Restriction lift date: 2025-09-30
A critical analysis of sea-fisheries enforcement in Ireland
University College Cork
Effective regulation goes hand in hand with a normatively effective enforcement regime. In the context of sea-fisheries law, it is crucial that the law is fit for purpose and that it is enforced effectively in order to meet sustainability and conservation objectives under the Common Fisheries Policy. Therefore, it is essential that Ireland is compliant with its enforcement obligations under EU fisheries law. Although regulation and enforcement has been researched extensively worldwide, sea-fisheries law and its enforcement in Ireland has been almost entirely neglected in the literature. Fisheries are a politically contentious issue and yet this intensely regulated area has never been the subject of dedicated academic research in Ireland. To the author’s knowledge, this research is the first comprehensive analysis of the sea-fisheries enforcement regime in Ireland. As the author is employed in the legal division of the national enforcement agency for sea-fisheries, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the research benefits from unique insights into how enforcement operates in practice, which would not otherwise be accessible. Therefore, the research takes a distinctly practical view of regulation and enforcement of sea-fisheries law in Ireland, with the benefit of a practitioner focus based on professional experience. The thesis undertakes a review of the key pieces of legislation governing sea-fisheries law which is enforced exclusively by criminal prosecution without any alternative sanction options. The effectiveness of this reliance on criminal prosecution is considered with a view to determining whether administrative sanctions could be introduced to supplement or replace the existing enforcement system. This may also have implications for other areas of regulation in Ireland, many of which are also reliant on criminal prosecution to enforce regulatory norms. In particular, the nature of what constitutes a crime is considered in order to inform a discussion of the utility of defining and prosecuting regulatory breaches as criminal offences. Discussion of the difficulties associated with criminal prosecution of regulatory offences is informed by the case law and selected case studies. A range of administrative sanction options are explored to establish whether they could provide an alternative solution to sea-fisheries enforcement. The constitutional hurdles which administrative sanctions in Ireland must overcome are analysed in order to determine the limits and boundaries of any potential administrative sanction regime. The thesis proposes how such a system might operate in practice, in light of various enforcement theories which may assist the regulator in the challenging task of implementing an effective, proportionate and dissuasive enforcement policy which upholds fair procedures and can withstand judicial scrutiny.
Fisheries , Enforcement , Regulation , Administrative sanctions , Criminal law , Sustainability
O'Keeffe, L. 2020. A critical analysis of sea-fisheries enforcement in Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.