sfpa killybegs control plan

The SFPA claim they were only enforcing the Interim Control Plan in Killybegs when a Danish trawler decided not to land its catch of blue whiting. Photo: Alan Hennigan

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has claimed that they are not at fault for an incident at Killybegs Harbour on Thursday 31 March 2022, which forced away a Danish trawler carrying 1,270 tonnes of blue whiting for two local fish processors.

The 89-metre RUTH had come to Killybegs to supply the processing plants with blue whiting for human consumption but an altercation on the pier over how the catch would be weighed ended with the vessel turning around and heading back out to sea to fill the vessel and head back to Denmark where the catch will be processed as fish meal.

Not alone was it devastating for the fish processors who have had to close their plants and lay off workers, but they also fear that it has damaged the reputation of Killybegs, which could drive-off Danish and Norwegian boats they rely on due to the small quota Irish boats are forced to operate under.

The SFPA have denied wrongdoing saying they were operating under the regulations of the current interim control plan and it was the Master of the Vessel who decided to leave Killybegs Harbour.

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Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority statement

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) confirms that on March 31st  it sought to undertake an inspection which would include supervising the weighing before transport of a fishing vessel at Killybegs harbour. Such weighings are required by the interim Control Plan as approved by the European Commission.

The interim Control Plan allows for the weighing of up to 92.5% of catch in a factory or processing facility after transport, provided that 7.5% is weighed upon landing prior to transport on non-industry owned, non-industry operated devices.

The SFPA confirms that the master of the vessel and the operator objected to the process for weighing upon landing, as set out in the Interim Control Plan. The master of the vessel and the operator were offered the use of an industry owned water separator which would preserve the quality of the fish during the process. They opted not to avail of this and subsequently the Master of the vessel chose to leave port. The SFPA intends to notify the relevant regulatory authority of the EU member state in which this vessel is flagged of this interaction.  

As the competent regulatory authority for sea-fisheries and seafood, the SFPA continuously monitor the activity of all vessels operating in Irish waters throughout their fishing operations within the Irish EEZ and promote, verify and enforce compliance of EU and national regulations.

The SFPA has been actively working to secure approval of a formal Control Plan to enable the derogation of weighing of fishery products after transport in Ireland, which addresses significant EU Commission concerns surrounding Ireland’s control measures and the risk of non-compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, particularly in pelagic bulk landings to Ireland, which resulted in the Commission’s revoking of Ireland’s weighing-after-transport Control Plan in 2021. A formal Control plan has now been submitted by the SFPA to the European Commission with a view to achieving permanent approval.

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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SFPA claim they were only enforcing Interim Control Plan in Killybegs incident

by editor time to read: 7 min