Dingle fish factory permit suspended by watchdog

The Ó Catháin Iasc Teoranta plant in Dingle.

The authority responsible for the regulation of the sea-fishing and seafood sectors has declined to reveal what prompted the suspension of a Dingle-based fish factory’s permit pending an investigation into the accuracy of its weighing scales.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) confirmed it has suspended the weigh permit of a Kerry-based premises — understood to be Ó Catháin Iasc Teoranta in Dingle — pending inquiries.

The suspension comes less than two weeks after Marine Minister Simon Coveney announced the firm was to receive €500,000 in grants, co-funded by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and the European Fisheries Fund.

“EU fishery regulations require all fishery products to be weighed immediately on landing. However, a derogation allows the weighing to take place after transport —typically at processing establishments — provided the SFPA is satisfied with the accuracy and correct use of those weighing systems,” the authority said.

“As part of its statutory remit, the SFPA carries out official controls to ensure the accuracy of fish-weighing systems operated in all SFPA-permitted premises. This enables SFPA to ensure national quotas are fairly, continually and sustainably managed — thereby helping to support the livelihoods of some 7,000 Irish fishing industry workers, the vast majority of whom operate within the requirements of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.”

However, a spokesperson for the SFPA declined to disclose what prompted the investigation into the factory while the matter is ongoing.

A spokesperson for Ó Catháin Iasc Teoranta said the company is strongly committed to compliance with all relevant legislation and regulations which support sustainable fisheries and the production of fish products of the highest quality.

“In that context, the company has ongoing and positive interactions with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the state agency responsible for control and enforcement of complex fisheries legislation and marine food safety regulations,” the spokesperson said.

“The permit to weigh pelagic species in our premises is currently suspended by SFPA due to circumstances which are currently under investigation by the company and the SFPA. The factory continues to operate. Ó Catháin Iasc Teoranta expects that the current issues will be resolved in a manner that allows the company to process pelagic fish in future, with adequate safeguards and controls continuing to be in place.

“The current issues have no bearing on future expansion plans which will provide additional employment and secure existing jobs. Ó Catháin Iasc Teoranta is one of the major employers in the Dingle area and integrally important to the fishing fleets on the southwest coast,” the company said.

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