Independent TD Thomas Pringle has been informed by the Minister of State at the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources that legislation needs to be introduced to amend the 1959 Fisheries (Consolidation) Act to ensure that licenses for Oyster fishing on Lough Swilly are allocated to properly licensed fishing vessels.
Concern has arisen in the recent round of license applications because while the license application documentation states that fishermen should have properly licensed vessels Inland Fisheries Ireland do not take this into account when allocating licenses.
This has led to the situation where licenses could be allocated to people who do not have a commercial sea fishing license and therefore the onus falls on the SFPA to enforce the licensing law and applicants that can satisfy the sea fishing license requirement are refused licenses.
According to the Minister the 1959 Fisheries (Consolidation) Act specifically excludes Inland Fisheries Ireland from examining the licensing of the vessel being used when deciding on an application.
Said Deputy Pringle: “This is a ludicrous situation that could lead to unsuitable and possibly unsafe vessels being used in the fishery. It also places fishermen that have invested in tonnage and safety gear at a potential disadvantage when looking for licenses to fish.
“The Minister has confirmed that work has commenced to resolve this situation and I would call on him to ensure that it is published and brought before the Dail without delay.”