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The Supreme Court has granted leave to two fishermen Pat Fitzpatrick and Michael Flannery to appeal a High Court decision last year when they lost a challenge to the system used by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority for the assessment of prawn catches.

The SFPA calculated the catches based on the actual time spent by a vessel in a particular area while at sea, which then dictated whether EU quotas had been reached, rather than using the traditional method of figures obtained from the vessel’s electronic logbook as per the EU Control regulation. The SFPA claimed there was a serious problem of Irish fishermen under-reporting in their electronic fishing logs the amount of prawns actually caught in Functional Unit Area 16.

After receiving advice from the SFPA, that according to their new method of calculation, Functional Area 16 was being over-fished, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, issued a Closure Order from November 2017 to that section of the Porcupine Bank, one of the richest prawn fishing grounds in the world.

The Supreme Court decision to hear an Appeal says that the legality of the “time spent methodology” should be resolved as to the effect it might have on ”the business of fishers and the Irish economy more broadly.”