The EU Commission seeks to punish the Irish fishing fleet of overfishing mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting
The Irish pelagic fleet is facing tough sanctions as the European Commission tightens the net on the industry claiming that Irish boats are guilty of overfishing.
With the fleet already facing a huge cut in mackerel quota due to a botched Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the UK, now the Commission is going to introduce draconian measures such as deducting tens of thousands of tonnes of fish from the Irish fishing fleets annual quota over the next few years, with the fishing industry will also standing to lose up to €40 million according to a report in yesterday’s Irish Times.
The European Commission decided to take the action against Irish fishermen after an EU investigation into the State’s application of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The Commission claim the investigation found that Irish systems for controlling and sanctioning compliance with the rules of the CFP were “unsatisfactory” and now they have put forward a “concrete and specific package of measures” to address the issue.
The Commission decided to conduct the inquiry was taken in 2019 after a previous audit during 2019 in Killybegs identified serious deficiencies in the Irish fisheries control system. The led EU officials to believe that the Irish lack of controls threatened to undermine the objectives of the CFP.
The 2018 audit by the Commission found Ireland’s system of inspecting and monitoring catches was insufficient and accused the Irish of suspected manipulation of weighing systems, some incidents of under-recording of storage capacity and a lack of enforcement action for non-compliance or infringements by fishing vessels.
It is understood that an analysis by the Commission concluded, that during the period 2012 to 2016, the Irish pelagic fleet overfished its quota of mackerel by 28,700 tonnes, horse mackerel by 8,100 tonnes and blue whiting by 5,600 tonnes.
The Commission is looking for payback and it seems they are intent on punishing the Irish fishing industry.
The system for weighing catches of fish will also be shaken up as a result, with a derogation that allows catches to be weighed in factories removed, meaning fish must now be weighed on the quayside at landing.
Measures will be taken to sanction detected infringements, and Ireland must work with the commission on a plan to solve the issues identified, including those arising from automated cross checks, risk analysis and a national control plan.