Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 314 - Maritime surveillance [21555/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 314 - Maritime surveillance [21555/13]. (07 May 2013)

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314. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the discussions, if any, he has had with his European colleagues in the context of a European contribution towards the costs associated with coastal surveillance from the point of view of security and or prevention of terrorism and or prevention of trafficking and drug smuggling in view of the extensive Irish national coastline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21555/13] 

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Naval Service conducts routine maritime surveillance patrols on a daily basis throughout Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The primary day-to-day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s fishery protection legislation and our obligations as a member of the European Union. In its fishery protection role, the Naval Service is committed to having at least three vessels on patrol at any one time. However, when on patrol Naval Service vessels are multi-tasked in the sense that they also undertake general surveillance, security and other duties, often in conjunction with An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners who have primary responsibility for the prevention of people trafficking and drug trafficking respectively. Naval Service patrols are complemented by assistance provided by the Air Corps. The Air Corps’ Maritime Squadron carries out aerial surveillance within the Irish EEZ using the two CASA maritime patrol aircraft which were acquired in 1994 under the terms of the 1991 to 1995 Fishery Protection Programme. These aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment which offers aerial assistance to the Naval Service. The EU has provided funding towards the cost of purchase and upgrade of these aircraft.


Funding is available from the EU under the Fisheries Control Programmes to strengthen fishery surveillance systems in Member State countries. The Naval Service and the Air Corps, through my Department and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, apply on an annual basis for EU funding for projects that enhance their fisheries surveillance role. In recent years, my Department has received €0.325m (2010) and €1.073m (2011). The ship replacement programme accounted for €0.9m of the 2011 funding.


In relation to maritime surveillance generally, an Inter-Departmental Maritime Surveillance Working Group, chaired by the Department of Transport, was established under the auspices of the Marine Co-ordination Group. The Working Group is working towards the creation of a common information-sharing environment to enhance safety and security within the Irish maritime domain.


In addition, Ireland, along with six other EU Member States, participates in the EU Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) which is an international co-ordination force that has led to a greater focus on intelligence exchange amongst countries to tackle large drug shipments by sea.

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