The Sunday Business Post has reported that six Irish fish processors from Killybegs are taking a High Court case against the state fisheries watchdog, the SFPA, over a controversial method of weighing fish introduced by them which could result in potential loss of millions of euro to the pelagic industry.
The processors and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) have been in dispute about processes since 2018 which came about on the results of an EU audit into the operation of pelagic weighing in Killybegs, which resulted in the authority proposing to weigh fish at the point of landing rather than continue to weigh them in factories which was the traditional practice.
Rosanna Cooney who wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post said that it is understood the fishing industry is opposed to this method of ‘at-point’ weighing of fish as it also includes the weight of the refrigerated water along with the fish.
She reports that the fishing industry position is that ‘at-point weighing of fish plus the refrigerated-water results and an inaccurate weight of fish being recorded. It is understood that some processors lost last quota earlier this year due to this method of weighing which has been introduced in Killybegs.
Fish processors are estimating that the potential loss of income to the industry is in the millions of Euros if this method of weighing continues and it is also a concern for fishing vessels as the weight that is recorded by the SFPA is then deducted from their allocated total allowable catch leading to a reduced income.
The six plaintiffs in the case are the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers and Exporters Association, the Atlantic Dawn group, Arctic Fish, Norfish and Gallagher Brothers all based in Killybegs.
In 2018 the EU set up an enquiry into SFPA after it’s found that there was every year serious deficiencies and the Irish control system which officials believed threatened to undermine the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy
The most serious problem the SFPA reported was that fish processors were allowed to weigh fish themselves in their own business premises
The SFPA complained that the fishing industries weighing systems were highly susceptible to manipulation and there were strong and occasions of widespread and serious under-reporting of catches.
Source: The Sunday Business Post