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

The Norwegian pelagic trawler Ingrid Majala lands into Derry Port to avoid further conflict with the SFPA over weighing-on-landing regulations. Photo: Alan Hennigan

The Norwegian pelagic trawler that turned away from landing in Killybegs yesterday, Tuesday 05 April has made her landing instead in the Port of Londonderry/Derry. 

The Ingrid Majala undertook a 19-hour journey from Killybegs and entered Lough Foyle this afternoon. The boat will unload its 950 tonnes of blue whiting into 40 lorries which will be transported back by road to Killybegs. 

Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, even though the Port of Derry is in Northern Ireland, it is operating under European Union rules and so the Ingrid Majala can unload its catch there without the interference of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). 

In Killybegs yesterday, SFPA inspectors had requested the Ingrid Majala to dry the blue whiting on landing so that they could weigh it. The 950 tonnes were destined for a fish processor in Killybegs who would process it for human consumption for countries in Western Africa. Removing the water from the catch would have damaged the quality of the blue whiting, leading it instead to be processed for fish meal.  

This afternoon in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Deputies Pearse Doherty and Padraig Mac Lochlainn took the government to task over the actions of the SFPA and pointing out the madness surrounding the interpretations of EU regulations regarding the control plan.

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Deputy Pearse Doherty said, “Taoiseach, on Friday a Danish vessel full of blue whiting and was prevented from landing at Killybegs Harbour due to the approach has been taken by the SFPA in how they’re weighing the fish, and yesterday a Norwegian fishing vessel was also prevented from landing at Killybegs. 

“Fifty-four workers were told that there was no work for them in the process in factory and were sent home 

“And today, Taoiseach, as we speak here, that same Norwegian vessel, the Ingrid Majella is pulling into the port of Derry which operates under the same EU rules that Killybegs operate. 950 tonnes of fish will be offloaded off that vessel and later today there will be 40 lorry loads travelling from Derry down to Killybegs with those fish to be processed. Now Taoiseach that is an example of stupidity and madness. It is an exact situation that is unacceptable.” 

Michaél Martin defended his Minister claiming that McConalogue was on top of the issue. He told the Dáíl, “Well, first of all, I would say that Mr. McConalogue has been very active in engaging with the fishing industry in relation to all of the issues and is engaging with all concerned to bring a resolution.” 

Deputy Pearse Doherty accused the whole situation as making a mockery of the Government’s apparent concern over carbon production and global warming. Deputy Doherty said, ““You talk about climate change. We have 40 lorries from Derry to Killybegs. It makes no sense Taoiseach.” 

Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn called for immediate action to address the situation saying that Ireland has now beome the laughing of the EU. He said, “It’s ridiculous what we’re doing in this country is punishing fishermen more and more. A Norwegian vessel has had to go to Derry even though they operate under the same European Union rules. 

“There’s common sense in play, so that’s 40 lorry loads of fish coming from Derry to Killybegs and we get lectured about climate change and our responsibilities. 

“Yet the madness and insanity of the way that we interpret European Union rules, an episode of Father Ted wouldn’t compare to what we’re seeing right now in Killybegs. 

“It’s absolute madness to ask fishermen to turn food for human consumption, going to the likes of West Africa into fish meal. So, can I appeal that this transcript urgently be given to Minister Charlie McConalogue and that he urgently intervenes, ’cause we’re making a laughingstock of ourselves here in terms of our fishing industry. After everything they’ve been through. This is the last thing they need.” 

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Ingrid Majala lands into Derry Port to avoid hassle from SFPA

by editor time to read: 8 min