Jennifer Whitmore TD

Arrival of FV Margiris off south-west coast met with dismay by environmentalists and fishing communities

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore has called for on-board monitoring of fishing activity off the south-west coast of Ireland by the world’s second largest super-trawler.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Climate and Biodiversity, said:

“The FV Margiris, an industrial-sized fishing vessel, is currently operating in Irish waters off the coast of Cork in an area noted for its rich marine life, including dolphins, porpoises and whales. News of its arrival off our shores has been greeted with dismay by environmental organisations and fishing communities.

“I share their concerns, as these mega-trawlers have the potential to cause enormous damage to ocean biodiversity and can quickly deplete fish stocks.

“At the very least, the activities of super-trawlers should be strictly supervised. I have written to the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) seeking to establish if it is within their remit to assign monitoring personnel to ships like the FV Margiris for the duration of its time in Irish waters. I also asked if CCTV monitoring could be used as part of this process.

“In their response, the SFPA said at sea monitoring activity, including inspection of logbook reports, is carried out by the Fisheries Monitoring Centre. However, there is currently no legal requirement under national or EU regulations for the vessel to have CCTV on board or carry control observers from the relevant coastal state.

“I have now sought further clarity from the SFPA as to whether this type of monitoring would be possible under existing legislation if resources were made available by the State.

“Despite being legally permitted to operate in our waters under EU law, I believe that vessels of this size pose a serious threat to marine life and ultimately should be banned – as is the case in countries such as Australia.

“There is far too much at stake – from both a sustainable fishing and environmental perspective – to allow the operation of these giant trawlers in our seas to go unchecked.”

March 14, 2023

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