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IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IN IRELAND!


A fishery opened by Irish authorities but then no factory given licence to process by other Irish authorities

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It sounds like the start of a bad joke but unfortunately the story is true as two Irish vessels began their Irish Sea herring fishery but after catching their quota, today discovered that NO FACTORY in the Republic of Ireland has yet been given their licence to process for the 2023/24 season.


The pair of vessels, Galway’s Realt Ara and the Killybegs-based Ella, were selected out of a draw for this year’s experimental scientific fishery which allows a total of two pairs of vessels, fishing alternatively within a set three-week timeframe to commercially fish Irish Sea herring.


This week the Realt Ara and Ella began their trip and, on catching their maximum quota of 110 tonnes each, then discovered that not one single fish processing factory in Southern Ireland has yet been given their operation permit by the Sea Fisheries Protection ‘Authority’ (SFPA) - leaving the vessels’ skippers with no choice other than to steam to N. Ireland to land their catch to a UK processor.


Is it any surprise that the rest of Europe laughs at the ‘management’ of the Irish fishing industry when its clear that Ireland suffers a bad case of ‘the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing’?


How, one might ask, can such a thing happen? And as ever was the case, Ireland’s so called ‘competent authority’ (SFPA) is unsurprisingly at the heart of the problem.


Fishing licences are issued by the Marine Department (DAFM) as in generally the order of things in all of Ireland’s various pelagic, demersal and inshore fisheries - but even knowing that these herring licences where now issued and active, the SFPA continue to withhold issuing the new permits to the processing industry.


When the previous factory permits expired, the SFPA said that they would not be renewed until a raft of new and highly expensive monitoring measures, including state-of-the-art flow scales and a secondary chute of random ‘sampling’ was installed in every factory in the country - - and, it should be noted, these are NOT requirements in any other EU Member State…


This aside, the IFSA is led to believe that all of the factories have indeed installed (or are currently in the process of installing) the new equipment insisted upon by the SFPA and are meeting all of the requirements, even though these are not EU requirements, and yet still have not been issued with their operating permits by the SFPA.


Yet again not only is this event a clear case of the fishing industry being inhibited by the SFPA but it again makes a farce of the term “competent authority” - if this is another case of their competence then I’d hate to see when they’re on a bad day….

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