The Irish Wildlife Trust has written to the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) and Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney with regard to the supertrawler FV Margiris which is currently in Irish waters.
We are particularly concerned with the potential this type of fishing can have on non-target species, frequently referred to as by-catch. By-catch can include marine mammals such as whales and dolphins but also turtles, sharks or indeed anything else that is in the way. A study by Dutch researchers has found that this can result in significant impacts to marine life (see: http://www.greenpeace.org/
Under “COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 812/2004 of 26.4.2004 laying down measures concerning incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries and amending Regulation (EC) No 88/98” an independent observer scheme should be in place to monitor such bycatch. Article (6) says:
“Independent observations of fishing activities are essential to provide reliable estimates of the incidental catch of cetaceans. It is therefore necessary for monitoring schemes with independent on-board observers to be set up and for the designation of the fisheries where such monitoring should be given priority to be coordinated. In order to provide representative data on the fisheries concerned, the Member States should design and implement appropriate monitoring programmes for vessels flying their flag engaged in these fisheries.”
The IWT has asked the SFPA and Minister Coveney to confirm whether an independent observer is onboard the FV Margiris and, if so, to provide further information as to the effects this boat is having on our marine environment.
IWT Campaigns Officer Pádraic Fogarty says “Irish waters were designated as a whale and dolphin sanctuary by Charlie Haughey in 1991. It is simply unacceptable that enormous boats like this can move into our waters and hoover up marine life. We need to know whether EU law is being adhered to in this matter.”