Penalty points system for fishermen halted by High Court

A penalty points system for fishermen who engage in illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing has been halted by the High Court.

Mr Justice Tony O’Connor said the penalty points system introduced by the minister of the marine does not require that established systems for independent adjudication and recourse to the courts can be ignored.

The penalty points system, introduced in 2014, provides for eventual suspension of fishing licences and ultimately for complete withdrawal of the licence depending on how many points a vessel incurs for illegal fishing.

The judge adjourned for two weeks the question of what order he should make in the case which was brought by the licence holder and by the master of Tea Rose trawler, which was detained by sea fisheries protection officers at Castletownbere, Co Cork, on April 7, 2015.

Patrick O’Sullivan, who is the holder of the licence, and his brother Cathal, the master of the vessel, brought the challenge after the fisheries protection authority refused a request to defer the enactment of the penalty points process.

This was in circumstances where a District Court prosecution against Cathal for alleged under-recording of his catch was still pending.

The brothers sought an injunction preventing the implementation of the Domestic Points Regulations system introduced under the Common Fisheries Policy.

The minister and the fisheries protection authority disputed the claims and opposed their challenge to the constitutionality of the system.


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