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French-Registered Fishing Vessel Detained in Irish EEZ

22nd June 2023
The European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA’s) offshore patrol vessel, Ocean Protector
The European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA’s) offshore patrol vessel, Ocean Protector

A French-registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for alleged non-compliance with European fisheries legislation.

The detention took place on Wednesday (June 21), a day after an inspection was conducted from the European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA’s) offshore patrol vessel.

This followed a “risk-based approach that focused on gear and fishing area, not by the registered flag of the vessel”, the SFPA says.

The EU inspectors, one of whom was an Irish inspector from the SFPA, were operating from onboard the EFCA chartered offshore patrol vessel “Ocean Protector”.

The fishing vessel was found to be fishing using gillnets and was allegedly not using any acoustic deterrent devices on over 15,000 metres of fishing gear.

Gillnets are made of monofilament nylon mesh that is invisible underwater and therefore acts as a hazard to cetaceans and other marine mammals.

By utilising the acoustic deterrents or “pingers” to emit a certain frequency at regular intervals, cetaceans such as dolphins which are at risk of entanglement and drowning in the gear are given a warning.

“Cetaceans are part of the prohibited species list, and catching and landing this species represent a threat to the conservation status of the species, which includes all species of dolphins, porpoises, and whales,” the SFPA says.

The SFPA says it has been using enhanced technologies both at sea and ashore to verify compliance with the requirements for such gear to have acoustic deterrents.

The “pingers” have to be attached at a minimum of 200-metre intervals (when digital devices are being used) or 100-metre intervals if analogue devices are in use, it says.

These devices are required on any bottom-set gillnet or entangling net for vessels over 12m in certain sea areas.

The detained vessel was escorted to Castletownbere, Co Cork where it was handed over to An Garda Siochana and SFPA officers for further assessment and investigation. The master of the vessel was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday evening.

Published in SFPA, Fishing Team

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About the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA)

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority was established on the 1st of January 2007. The SFPA is independent in the exercise of its functions, which are below.

The principal functions of the Authority are:

  1. To secure efficient and effective enforcement of sea-fisheries law and food safety law
  2. To promote compliance with & deter contraventions of sea-fisheries law and food safety law
  3. To detect contraventions of sea-fisheries law and food safety law
  4. To provide information to the sea-fisheries and seafood sectors on sea-fisheries law and food safety law and relevant matters within the remit of the Authority, through the Consultative Committee established under section 48 of the above Act or by any other means it considers appropriate
  5. To advise the Minister in relation to policy on effective implementation of sea-fisheries law and food safety law
  6. To provide assistance and information to the Minister in relation to the remit of the Authority
  7. To collect and report data in relation to sea fisheries and food safety as required by the Minister and under Community law
  8. To represent or assist in the representation of the State at national, Community and international fora as requested by the Minister, and
  9. To engage in any other activities relating to the functions of the Authority as may be approved of by the Minister.