Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
633. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department or any agency within his remit has observed a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44183/20]
As the Deputy may be aware, in December 2018, following a public consultation process in which over 900 submissions were received, the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine announced that vessels over 18m will be excluded from trawling in inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1st January 2020. A transition period of three years for vessels over 18m targeting sprat was allowed to enable adjustment for these vessels, as the sprat fishery is concentrated inside the six nautical mile zone.
A Policy Directive was issued by the Minister to give effect to these changes. A Judicial Review was taken by two applicant fishermen challenging the validity of the Policy.
On 6th October 2020, the Judge held in summary that the High Court’s final order should be, among other matters, a declaration that Policy Directive 1 of 2019 was made in breach of fair procedures and is void and/or of no legal effect.
The breach of fair procedures as referenced above related to a failure with obligations to consult with the applicants in accordance with, and to the extent required by, the consultation process and in particular by failing to consult with them once a preferred option had been identified.
The High Court’s ruling has been appealed by the State to the Court of Appeal. A stay on the orders was refused by the High Court on 10th December.
At the Court of Appeal hearing regarding directions on 11thDecember last, a hearing date of the 22nd and 23rd June 2021 was assigned to the case. Counsel sought a priority date and were advised that the June date was effectively a priority date given the current backlog before the Court. However, the case is on a waiting list and the State will be advised if an earlier date becomes available. I am considering with my legal advisors if the State should seek to appeal the High Court decision on a stay on the orders.
As this matter is sub judice, I am not in a position to comment until the matter can be resolved before the Courts. I have also referred the Deputy's question to the SFPA for attention and direct reply.