Ireland is the first and only Member State to have its fishing plan revoked by the European Commission
A KEY PLAN linked to the control of fishing quotas in Ireland was repealed by the European Commission, the first time it has taken this action.
This “ control plan ” allowed Irish fisheries to weigh their catches in the factories, but as the authorities here “failed to take appropriate action” to remedy the non-compliance, including the “handling of weighing systems “and the” underreporting of catches by operators “, fish cannot be weighed in this way.
Instead, they are to be weighed at the dock, which fish producer organizations strongly oppose, with some having launched High Court lawsuits against aspects of this type of weighting in recent months.
The decision document released by the European Commission also stated that this failure to ensure proper weighing “jeopardizes the accuracy of reported data which is essential for the purposes of controlling and monitoring the use of fishing quotas” .
An EU official said Remarkable that “this is the first time that the Commission has revoked the approval of a Member State’s weighing control plan due to unsatisfactory application of the rules”.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine (DAFM) and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) declined to comment with Ireland being the first member state to have this ‘consequence’, as reported by Ireland. said the Commission.
“ Serious and significant weaknesses ”
Problems in the application of fisheries controls have been identified by a number of Commission reports and audits over the past 15 years.
The Commission’s most recent audit in 2018 detected ‘serious and significant weaknesses’ in the Irish control system, according to a Commission statement in 2019.
This audit, seen by Remarkable, focused on the pelagic stock, including mackerel and herring. Cases of “detected or suspected falsification of weighing systems in premises carrying out official weighing of catches of pelagic species in bulk” have been highlighted.
Following the 2018 audit, the Commission carried out a formal administrative inquiry to assess Ireland’s ability to apply the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy. This latter decision is the result of both the audit and the subsequent investigation.
As part of this investigation, the Commission recently found that Ireland overfished a combination of mackerel, horse mackerel (scad) and blue whiting – all pelagic stocks – by more than 42,000 tonnes between 2012 and 2016, and has indicated that this quantity should be withdrawn in the future. quotas.
The Commission has also suspended € 25m in EU co-financing, with a total of € 37.2m at risk if the suspensions continue and affect future funds.
- To learn more about Irish fisheries control issues, our recent in-depth investigation revealed that significant enforcement issues prevail in the industry. Read now >>>
The industry is ‘flabbergasted’
Patrick Murphy of the Irish Southern and Western Fish Producers Organization (IS & WFPO) said the industry was unsure of what the implications of the move would be, but using examples of potentially having to surrender further into ports to offload the catch to the necessary additional infrastructure on docks across the country, he hinted that the impacts would be far-reaching.
“I am disappointed with the way this has been handled by the European Commission. [It has] acted on the basis of a report which has not been shared with industry. ”
Murphy said he had yet to receive clarification from SFPA or DAFM on what this latest Commission decision would mean for fishermen.
The Managing Director of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization (KFO), Seán O’Donoghue, called the revocation of the control plan a “bomb” which “could have a considerable negative impact on the pelagic, demersal and crustacean sectors”. He added that it “will not be accepted by the industry”.
Most of the pelagic fleet is based at Killybegs. KFO is one of Ireland’s most active producer organizations when it comes to registering lobbying efforts.
“We are simply flabbergasted that this baffling decision, which has such a direct and drastic impact on all aspects of Irish fishing, can be considered without warning.”
Impact on whitefish
The control plan covers not only the pelagic stock – the subject of the Commission’s audit, but also demersal species, including whitefish such as cod, hake and haddock. The impact of this decision will therefore be seen in the main fisheries of Ireland.
IS & WFPO represents fishermen in ports such as Castletownbere whose landings mainly include demersal stocks. Murphy said the decision to revoke the entire control plan inferred that “everyone in the industry must do something wrong” since all fishermen are “punished” in the same way.
Asked about the impact on Irish fishing, an EU official said Remarkable that once the control plan is revoked:
Fishing operators would be required to weigh all catches, including pelagic and demersal catches, upon landing before transport.
They added that the revocation of this plan “would not prevent Ireland from submitting a new control plan, including for the weighing of demersal catches, for the approval of the Commission”.
A fishing boat sets sail at Killybegs, Co Donegal, while another unloads its catch.
Source: Maria Delaney via Notable
SFPA President Dr Susan Steele said they will “reach out to producer organizations and industry representatives and organize local meetings to ensure the industry is familiar with the changes needed.” .
“This decision is a clear marker of tighter fishing controls across the EU. The SFPA takes its commitments under the Common Fisheries Policy very seriously. ”
A spokesperson for the DAFM said that “the abandonment of the control plan submitted by the SFPA in 2012 and the new arrangements resulting from this decision of the Commission are operational matters for the SFPA and the Minister cannot get involved. in these questions ”.
- This article was supported by reader contributions to Noteworthy, TheJournal’s community-led survey platform. If you like this and our other work, please consider contributing here.