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

SFPA statement in relation to incident where the Norwegian trawler Ingrid Majala left Killybegs without unloading its catch of blue whiting. Photo: Alan Hennigan

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has released a statement in reltion to the incident yesterday, Tuesday 06 March, where the Norwegian pelagic trawler Ingrid Majala left Killybegs without unloading its catch of blue whiting.

“The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is the competent Irish regulatory authority for sea-fisheries and seafood.

A core part of its regulatory function is to ensure compliance with the EU Common Fisheries Policy to safeguard sustainable fishing stocks in Irish and European waters. This includes ensuring compliance with the interim Fisheries Control Plan* as approved by the European Commission that enables the derogation of weighing of fishery products after transport in Ireland.

The interim Control Plan seeks to ensure control systems are adequate to address significant concerns regarding inaccurate weighing of catches, particularly by operators landing bulk pelagic catches to Ireland, which resulted in the EU Commission’s revoking of Ireland’s weighing-after-transport Control Plan in April 2021. Comprehensive engagement has been undertaken with industry over recent months to ensure they are informed as to the requirements and specifications of the interim Control Plan.

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The SFPA confirms that on 5th April, in accordance with the requirements of the interim Control Plan approved by the European Commission, it sought to undertake an inspection which would include supervising the weighing before transport of the catch of the fishing vessel MFV Ingrid Majala at Killybegs harbour. The master of the vessel and its operator were offered two options for conducting this weighing before transport – the use of an industry-owned pierside device to separate water from fish and weigh on the weighbridge, or to weigh on the weighbridge without using the industry-owned pierside device.

This industry-owned pierside device, which has been used on several occasions in 2021, is capable of separating water from fish thereby ensuring an accurate weight of fish is obtained, whilst also preserving the quality of the fish once taken from the vessel. **

The master of the vessel and the operator responsible for weighing refused to agree to pierside weighing before transport of their catch and subsequently the vessel chose to leave port. The SFPA understands the vessel has chosen to sail to port in Derry where the fish must be weighed upon landing using a weighbridge, similar to one of the options on offer at Killybegs.”

*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 interim control is available on the SFPA website:

A formal Control Plan to enable the derogation of weighing of fishery products after transport in Ireland was submitted to the European Commission with a view to achieving permanent approval in March 2022. Subject to approval by the European Commission this Control Plan would be adopted by Ireland, replacing the interim Control Plan.

**Tankers can be weighed on the weighbridge with water in them before accepting fish, meaning that the quality of the fish is preserved at all times.

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