The LÉ James Joyce approaching the FV Margiris
An Irish Navy patrol has boarded the world's second largest trawler off the coast of Donegal.
The Irish Naval Service posted pictures this week of the LÉ James Joyce approaching the 143 metre long FV Margiris, which was banned from fishing Australian waters in 2012.
The vessel was fishing approximately 50 km off the coast of Donegal.
Members of both the fishing industry and wildlife groups in Ireland have repeatedly expressed concerns at the impact such a huge fishing vessel, which can process as much as 250 tonnes of fish per day, may have on fish stocks and other wildlife, especially dolphins.
Naval crew members boarded the Lithuanian registered vessel on Tuesday and carried out an inspection as part of their fisheries protection patrol duties.
The Irish Wildlife Trust welcomed the news but called on MEP's to press for the introduction of full-time, independent observers on supertrawlers.
In a statement, the IWT said, "The Irish Wildlife Trust welcomes the intervention by the naval service to board the supertrawler Margiris. However, in order to address the concerns around these very large boats, it is imperative that full-time, independent observers are placed on board to monitor their activities.
"The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) recorded the highest level of strandings of common dolphin ever during the first three months of this year, after a busy winter of supertrawler activity off the west coast," the statement continued.
Both the IWT and the IWDG wrote to Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, earlier this year outlining their concerns but have had no progress reportrs since, the IWT stated.
IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty commented, "The IWT is now calling on our MEPs, some of whom have shown support for this campaign, to use their influence to progress matters.
“The European Commission have had all year to digest the evidence and yet we are now entering another winter with nothing done. As supertrawlers gather in our waters, we are once again faced with the prospect of a slaughter of our marine life.