The former skipper of the Irish naval vessel LE Roisin has told of the day he ordered his officers to board one of the world’s largest trawlers off Tory Island when it was suspected of breaching EU fishing regulations.
The retired Lieutenant Commander said he was in charge of the LE Oisin on fishery patrol in the Atlantic on November 22, 2013 when he instructed naval and sea fisheries protection officers to board the 14,000 tonne Annelies Ilena.
Retired Lieutenant Commander, Terence Ward told Donegal Circuit Court that he was in communication with the officers and he was kept apace of what was happening when the Master of the 144-metre Annelies Ilena was cautioned.
One of the men who boarded the super-trawler from a rigid inflatable speed-boat despatched by the LE Roisin was Killybegs-based Sea Fisheries protection Officer John Hederman.
He told Judge John O’Hagan and a jury of six women and six men of observing a large number of sea-birds that appeared to be feeding behind the trawler before he boarded.
He said he was told by the second mate of the trawler in front of his Master Gerrit Plug that the log book was up to date and there had been no discards of fish.
The Annelies Ilena was formerly the Atlantic Dawn when it operated out of Killybegs.
58-year-old Gerrit Plug, the Dutch national skipper of the Annelies Ilena, has pleaded not guilty to discarding species of fish which are subject to quota, failing to record discards and having illegal equipment on board.
The prosecution has claimed that the Annelies Ilena had illegal equipment aboard which was grading the fish to increase the value of the catch and discarding fish straight back out to sea which should have been kept. The State's case is that this was an ongoing, systematic practice on board the vessel.
The trial continues today.