A German-registered Spanish vessel which was involved in a confrontation off the Scottish coast over two years ago has been detained by the Naval Service off the south-west coast.
The 26m Pesorsa Dos was detained last Saturday, January 21, by the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, but it took several days to haul its gear before it could be escorted into Castletownbere, Co Cork today.
It is also understood that the fishing vessel’s boarding ladder broke when the Naval Service patrol crew was trying to gain access to the vessel.
The same vessel from La Coruna in northern Spain was previously detained in the Irish exclusive economic zone, 250 miles north of Donegal’s Malin Head, in July 2020.
A Naval Service spokeswoman confirmed that a German-registered vessel was being escorted to port but could not confirm where the detention occurred, beyond stating it was “within the Irish exclusive economic zone”.
The spokeswoman could not give details on the nature of the alleged infringements.
A Defence Forces spokesman confirmed the vessel was detained last Saturday and that the five-day detention was due to the “type of fishing vessel and the nature of fishing gear recovery”.
It’s understood the 1974-built 27m long fishing vessel, which left the Spanish port of La Caruna on January 2, had shot gill nets and was fishing in deep water for monkfish.
The regulations governing the use of such nets states that they can be left in the water for no more than 72 hours and must be hauled in within that time limit, known as ‘the soak time’.
A key focus of the investigation will focus on ‘the soak time’ of the nets which were hauled in following the vessel’s detention.
The vessel’s gear, its catch, and various logbook records are now being examined.
In June 2020, the Spanish-owned vessel was accused of attempting to foul the propellor of Shetland-owned demersal trawler, Alison Kay, some 30 miles west of the Shetland Islands, by towing a heavy warp across its track.
The British authorities said they could not investigate the incident as it was outside the 12 nautical mile limit. It occurred just a month before its detention in Irish waters.
Meanwhile, recruitment and staffing shortages mean that the Naval Service will only have four operational patrol vessels from next week, the Department of Defence has confirmed.
It has confirmed that two patrol ships, LÉ Roisín and LÉ Niamh, are being put into “operational reserve”, and the fleet will be down to four ships from February 1.
“The decision to place the LÉ Roisín and LÉ Niamh into operational reserve is aimed at stabilising operational delivery and assisting in Naval Service regeneration which entails the prioritisation of personnel training and development of existing Naval Service personnel,” the department said.
“The Naval Service is satisfied that, notwithstanding the withdrawal from operational duties of the LÉ Roisin, they will be able to fulfil their current maritime security and defence commitments including commitments provided for under the current service level agreement with the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency."