Irish fishing representative calls for Government action as local trawler is threatened by an EU-registered vessel inside its 12-mile limit
The news that an Irish fishing vessel was threatened within its own 12-mile limit by an EU-registered has been met with anger by fishermen around the coast.
The incident occurred onthe morning of Friday, 28 May as the Lours des Mers was working on grounds off the south-west of Bull Rock, when the skipper of what is believed to be Spanish-registered vessel started behaving in an aggressive manner towards the Irish boat as he thought that they were getting too close to where he had its fishing gear shot.
The Spanish-registered vessel had in fact shot its gear inside the 12-mile limit and for a period of time it is alleged that the boat had its AIS switched—off, trying to avoid detection.
The crew of the Lours des Mers filmed the incident as the foreign vessel grew dangerously close to the Irish boat, threatening the safety of the crew. The Lours de Mer is an 18-metre 90 tonne plastic-built boat and could have been easily rammed and sunk by the 32 metre 274 tonne steel hull of the longliner.
Earlier, Mr Sheehan had tried to make contact with the skipper of the foreign vessel as it can within the vicinity of the Lours des Mers and began circling it. And some point the foreign vessel was as close a 50-metres away. The skipper of the foreign boat was screaming out the window that the Lours des Mers was too close to location of his longlines.
When the skipper of the foreign vessel came on the radio Mr Sheehan took the coordinates of his fishing gear and when it was plotted, he found that these longlines were shot inside the 12-mile limit.When the skipper of the foreign vessel is asked that he knew he was fishing illegally inside the Irish 12-mile limit, he answered, “My English is a few” despite being able to tell Kieran Sheehan where his gear was shot.
Mr Sheehan then alerted the Irish authorities via the Valentia Coast Guard Station and altered course to avoid further confrontation with the longliner.
This incident is another in a history of incidents where EU-registered fishing vessels mainly from Spain have threatened local fishing vessels through dangerous threatening behaviour.
Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers called on the Government to action and said, “We have been promised that the Taoiseach will be calling us in the next couple of days.”
The video of the incident can be viewed here.