SFPA called to attend the Óireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and Marine over the issue of pier-side weighing in Killybegs

SFPA called to attend the Óireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and Marine over the issue of pier-side weighing in Killybegs

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) have been notified to attend the Óireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and Marine to answer questions on the pier-side weighing debacle in Killybegs.

The actions of the SFPA have caused the loss of thousands of tonnes blue whiting for consumption, a valuable food source for poor people in western African nations, along with tens thousands of euros for processing plants and boat owners alike, and cost workers in the southwest of Donegal thousands of hours in wages.

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The situation began in late March, when the Danish trawler, RUTH turned away from the harbour in Killybegs after the master of the vessels was informed that his catch was chosen for monitoring, which meant that it would be dry weighed, a process where the chilled water is removed from the fish, but in the case of blue whiting, such an act damages the integrity of the fish, leaving it only useful as fish meal.

Several other foreign vessels along with Irish-registered vessels were targeted, but two incidents with the Norwegian vessel, Ingrid Majala, saw the master of the vessel steam to Derry Port, where the catch was unloaded and transported by lorry over the border, back to Killybegs.

The two fish processing factories in Killybegs who received these lorries were in turn targeted by the SFPA, who removed their in-factory weighing permits claiming they had breached the law because the the fish had to be weighed pier side before transportation into the Republic of Ireland.

In a statement, the SFPA said, “A Common Control Programme that would permit transport to the Republic of Ireland for weighing after a landing in Northern Ireland does not and has never existed.”

This has been disputed by the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, Sinn Féin and many others across Irish politics and fishing industry, who claim that the SFPA have breached the Northern Ireland Protocol and have created a hard border on the island of Ireland by their claims.

Today it was announced that, “after much effort by Michael Collins Ind. TD and others, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) have finally been called to face the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture & Marine (Wednesday 18th May) to answer questions regarding their actions in recent times and in particular in regard to their controversial demands to ‘dry weigh’ blue whiting at Killybegs which resulted in millions of euro lost to the local economy and has threatened the long term hope of foreign vessels coming to supply Killybegs’ processors with badly-needed raw material.

“I, and my colleagues on the Joint Committee, look forward to this meeting as it will give the opportunity to get to the truth of many issues in which the SFPA are involved – particularly the claim made by them at the last such meeting that they were working “in consultation with the industry at all times” when clearly this is not the case neither back then nor at present — announcing to the industry new orders and enforcing rules that are not appearing anywhere else in the European Union is certainly not ‘working with’ this industry in any form,” Deputy Collins said.

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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Time to face the music as SFPA called to Committee over Killybegs debacle

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