#Fishing - Fishing rights retained in the sale of Irish supertrawler Atlantic Dawn could continue to net many millions of euro for its former owners — much to the ire of smaller operators in Ireland’s fishing fleet, as The Irish Times reports.
Despite being built to fish international waters, the Atlantic Dawn was entitled to a significant “fishing asset”, comprising tonnage, engine power and quota rights under EU rules, due to being flagged as Irish.
Though the ship in question was sold to Dutch owners in 2007, the Atlantic Dawn Group kept its asset — leading to a market standing that opponents say has strengthened disproportionately to the rest of the Irish fleet after the Common Fisheries Policy imposed limits on vessel expansion in 2003.
Now a number of vessels in the pelagic and whitefish sectors are seeking compensation from Brussels as a result of the Killybegs-based company’s extraordinary but entirely legal position.
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.
As the West Cork Times reports, Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune MEP has submitted a parliamentary question that makes reference to the unusually high rate of standings recorded by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) in the first three months of 2016.
“The allegation is that the spike in dolphin deaths is as a direct result of a busy and sustained period of supertrawler activity in our waters,” says Clune, who adds that the Commission “now has a duty of care under the Habitats Directive to investigate this matter to establish the facts.”
Last week the vessel, one of the largest of its kind on the seas, was boarded for inspection by Naval Service personnel — as the Irish Wildlife Trust reiterated its calls for a full-time inspection regime for large-scale factory trawlers to ensure compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy and environmental protections.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris — one of the largest fishing vessels in the world — prompted renewed fears among local fisherman and conservationists last week when it was spotted in fishing grounds off Donegal.
News of the Naval Service inspection has been welcomed by the Irish Wildlife Trust, though it cautioned on the need for a full-time inspection regime for such large-scale factory trawlers to ensure they are fishing legally and within quota, and not causing harm to protected wildlife such as dolphins.
The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.
Previously banned from Australian waters, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris is one of the largest fishing trawlers on the seas, and has previously fished off Ireland with a quota under the Common Fisheries Policy.
That hasn’t assuaged concerns among the Irish fishing fleet, nor conservationists who fear a connection between the activities of large-scale ‘floating factory’ type fishing vessels and rising numbers of dolphin strandings in the North West.
This past September, MEP Sean Kelly called for regular on-board inspections of supertrawlers fishing in Irish waters to ensure they are sticking to CFP regulations.
The FV Margiris’s latest position can be tracked via Marine Traffic HERE.
Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South) is calling for regular on-board inspections of supertrawlers fishing off the Irish coast to ensure that they are fully compliant with the EU Common Fisheries Policy, following a reported rise in dolphin deaths. The Fine Gael MEP is also asking the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) to review and maximise its inspections when trawlers are operating off the Irish coast.
“In July 2016, in separate cases, three dead dolphins were found on the south-west coast of Ireland in the space of one week, one with a rope around its tail. These findings follow reports of a rise in the number of dead dolphins on Ireland’s west coast since the beginning of 2016.
“It is reported that large supertrawlers are currently operating around 30km off the coast of Co Kerry. While the link between supertrawler activity and the increase in these dolphin deaths is not proven, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) stresses that caution must be taken as regards the impact of human activity on all components of the ecosystem,” Mr Kelly stressed in an official question to the European Commission on the matter.
In a response received by Mr Kelly this week, the Commission said it “takes note of the recent death of dolphins along the south-west coast of Ireland” and that it “has tabled a revised technical measures proposal which aims to ensure better protection of cetaceans and alignment of by-catch levels to international levels. This proposal is currently being discussed by the co-legislators”.
Speaking from Brussels today (Wednesday), Mr Kelly said: “I welcome that the Commission is monitoring the situation. The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is responsible for yearly reports to the Commission, but in light of these recent reports, I am urging the SFPA to maximise inspections along the Irish coast.”
In the written response, the Commission added: “When trawlers are fishing off the Irish coast, the SFPA has access to satellite Vessel Monitoring, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Electronic Reporting Systems (ERS) data. Regular inspections are organised at sea and at landing by the SFPA, to check compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy. The SFPA regularly reports on its control and inspection activities.”
The Commission also confirmed that it is carrying out regular audits in Ireland to ensure that Ireland is complying with its obligations and has an effective monitoring, control and surveillance system in place.
Ireland became the first European country to declare all Irish waters a dolphin and whale sanctuary in 1991.
A total of 28 confirmed standings were recorded in the IWDG's strandings database in January and February of this year, just below 2013's worst figures so far when 31 were reported.
That compares to an average of fewer than six reports for the same period each year between 2002 and 2010.
The current decade has seen a significant jump in recorded figures, with 18 reports of dolphin standings in 2011 compared to just two in the same months in 2010.
Many of the dolphins found this year were recorded in the North West, a great number of them drowned according to post-mortem results, while others showed signs of being tangled in fishing gear, which suggests they were bycatch in the nets of supertrawlers that ply the seas off Donegal, Sligo and Mayo.
"While there is no conclusive proof of what vessels are involved, the evidence points to the presence of large (c.100m) foreign registered freezer trawlers fishing in Irish offshore waters."
That's according to the IWDG's strandings officer Mick O'Connell, who warns that "the number of bycaught dolphins that actually get washed ashore and recorded as stranded may be only a small percentage of the actual number of dead animals."
The IWDG reiterates the call for independent observers to be placed on supertrawlers in Irish waters, following controversy over the visit of one of the world's largest fishing boats last November.
In other news, Scotland's Press and Journal reports that a humpback whale was killed after getting trapped in fishing ropes in the Outer Hebrides.
The juvenile whale was found dead on the Isle of Barra this week with the "classic signs of having suffered entanglement."
According to The Irish Times, the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has urged Marine Minister Simon Coveney to ensure that the FV Margiris – one of the world's largest fishing boats – is sticking to its quota under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as it fishes off Donegal.
The biggest concern for conservationists is possible by-catch in waters that double as a protected cetacean sanctuary by the 143m vessel, which trawls with enormous nets said be bigger than a football pitch, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.
"It is simply unacceptable that enormous boats like this can move into our waters and hoover up marine life," said IWT campaigns officer Padraic Fogerty.
His concerns were echoed by Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) CEO Francis O'Donnell, who said that while the boat may be fishing on licence with a quota, "the real worry I would have is that they are not being controlled properly by Irish authorities in Irish waters."
Last year Minister Coveney was forced to assuage concern over the Margiris' fishing activity off the west coast as it has secured an allocation for blue whiting under the CFP.
In other fishing news, The Irish Times says Minister Coveney has promised weekly meetings by the new cross-departmental taskforce established to investigate claims of exploitation in the Irish fishing fleet.
Inspections of fishing vessels began last week, resulting in one Egypptain fisherman charged, but ahead of the latest meeting the minister said: "I don’t want this to be a witchhunt on people who may be here illegally and may be vulnerable."
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the first meeting of the taskforce took place last Thursday 5 November in the wake of a damning Guardian report alleging the exploitation of undocumented and even trafficked labour in the Irish fishing industry.
The allegations have been criticised by leading industry figures as well as the daughter of the lake skipper of the Tit Bonhomme, which sank tragically in January 2012 taking the lives of three Egyptian fishermen along with her father and a fellow Irish crewman.
#Fishing - A supertrawler previously expelled from Australian waters that has appeared off the west coast is nothing to be worried about, Marine Minister Simon Coveney said at the weekend.
According to The Irish Times, Minister Coveney told concerned fishermen in Galway that the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris, one of the largest fishing trawlers on the seas, is "probably" involved in legitimate fishing after securing an allocation for blue whiting under the Common Fisheries Policy.
He also admitted that the Naval Service had not inspected the vessel to confirm it is abiding by the rules, but that "we take note" of any such super-sized vessels that come into or near Irish waters.
The minister was speaking at the Galway Skipper Expo, the annual international fisheries show that was celebrating its 10th anniversary last weekend.