Over 1,200 fishing vessel inspections this year

File image.

More than 1,200 inspections of fishing vessels have been carried out so far this year, including just 13 inspections of large pelagic factory freezer trawlers.

Figures from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) showed the Naval Service, which carries out all inspections at sea for the SFPA, conducted 1,207 inspections in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone so far this year, of which 633 were fishing vessels registered outside Ireland.

A spokesperson for the SFPA said there were no incidences of non-compliance in the case of the 13 inspections of the large pelagic factory freezer vessels.

Fishing organisations were yesterday absorbing the detail of the new deal for 2017 on quotas, news of which came a week after the screening of the documentary Atlantic which featured Irish fishing communities, including Arranmore, off Co Donegal.

One of the participants in the documentary, Jerry Early said some of the detail provided in Atlantic was “very stark”, not least claims from a whistleblower of illegal dumping of fish in Irish and Scottish waters in order to maximise profit.

“The ignorance of it is that it belongs to each and every one of us,” Mr Early said of Irish fishing waters, adding that the Government needed to be asked questions about rowing back arrangements first put in place in the early 70s which has curtailed the overall Irish fish take.

Responding to the screening of the documentary on RTÉ last week, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said more would be done to monitor compliance.

“The minister shares the concerns expressed in the film that illegal fishing in excess of quota limits and ‘high grading’ — the discarding of smaller less valuable fish is completely unacceptable and must be effectively ended,” the department spokesperson said.

“There has been a focus on risk-based controls by our control authorities — the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Naval Service — in recent times in order that the State resources are concentrated on those fishing vessels that are considered to be doing the most damage,” the spokesperson said.

“The minister believes that we need to do more in this area and he is working at EU level for additional tools for Ireland to strengthen our control capability in respect of all fishing vessels operating in our 200-mile zone,” the spokesperson for the department added.

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