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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 23 Nov 1995

Vol. 458 No. 7

Written Questions. - Naval Service Patrols.

Peadar Clohessy


21 Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Defence the number of occasions on which Irish naval vessels operated outside the 200 mile exclusive economic zone; the purpose of this operation; if he will give details of any boarding of fishing vessels, their nationality and the prosecutions, if any, that resulted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17539/95]

Normal day to day patrolling by the Naval Service on fishery protection takes place within Ireland's 200 miles exclusive fishery limit. Occasionally, the Naval Service carry out patrols outside the 200 miles limit.

In August and September 1990, a Naval Service vessel conveyed EU fishery inspectors on fishery surveillance patrols on behalf of the EU in international waters bordering on the Canadian 200 miles zone. This operation arose from the requirements of the North-West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation Convention (NAFO) in accordance with Council Regulation 1956/88. During the patrols, a total of 27 fishing vessels of various nationalities were boarded by the EU inspectors who passed on the results of the boardings to the EU Commission. Community financial assistance was made available to Ireland to offset the additional costs incurred by the Naval Service in undertaking this operation.

In 1994 and 1995, the Naval Service undertook patrols of the tuna fishery. The patrols took place in ICES (International Council for the Exploitation of the Sea) zone 8 E which commences 270 nautical miles south of Ireland and extends for a further 300 nautical miles. The purpose of the patrols was to monitor tuna fishing by Irish registered fishing vessels in the area and to ensure that the Commission Regulation which prohibits the use or retention on board any fishing vessel fishing for tuna of one or more driftnets whose individual or total length is more than 2.5 kilometres was enforced. Each member state is responsible for monitoring the activities of its own vessels engaged in fishing in this area.

The Naval Service patrol of the tuna fishery in 1994 ran from 18 July to 6 August. Ten Irish fishing vessels were boarded during the patrol, one of which was detained for having a driftnet in excess of 2.5 km on board and was subsequently found guilty in court. The patrols in 1995 involved 16 days patrolling by the Naval Service outside the 200 miles limit. Five Irish fishing vessels were boarded outside the 200 miles limit, one of which was detained for allegedly having a driftnet in excess of 2.5 km on board. The prosecution is still pending in this case.
I would also like to add that in 1995 a significant portion of the international tuna fleet arrived inside Ireland's 200 miles limit in search of tuna. As the vessels were operating inside the Irish limit the Naval Service had the powers to board and inspect these vessels. In all, 62 tuna fishing vessels were boarded by the Naval Service, 41 Spanish, seven UK and 14 French. All these vessels were found to be in order.
As the Deputy is aware, Ireland has and continues to benefit from substantial community aid for fishery surveillance resources and equipment. There is little doubt that the EU's attitude in examining applications for such aid takes into account Ireland's contribution to fishery enforcement in areas such as the North — West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation Regulatory Area and the tuna fishing zone.