OVER 140 inshore vessels have been inspected by Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority’s (SFPA) officers since it began its annual inshore fisheries patrol programme last month.
These are being carried out as part of conservation measures to help protect Ireland’s valuable crab, lobster and whelk fisheries.
The Clonakilty-based SFPA is targeting unlicensed and unregistered fishing along the south and west coasts as well as monitoring compliance with new limits for lobster and crab fishing by members of the public.
This year’s programme also includes vehicle patrols to small local ports and landing places, a new initiative to monitor unlicensed and unregistered vessels, which will be targeted for inspection at sea during subsequent patrols in their area. The inshore patrols will continue until the autumn with the support of the Naval Service, Air Corps and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Patrols have taken place to date along the Cork, Galway, Kerry and Wexford coasts. Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers of the SFPA have found levels of compliance with sea-fisheries regulations to be generally good, however they have identified some infringements including the discovery of undersize shellfish such as lobster and crab.
Regulations are in place regarding the minimum size that can be harvested to ensure these species can reach maturity and reproduce to safeguard the future of stocks.
A de-registered vessel was also detected fishing with nets while a number of keeps were found attached to un-registered vessels in a south coast port. A file on the de-registered vessel is being prepared for the consideration of DPP.
Susan Steele, chair of SFPA, said: ‘Illegal fishing by a small number of fishermen is unfair to the majority of inshore fishermen who fish legally and it jeopardises the future of this valuable industry. The SFPA, along with our control partners the Naval Service and the Air Corps, is committed to creating a level playing field.
‘Our targeted inshore compliance strategy supports the sustainable management of these fisheries and will help to safeguard their future for the benefit of consumers, producers and, importantly, the coastal communities.’
She added: “The SFPA is continuing the inshore patrols over the next few months and we would ask anyone who has questions or would like our Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers to focus on particular issues or areas to contact your local SFPA port office.’