Ireland Hosts Seminar on International Fisheries Protection


The Irish Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) facilitated a seminar from the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) last week at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork on Monitoring, Control and Enforcement in the North East Atlantic Fisheries area.

This was attended by staff of the SFPA and the Irish Naval Service. The seminar provided information and training on the operation of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission’s (NEAFC’s) Scheme of Control and Enforcement.

Sea-fisheries are in general controlled by the coastal country responsible for waters up to 200 miles from its shore. Fisheries control does not rest with any individual coastal country for fishing taking place in international waters outside of those limits. NEAFC is essentially a consortium of countries agreeing how fisheries are controlled in the North East Atlantic.

Ireland provides surface and air surveillance of NEAFC by the Naval Service and Air Corps as part of the EU’s overall commitment to NEAFC. Ireland’s Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) also provides 24/7 monitoring of fisheries activity in NEAFC to assist in combating the threat of Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

An essential part of the campaign against IUU fishing is to have meaningful control in all fisheries, including those taking place in international waters. On January 1st 2010, an EU regulation came into force to combat IUU fishing activities. The IUU Regulation and its implementing rules are intended to make sure that none of the illegally caught fish products end up on the Community market and hence curtail the marketability of those illegal fishery products. When these products are placed on the market, they depress the price of legally caught fish and create unfair competition for legal operators. The Regulation puts in place a catch certification scheme that ensures the full traceability of all marine fishery products traded from and into the European Community. The SFPA is the Competent Authority in Ireland for the validation of Catch Certificates for import and export purposes.

Micheál O’Mahony, Authority Board Member of the SFPA said: “The SFPA’s facilitation of this NEAFC seminar is aligned with our goal of promoting a level playing field across EU waters. Illegal fishing has many serious consequences for the people who depend on fisheries for food and employment. IUU fishing in particular depletes fish stocks and is a major contributor to over-fishing; thus undermining recovery measures put in place to protect valuable fish resources and the effort of law-abiding fishermen.

“This illegal fishing operates outside all established traceability and food safety systems and is known for poor food safety standards. International waters outside of the jurisdiction of any individual country create specific challenges for fisheries control. Ireland’s support for this initiative from the NEAFC will benefit all fishermen who operate in compliance with the law. As fisheries are a common resource it is vital that all operators from all countries and fleets respect the rules. We will continue to work with the Competent Authorities of other countries to exert our influence in ensuring that the compliance standards we expect from fishermen in waters under Ireland’s jurisdiction are the norm in all waters.”


The NEAFC is made up of delegations from Contracting Parties who have agreed to abide by the rules of the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in North East Atlantic Fisheries, which entered into force in its current form in November 1982. The NEAFC was formed to recommend measures to maintain the rational exploitation of fish stocks in the Convention Area, taking scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

The NEAFC Convention Area covers the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans east of a line south of Cape Farewell which includes the southern tip of Greenland, north of a line to the west of Cape Hatteras as well as the southern tip of Spain and west of a line touching the western tip of Novya Semlya – the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas are excluded. Most of this area is under the fisheries jurisdiction of NEAFC’s Contracting Parties, as it is defined as their national waters however three large areas are international waters and constitute the NEAFC Regulatory Area. The Contracting Parties are Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation.

About the CFCA

The Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) is a European Union body established in 2005 to organise operational coordination of fisheries control and inspection activities by the Member States and to assist them to cooperate so as to comply with the rules of the Common EU Fisheries Policy in order to ensure its effective and uniform application.

About the SFPA

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority is the independent statutory body, legally charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions. The Authority enforces the EU Common Fisheries Policy and sea-fisheries law generally and food safety law relating to fish and fishery products.


Source: SFPA, May 31, 2011.