Spanish fishing vessel, Virxen da Blanca, was fined €2,500 along with forfeiture of €165,000 of catch and gear following a guilty plea before the courts on May 23. The species on-board comprised mainly of blue shark along with a small quantity of mako shark.

Virxen da Blanca was detained by the Irish Naval Service vessel LÉ William Butler Yeats approximately 150nm off the Irish south coast. It was escorted into Castletownbere and handed over to the Gardaí, assisted by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority.

The operation highlighted inter-agency cooperation, remarked Dr Susan Steele, SFPA chair.

“The INS plays a strategic role in the enforcement of at sea activities and works closely with the SFPA in undertaking risk based inspections at sea.”

Dr Steele reiterated the Authority’s commitment to preventing illegal  fishing:

“We have zero tolerance for vessels removing fins from sharks in our waters. Luckily this infringement was detected, and we will continue to work with the authorities across Europe to deter and detect any future illegal shark  fishing violations.”

Compliance procedures 

The SFPA ensures compliance with national fishing quotas, which ensures equality and fairness for all fishers and the continued sustainability of Ireland’s valuable marine resources, their statement reads.

It monitors all vessels operating within the Irish EEZ electronically with the support of the Naval Service, and reviews and assesses their declared catches for compliance with EU sea-fisheries legislation.

Where non-compliances are found, prosecutions may follow as with any incident of non-compliance with the law.