Wexford mussel fisherman in Supreme Court case which rules that NI vessels have no legal entitlement to fish in State waters

By Amy Lewis

Published 19/11/2016 | 00:00

A Wexford mussel fisherman was involved in a successful Supreme Court case which ruled that Northern-Ireland registered vessels have no legal entitlement to fish for mussel seed in the State's territorial waters.

Michael Crowley of Killinick and three other mussel fishermen claimed that 'aggressive and unsympathetic' fishing by NI vessels has caused a loss of a sustainable Irish mussel industry which could have employed hundreds of people. The court heard they invested €16m in four dredging vessels designed to allow sustainable mussel farming.

The six-judge court unanimously upheld their arguments that mussel seed is a natural resource belonging to the State. They found that Article 10 of the Constitution means regulation of fishing for mussel seed in the State's territorial waters is the management of a natural resource, and therefore property belonging to the State, 'which must be provided for by law'.

The Court ruled that the contents of the seabed inside our six-mile territorial limit are State assets and should be protected.

Crowley was joined by mussel fishermen Paul Barlow of Dunmore East, Waterford, Gerard Kelly, of Greencastle, Donegal and Alex McCarthy of Kildimo, Co Limerick.

Last year, the High Court dismissed their claims and their subsequent appeal was brought to the Supreme Court.

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