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Ferris: SFPA Report Underestimates Extent of Illegal Fishing

23 April, 2008

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Fisheries, Martin Ferris TD has said he believes that the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority is under estimating the scale of illegal fishing by non Irish vessels in Irish waters. The Kerry North TD was responding to the report issued by the authority which provides details of vessels detained for suspected illegal fishing.

Deputy Ferris said: "I have raised the issue of illegal fishing by foreign vessels on numerous occasions and am far from satisfied that either the SFPA or the Naval Service is capable of tackling this problem. This report gives the impression that the bulk of illegal fishing is being carried out by Irish boats. While I do not defend any such activity I do not accept that this is the case.

"According to one estimate at least 9,000 tonnes of fish are being illegally caught in our waters each year. That amounts to a value of €45million per year. To put that into context, the value of the demersal and pelagic catch by Irish fishermen in 2004 was €123 million. Given that 75% of the legal catch in Irish waters is being taken by non Irish boats, we must assume that illegal fishing is being carried out in at least the same proportion and probably higher given the limited resources and powers which the Irish protection services have in relation to foreign vessels." ENDS

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