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Penalty Points ... Again

The EU Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Ireland over its failure to fulfil its obligations under Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 (also Ď'Control Regulation'') establishing a Community control systemfor ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Specifically, Ireland has failed to comply with European Union rules on establishing a point system for fisheries-related serious infringements committed by masters and licence holders of vessels flying the flag of Ireland. The Commission considers that Ireland has not established a system that assigns an appropriate number of points to masters of fishing vessels who commit serious violations of the common fisheries policy rules.

According to the Commission, The Irish Government has also failed to put into operation the current national legislation implementing the point system for licence holders. Therefore, the Commission has issued a reasoned opinion to Ireland which now has three months to address the failures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Since 2014, Fine Gael has brought forward three Statutory Instruments to try and bring the EU Penalty Points system for fishermen into Irish law, but were all deemed excessive and unfair to fishermen and failed to provide an appropriate appeals mechanism.

It will be interesting to see what the new Government with a Fianna Fail Minisiter will attempt.

Two successful High Court challenges to the Penalty Points system were taken by Irish fishermen. A successful appeal was also taken by fishermen in the Supreme Court.

In principal the Irish fishing industry accepts that the EU Penalty Points system needs to be implemented in Ireland, but refuses to accept the continued attempt to apply Penalty Points to a vesselís licence even after the vessel is cleared of all wrong doing.