I signed into force the European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2018, S.I. No. 89 of 2018 on March 20th 2018 which fully met the requirement of the relevant EU regulation insofar as the licence holders were concerned. However, the S.I. was annulled by Dail Eireann on 29 May 2018.
Given this annulment of the Statutory Instrument that met the EU requirements and the infringement proceedings taken against Ireland by the EU Commission, I requested legal advice from the Attorney General on the matter. This advice was received and I am, at present, considering, with my legal advisors, the next steps.
As the Deputy is aware, the 2009 EU Fisheries Control Regulation 1224//2009 and EU Commission Implementing Regulation 404/2011 introduced points systems for serious infringements of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy committed by the licence holder of a fishing vessel and also separately the master. These are intended to complement sanctions and promote compliance and were required to be in place on 1st of January 2012.
Both of these EU regulations went through the ordinary legislative procedures at EU level which would have included widespread consultation with interested parties including the Member States, Advisory Councils, NGOs and the fishing Industry. The matter has also been discussed at industry liaison meetings over the years. Notwithstanding the situation that the EU regulations are highly prescriptive in relation to licence holders, leaving little room for further amendment, the Deputy will be aware that I did meet him and certain other Deputies recently to discuss their concerns pertaining to this matter. It is important to note that any amendments to the 2018 SI that has been annulled must not render the points system ineffective. I identified at our recent meeting some amendments that I consider may be made to help meet the concerns raised.
I can assure the Deputy that I am fully committed to delivering on Ireland's legal obligations in this regard at the earliest possible date. However, I must ensure that any further amendments do not render the points system ineffective and it is within this guiding principle that I am considering the additional points raised by the Deputy at our recent meeting.