IFPO Chief, Aodh O’Donnell criticises the actions of the SFPA in revoking in-factory weighing as contrary to the Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement. Photo: Alan Hennigan
Irish Fish Producers Organisation Chief, Aodh O’Donnell has hit out at the actions of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority which suspended the in-factory weighing permits of two fish processors in Killybegs.
The SFPA decided to revoke the weigh permits of Sean Ward Fish and Arctic Fish. These are the same fish processors that were unable to land blue whiting catches from a Norwegian vessel, the Ingrid Majala while still maintaining the fish fit for human consumption.
On both occasions the Master of the vessel decided against SFPA monitoring which would have required the fish to be dried for pier side weighing, destroying the integrity of the fish, and instead opted to land the fish into Derry Port at Lisahally. The blue whiting catch was then brought back by road to Killybegs on trucks and tankers with a great expense to both processing companies.
The SFPA have decided to remove the in-factory weigh permits from Arctic Fish and Sean Ward Fish Ltd both of Killybegs on the basis that:
“The SFPA remains of the view that the landing took place outside of Ireland”
The SFPA further add:
“Therefore, Art 61 (1) cannot be applied following transport from outside of Ireland to a permitted establishment in Ireland”
Mr O’Donnell said that the actions of the SFPA has greater consequences on an international level than they can foresee. He said:
“The development over the last 24 hours has shocked the seafood industry, is another blow to the sector and leads to additional uncertainty. Left unchallenged, this is going to have significant consequences for the sector generally.”
“There is long standing and a massive interdependence between the catching and processing sectors on the island. The special arrangement and protocol for Northern Ireland is key to the smooth running of the fishing industry island-wide.”
“The indication by the SFPA that they cannot treat the ports in Northern Ireland as part of the protocol arrangement is nothing short of shocking, and is contrary to the protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.”
“The IFPO calls on the Government to act now to defend the integrity of the protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.”