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Commercial Fishing Seafood


Large Quantity of Undersized Lobster Seized

Large Quantity of Undersized Lobster Seized in Limerick Market by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), operating on information received through the SFPA Confidential Line, undertook an inspection at the Limerick City Casual Trader which is the trading area adjacent to the Milk Market in Limerick on Saturday 29th April. The inspection resulted in the detection of twenty-eight undersize lobsters and four undersize brown crabs which were seized and returned live to sea.  A file is currently being prepared for consideration by the Director of Public Prosecution.

Large Quantity of Undersized Lobster Seized in Limerick Market by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority

SFPA Staff Measuring Lobster

The minimum landings size for lobster is 87mm carapace length. In Irish waters the minimum size for brown crab is 140mm.  A key initiative for the conservation of lobster is the ‘v-notch’ scheme where a small mark is cut into the tail of any female lobster found. Once marked in this way, it is illegal to land, possess or sell such a lobster. A certain percentage of the population is therefore protected for breeding, thus boosting egg production and in turn recruitment to the stock.

Under EU and national legislation, recreational or non-commercial fishers who do not have a commercial fishing licence are restricted to doing no more than the following in pot fisheries:

  • Fish for lobster and crab with pots from 1st May to 30th September only every year.
  • Fish up to six pots (i.e., a maximum of 6 pots associated with their boat either in the water or on board at any time).
  • Retain up to five crabs and one lobster daily.
  • Eat their catch themselves or share with their immediate family – they cannot sell or offer for sale any catches (a commercial fishing license is needed to sell fish).
  • Only land fish above the legal-size limits. In Irish waters the minimum size of brown crab is 140mm; spider crab (130mm for males and 125mm for females) and velvet crab 65mm, while lobsters must be a minimum size of 87mm and maximum size 127mm (carapace length). Anyone who catches a crab or lobster outside these size limits, must return it immediately to the sea.
  • Never retain a lobster that has been V-notched or has a mutilated tail – they must be released back into the water.
  • Never catch crabs or lobster by means of skin-diving, which includes using apparatus of any kind which enables a person to breathe under water.

An SFPA spokesperson commented:

“The SFPA acknowledges the support of the public in alerting the SFPA and encourages people who have concerns about suspected illegal fishing or activity that could compromise food safety to contact their local SFPA port office or contact us via our Confidential Line channels. The volume of such a find of undersize lobsters is both significant for the future viability of the fishery and concerning given the scale of the find. The fishery for lobster is one of the most traditional fisheries among coastal communities and the mainstay of many small vessels fishing all around the coast of Ireland. The actions of a few fishermen selling undersize and v-notch lobsters and undersize brown crab undermine the legitimate fishermen trying to maintain a sustainable fishery and livelihood.”

“The majority of inshore fishermen act responsibly and in conjunction with state agencies, including the SFPA, to ensure the protection of the species which have been in decline in recent years.  Many inshore fishermen participate in voluntary measures such as v-notching to assist with restocking of lobster.”

Consumer trust in the quality, provenance and safety of Ireland’s seafood produce underpins the reputation and success of the sector on which many coastal economies rely. If a member of the public has any concerns regarding fisheries control, seafood fraud and/ or seafood safety, they are advised to please contact the SFPA through our Confidential Line channels. Call our Confidential Line on 1800 76 76 76. Send us an email to confidential@sfpa.ie. Alternatively, complete our Confidential Report form.