Thursday, 10 February 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
12. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if he has satisfied himself that the fines for the arrest and conviction of foreign vessels in Ireland's territorial waters are adequate; the plans, if any, he has to look for a substantial increase in order to pose a stronger deterrent for illegal fishing activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3565/00]
Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Fahey): The Fisheries Acts provide for severe maximum fines, ranging from £10,000 to £200,000, for conviction on indictment of a sea fisheries offence. Forfeiture of fishing gear and fish on board the vessel is a statutory consequence of conviction in most offences, and the courts are empowered to order forfeiture of gear and catch in other cases. In addition, the courts may order the fishing boat to be confiscated if the offence is judged to be a serious abuse of the rules or if it is a repeat offence within three years of an earlier conviction.
The penalties to be applied in particular cases are obviously a matter for the courts, taking account of the particular circumstances and the nature and gravity of the offences. The scale of the penalties under the fisheries Acts, combined with strong enforcement on land and at sea, should constitute a real and substantial deterrent to illegal fishing activity. I will keep the current regime under review however to ensure that, from both an enforcement and penalties perspective, it is having the necessary deterrent effect in terms of illegal fishing in our waters.
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