Ireland’s fish producer organisations have written to Minister McConalogue on the issue of penalty points
The heads of Ireland’s four fish producer organisations have written to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine after their meeting on Wednesday 16 September 2020.
The Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), the South and East Fish Producers Organisation (IS&EFPO) and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) are not happy with the Minister Charlie McConalogue’s commitment to enforcing S.I 318 of 2020 which brought into law a penalty points system for fishery infringements that is deemed by the Irish fishing industry as unnecessary harsh and similar to the legislation struck down in two previous High Court cases and upheld by the Supreme Court.
The Government’s position is that they must enforce a penalty points system as they are facing further EMFF monies being withheld and in July, Ireland received a Reasoned Opinion from the European Commission giving them three month to get their house in order in regards to implementing the EU Penalty Points regulations.
After last Wednesday’s meeting where the Minister failed to address the concerns of the fishing industry, the decision was taken by the four fish producer organisations to write to the Minister with their concerns.
As Patrick Murphy, Chief Executive of the IS&WFPO said in an interview last week
“The pleading and offers of help from Industry to assist in the drafting of a law that would be fair to Irish fishing people was rebutted as not being in compliance with EU law, as our suggested amendments to the Statutory Instrument are not dissuasive and preventive enough.”
In a radio interview he said “There doesn’t seem to be much appetite to write a new S.I and unfortunately we are going to waste a lot of time and resources to do this the only way we can which is probably bring it back into the courts.”
In the letter the four Producer Organisations have asked the Minister to consider amending four sections of the S.I which are their “main concerns”.
In the letter they ask the Minister to examine:
Section: 6(9) Where the burden of proof is less than that required in a prosecution, ‘on the balance of probabilities’ as in the S.I text.
Section: 8(1), Where points remain on a licence even in the event of an appellant being exonerated of any offence.
Section: 10(2), Where points attached to capacity multiply in the event of that capacity being subdivided.
Section: 12(14), Where a party may only apply to the High Court on a point of law.
The letter has been received by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine but it is widely thought that the Minister is set on keeping the legislation in place.