More than 140 vessels inspected in conservation crackdown
The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has inspected more than 140 inshore vessels, many of them in Wexford's coastal waters, since it began its inshore fisheries patrols last month as part of conservation measures to help protect Ireland's valuable crab, lobster and whelk fisheries.
Off the the Wexford coastline, 24 vessels were inspected, two of which were unregistered and found to belong to recreational fishermen. Separately 11 keeps - used to store crabs and lobster - were inspected. No catches were seized.
One unregistered keep was found and check and lobsters within it were de-banded and released live.
The SFPA says it is targeting unlicensed and unregistered fishing as monitors compliance with new limits for lobster and crab fishing by members of the public.
This year's programme also includes vehicle patrols to small local ports and landing places, a new initiative to monitor unlicensed and unregistered vessels, which will be targeted for inspection at sea during subsequent patrols in their area.
The inshore patrols will continue until the autumn with the support of the Naval Service, Air Corps and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Patrols have taken place to date along the Cork, Galway, Kerry and Wexford coasts.
Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers of the SFPA have found levels of compliance with sea-fisheries regulations to be generally good.
However they have identified some infringements including the discovery of undersize shellfish such as lobster and crab. Regulations are in place regarding the minimum size that can be harvested to ensure these species can reach maturity and reproduce to safeguard the future of stocks.
A de-registered vessel was also detected fishing with nets while a number of keeps were found attached to un-registered vessels in a South Coast port, which was not identified.
Susan Steele, Chair of the SFPA said: 'Illegal fishing by a small number of fishermen is unfair to the majority of inshore fishermen who fish legally and it jeopardises the future of this valuable industry.
'The SFPA is continuing the inshore patrols over the next few months and we would ask anyone who has questions or would like our Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers to focus on particular issues or areas to contact your local SFPA port office.'