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Commercial Fishing



Discussions ongoing on Irish pelagic weighing. Ireland’s Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has met with recognised producer organisations and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) on the 13th April 2022, as part of an ongoing dialogue relating to the EU Commission approved interim Fisheries Control Plan. This plan enables 95% of bulk landings of pelagic fish to avail of an exemption to weigh-after-transport, meaning that just 5% are subject to supervised weighing on landing.

Over the past five days, approximately 9,500 tonnes of bulk pelagic fish were landed at Killybegs harbour, totalling 20 landings. During this same period, one vessel chose to leave port and sail to Derry to discharge its catch.

The SFPA can confirm that the meeting discussed a number of items. Among the items discussed were the two options for conducting weighing before transport currently available in Killybegs harbour for the 5% of landings which are selected for supervised weighing. The SFPA detailed how, in both instances, fish are in water when weighed in order to preserve the quality of the catch.

Option 1:  In this method fish exiting the vessel are discharged into an industry owned pier-side system which momentarily separates the fish from the water. This fish is immediately placed directly into a tanker that has been pre-filled with water and pre-weighed. The tanker containing the fish and the water is then reweighed on the SFPA approved weighbridge and an accurate weight for the fish is obtained.

Option 2: In this method the fish and water exiting the vessel are discharged directly into a pre-weighed empty tanker. The tanker containing the fish and the water is then reweighed on the SFPA approved weighbridge. The fish remain with their original water which operators seek to minimise in order to balance quality considerations with fish-weight accuracy concerns.

The SFPA will continue to engage with industry representatives to ensure they are informed as to the requirements and specifications of the interim Fisheries Control Plan. This plan is available on the SFPA website https://www.sfpa.ie/What-We-Do/Sea-Fisheries-Information/Weighing-of-Fishery-Products.

Paschal Hayes, Executive Chairperson of the SFPA said: “As the regulator with responsibility for sea-fisheries and the seafood production sector, our role is to ensure that landings of fish in Ireland are in compliance with the EU Common Fisheries Policy to safeguard sustainable fishing stocks in Irish and European waters.

“The interim Fisheries Control Plan agreed between Ireland and EU Commission in December 2021 enables 95% of bulk pelagic landings to be weighed in permitted fish processors, on the condition that 5% of landings – estimated at 30 landings annually – are weighed under supervision pier side. It is our intention to continue to meet the conditions agreed in Ireland’s Control Plan so that the entire industry can benefit of the exemptions on weighing after transport.”

In total there are in the region of 20,000 landings of fish in Ireland per annum of which an estimated 600 are bulk landings of pelagic fish. The EU Commission expressed significant concerns regarding inaccurate weighing of catches, particularly by operators landing bulk pelagic catches to Ireland, which resulted in the EU Commission’s revoking of Ireland’s weighing-after-transport Control Plan in April 2021. The interim fisheries Control Plan seeks to ensure control systems are adequate to address these concerns.

It facilitates the weighing of 95% of all bulk pelagic and demersal landings in Ireland after transport, in fish factories and processing units. Under the terms of the interim Fisheries Control Plan as approved by the European Commission, only 5% of bulk landings of Pelagic fish – an estimated 30 landings annually – are subject to a full inspection which includes supervising the weighing before transport of the catch. The other 95% of bulk landings of Pelagic fish – an estimated 570 landings annually – can avail of the exemption of weighing of fishery products after transport in Ireland secured under the interim Fisheries Control Plan. In the absence of a Control Plan agreed with the European Commission, all 20,000 pelagic and demersal landings would be required to be weighed on landing rather than after transport.