November 12th, 2015
The supertrawler MV Margaris has been joined by the Annelies Ilena in fishing off the the North West Coast of Ireland today, respectively the 2nd largest and largest fishing vessels in the world.
It has been reported by marine activists, that the Dutch registered Annelies Ilena, formerly known as the ‘Atlantic Dawn’ has entered Irish waters and is fishing along the Galway/Mayo coast.
When operating at full capacity the Annelies can catch, process and freeze 400 tons of fish every 24-hours and can hold a total of 7000 tons of frozen fish, as well as holding enough fuel to stay at sea for five days at a time.
Built at the Umoe Sterkoder shipyard in Kristiansund, Norway in the late 1990s at a cost of €63 million, was commissioned by Irish maritime business man Kevin McHugh and has been banned various territorial waters due to it’s enormous size.
The Lithuanian registered Margiris, which was last week off the coast of Co Donegal, is the second largest fishing vessel in the world. Built in 1985, it measures 136.12m by 18.29m and has a gross tonnage of 9,499 tonnes. It’s nets have a span of 600m and it is capable of catching and processing up to 250 tonnes of fish a day. It has similarly been banned from fishing in various territories around the world.
Both fished off the Irish coast last year and have now returned, prompting a furious reaction from many fishermen and conservationists here.
An online petition, hosted at uplift.ie/supertrawlers, calling on Minister Simon Coveney to ban supertrawlers from operating in Irish waters has since last week collected over 29000 signatures.
It stated, “Right now, the second largest super trawler in the world is fishing off the Irish coast. It’s called MFV Margiris and it drags a net bigger than a football field.” It points out that “Europe’s fishing industry is already catching far more than current fish stocks can bear, and that supertrawlers like Margiris have no concern for sustainable fisheries or over-exploited stocks.
In a letter sent to Donegal based Skipper magazine today, the president of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association, Gerard J. van Balsfoort, has dismissed the campaign to ban them from Irish waters as ‘ill-informed and sensational’. He states that “all these vessels use the same type and the same size of pelagic nets. The pelagic quota (meaning what we are allowed to catch) are in general substantial which is one reason why pelagic fisheries are large scale fishing operations.”
“The pelagic stocks targeted by these vessels, such as mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and herring, are considered to belong to the healthiest, best managed stocks in Europe.”
In an article written by Greenpeace in response to the ending of the two year ban imposed on the Margiris from operating in Australian waters, posted on their website, they said “The global industrial fishing fleet is 2-3 times too big for the world’s fish stocks to sustain. This excess fishing capacity has meant that now the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that around 30% of fish stocks are depleted or overexploited and more than half are fully exploited, meaning fish stocks won’t be able to match the growing demand for cheap seafood.”