22 December 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, has reiterated her call for the Irish government to take action on super trawlers, otherwise known as freezer factory vessels.
“Since November, these vessels have been netting huge quantities of fish all along the Irish west and north-west coast.
“Not a single super trawler was boarded or inspected by Irish fishing authorities until within the last fortnight, and the SFPA’s excuse was that weather conditions were too poor to board the vessels.
“If weather conditions are not ideal for boarding at sea, then these vessels should be called to port for boarding and inspection, what is preventing the SFPA from doing that?
“My Sinn Féin party colleague in the Dáíl, Martin Ferris, recently told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine that 12 pelagic factory boats have been fishing off Donegal.
“He stated that, according to Dutch news reports, up to 70 per cent of their catch is being discarded and they are freezing the prime fish only.
“This would mean that thousands of tonnes of dead fish are being illegally dumped overboard by these super trawlers.
“Due to these abuses and mass industrial capacity for over-exploitation of fishing stocks, I am completely opposed to the presence of super-trawlers in Irish waters, with or without quota they do immense damage, at both the expense of Irish fishermen and the environment.
“However, with the current system, if they have a quota for a stock, these super-trawlers are unfortunately legally entitled to fish that quota.
“But there should be monitors from the Irish national authorities on-board at all times when super trawlers are within Irish waters.
“This is to ensure that no infringements are taking place, there also needs to be mandatory pre and post fishing inspections of these vessels to ensure that no illegal equipment is on-board, and that that they are fishing within quota.
“However, one aspect about the presence of super trawlers that is not being highlighted enough, is incidents where they have caused tens of thousands of euros worth of damage to other fishermen’s equipment, and the Irish fishermen that have been negatively affected have not received adequate support from Irish authorities when it comes to compensation.
“The damage caused would mean that a vessel would be stuck in port until the damage is repaired, or equipment is replaced, but this would entail lost time at sea where they should be fishing, and all those factors would lead to potentially crippling long-term financial costs.”