Monster supertrawler currently operating in Irish waters

The country’s fishing watchdog has said a supertrawler currently operating off Ireland’s Atlantic coast is likely to be inspected — even though it is not doing anything illegal.
Monster supertrawler currently operating in Irish waters

It comes as an online petition, sparked by the presence of the Margiris off the Irish coast and calling for supertrawlers to be banned from the area, has received more than 6,000 signatures.

The Margiris, which was yesterday in the Atlantic off Co Donegal, is the second largest fishing vessel in the world. Built in 1985, it measures 136.12m by 18.29m and has a gross tonnage capacity of 9,499 tonnes. It flies under the flag of Lithuania and has previously been refused entry to Australian waters.

It fished off the Irish coast last year and has now returned, prompting a furious reaction from many fishermen here.

As of noon yesterday an online petition demanding that super trawlers are prevented from fishing off the Irish coast had received more than 6,000 signatures.

The petition, hosted at uplift.ie/supertrawlers, stated: “Right now, the second largest super trawler in the world is fishing off the Irish coast. It’s called MFV Margiris and it drags a net bigger than a football field.”

Claiming potential damage to fish stock, the petition site outlined how “Simon Coveney is the minister in charge and it is up to him to do everything in his power to stop these super trawlers from destroying our fish stock and the livelihoods of fishing communities across Ireland.

“As Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, Food and the Marine you must take every step to ban these super trawlers from Irish waters.”

According to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority: “The Margiris, an EU-registered fishing vessel, is operating within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ). As is usual with all vessels in Irish waters, it is being monitored by the Navy through the Fisheries Monitoring Centre at the Naval Base, Haulbowline, using satellite Vessel Monitoring, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and ERS (Electronic Reporting Systems). Under the Common Fisheries Policy any vessel can fish in any region’s EU waters where they have quota. This vessel has a quota entitling it to fish for Scad Horse Mackerel within EU waters and is authorised to conduct fishing activity in the area.

“The Margiris has been in Irish waters before and has been boarded and inspected before.

“The vessel was last boarded in March 2014 by a combined Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA)/Naval Service team. It was inspected and found to be compliant with fisheries legislation. It is likely to be boarded and inspected in due course as part of routine fishery protection work.”

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