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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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TD raises concerns that supertrawler may be acting illegally off Donegal coast

The Margiris can process as much as 250 tonnes of fish per day.

7318658562_ff1e341fe5_b Source: free photos & art via Flickr/Creative Commons

A TD HAS raised concerns that a supertrawler may be acting illegally off the west coast of Donegal.

Independent TD for Donegal South-West Thomas Pringle told the Dáil today the 143-metre -ong Margiris could be discarding fish or catching fish that does not adhere to its quota.

In a statement last week, the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) said the Margiris has a quota for scad, also known as horse mackerel, and like other ships is under continuous observation by the Irish navy.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Pringle said:

“I know from talking to fishermen that it is practically impossible at this time of year to catch only horse mackerel when finishing off the west coast. You catch mackerel as well as at the same time.

So either they are dumping the mackerel at sea, which is illegal, or they are processing them on board and keeping them, which is also illegal.

He called on Tánaiste Joan Burton to order that the Margiris and other supertrawlers be brought to a safe harbour for them to be inspected, as the SFPA told Pringle that weather conditions meant it was currently unsafe to do so at sea.

Pringle added that the crab pots of local fisherman were towed away by another supertrawler in the area, ‘destroying his livelihood’, despite attempts to contact them over radio asking them to stop.

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He said that there are also two other supertrawlers off Donegal right now

Burton said the vessel is entitled to fish in Irish waters and record its catches, and that it is, as with all vessels, under constant observation.

It has to record its catches and set them against quotas in compliance with EU sea fisheries legislation.

“The [SFPA] is committed to ensuring that that EU quotas are fairly and sustainably managed.”

On changing fisheries regulation, she said:

The basic regulation changes to fisheries policy involving access or restriction to fishing opportunities comes within the sole competence of the EU… but only the EU commission can propose changes, and any such proposal has to be adopted under the co-decision process of the European Parliament and EU council.

The Tánaiste added that she would pass on Pringle’s concerns to Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, but said only the EU can change rules relating to quotas.

PastedImage-56188 The Margiris (red icon in square, top left) on MarineTraffic.com, currently off Donegal. Source: MarineTraffic.com

Fishermen raised concerns over this ship in January of this year, saying that the enforcement of quotas is a “real problem”, although Francis O’Donnell from the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation 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.

It was also the target of an Australian ban on supertrawlers in 2012, and is now the subject of an Uplift.ie petition calling for the ships of its size to be banned from Irish waters.

The petition has so far gathered almost 31,000 signatures.

Also during Leaders’ Questions: The Tánaiste called Barry Cowen a baby and told him to “shut up” in the Dáil today >

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Nicky Ryan

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