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.