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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

World’s second largest super-trawler enters Irish waters - AIS from VesselTracker keeping an eye on her whereabouts

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IRISH fishermen have expressed alarm at the arrival of the world’s second largest super-trawler in Irish waters for the annual blue whiting campaign. 

The ‘MFV Margiris’ drags a net bigger than a football field and, if stood on its end, would be almost twice as high as Ireland’s tallest building. The super-trawler ceased operations off Australian after bitter protests by Government, fishing industry and conservation groups. The vessel even changed its name to the ‘Abel Tasman’ in a bid to side-step protests off Australia and New Zealand. But it ultimately quit Australian waters after being repeatedly targeted for protests by Greenpeace who feared its operations could devastate regional fish stocks.

The vessel – which is 143m long (429ft) and displaces 9,500 tonnes – is the second biggest trawler/factory shop afloat and her processing capacity is enormous. Irish fishing industry and conservation groups warned about the potential impact of such vast fishing potential in vulnerable Atlantic areas. They claimed the giant vessel shouldn’t have sufficient quota to justify operations in Irish waters.

Industry groups, led by ‘The Skipper’ editor Niall Duffy, have now demanded clarification of the super-trawler’s purpose off Ireland. They have also demanded clarification by the EU as to how a super-trawler that was removed and reflagged in Australia could suddenly be registered back in the Lithuanian fleet.

The Sea Fish Protection Authority (SFPA) and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) have both been asked to check on the super-trawler’s fishing entitlements. The Naval Service is also monitoring the situation. The super-trawler is owned by a Dutch consortium but is registered in Lithuania. Under complex EU Common Fisheries agreements, the vessel can fish both inside and outside the 200 mile limit once quotas are in place. Its crew of 50 normally conducts round-the-clock fishing operations in a region for six to eight weeks before landing its processed catch.

“This is a matter of concern for all Irish fishing industry groups given the difficult operating conditions currently facing Irish vessels,” Mr Duffy warned.

Story courtesy of the Independent.ie