SFPA accused of attempting to destroy the Irish processing industry as unreasonable actions forces the Danish pelagic trawler RUTH to leave Killybegs. Photo Mooney Boats/Alan Hennigan

SFPA accused of attempting to destroy the Irish processing industry as unreasonable actions forces the Danish pelagic trawler RUTH to leave Killybegs. Photo Mooney Boats/Alan Hennigan

SFPA action will have a damning effect on the Irish processing industry as reputation irreparably damaged to foreign boats

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has been accused of attempting to destroy the Irish seafood industry as it forced away a Danish pelagic trawler loaded with 1,270 tonnes of valuable blue whiting for human consumption.

The 89 -metre Ruth has been fishing blue whiting off the Irish coast and was due to land her catch into two fish processors in Killybegs today but due to the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) enforcing unfit-for-purpose landing regulations the boat was forced to abandon the landing and head back out to sea to fish.

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The blue whiting was meant for human consumption, but current landing regulations means that the blue whiting would have to be dried out before weighing would take place at the pier, therefore rendering it unusable for the processing it would undertake for human consumption.

Irish fish processors are facing massive demands to produce fish such as blue whiting for west African countries. This is due to the current situation with the Russia/Ukraine conflict. The Russian pelagic fleet and processors counted for a large percentage of the supply of this fish, but due to current international sanctions their fleet is no longer able to operate.

This left countries like Nigeria relying heavily on Irish fish processors to supply them with blue whiting which is a valuable source of protein for their population. A shortage of food in these countries can have dire consequences for the people living there, a fact overlooked by the SFPA said one processor.

For the two processors involved, their season is now over as their supply of blue whiting has been cut-off. The Ruth would have between 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes of blue whiting to fish. Landing that fish into Killybegs would mean employment for around 60 processing workers. These workers have been told there is no work and the plants have closed their doors.

This is devastating for both processors and for the community in Killybegs.

For the Ruth and her catch, the boat has returned to sea to fill-up and take her catch elsewhere to be processed as fish meal. A valuable and affordable food source now being sent to feed farmed salmon ate at the tables of the well-off in western society.

There are fears that the SFPA’s actions have irreparable damages the reputation of Killybegs that will have a damning effect for years to come.

“The SFPA, they’ve chased that vessel away and he was going to land about maybe five or six thousand tonnes more in Killybegs,” says one processor. “He’s gone never to be back.

“He won’t come back because when you get treated like that. How could anyone come back here?”

There are concerns that other foreign vessels which the processors in Killybegs rely on might decide to follow suit and stop landing there because of what was eye-witnessed today.

“The Norwegian people were actually there on the quayside watching what was happening and they’re landing here in Killybegs too. The words already got round what the SFPA has done.

“We’ve paid off our staff. We’ve closed down the season that would run for another two weeks.

“It’s devastating for us and for our workers.”

Foreign boat from Denmark and Norway are hugely valuable to Irish processors. The processors in Killybegs say that because the small blue whiting quota allocated to Irish vessels, they need these vessels landing here in order to supplement the lack of Irish quota.

by Oliver McBride

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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Unreasonable actions of SFPA push Danish trawler out of Killybegs

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