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The quango grows fat while the fishing industry goes hungry


The following is a response from the Sea Fisheries Protection ‘Authority’ (SFPA) regarding a Parliamentary Question (Ref No: 43896/23) from Padraig MacLochlainn TD Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Fisheries on increasing staff levels in the SFPA.


SFPA 2007 to 2023:

  Year — Headcount

2007 — 88

2008 — 103

2009 — 101

2010 — 98

2011 — 95

2012 — 89

2013 — 87

2014 — 85

2015 — 89

2016 — 88

2017 — 99

2018 — 118

2019 — 130

2020 — 145

2021 — 166

2022 — 167

2023 — 180


For an organisation that has three times in Government and EU reports been described as ‘incompetent’ and ‘not fit for purpose’ it is staggering to learn that since 2007 the staff levels of this body has increased from 88 to 180 or, since the SFPA themselves generally prefer to use percentages and not actual numbers when it comes to fisheries infringement cases, this represents an increase of 104.5%


Of particular note is that since BREXIT started on 31st January 2020 and marked the beginning of the loss of over 25% of Irish fish quota leading to the eventual decommissioning of one-third of the Irish whitefish fleet, SFPA staff numbers have continued to rise with an additional 19.8% increase for this period alone.


In comparison, looking to other EU Member States who regulate and monitor fisheries, and with all of these nations having much bigger fleets of vessels than Ireland, the differences in staff numbers is a stark reminder of the heavy over regulation system that exists in Ireland:


BELGIUM — 13

NETHERLANDS — 51

SWEDEN — 75

GERMANY — 88

FRANCE — 134

SPAIN — 138


IRELAND — 180


(*source EFCA Europa.eu report December 2022)



Imbalance

These figures for Ireland come into even sharper perspective with the publication this week of the BIM National Seafood Survey 2023 which looks at the state of the Irish fishing industry since 2021 and the impact of BREXIT:


LANDINGS BY WEIGHT — down by 5%

FISHING DAYS — down by 25%

DAYS AT SEA — down by 22%

REVENUE — down by 3%

GROSS VALUE ADDED — down by 15%

GROSS PROFIT — down by 36%

RETURN ON FIXED TANGIBLE ASSETS — down by 42%


and, once again, in comparison for the same period, SFPA staff levels — UP BY 19.8%



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