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#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard helicopters were called on for two separate evacuations from fishing vessels yesterday morning (Monday 16 January).

In the first incident, Waterford-based Rescue 117 airlifted a fisherman who had suffered an injury on board his vessel to University Hospital Waterford.

On the same morning, Rescue 115 from Shannon was tasked to retrieve a casualty from a fishing vessel some 120 miles west of Kerry Head and transport him to University Hospital Limerick.

MEDICO Cork, based at Cork University Hospital’s A&E department, provided advice for both coastguard medevacs.

Published in Coastguard

#PairTrawling - Winter season pair trawling has been blamed for a spate of marine wildlife deaths on the Waterford coast this week, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Locals in Ardmore discovered four seals and a porpoise washed up on their beach this past Wednesday (11 January).

At least one of the seals was photographed with what appeared to be fishing net entangled around its snout.

Seals and cetaceans including humpback whales have been spotted off the South Coast in big numbers this month, likely following shoals of herring — also a popular fish for pair trawling, a fishing practice criticised by environmentalists for its threat to inshore marine wildlife.

Pair trawling was the subject of a debate on RTÉ Radio 1’s Countrywide last month, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fishing - Fishing rights retained in the sale of Irish supertrawler Atlantic Dawn could continue to net many millions of euro for its former owners — much to the ire of smaller operators in Ireland’s fishing fleet, as The Irish Times reports.

Despite being built to fish international waters, the Atlantic Dawn was entitled to a significant “fishing asset”, comprising tonnage, engine power and quota rights under EU rules, due to being flagged as Irish.

Though the ship in question was sold to Dutch owners in 2007, the Atlantic Dawn Group kept its asset — leading to a market standing that opponents say has strengthened disproportionately to the rest of the Irish fleet after the Common Fisheries Policy imposed limits on vessel expansion in 2003.

Now a number of vessels in the pelagic and whitefish sectors are seeking compensation from Brussels as a result of the Killybegs-based company’s extraordinary but entirely legal position.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Aquaculture - Marine Minister Michael Creed has announced the appointment of an independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group

The group has been established to review the process of licensing for aquaculture and its associated legal framework in keeping with actions identified in Food Wise 2025 and Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.

On the need for a review of the existing licensing process, Minister Creed said: “Our aquaculture sector has enormous potential to sustainably grow its production of seafood to meet the opportunities presented from growing world demand for safe, sustainable seafood. Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development aims to sustainably grow our production across all species by 45,000 tonnes.

“To achieve that ambition, we need to revamp our aquaculture licensing process and its associated legal frameworks, so that an operator can have a decision on an aquaculture licence application within timeframes that compare favourably to our competitors.

“But any changes must ensure that all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licensing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations.”

Both Food Wise 2025 and the National Strategic Plan identified issues with the current licensing system and recommended an independent review to examine the existing challenges and propose improvements in line with best practice internationally.

Welcoming the Review Group, Minister Creed acknowledged the appropriate skills and experience that the members bring.

“I would like to thank Mary Moylan, Ken Whelan and Lorcán Ó Cinnéide for agreeing to serve on the Review Group and I look forward to their recommendations on what we need to change to give this sector a reliable, sustainable, effective decision-making foundation so that we can harness its full potential.”

Review Group chair Mary Moylan retired as assistant secretary at the Department of the Environment in 2014. Moylan successively headed the Planning and Built Heritage, Corporate Affairs and Rural Development Divisions of the department, and previously held a number of senior posts throughout her career, including responsibilities in the area of International Environment Policy, Planning and Land Use and earlier as Environment Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Communities.

Ken Whelan PhD is adjunct professor in the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD and is also research director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Dr Whelan was formerly an executive director, with responsibility for aquaculture, at the Marine Institute, chairman of the International Atlantic Salmon Research Board, and chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation. He is currently a self-employed marine and freshwater fisheries consultant.

Lorcan Ó Cinnéide is CEO of the Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association, the national representative body for the seafood processing industry. He is a member of the board of the Marine Institute, the board of the European Fish Processors Association, the Sea Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee, and a former member of the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed expressed his concern at the potential impact on Irelands’ whitefish fleet, ahead of the annual EU fisheries negotiations in Brussels, scheduled to conclude today (Tuesday 13 December).

“If the commission’s quota proposals remain unchanged, we are facing an overall 19% cut to our whitefish and prawn quotas for 2017,” said Minister Creed yesterday. “This would mean, in real terms, a direct income loss of over €14.7 million to our whitefish fleet.”

The commission’s proposal includes cuts to Celtic Sea cod (-68%), pollack (-20%), megrim (-28%), monkfish (-12%) and Ireland’s most important stock, prawns (-9%).

“I presented the scale and implications of these cuts to the joint Oireachtas Committee earlier this week following the completion of a Sustainability Impact Assessment which was open to public consultation,” the minister added.

“I also met the fishing industry and other stakeholders and got a detailed brief on the issues and priorities. I am very concerned about the level of cuts proposed for the whitefish and prawn fisheries. We need a balanced outcome that delivers necessary cuts to protect stocks while maintaining quota levels where justified.”

Minister Creed said his role at negotiations yesterday and today was “to persuade the commission to apply the available scientific advice in a rational and practical manner.

“This is especially important in the context of the ongoing roll out of the landing obligation, which will apply to all quota stocks from 2019.”

Ireland’s mackerel and blue whiting quotas are set for substantial increases, but this comes with cuts in horse mackerel, Celtic Sea herring and boarfish. The minister says he is accepting these quota adjustments because they are fully justified by the scientific advice.

“This is my first December Fisheries Council and I do not underestimate the challenge,” Minister Creed added. “All I can promise is that I will work as hard as I can with industry and other stakeholders, as well as with Commissioner Vella, and important member states such as France, the UK and Spain, to try and achieve a fair and balanced quota package for Ireland’s fishing industry that ensures the continued vibrancy of our industry and the long term sustainability of our stocks.”

Published in Fishing

#Supertrawler - An MEP for Ireland South is calling on the European Commission to investigate an alleged connection between ‘supertrawler’ activity and a spike in dolphin standings earlier this year.

As the West Cork Times reports, Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune MEP has submitted a parliamentary question that makes reference to the unusually high rate of standings recorded by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) in the first three months of 2016.

“The allegation is that the spike in dolphin deaths is as a direct result of a busy and sustained period of supertrawler activity in our waters,” says Clune, who adds that the Commission “now has a duty of care under the Habitats Directive to investigate this matter to establish the facts.”

Such concerns were renewed in recent weeks after the controversial super-sized trawler Margiris was spotted fishing off the North West coast.

Last week the vessel, one of the largest of its kind on the seas, was boarded for inspection by Naval Service personnel — as the Irish Wildlife Trust reiterated its calls for a full-time inspection regime for large-scale factory trawlers to ensure compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy and environmental protections.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Pair trawling was a matter of debate on RTÉ Radio 1’s Countrywide this past Saturday (3 December).

The segment follows a call by the Irish Wildlife Trust to ban the practice of pair trawling — or trawling a single net between two fishing boats — in Ireland’s inshore bays and estuaries.

Darragh McCullough welcomed the trust’s campaigns officer Padraig Fogarty and Hugo Boyle of the Irish South & East Fish Producers Organisation to discuss the purposes of the practice, its benefits to the fishing industry and why conservationists are concerned over effects on the ecosystem.

Listen back to the interview on the RTÉ website HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Supertrawler - Naval Service personnel from the LÉ James Joyce have boarded a controversial fishingsupertrawler’ off the North West coast, according to the Donegal Democrat.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris — one of the largest fishing vessels in the world — prompted renewed fears among local fisherman and conservationists last week when it was spotted in fishing grounds off Donegal.

News of the Naval Service inspection has been welcomed by the Irish Wildlife Trust, though it cautioned on the need for a full-time inspection regime for such large-scale factory trawlers to ensure they are fishing legally and within quota, and not causing harm to protected wildlife such as dolphins.

The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Supertrawler - The controversial supertrawler Margiris has returned to fish in Irish waters, as Coast Monkey reports.

Previously banned from Australian waters, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris is one of the largest fishing trawlers on the seas, and has previously fished off Ireland with a quota under the Common Fisheries Policy.

That hasn’t assuaged concerns among the Irish fishing fleet, nor conservationists who fear a connection between the activities of large-scale ‘floating factory’ type fishing vessels and rising numbers of dolphin strandings in the North West.

This past September, MEP Sean Kelly called for regular on-board inspections of supertrawlers fishing in Irish waters to ensure they are sticking to CFP regulations.

The FV Margiris’s latest position can be tracked via Marine Traffic HERE.

Published in Fishing
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