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Ferris raises illegal fishing by foreign vessels

30 April, 2008

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries, Martin Ferris TD succeeded in having an adjournment debate in the Dáil on the extent of illegal fishing by foreign vessels in Irish waters. The Kerry North TD was responding to the report issued by The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority last week which gave the impression that the bulk of illegal fishing is being carried out by Irish boats, something that is strongly rejected by Irish fishermen.

Deputy Ferris said that estimates of the illegal catch were at least 9,000 tonnes of fish each year, an not insubstantial proportion of the legal catch.

"The point has been made by fishing organisations that while the protection services are very active along the east coast and off the south coast, that they have very little coverage of the waters off the west coast where most foreign vessels operate.

"While fishermen have reported instances of non Irish vessels using illegal nets, and of Japanese vessels illegally catching tuna, the authorities here seem to be unable to track those vessels down or to take action against them.

"Indeed in an answer to a question which I placed a number of years ago in relation to the role of the Naval Service it was stated that a Naval Officer had admitted that they had little or no sanction over foreign vessels.

"There was also the scandalous situation where vessels using illegal mesh had been licensed under the claim that they were carrying out research.

"The Irish fishing sector is already under severe pressure from the mounting restrictions being placed upon it and by the apparent willingness of the Irish authorities to criminalise fishermen while the Irish fisheries continue to be squandered both legally, through the Common Fisheries Policy, and illegally by foreign boats who seem to be practically immune from punishment." ENDS

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