A sea fishing boat to which legislation applies shall not be used for sea fishing, whether within the exclusive fishery limits of the State or otherwise, nor shall a person on board such a boat fish for sea fish or attempt to do so, other than in accordance with the licence granted by the Minister.
The legislation applies to sea fishing boats which are entered in the fish boat registry or required to be so entered under the Merchant Shipping Act, which are ships registered under the Mercantile Marine Act or if so required. The Minister may provide by regulations that sea fishing boats for a particular class or description are exempted from the registration requirement.
Conditions may be attached to licences which may
restrict fishing in the manner specified
require that the crew or part of the crew be of a particular nationality
specify circumstances, the occurrence of which will terminate the licence.
If the Minister is satisfied that a person has contravened a condition of a licence, it may be revoked.
Fishing boats must be both licensed and registered. The principal purpose of registration is to enforce the laws relating to maintenance and preservation of fishing stocks in accordance with Ireland’s obligations under the Common Fisheries Policy, which determines much detail of the regulation.
A sea fishing boat license is required to engage in commercial sea fishing. Sea fish are defined. A fishing boat is one engaged in fishing for sea fish and wholly owned by an Irish citizen, company or individual established under EU law having its place in the European Union. Certain fishing boats are outside this definition including those registered outside of Ireland. It is an offence to engage in a fishing activity or attempt to do so without license. Maximum fine is €75,000.
In effect, the Common Fishery Policy limits the overall size and capacity of the licensed fishing fleet. This means that new vessel would be granted a license only where equivalent capacity is withdrawn from the same segment of the register. The following are the principal segments:
- refrigerated sea water pelagic segment,
- polyvalent segment,
- multipurpose segment,
- beam trawler segment,
- specific segment,
- aquaculture segment.
Fishing boats are registered under both the registrar of fishing boats under the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources.
Generally, only Irish and EU nationals and companies based in the EU may own shares in an Irish registered fishing boat. Particulars of registered fishing boats are in turn registered on an EU database.
When a fishing boat is sold or transferred, the change of ownership must be registered. Similarly mortgages and loans must be registered. New vessels and changes of ownership must be registered. Where there is a change in the vessel’s characteristics such as in relation to weight or power, a new license must be obtained so permitting.
An application to the licensing authority is made in a standard format. A tax clearance certificate is required. The boat must be surveyed to show compliance with safety standards as applies to vessels generally.
The authority must take account of a range of factors including economic and social benefits and the contribution to coastal communities that the underlying common fishery policy codes are designed to benefit.
The applicant must show an economic link between the vessel and the state. The key licence criteria is the requirements in respect of stock protection and maintenance under the Common Fisheries Policy and the relevant quotas arising under it.
Conditions may be applied to a licence. They may restrict fishing, make requirements in relation to such matters a crew nationality and prohibitions of certain types of trawls. The terms of consideration of the licensing application are subject to the legal obligations under EU law and in particular the Common Fisheries Policy.
Generally licenses are granted to persons of businesses within the European Union. , license authority must not discriminate against EU nationals. Other nationals and businesses may be granted licences..
Applicants, licence holders and third parties may appeal to a decision regarding a license application, revocation or change to an independent appeals officer. The person is legally qualified and appointed by the Attorney General. The appeal is subject to the laws applicable to licensing.
The appeal must be brought within one month. A third party may only appeal if he / she / it made representations in relation to the grant of the licence. The appeal officer may hold an oral hearing or may decide to determine the matter on the basis of documents only. The appeals officers may refer issues of law to the High Court. The decision of an appeals officer can be made the subject of an application for judicial review.License fees are paid and are prescribed by law.
Fishing boats are subject to regulation in relation the registration of ships and boats generally. Ships are broadly defined to cover all vessels including boats. Ships must also be registered under the Mercantile Marine Act subject to certain exceptions for categories of vessels. Merchant shipping registration requires registration identification marks.
Separate to the requirement for a license, a sea fishing boat must be registered on a register of fishing boats. All fishing boats within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping (Registry, Lettering and Numbering of Fishing Boats) Regulations, 2005 (doc 82Kb) are required to be entered on the Register of Fishing Boats maintained by the Registrar General in accordance with those Regulations. Only fishing boats licensed in accordance with the FisheriesAmendmentAct2003.pdf (pdf 810Kb) (as inserted by Section 97 of the Sea-Fisheries Jurisdiction Act 2006) may be entered on the Register.
An application is made to the registrar and must include certain particular. There are a number of local registrars. The local registrars undertake certain checks including in particular an inspection of the vessel.
On registration the vessel receives a code and number in accordance with scheme laid down by the legislation. The local registrar registers the vessels with the Registrar General who maintains the central registrar. A certificate of registry is issued. The certificate must be handed back if the boat is lost, broken or ceases to be engaged engage in fishing. If there is change in the details required to be registered, this must be notified and a new certificate must be applied for.