• May 22, 2016

The General Secretary of the Celtic League has written a strongly worded protest to the EU Fisheries Commissioner about the untrammelled exploitation of global fishery resources by EU conglomerates.

The EU legitimises the destruction of fish stocks often using its economic clout to pressure smaller countries such as those of West Africa to allow its trawlers access.

The vast super trawlers with their enormous catching capacity do incredible damage but they are just part of the global onslaught on the marine environment. Illegal trawling compounds the problem.

The illustration with this item shows the illegal trawler ‘Thunder’ being scuttled by her crew after being pursued by the militant marine environmental pressure group ‘Sea Shepherd’. Paradoxically the catch from trawlers like the Thunder will end up in European markets while the EU and other governments do all they can to frustrate the efforts of SEA SHEPHERD and similar protection bodies.

The letter from the GS will be copied to governments in Britain and Ireland but we are not holding our breath that action will result. However, depending on the response, the Celtic League, as a UN Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) NGO, will consider raising the issue with the International body.

The text of the GS letter is set out below:

“Dear Director-General Joao Aguiar Machado

‘Super-trawler’ Monitoring

I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about the monitored use of super-trawlers that are registered in the EU, but do not appear to be abiding by EU judgements and international agreements on the use of these vessels.

Recently the Celtic League has become aware that during a two week period between April and May of this year the 10,000 tonne Lithuanian registered Margiris, a vessel capable of processing several hundred tonnes of fish per day, has systemically trawled the waters of Mauritania, which is one of the poorest countries in West Africa. To compound matters the vessel has been working an area just offshore from one of the worlds finest National Parks and Marine Reserves the Parc Nacional du Banc d’Arguin. As you will be aware, in the spring of last year the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, affirmed that ‘Flag States’ have a duty of due diligence to ensure that fishing vessels flying their flag comply with relevant laws and regulations concerning marine resources and that these vessels are not engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the waters of member countries of West Africa’s Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SFRC). It is difficult to imagine the devastation that this activity is having on the balance of the eco-system of the area and the economic impact on the local fishing community, which survives on a subsistence income and we can only assume that the EU is either not adequately monitoring the activity of the Margiris or is not concerned if this super-trawler operates in flagrant disregard of EU regulations.

Our organisation is not only concerned about the activities of the Margiris, but other trawlers too, such as the Dutch Annelies Ilena. We recently plotted these trawlers working an area from off S W Ireland to the North Hebrides and already indications are that this rapacious activity is impacting both economic, marine and bird life on the west coasts of these Islands.

We would therefore like confirmation that the EU is serious about undertaking their duties in line with relevant laws and regulations concerning marine resources and that these vessels are not engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the waters of member countries of West Africa’s Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SFRC), because through our own monitoring activities the Margiris at least, seems to be doing just that. Can you also confirm whether an independent observer is present onboard the MFV Margiris, something which EU Council Regulations says should be in place?

Our organisation believe it is wholly unacceptable that massive boats like the Margiris and Annelies Ilena are allowed to exact such a damaging impact on the world’s marine resources and we demand that something is done about it.

Yours sincerely

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary
Celtic League

CC President Jean-Claude Juncker”

Image: Trawler ‘Thunder’ scuttled by her crew to hide evidence of illegal fishing – they were rescued by Sea Shepherd one of whose vessels had pursued the illegal trawler for several days.

You can support SEA SHEPHERD here’s their site:




Issued by: The Manx branch of the Celtic League

TEL: 01624 877918 or 07624 491609



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries including our own Mannin branch. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

The link for the main web pages is below:


Mannin Branch Celtic League's photo.
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