Service Operations

1:00 pm

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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Question 3: To ask the Minister for Defence the number of fisheries related arrests and seizures carried out by the Irish Navy during 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; if he will provide the figures by home country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25204/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Naval Service has powers to unilaterally intervene at sea. Under the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006, the Naval Service is empowered to board and inspect vessels and their cargos and, when necessary, to formally detain vessels and direct them to port. Fishing vessels detained by the Naval Service at sea are handed over at a port to An Garda Síochána for arrest. The Naval Service assists the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, in promoting compliance with and deterring contraventions of the Common Fisheries Policy. The SFPA liaises regularly with the Naval Service and inter alia the Fisheries Monitoring Centre, FMC, and the Air Corps.

In order to achieve strict compliance with quota and other conservation legislation under the Common Fisheries Policy, Naval Service targeted boardings and inspections are agreed between the SFPA and the Naval Service. Boardings are targeted based on the risk analysis carried out by the FMC. The criteria examined for the risk analysis include the fishing vessel's date of last offence, the date of last gear inspection, the number of days fishing in Irish waters, the species targeted and the method of fishing.

In 2009 , the Naval Service carried out 1,841 boardings at sea of vessels of various nationalities with 15 fishing vessels detained. In 2010, the Naval Service carried out 1,684 boardings with eight fishing vessels detained. Statistics up to the end of August for this year show the Naval Service has carried out 1,100 boardings and has detained 11 vessels. Further details of vessels detained and their country of origin are contained the following tabular statement.

FISHING VESSELS DETAINED BY IRISH NAVAL SERVICE – 2009, 2010 AND 2011

Nationality200920102011 to dateTotal
Irish43411
Spanish1348
UK5229
French5005
Belgian0011
TOTAL1581134

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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I praise the Naval Service for its work this summer and the number of rescues carried out at sea. I have a suspicion that the tabular information will feature one country in particular. This discussion arises from a discussion held in the House involving Deputy Harrington prior to the recess. Given that there were 1,100 operations and boardings to the end of this month and given the close relationship between the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, and the Naval Service, is there any element of cost recovery on the part of the Naval Service from either the SFPA or the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food? Without the Naval Service input into this area the work of the SFPA would be more or less useless.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Naturally the Naval Service has a particular role to assist the civil powers and the role that the Naval Service plays is important. As far as I am aware there is no costing whereby the Naval Service seeks to recover what could be designated as an expense incurred by it in these activities. This is part of the role the Naval Service plays in serving the State and it carries out important work in this area. I share with the Deputy my admiration for the work it undertakes. We have many dedicated members of the Naval Service who carry out this work.

The Deputy has made a supposition with regard to fishing vessels detained by the Naval Service. If he examines the tabular statement given covering 2009 and 2010 as a full year and to date in 2011, the Deputy might be surprised to discover that top of the list are Irish naval vessels, 11 of which were detained, second are UK naval vessels of which there were nine and third are Spanish naval vessels.

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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I presume the Minister is referring to fishing vessels not naval vessels.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I should say fishing vessels not naval vessels. We have not yet detained a submarine or a cruiser coming from any particular location. There are eight Spanish fishing vessels on the list, nine were from the United Kingdom, five were French and one was Belgian. During the period between 2009 and 2011 up to the end of August, there were a total of 34 separate vessels listed.