The EU Commission has said that it is not in a position to comment on the Administrative Inquiry in relation to the Irish fishing industry
The European Commission has told The Fishing Daily that it is not in a position to comment on the issue of their Administrative Inquiry in relation to Ireland’s capacity to apply the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy.
We had asked the Commission to verify whether they could provide concrete evidence of overfishing or whether they making an assertation that the Irish pelagic fleet are guilty of overfishing. A Commission source said they were not in a position to disclose the information requested.
From evidence supplied by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the Commission has found the State guilty of “Possible under declaration of catches between 2012 and 2016.
In 2018, the Commission conducted an audit into the Irish fishing industry where it found Ireland’s fishery protection controls suffered “severe and significant weaknesses” with a lack of “effective” enforcement and penalties.
The audit was centred around the weighing of pelagic catches in processing factories in Killybegs and monitoring of the fleet of vessels, some of which were found to have under-recorded storage capacity in a survey conducted for the SFPA in 2014 and 2015.
The 2018 audit noted that “no infringements have been cited by Ireland for this non-compliance, nor has any enforcement action been taken against the vessels”.
The EU Commissioner for fisheries was not satisfied with the shortcomings in the SFPA audit. In 2019 ordered that an Administrative Inquiry should be carried out that resulted in report which based on the Commission’s analysis, it has concluded that Ireland over the period 2012-2016 has overfished the quota of mackerel by 28,600 tonnes; Horse Mackerel quota by 8,100 tonnes and Blue Whiting by 5,600 tonnes.
Fisheries Commissioner Sinkevicius wrote to the Minister setting out the Commission’s findings in December 2020, advising that the Commission will open a payback procedure of the amount overfished, to be taken from future quotas, as permitted under the EU Control Regulation.
An EU source told The Fishing Daily, “An administrative inquiry, pursuant to Article 102 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009, was conducted with Ireland on request of the Commission from July 2019 following the findings of a 2018 audit by the European Commission. This inquiry required the Irish authority, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, to provide detailed information to the Commission with respect to shortcomings detected as a result of the audit.
“Following an analysis of the information provided by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, a letter was sent by Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, to the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue in December 2020 summarising the conclusions on the outcome of the administrative inquiry.
“Against the background of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, and because there is an on-going investigation into the subject matter of the audit findings and the subsequent administrative inquiry, we cannot disclose the content of this letter.”