The Ingrid Majala leaving Killybegs again after issues with SFPA
The Norwegian pelagic trawler Ingrid Majala has this morning once again left Killybegs with a catch of blue whiting it was due to unload into a local fish processing factory.
The 62.6 metre vessel entered the harbour this morning to unload her catch of blue whiting, which was destined to be processed for human consumption, when Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) inspectors arrived and ordered that the fish be dried for weighing. The request was refused, and the skipper of the boat has left the harbour to steam to unload the 980 tonnes of blue whiting into Derry Port.
It will now take approximately 35 lorries to transport the catch back across Donegal to the processor in Killybegs.
The incident is a rerun of last Tuesday, 05 April, when the Ingrid Majala came to Killybegs to unload but was forced to abandon the process when the SFPA inspectors ordered the catch to be dried for weighing.
Fish processors in the town believe that the acts of the SFPA are deliberate as this is one in a series of incidents where foreign trawlers landing blue whiting have been targeted. On Thursday, 31 March, the 89-metre Danish pelagic trawler RUTH was also targeted by the SFPA for this weighing process when it was due to deliver 1,270 tonnes of blue whiting to be processed for human consumption.
Not alone is the actions of the SFPA being criticised for damaging the economics and employment in the town, it has also been deplored because this processed blue whiting would be shipped to western Africa, where it is a valuable food source for millions of poor people, and especially now when the food product is in short supply due to sanctions against the Russian fishing fleet over their country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last Wednesday, 06 April, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association CEO, Brendan Byrne said, “had the Norwegian vessel “Ingrid Majala “attempted to land in France, Belgium, Spain or any other EU Coastal State; they would have been permitted to do so and furthermore the integrity and quality of their fish catch would be preserved and the catch would enter the food chain.”
The issue was also raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TDs Padraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty when the Ingrid Majala was forced to sail to Derry to unload, where it would be not be subjected to the Irish interim Control Plan and the SFPA.