Fishing industry concerned about new penalty points system

Fishermen say there is no right to challenge the points if applied for breaches of rules

A penalty points system for breaches of fisheries rules was included in the Programme for Government. File photograph: Annie Sakkab/Bloomberg

A penalty points system for breaches of fisheries rules was included in the Programme for Government. File photograph: Annie Sakkab/Bloomberg

 

The chief executive of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Séan O’Donoghue has said that fishermen are not being afforded the same rights as other citizens under the new penalty points system introduced at the weekend.

Mr O’Donoghue said that the fishing industry was not opposed to the system of penalty points to target breaches of fisheries rules but they were concerned that there was no right to challenge the points.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, he said that in other countries where the system of penalty points was already in operation, there was the option to challenge the imposition of points “using lesser forms of proof.”

Mr O’Donoghue said there had been several previous attempts to introduce a statutory instrument with regard to penalty points for fishermen for serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Taoiseach, who is the acting Minister for Fisheries, had “conveniently ignored” that the Supreme Court had struck down previous efforts to introduce such a system, he said.

The reaction from the fishing industry all around the country had been huge, said Mr Donoghue. “We can’t understand how the Taoiseach signed this statutory instrument.”

In 2018 Fianna Fáil had been instrumental in having a similar statutory instrument annulled in the Dáil, he said.

When the fisheries sector had seen penalty points included in the Programme for Government, they understood it would mean “a fair and reasonable penalty points system.” But what the Taoiseach had signed meant that there would be no right to appeal except through a court of law, which was “completely unfair,” he said.

Last year, €6 million in EU funding for the Irish fishing sector was suspended by the European Commission because of the failure to establish a penalty points system for the sector.