Inshore boats to be monitored by authority
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has commenced an inshore fisheries patrol programme as part of its measures to help protect valuable crab, lobster and whelk fisheries, as well as public health.
Unlicensed operators will be specifically targeted during the programme which will run until late autumn.
The SFPA, whose headquarters are based in Clonakilty, warned anyone found to be non-compliant with sea-fisheries or seafood safety regulations will face prosecution.
Licensing, registration, operation of onboard vessel trackers where they are required, and compliance with fishing within designated fishing areas, will be among the issues being scrutinised.
The SFPA will also be checking that accurate sales records are being maintained to ensure traceability of product which is essential to protect consumer health and conservation of fisheries.
Susan Steele, chair of the SPFA, said illegal fishing by a small number of people was unfair to the majority of inshore fishermen who fish legally.
“It jeopardises the future of the industry by threatening the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s valuable inshore fisheries on which many coastal communities rely for a living,” she said. “It also poses a serious risk to public health, and potentially damage the excellent reputation Irish seafood enjoys both at home and abroad.”
The inshore patrols’ programme is being operated countrywide. The SPFA has deployed two AC750 7.5m rigid inflatable craft with the capacity to winch lift and inspect lobster pots and keeps to facilitate detailed inspections, while its shore monitoring includes vehicle patrols to small local ports and landing places. Inspection officers will identify and monitor unlicensed and unregistered vessels.
The SFPA will be checking boats through the summer.