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Thousands of Illegally Caught Lobsters Seized

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has seized thousands of lobster catches this week, the biggest being 6,000 in a lorry at Rosslare which was destined for Spain. Further investigations are underway as to the origin of these. The SFPA says that it believes some were collected from the North/West as well as from the West and Northern Ireland. According to it “almost 800” of these were “illegally-caught” and returned to the sea alive. They included undersized and V-notched lobsters, which are protected from being caught, having been V-notched and returned to the sea to breed by licensed fishermen.

86 lobsters were seized from “a recreational fisherman” on the South-East Coast and also returned alive to the sea as were another 28 “illegally-caught” that were seized in Mayo. Files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the SFPA says. Information from the public has helped in the seizures.

“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 majority of inshore fishermen fish legally and work in conjunction with the SFPA and other state agencies to ensure the protection of the species which have been in decline in recent years,” said Dr. Susan Steele, Chair of the SFPA.

“However the actions of a few could undermine the future viability of the fishery. Steele added that illegal fishing also poses a risk to public health as the seafood may not be stored or handled in accordance with food safety regulations.”

Commercial lobster fishing is only permitted by licensed fishermen under a range of conservation measures to support the viability of the inshore fishing industry and to ensure traceability of the product.

The allowance for recreational fishing is limited as such catches are intended solely for consumption by the person who caught them and their family.

“When purchasing crabs or lobster, we ask that people buy from commercial fishers only” the SFPA said.

By law, “recreational fishers” who do not have a fishing licence can only fish for lobster and crab from May 1 to September 30 every year, fishing up to a maximum of six pots. They are permitted to retain up to five crabs and one lobster daily, which cannot be offered for sale.