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Government Allow an Act of Piracy off Cork Coast

Rural Indepent TD for cork, Deputy Michael Collins slammed the government for allowing the crew of a Castletownbere fishing trawler to be harassed and intimidated by a Spanish fishing vessel over the weekend.

Deputy Collins said: “Irish fishing men and women fishing inside the 12-mile limit for local fishing, derive the protection of the national flag.”

“However, it appears that the Irish state is more interested in challenging Irish vessels than foreign ones.”

“All Irish citizens deserve the protection of the state. However, it is unconceivable that Irish fishers would be let down by the state, during a time of crisis”.

“Over the weekend, I witnessed a boat fishing within the 10 mile limit off Bantry Bay, where foreign trawlers are not supposed to fish, intimate an Irish vessel and crew. Why would the Irish navy and government not intervene, despite my calls for them to do so?”

“The Spanish longliner called the Punta Candieira was allows to shoot its gear and fish unimpeded inside Irish waters. This raises serios questions.”

“It also represents a serious international infringement on our Irish interests. Thus, we are calling on the Taoiseach and the government to explain why they have let the fishing community down yet again?”

The SPFA has told the MARINE TIMES that the Spanish vessel involved in last Friday's incident with a Castletownbere trawler in Bantry Bay has been identified.

A report on the incident and a potential breach of fishing regulations is being prepared by the National Fisheries Monitoring Centre.

The SFPA statement says: "Arising from a situation that arose last Friday 28th May 2021, when a Spanish registered vessel (Punta Candieira) was encountered by an Irish-registered vessel (Lours des Mers) operating within the waters of Bantry Bay, the Naval Service on the day proceeded to the location of both Fishing Vessels involved to gather information as part of their analysis into the matter. The area was searched by the Navy for Fishing Gear in alleged locations with nothing found. The analysis into the potential breach of Fishing Regulations is ongoing, and a report is being prepared by the National Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) at the Naval Base, Haulbowline, which had been monitoring the situation throughout in consultation with the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority."

A statement received by the MARINE TIMES from the Irish Navy states; "The Irish Navy received a number of telephone calls on Friday in relation to an alleged incident off the Southwest Coast. The Navy are currently conducting analysis utilising satellite tracking systems and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data through the National Fisheries Monitoring Centre for alleged breaching of Fishing Regulations. The Navy tasked a ship to the area."

However a recent posting on the Facebook page Irish Fishing Vessels by the owner of the Irish vessel 'Lours des Mer' Keiran Sheehan highligtss the frustration held by Irish fishermen off our own waters; "Two days later and the Punta Candieira is still happily fishing away. Irish navy steamed full speed from cork. To go straight to the Irish vessel while the Spanish vessel was fishing inside the 12 mile limit."

He alleges that by the time navy had finished questioning us, the Spanish boat had cut his gear and made a run for it. Leaving 4 miles of longlines still there.

Kieran states that; "He was never boarded or even followed. If this was an Irish vessel fishing illegally he would be arrested straight away based on their vms position.

"There is something very badly wrong in this country when foreign vessel can do what they like around Irish coast. And the SFPA and navy dont ever show any interest in protecting Irish waters. Lorry after lorry of fish from foreign vessel leaving Castletownbere and Dingle every day unchecked. Cleaning the ground of fish.

The result is that nearly every whitefish boat in SW of ireland is for sale including my own."

Earlier yesterday evening (Tuesday 31st May) the LÉ RÓISÍN #P51 detained a Spanish registered fishing vessel approximately 95 Nautical Miles south of Mizen Head. The detention was in relation to alleged breaches of fishing regulations. It has been confirmed that it is the 'Punta Candieira' however no confirmation of what breaches it has been detained for have been released. The vessel was escorted into Cork harbour. This is the fifth vessel detained by the Naval Service in 2021.