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Atlantic Dawn

The world's largest AND second largest supertrawlers are in Irish waters

The Annelies Ilena, formerly known as the Atlantic Dawn, is now moving up the west coast.

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the second-largest fishing trawler in the world was spotted off the north coast of Mayo.

Now, its big sister is making its way up the west coast.

The Annelies Ilena, previously known as the Atlantic Dawn, entered the Irish Exclusive Fishery Limits on Wednesday.

The ship will be monitored, as is usual, by the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SPFA), along with the Naval Service and Air Corps.

“As a European-registered fishing vessel, the Dutch-registered vessel Annelies Ilena 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,” a statement read.

However, it’s unclear if it intends to actually fish off Ireland, as the statement continues:

There is no obligation on any EU vessel in any EU waters to give notification of intention.

The massive trawler was previously Irish registered, and at one stage accounted for one-third of the country’s fishing capacity.

Once dubbed locally as the ‘Sea Monster’, concerns over its large capacity have been raised by local fishermen, as well as by environmental experts. Some claim it is having an ‘unsustainable’ impact on the environment.

The ship was built by Irish businessman Kevin McHugh in 2000 (when he first brought it to him home port of Killybegs, people were said to have remarked: ‘The Celtic Tiger swims’). Despite the Marine Minister of the day pronouncing it one of the “proudest moments of the Irish fishing industry”, the ship was only permitted to sail in Irish waters for a very short period of the year. The European Commission also refused permission to avail of the existing agreements with non-EU states.

To get around this, the ship had to fish for nine months off the year off Mauritania, west Africa. However, five years later it was expelled from those waters.

In 2013, it was detained by Irish authorities over allegedly taking part in a prohibited practice akin to discarding, where legal-sized but lower-value fish are ‘graded out’ and returned to the sea dead.

Legal proceedings are still ongoing in that case and the SPFA could not provide further comment. The ship has been allowed to leave the port of Killybegs where it was initially detained by the Irish Naval Service.


The second-largest trawler, the 143-metre-long Margiris which was spotted off Mayo, has since moved further north. The SFPA confirmed that ship is also being monitored.

Given its size, there were some who initially believed it was the Annelies Illena. But, it seems, they only had to wait a couple of days to spot the ‘Sea Monster’.

This video shows the huge internal capacity of the Annelies Illena for fish catching and processing:

pilipolio / YouTube

Read: A super trawler banned from Australia is back in Irish waters >

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