The detention of a German registered fishing vessel operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) resulted from a joint operation under the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) Western Waters Joint Deployment Plan (WW JDP) with the Irish Naval Service and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). The German registered fishing vessel was detained by the Irish Naval Service on the 7th February 2023 for a number of alleged breaches of fishing regulations following extensive analysis of the vessel’s Electronic Logbook (ERS) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) positions over a number of weeks. An intelligence led operation with multi-agency co-operation led to the detention.
Both the SFPA and Irish Naval Service received an intel report from a confidential source on the 6th January 2023 in relation to this vessel and alleged breaches of fishing regulations. The Fisheries Monitoring Centre monitored and conducted analysis of the vessel once it entered the Irish EEZ in late January. The Irish Naval Service then requested the activity of the vessel to be monitored by the aerial surveillance aircraft chartered by EFCA who had a flight plan for the Irish EEZ at that time under the WW JDP. The flight plan was amended to monitor this vessel and the video footage gathered verified the intel received as well as additional evidence gathered. The Irish Naval Service had a Sea-Fisheries Protection Officer (SFPO) on site at the EFCA Coordination Centre in charge of the WW JDP analysing this aerial footage as it was live steamed back to both the SFPA and the FMC.
On Tuesday 7th February, the vessel was detained by the Irish Naval Service vessel LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT for numerous suspected non-compliances with sea-fisheries legislation. The vessel was escorted to Castletownbere arriving in port on Saturday.
The Master of the fishing vessel, Ortegal Tres, was brought before a special sitting of Bandon District Court on Monday February 13th and was charged with a total of 25 fishing offences on various dates between a date unknown in December 2022 and February 3rd 2023 while fishing within the exclusive fishing limits of the State and has been returned for trial by a judge and jury.