Written answers

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fishing Vessel Licences

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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459. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a matter will be examined in relation to boat length requirements (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9216/19]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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I announced the outcome of the review of trawling activity inside the 6 nautical mile zone on 21 December 2018 following an extensive public consultation period which spanned from 30 April to 11 June 2018. The Consultation attracted over 900 submissions which comprised a wide diversity of views. These submissions have been published on my Department's website.

I carefully considered the issues raised during the public consultation process and following a detailed evaluation, decided to exclude trawling by fishing vessels over 18 metres length overall from inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1 January 2020.

Based on my assessment, I consider that there is a compelling case for excluding trawling by large vessels in coastal waters inside six nautical miles. I am satisfied that there are sufficient fishing opportunities for these vessels outside of six nautical miles. I also believe that these actions will provide wider ecosystem benefits, including for nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks. I am very conscious of the exclusive reliance of small scale and island fishermen on inshore waters and the benefits this change will bring for these fishermen and I firmly believe that this will, in the medium term, provide ecosystem and nursery stock benefits for all fishermen.

I am also mindful of the opportunity these measures will provide for further sustainable development of the small scale inshore and sea angling sectors, which the Government has committed to in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

I also announced that there will be a transition period to 2022 for vessels over 18 metres targeting sprat. This transition is in order to allow a period of adjustment for these vessels, as this fishery is concentrated inside the six nautical mile zone. I have asked BIM to offer affected vessel owners technical assistance to adjust to other fisheries during the transition period.

Vessels over 18 metres length overall will continue to be permitted inside 6 nautical miles to trawl for sprat only until 2022. A total allowable catch of up to 2,000 tonnes, reflecting a reduction on recent years, will be permitted for these vessels during 2020, reducing to 1,000 tonnes in 2021. All trawling activity by vessels over 18 metres length overall for sprat, inside the 6 mile limit, will end from the beginning of 2022.

Article 2 of Reg (EU) 1130/2017 sets out the Characteristics of Fishing vessels. Regarding Length, it states the following:-


1. The length of a vessel shall be the length overall, defined as the distance in a straight line between the foremost point of the bow and the aftermost point of the stern.

For the purposes of this definition:

(a) the bow shall be taken to include the watertight hull structure, forecastle, stem and forward bulwark, if fitted, but shall exclude bowsprits and safety rails;

(b) the stern shall be taken to include the watertight hull structure, transom, poop, trawl ramp and bulwark, but shall exclude safety rails, bumkins, propulsion machinery, rudders and steering gear, and divers' ladders and platforms.

The length overall shall be measured in metres with an accuracy of two decimals."

Length overall is the recognised measurement for vessels for Licensing and Registration purposes and the standard measurement for the majority of fisheries (with the exception for historical reasons of polyvalent Horse Mackerel, Celtic Sea Main Herring and North West Herring fisheries only).


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