----- The Voice of Ireland's Fishing Industry and Maritime Community - Published Monthly, Established 1989 -----

Minister confirms to Deputy Pringle fishing penalty points to be introduced by Christmas

Deputy Pringle raised a Dáil question with the Minister for Agriculture regarding a fishing penalty points regime which Minister Creed has indicated will be introduced shortly. The Minister confirmed he hopes to introduce the regime by Christmas.

8th Novem ber 2017

The point system intends to apply to the Licence Holder of a sea-fishing boat when a serious infringement of the Common Fisheries is detected. Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 125 of 2016 will be amended to change the make-up of the Determination Panel set up under previous legislation and will determine the probabilities of a serious infringement having occurred. No exact date has yet been given by the Minister.

Speaking on the penalty points system Deputy Pringle says “while this piece of legislation mainly deals with licence holders, there are still implications for skippers and I’m disappointed that the Minister is going ahead with this without proper consultation with the wider fishing community. A few questions remain after the Dáil exchange today, which were partially addressed by the Minister himself”.

“Firstly, while the Minister has clarified that the penalty points system will apply to boat holders, ie: not skippers or crew, the implication of boat holders losing their fishing licence means skippers and crew will lose work as a result. This leads me to believe that the Minister has not considered all the implications in full” says Pringle.

“Secondly, the Minister has confirmed that drafting of primary legislation introducing a separate penalty points system for skippers is at an advanced stage. This is cause for concern for many fishermen in Killybegs as we have yet to determine what the implications of this new regime will be. Since there is no EU Law forcing the Government to act on this we need to ask why the Minister feels the urgent need to draft new legislation before the fishing community has been consulted. I will be scrutinising the contents of the Bill as it comes before the Agriculture Committee in due course” says Pringle.

“Thirdly, while I welcome the opportunity for boat holders to appeal the decision made by the Points Determination Panel I question the independent nature of the three nominees to the Panel itself as they will be appointed by the Attorney General while the Adjudicator will be directly appointed by the Minister himself. I don’t believe this brings great confidence that the new system will be fair and impartial which again needs to be teased out before being enforced. This needs to be clarified,” continues Pringle.

“Again, I will be looking at upcoming legislation in closer detail as a Member of the Agriculture Committee and will press upon the Minister the need for effective consultation with fishing communities across the country” concludes Pringle.

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November 2017 Issue - Vol 30 No.06

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