Ireland’s Control and enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy rules sadly lacking, says Green Party Spokesperson on the Marine.
Following a ruling of the European Commission describing Ireland’s policing of fishing quotas as wholly inadequate, Ireland South MEP and Green Party Spokesperson on the Marine, Grace O’Sullivan, says the ruling comes as no surprise.
“Control and enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy rules has been wanting in Ireland. Year on year we have failed to implement an effective infringements procedure, meaning rule-breakers face little consequences for their actions, which paints honest fishers in a bad light.
“The implications of this ruling are serious. It ends a 2012 derogation which allowed fish to be weighed at factories and highlights fundamental failures to implement and enforce our fisheries rules. Ultimately this harms our own industry and our own fishers. We will now lose out on quota, fisheries funding, and ultimately, the good reputation of our fisheries products is severely damaged by these findings.”
As the only Irish full member of the Fisheries (PECH) Committee in the European Parliament, MEP O’Sullivan says she has been fighting for sustainable and fully-documented fisheries from day one. The Commission findings, she says, were disappointing, but to be expected.
“An audit carried out by the Commission in 2018 found multiple cases of tampering of weighing systems and underreporting of catches, while the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency has uncovered underreporting of tank volumes and illegal discarding continues unabated.
“Given the warnings about failures in the Irish fisheries control system that have been issued by the Commission since at least 2007, sadly the latest ruling should come as no surprise. In one incident alone, over 1,200 tonnes of discarded fish were found on the seabed of Killybegs harbour.”
With the Irish fishing fleet annually receiving fishing quotas far above maximum sustainable yield for many fish stocks in Irish waters; between 2012 and 2016, Ireland overfished over 40,000 tonnes of mackerel, scad and blue whiting.
“We cannot continue to ignore warnings which bring into question the traceability of our seafood and highlight continued overfishing and underreporting in our waters.”
It’s a problem, says O’Sullivan, that cannot be entirely blamed on ‘supertrawlers’ and foreign vessels fishing in our waters.
“The entire Irish fishing industry is in need of reform if we are to ensure that stocks are managed sustainably and transparently for generations to come. We have managed to increase transparency measures in the recent Fisheries Control Regulation in the European Parliament, which will be negotiated with the European Council in the coming months. That includes improved remote electronic monitoring of all vessels, but loopholes still remain.
“We need strong steps forward now at national and EU level. If our decimated fish stocks are to have any chance of replenishing, we must set quotas at maximum sustainable yield as a rule. There needs to be official recognition of small-scale Producer Organisations, a greater role for environmental NGOs in quota management, complete transparency of Fisheries Council meetings, and an effective control and infringement regime at home.”