Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority announces annual inspection figures

Thursday, January 05, 2017

·         Regulator releases provisional figures for sea-fisheries and sea-food sector inspections

·         Figures show 3900 sea-fisheries inspections and 540 food safety inspections

·         Low levels of non-compliance found across all sectors


Provisional inspection figures for 2016 that were issued today by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA), the independent regulator for the sea-fisheries and seafood sectors, indicate that low levels of non- compliance with EU and national sea-fisheries and seafood safety legislation were detected among fishermen, fish farmers and fish processors. More than 3900[1] sea-fisheries inspections were completed during the year including inspections of fishing vessels at sea and in-shore as well as inspections of catches on landings in ports and in factories. Three vessels were detained during the year[2].  A total of 42 infringements[3] were detected, with 15 cases referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The SFPA is responsible for ensuring fishermen and seafood producers comply with their obligations under sea-fisheries and seafood legislation. The state agency’s remit covers all fishing vessels operating within Ireland’s 200 mile limit, over 2,000 Irish registered fishing vessels wherever they operate and all seafood produced in Ireland’s 170 seafood processing companies.  This includes monitoring and inspecting food safety controls on fishing vessels and in aquaculture production areas (e.g. mussels and oysters) as well as in establishments handling, preparing and processing seafood up to but excluding retail sale. The figures released today show that the SFPA carried out over 540  food safety inspections and 1390 official control checks while 26 legal notices were issued to food business operators.

Commenting on the figures, Susan Steele, Chair, SFPA said “We are finding low levels of non-compliance which is testament to the real efforts of the majority of fishermen, fish farmers and fish processors to work within the law.  Protection of fish stocks is critical to safeguarding this industry which is the main source of employment for many coastal communities around the country and contributes €891 million annually to the economy. This year, with the support of the Naval Service and the Air Corps, we continued to prioritise compliance with the new EU Landing Obligation regulations, which require fishers to land what they catch. This major change in fishing practice is vital for the future of the industry. Science-based evidence of fish stocks is determining quota allocations, as the increases in mackerel and prawn quotas from the recent EU negotiations have demonstrated.”

Highlighting the regulator’s work in the area of seafood safety, which includes specific checks on seafood labelling claims, Ms Steele said: “Food production involving wild or farmed fish requires particular attention at all stages of the chain. Our controls and inspections are designed to support Ireland’s international reputation for the highest standards in food product so that consumers can be confident that the Irish seafood they are consuming is safe and traceable. ”

All vessels over 12 meters fishing within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone are monitored electronically to assess compliance risks and identify those that require more focussed inspections. During 2016 a total of 2696 inspections at landings were undertaken by Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers of the SFPA while a further 1213 boarding[4] inspections took place at sea by the Naval Service involving vessels from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, United Kingdom,  Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Russia.

In addition to inspections at landings and offshore, the SFPA undertook a dedicated inshore coastal patrol programme to monitor compliance with new regulations introduced during the year to help protect Ireland’s valuable crab, lobster and whelk fisheries. The regulations restrict commercial fishing to licensed operators in an effort to safeguard stocks while also ensuring the traceability of the product to legitimate operators, which is vitally important from a food safety and public health perspective.  As well covering regional designated harbours, the SFPA undertook vehicle patrols to smaller regional ports, an initiative to monitor unlicensed and unregistered vessels, which were then targeted for inspection at sea during subsequent patrols in their area.



Further information:

Eleanor Buckley, Communications Manager, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority

Tel: 023 885 93 46/ 087 920 3658 or email


Ger McCarthy/ Vicky Jago, Weber Shandwick,

Tel: 01 679 8600/ 086 233 3590 / 087 6369724 or email: /


Editors’ Notes


1 This represents 1213 Navy inspections as at 19.12.16 and 2696 inspections by the SFPA. The Naval inspections included 564 boardings of Irish-registered fishing vessels and 649 boardings of non-Irish registered fishing vessels. (2015: 2745)

2 2015 – 10 vessels were detained by the Naval Service

3 Infringements detected included: under recording of catches and exceeding quota

4 Figure as at 19.12.16

About the SFPA

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is the independent statutory body charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions. The Authority enforces the EU Common Fisheries Policy and sea-fisheries law generally and food safety law relating to fish and fishery products. Its mandate covers all fishing vessels operating within Ireland’s 200 mile limit, over 2,000 Irish registered fishing vessels wherever they operate and all seafood produced in Ireland’s seafood processing companies. The SFPA operates through a network of regional port offices situated at Ireland’s main fishery harbours. 

The SFPA’s role in seafood safety includes the implementation of European hygiene package legislation as well as the inspection and health certification of export consignments.  Under service contract to the Food Safety



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