Irish Navy rescue 8,631 people in past year of Mediterranean missions

The Irish Naval Service rescued 8,631 people during its humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean this year.
Irish Navy rescue 8,631 people in past year of Mediterranean missions

The staggering figure was revealed in the Naval Service’s annual report issued yesterday, which also noted that 39 bodies were recovered by the three ships deployed to the area in response to the exodus from Syria.

The men and women of the Naval Service, on behalf of the Defence Forces, received the People of the Year Award for the mission in the Mediterranean in 2015.

As part of its work, the Navel Service detained 10 fishing vessels this year for suspected infringements in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone which extends to 200 miles off the coast.

The alleged offences, under EU regulations, ranged from electronic reporting infringements such as the under-recording of a catch to having incorrect equipment on board.

Irish Naval patrol boats and the Air Corps inspected 1,078 vessels, including 586 foreign-registered trawlers. They included vessels from Belgium, Denmark, Faroe Islands, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, and the UK.

All vessels operating within the 200-mile fisheries zone are continuously monitored electronically, and their declared catches are reviewed and assessed by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).

SFPA, the state agency responsible for enforcement of EU and national sea fisheries and food safety legislation, separately confirmed a total of 2,745 inspections had been conducted up to Monday of last week.

Officers of the SFPA carried out a total of 1,476 inspections in 2015.

The Irish seafood industry encompasses more than 2,115 Irish registered fishing vessels and 170 processing companies.

Inspections, however, are undertaken using risk analysis system guidelines to identify fishing activity and fishing vessels that are considered high risk and require focused inspections.

Monitoring and inspections on landing are conducted solely by the SFPA.

During 2015, a total of 1,476 inspections were undertaken by sea-fisheries protection officers.

In addition to inspections on landing and at sea, the SFPA carried out more than 146 inshore inspections as part of seasonal inshore patrols across the south, west, and north-west coasts from May to October.

It was supported by the Naval Service and Air Corps, as well as Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The patrols are part of a range of conservation measures introduced by the SFPA to help protect the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s valuable crab, lobster, and whelk fisheries.

The authority, meanwhile, said it had also worked closely throughout the year with the European Fisheries Control Agency and the regulatory authorities of other relevant member states in developing the annual joint deployment plan (JDP) for the important pelagic and cod fisheries.

The JDP co-ordinates the pooled national resources across member states’ waters to ensure the efficient monitoring, control and surveillance of vessels engaged in the fishery.

This year, a number of joint operations were carried out in both UK and Irish waters.

The SFPA said it was also involved in common control programme inspections in relation to the hake fishery with Spain, France, and the United Kingdom.

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