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Penalty points for fishermen could be rolled out to encourage 'good behaviour' and avoid fines

The EU Commission has suspended more than €6 million in funding as a result of Ireland’s failure to establish a points system.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the opposition acted
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the opposition acted "recklessly" in voting down the new regulations last year.
Image: Shutterstock/pgaborphotos

A PENALTY POINTS system could be rolled out for fishermen if the government manages to get Fianna Fáil on side. 

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed told his Cabinet colleagues today that the EU Commission has suspended more than €6 million in funding as a result of its failure to establish a points system for sea fisheries licence holders and masters who commit “serious infringements” of Common Fisheries Policy rules. 

The minister said if a penalty points system is not introduced Ireland will continue to lose out on EU funding.

In addition, he said the EU Commission has commenced infringement proceedings against Ireland in relation to the matter. 

A government spokesperson said the penalty points system is similar to that introduced for drivers, and is designed to encourage “good behaviour”.

Fishing zone 

The points system would apply to the licence holders of sea-fishing boats when a serious infringement of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy is detected within Ireland’s 200-mile exclusive fishery zone.

The penalty points would apply to all fishing vessels – both Irish and foreign boats.

The long-standing issue of penalty points for fishermen came to a head last year, when Creed signed into law the points system. 

However, in a Dáil vote, a Sinn Fein amendment to a Fianna Fáil motion on the issue resulted in the annulment of the law. This was the first such annulment in the history of the State.

At the time, the minister said the opposition had acted “recklessly” in voting down the new law, and that fines of €37 million could accrue for non-compliance.

Pushing to re-introduce the law, the minister has drafted new legislation to replace the annulled regulations.

Talks with Fianna Fáil

In order to gain Dáil approval, particularly from Fianna Fail, it is understood that the latest draft includes some, but not all, of the amendments proposed by opposition in relation to the annulled points system law.

The minister intends to sign the new regulations without delay, “given the urgency of the matter”.

If struck down again by the opposition, the minister has said he will have no option but to rely on much older laws, which remain on the statute books and would allow for the penalty points system to be rolled out regardless.  

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