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Ferris questions use of British Naval vessels

12 March, 2009 - by Martin Ferris TD

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries Martin Ferris TD has questioned the use of British naval vessels to inspect Irish fishing boats in Irish waters. The Kerry North TD raised the matter during Order of Business in the Dáil this morning having received a copy of an internal Sea Fisheries Protection Authority report which details the fact that an Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) officer spent one week aboard the HMS Severn from February 11th to the 18th during which period the British vessel patrolled British and Irish waters and stopped two Irish boats the Catherine Alice and the Argo K which were then boarded by the SFPA officer.

Deputy Ferris said: “It seems extraordinary that an Irish state official should be operating from a British vessel conducting patrols within Irish waters and interfering with Irish fishing boats. Apparently this was part of a ‘Joint Deployment Plan’ of which as far as I am aware no-one else knew anything about.  It is therefore incumbent on the Minister for Defence to explain the legal and indeed the constitutional basis for such a plan.

“While it may be pointed out that this is part of co-operation in the interests of both states, in actual fact the high level of inspections of Irish vessels, way out of proportion to their scale of operation within Irish waters, is regarded as harassment by most fishermen. Many believe that the level of restrictions imposed, the inequitable quota regime and the heavy handed surveillance of boats are all part of a deliberate attempt to force more and more fishermen to abandon their livelihood. The fact that Irish officials are using British naval vessels in our own waters adds further to that resentment.” ENDS

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