A new system of fixed penalty notice penalties for minor fisheries offences should be brought in next year, Marine Minister Simon Coveney has said.
Mr Coveney said he was sympathetic to reforming the law as he spoke against a proposed Fianna Fáil marine bill in the Seanad. He said such action was needed to prevent Irish waters becoming a “soft target” for inappropriate fishing.
A government bill should be introduced by Easter, Mr Coveney told the upper house as he stressed he did not want to see a criminal sanction for minor fisheries offences.
The minister said he was opposed to the opposition bill because it risked “promoting a culture of non-compliance where penalties would be lower than the economic benefit of illegal fishing”. He said he wanted to operate a system where offenders would pay a reasonable fine and avoid a criminal conviction.
Mr Coveney said he would also introduce a points system set out by the EU whereby offending skippers would lose their licences after reaching a certain level.
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