The Norwegian boat Ingrid Majala leaving Killybegs after issues with the SFPA and unloading her catch of blue whiting

The future for some fish processing in Killybegs are in doubt as the SFPA continues get freehand from the Minister

The issues between the fishing industry in Killybegs and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) continued this morning as an Irish fishing vessel was forced to put a load of blue whiting earmarked for human consumption to fish meal because of inspectors demands on monitoring landings.

The Cork-based 43-metre Sea Spray was due to land around 265 tonnes of blue whiting for three fish processors in Killybegs this morning when it was notified that it would be monitored by SFPA inspectors. The crew were ordered to dry the catch for weighing on landing, which degraded the integrity of the catch. Instead of the blue whiting being used for human consumption, the catch has been sent for fish meal at another factory, meaning the workers from at least one factory were sent home. Another boat had unloaded its catch of blue whiting uninterrupted and some of the processors managed to get it to their factories intact.

In the past two weeks, the SFPA have put three loads of blue whiting meant for human consumption to fish meal, forced the Danish trawler RUTH with 1,270 tonnes onboard for human consumption to leave, and caused the Norwegian fishing vessel Ingrid Majala to abandon landing twice and travel to Derry Port to unload costing fish processors an estimated bill of €60,000 for 75 lorry loads of fish to be transported back to Killybegs.

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Not alone has it cost the town’s fish processors, it has also cost the harbour itself between €50,000 and €60,000 in revenue. But the long-term costs has been to the reputation of Killybegs as up to five foreign vessels cancelled their contracts to supply fish after the incident involving the Danish vessel RUTH on Thursday, 31 March.

With the blue whiting season in the closing stages for the factories in Killybegs, some are questioning the future viability of their businesses if there is no solution to the issues surrounding the SFPA.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue attended a meeting in held Killybegs last night by the local industry. The Minister told the public meeting that he 100% supported the work of the SFPA but that he could not interfere in the operations of the SFPA.

This news has come as the final straw for one fish processor in Killybegs who says the interference from the SFPA has irreparable damaged the industry in Killybegs and as a result the family may have to close the business.

Sean Óg Ward of Sean Ward Fish told The Fishing Daily that after listening to the Minister at last night’s meeting, he fears for the future of the industry in the town.

He said, “When you listen to what the Minister had to say last night you know you are getting nowhere. It’s leaving us with no other choice. After leaving that meeting yesterday evening, we were completely deflated. When you hear who is meant to be fighting for us tell us that the only solution is to sit down at the table with the SFPA, but we’ve been around the table with the SFAP for the past 15 years without a result.”

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Killybegs fish processing industry crashing as Minister refuses to get involved

by editor time to read: 7 min