Minister Simon Coveney received complaints from the sector as to the video surveillance system. (Photo Credit: William Murphy/FIS)
New control measures stir opposition
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Friday, September 19, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The fisheries authorities have decided to implement new measures to regulate the fish weighing system due to alleged irregularities detected in factories, but they have generated reject from fishermen and processors.
This decision was taken by The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), who together with the Garda, Naval Service and National Standards Authority of Ireland last January carried out inspection of fish factories and reported the detection of “irregularities” of varying degrees of seriousness, The Irish Times informed.
According to these authorities, it was found out that weighing systems could be “deliberately manipulated” – although evidence of this was only found on one of the premises.
Therefore, permits have been temporarily suspended and it has been determined that all pelagic (herring/mackerel) fish must be weighed on the pier until a new “tamper-proof” system of weighing in factories can be introduced.
At present, the SFPA decided to introduce a video surveillance system within fish factories as a licensing condition. Besides, it has invited factories to apply for new permits, and says “several applications have been received and the process is ongoing”.
However, fishermen and processors have shown dissatisfaction as they consider these are being introduced without a shred of evidence” of any “systematic wrongdoing”.
The Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) has warned that these measures could imply the loss of hundreds of million of euros worth of landings for Ireland on the eve of the opening of the Celtic Sea herring fishery, which has already been delayed to the brewing row over the SFPA measures.
IFPEA chief executive Lorcan Ó Cinnéide remarked that the quality of herring could be destroyed if it is weighed on the pier, as it would involve separating water from fish.
He also claimed that the quality of mackerel would be affected by this practice as chilled water is “absolutely essential to the quality of the product”.
The association described video surveillance as “remote monitoring of the continuous flow weigh belt” on SFPA permit conditions.
In an effort to solve the issue, IFPEA and the Federation of Irish Fishermen sent a letter to Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney accusing the SFPA of generating a “full-blown crisis.”
EU regulations require fish to be weighed at the place of landing, but Ireland received a derogation from this as fish have to be transported from the quay to factories.