Written answers

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fisheries Protection

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North-West Limerick, Sinn Fein)
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30. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority monitored the Margiris supertrawler fishing off the County Donegal coast recently; if the vessel was boarded by the authority; if its catch was examined; and if not, the reason. [41252/15]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Control of the vessel within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone is as a matter for the Irish control authorities who monitor fishing activity of all vessels operating the area. The Control authorities have on-going information in relation to the vessels operating in the Irish Exclusive Fisheries zone including their activities and characteristics. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues of this nature concerning sea fisheries control are, as a matter of law, exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Naval Service. As Minister, I am precluded from getting involved in operational matters including in relation to law enforcement. The SFPA has advised me that it is currently monitoring the activity of 5 large pelagic freezer trawlers within Irish Exclusive Fisheries Zone. Vessels with the scope to catch large quantities of fish with onboard grading facilities create specific compliance risks therefore justifying specific focus of available control resource. For each of these, I am advised that the SFPA has clarified through contact with the flag state the entitlement of the vessel, and has identified particular compliance risks pertaining to those vessels. Since arrival SFPA has been monitoring these movements in the Irish Exclusive Fisheries zone through VMS and declared catches through ERS. In general terms it advises that its monitoring indicates particular compliance risks around vessels with entitlements for individual species of fish. This risk assessment has informed the SFPA’s identification of some of those vessels as a high priority for at-sea inspection, and aircraft surveillance.

The SFPA is reliant on the seagoing fishery patrol activity of the Naval Service to verify compliance of vessels not landing into Ireland. Boarding vessels of this size at sea creates specific challenges and to date the operational decision of the naval service has been that weather has been too severe. On a risk basis, I am advised that the SFPA and the Naval Service do intend boarding these vessels when possible.

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