The country's regulator for the sea-fisheries and seafood industries said 2021 was a hugely challenging year for everyone involved.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) cited operational and capacity challenges posed by Brexit and by the EU's withdrawal of Ireland's control plan for catches over concerns about under-weighing, according to its 2021 Annual Report.

Chief Executive of the SFPA Paschal Hayes said while both events presented "enormous operational and capacity challenges" for the regulator, substantial work was completed across all units of its remit.

The SFPA oversaw compliance and controls for over 47,000 landings of fish with an estimated value of over €435 million, some 1,345 fishing vessel inspections and, together with the Naval Service, it initiated 66 legal cases following the investigation of 95 incidents.

The report found the low level of non-compliance "reflects the adherence of the overwhelming majority of the industry to the regulations and the robust inspection system in place to ensure compliance and detect non-compliance, where necessary".

In the wake of Brexit, 2021 saw import controls rise from an annual average of 800 to over 3,000.

This was mainly driven by pre-existing UK trade being re-classified as a 'third country'.

The volume of catch certificates issued for export freight rose from around 200 to over 800, with the UK accounting for 71%.

The majority of the 600 'third country' landings recorded originated in the UK.

The report found the opening of a new port office in Greencastle, Co Donegal helped respond to the increase in activity.

Under its remit to enforce seafood safety law, SFPA carried out 2,221 food safety inspections and oversaw the collection and analysis of over 1,500 shellfish samples from producers.

The SFPA's mandate covers all fishing vessels operating within Ireland's 200 mile limit, over 2,000 Irish registered fishing vessels wherever they operate, and all seafood produced in Ireland's seafood processing companies.