THE SECOND LARGEST trawler in the world, previously banned from Australian waters, is back off the coast of Ireland – and it has some in the industry concerned.
The 143 metre long Margiris is currently sailing along the north coast of Mayo, having entered the Irish European Economic Zone on 7 January. It can process as much as 250 tonnes of fish per day.
The ship has sailed under a range of names, including the Abel Tasman, and various nationalities.
The vessel is currently being kept under the watchful eye of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, assisted by the Naval Service and Air Corps.
“A basic principle of the EU Common Fisheries Policy is shared access for all EU vessels to all EU waters,” a spokesperson for the authority explained.
“As a European registered fishing vessel, the Lithuanian registered vessel the Margiris is permitted to operate in any European waters and can fish in any area and retain on board any fish for which it has a nationally assigned European quota.
It was the target of an Australian ban on so-called supertrawlers in 2012.
The ban was extended just before Christmas to smaller ships, The Australian reports.
Local fishing groups have previously expressed grave concern over ships like Margiris, which has far created capacity than many smaller boats combined, when it arrived off the west coast in March last year, soon after the ship was reportedly again refused entry to Australia.
Francis O’Donnell from the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation said last night there are issues surrounding the quotas assigned to these vessels.
“The enforcement agencies know that they have quota to be there, or at least they think they do, but they actually don’t know what the quota available to these ships is,” he told TheJournal.ie.
“From an enforcement perspective, it’s a real problem. It’s totally unacceptable.”
O’Donnell stressed that there is no evidence to suggest the ship has been behaving illegally. He said is believed it may be fishing for horse mackerel.