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Displaying items by tag: Bord Iascaigh Mhara

#GALWAY FISH FARM - In his latest angling column for The Irish Times, Derek Evans writes of his 'deep concern' over the proposed deep sea salmon farm off the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

Making reference to new research that shows infestations of sea lice - which often concentrate in fish farms - pose a significant threat to the survival of wild salmon fisheries, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, Evans writes that the "untold damage" from such infestations would be "nothing short of catastrophic".

He adds: "While this latest proposal is a step in the right direction in terms of its 'off-shore' location, nevertheless, it will bring a plethora of problems, beginning with the size of its annual output and the 'baggage' that entails if and when it moves into unchartered waters."

Evans also points to the submission on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), which includes "an additional checklist for consideration including the location and dimension of this proposed farm; site characteristics; production process; potential impacts; monitoring; and organic farming", as well as suggesting an assessment of all wild salmon fisheries in the affected area, plus a full monitoring system and baseline study.

Evan's comments come in the wake of IFI's dispute with Bord Iascaigh Mhara over the exclusion from the statutory consultation of a report critical of the proposed salmon farm off Inis Óirr, which has faced opposition from local salmon anglers.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - The board of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has issued a statement on the proposed Aran Islands deep sea salmon farm in Galway Bay, which has been the source of some controversy in recent weeks.

The board said it agrees with the recent statement by Minister Fergus O’Dowd on offshore salmon farming, and that it welcomes the development of Ireland’s aquaculture sector "once any development complies with Ireland’s obligations under relevant EU environmental legislation, particularly the Habitats Directive, and does not adversely affect salmon and sea trout stocks."

In addition, the IFI board said it has made a submission on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for the proposed offshore salmon farm as part of the public consultation process, which is available on the IFI website.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the public consultation period began last month for the 500-hectare organic fish farm to be located off Inis Oirr. BIM has applied for a deep sea salmon farming licence at the site, which would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe. If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current farmed salmon production rate.

The IFI board's statement notes: "In the submission, concerns were raised in relation to the location and scale of the proposed salmon farm and how its development and operation could impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks and their habitat.

"These concerns are based on scientific reports by respected authors and knowledge of the impact of existing fish farms on salmon and sea trout populations off the west coast of Ireland."

The submission also highlights "recent peer reviewed international scientific literature on the impacts of sea lice on salmonids" which poses a significant threat to wild salmon in Irish waters, as reported on Afloat.ie.

The board said it does not believe "that the corpus of peer reviewed international scientific literature which recognises the negative impacts of sea lice on salmonids have been adequately dealt with in the EIS".

While welcoming "any sustainable initiative which will provide jobs in rural coastal communities", the IFI board said it questions the figure of 500 jobs it's been reported the 15,000-tonne fish farm project would create, making comparison to a new 2,000-tonne aquaculture scheme in Scotland that's expected to create just four full-time positions.

The board members say they "have serious concerns that whatever the number of jobs created by the current proposal, they will be more than offset by the associated loss of jobs in the recreational angling and tourism sectors" if the scheme results in any negative effects on those areas.

"Ireland's reputation as a pristine wild fishery destination must be safeguarded," they added, noting that proposals for two further offshore salmon farms in Mayo and Donegal "are premature given that significant issues over the current proposal have not yet been resolved.

"No further applications should be progressed until all stakeholders are satisfied that the current proposal is sustainable and has no adverse impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks."

Inland Fisheries Ireland is the State agency charged with the conservation, protection, development management and promotion of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resource.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Galway Bay FM reports that a series of direct public consultations on the proposed Aran Islands fish farm in Galway Bay will begin this week.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is organising the meetings on the islands and in nearby Galway City to allow the public to view its proposals for what would be one of the largest aquaculture operations in Europe.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the public consultation period began last month for the 500-hectare organic fish farm to be located off Inis Oirr. BIM has applied for a deep sea salmon farming licence at the site some 6km off the island.

If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current farmed salmon production rate.

The scheme has faced opposition from local anglers and from Inland Fisheries Ireland, who claim it poses a risk to wild salmon stocks.

But BIM has condemned IFI's "stop everything" attitude regarding the fish farm proposals, while accusing environmental campaigners of being "deliberately alarmist", according to the Galway Independent.

Lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment entered a dispute with the sea fisheries board over the exclusion of an IFI report critical of the salmon farm from the statutory consultation.

“In the current climate, with jobs being as scarce as they are and economic development being the way it is, I think really that sort of attitude, that sort of museum curator ‘stop everything’ attitude is not good enough,” said BIM aquaculture development manager Donal Maguire.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Environmental campaigners have retracted their accusation that Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) suppressed a report critical of the proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay.

The Galway Independent reports on a statement released by lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment, which claimed that BIM tried to hide the study by not posting it on its website along with other materials made available for the public consultation period.

The report in question was commissioned by Inland Fisheries Ireland and is critical of the Environmental Impact Statements carried out on the proposed location for the 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm off the Aran Islands.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the salmon farm would be located on a 500-hectare site off Inis Oírr, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy. The scheme has faced opposition from local anglers who fear it could have a negative impact on wild salmon numbers.

BIM strongly denied any wrongdoing, and the lobby group subsequently retracted its allegations upon learning that the IFI report had missed the deadline for submissions for the consultation.

“BIM certainly did not suppress or ignore or gloss over anything from IFI, because we never received anything," said a BIM spokesperson.

However, Friends of the Irish Environment now alleges that the IFI report was late due to a delay in their receipt of the Environmental Impact Statement from BIM.

The Galway Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Galway Bay FM reports that a full public consultation on proposals for what's set to be Europe's largest fish farm off the Aran Islands is scheduled to begin next week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 15,000-tonne deep-sea organic salmon farm would be located on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay off Inis Oírr, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.

The statutory consultation period ended earlier this month after delays over the summer in publishing the licence application. And from next Monday 15 October, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) will make the plan and all statutory feedback available to the public via its website at www.bim.ie.

Advertisements announcing the consultation will appear in local and national newspapers, and packs will also be available to view for locals at Kilronan and Salthill Garda stations, including copies of the environmental impact statements and information on the statutory consultation process.

BIM aquaculture development manager Donal Maguire told Galway Bay FM that transparency is key to ensuring the public had all the information they need regarding the scheme - which has faced opposition from local anglers who fear the fish farm could have a negative impact on wild salmon numbers.

Published in Galway Harbour

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has called on environmental campaigners opposed to changes in the current fish farm licensing system to "get behind Ireland's aquaculture industry".

In a letter to The Irish Times yesterday, the fisheries board wrote in response to Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, whose own letter to the paper on Tuesday lambasted the IFA's claims of an "inexplicable delay" in the State's processing of licence applications for new fish farms off the west coast.

BIM chief executive Jason Whooley said it was "refreshing" to read Lowes "expressing confidence in and support for the current Irish aquaculture licensing system", which is "both rigorous and science-based... involves a high level of public consultation and is fully transparent."

However, Whooley hit out at what he described as Lowes' "scare tactics" and "spurious" attempts "to mislead by comparing the output from a salmon farm with human sewage".

Lowes had written that salmon farming "is a highly polluting industry", and that discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous from aquaculture facilities "can fuel toxic algae blooms, which have cost the shellfish industry dear".

Whooley countered that argument, stating that "the harmful elements from human sewage, such as E.coli, cryptosporidium or viruses, are simply not present in the excretions from cold-blooded creatures, such as the Atlantic salmon."

He also urged Lowes to "get behind Ireland’s aquaculture industry and support it as a sustainable and valuable source", adding that "increasing the output of farmed Irish organic-certified salmon represents a great opportunity to create a large number of sustainable jobs in Ireland’s coastal communities."

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has begun the process of statutory consultation as the next step in its licence application for the controversial proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie at the end of June, Ireland's fisheries board had announced a "significant delay" of four to six weeks before publishing the licence application.

But in a recent statement, BIM announced that it received permission some weeks ago from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the marine to begin the statutory consultation process, in which it is sharing the licence application and Environmental Impact Statement "with a list of State bodies for their appraisal and feedback".

The statutory consultation will continue till Tuesday 2 October 2012, and BIM promises that all feedback will be made available to the public via the BIM website "to further assist them in their assessment of the Environmental Impact Statement when it goes to full public consultation".  

The 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands on a 500-hectare site, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.

BIM intends to franchise the licence, should it be approved, to a third party "who agrees to a legally binding contract to farm the Atlantic salmon to the highest organic and environmental standards". Approval of the project could also see the creation of as many as 500 jobs, some 20% more than previously estimated.

The news comes after the ministerial apprival of salmon farm licence assignments from five separate operators in nearby Connemara, designed to "consolidate and revitalise" aquaculture in the region.

But the Aran Islands scheme has faced opposition from local anglers who fear that the fish farm could have a detrimental effect on wild salmon numbers.

Explaining BIM's plans for the consultation process, the statement added: "Previously, both statutory and public consultation would have been carried out in parallel. However, Ireland has recently (June 2012) ratified the Aarhus Convention. The convention lays down rules to promote citizens involvement and to improve public consultation in the making of decisions with potential environmental impact by the state. 

"Given the recent ratification of the Convention and for a number of other legal and technical reasons, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has signed a new Statutory Instrument (SI No 301 of 2012), bringing into law new periods of public consultation for fish farm licence applications. In this instance the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have instructed BIM to carry out statutory consultation in full before proceeding with public consultation.

"BIM believes that this approach will help to further inform the public during their period of consultation."

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) recently convened a Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) with representatuves from the fishing and tourism industries, community groups and county councils to discuss ways to boost revenue in the Galway and Clare region.

As the Galway Advertiser reports, the Western region FLAG comes after the official launch of the 'Axis 4' programme for sustainable development of fishery-dependent areas, which aims to empower communities that rely on fishing or aquaculture to further develop the marine resources at their disposal.

It also comes hot on the heels of the Government's 'ocean wealth roadmap' launched by Marine Minister Simon Coveney earlier this month, which is specifically geared towards exploiting Ireland's potential for 'blue growth'.

The six FLAGs established in key coastal areas around Ireland are responsible for formulating a development strategy for funding suitable local projects. To qualify for funding support, such projects must satisfy a list of critera, such as having a clear marine connection or providing specific benefit to a fishing area.

The Galway Advertiser has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Another attempt is being made by Coast Guard management in Dublin to close the coastal radio stations at Valentia and Malin Head and centralise operations in Dublin. That, the poor quality of television coverage of sailing at the Olympics, the future of the State's national fishing board and the launch of the national maritime plan, are amongst my topics on this week's THIS ISLAND NATION.

RESPECT FOR VALENTIA RADIO

Sailing the West Cork coastline last week Valentia Radio was a welcome companion. I listened to their regular sea area weather forecasts on VHF. They also provide the added service of message 'traffic' for vessels at sea, and advisory warnings about hazards, amongst their service. In addition to VHF Medium Frequency transmission covers a wider maritime area. The voices of the station staff become a familiar and welcome part of one's voyaging. You know they are there, a source of help and support if needed. During the week I heard them involved in search and rescue work, using their local knowledge.

On the North-Western coastline they are partnered by Malin Head Radio, providing a similar service. The staff of both have that vital component not available anywhere else, of local knowledge of their sea areas. The central base is in Dublin where staff can concentrate on the East Coast.

The service works well but high-level Coast Guard officials have been attempting for several years to centralise operations in Dublin and close Valentia and Malin. Previous attempts to do this were defeated when Coast Guard Management proposals were shown not to be in the best public interest.

I feel a sense of anger and annoyance that another attempt is being made to target the stations, emanating from the Department of Transport where a reliable source has given me details of a study on which Minister Leo Varadkar has told officials to prepare proposals which will propose what are termed 'hard decisions' before the Cabinet in October. It appears to me that Coast Guard management want one station, in Dublin, to control all output and, I am told, have repeatedly sought the adjustment of consultant reports to achieve this end. It could be done technically, but would exclude the vital aspect of local sea area knowledge which, in both Valentia and Malin has several times saved lives. It is an approach to safety which is not acceptable, with which there should be no compromise. When then Minister Noel Dempsey attempted to close the helicopter base at Waterford I raised the question – what is the value of one life? I do so again now.

 

NEW STATION EQUIPMENT

New equipment assigned to upgrade Valentia after the last controversy in 2009 is only due to be installed this month or next, a wait of three years!

New equipment is also being installed at present in Malin. One of the proposals by Coast Guard officials is that if a second station is needed to back-up and support the Dublin central base in case of any fault developing there and threatening a blacking-out coastal communications it should be in Blanchardstown, which just happens to be the Minister's constituency!

A new engine room, new boiler room, new security system, new generator, new operations room, an upgraded transmitter room and a helipad are due for installation in Valentia, so where is the justification for now considering closure – and at a time when other general Coast Guard stations, not radio stations, are and have been built around the country at considerable expense? Where is the logic in this?

 

THIRD LARGEST COASTAL STATION

Valentia is the third largest coastal marine station in Ireland and the UK. It covers the most turbulent seas in Western Europe and the roughest inland terrain in the country, where it also helps with search and rescue and deals with two-thirds of all 'Mayday' emergency calls around the coast of Ireland.

The station employs 16 people.

At present the Departmental-Coast Guard budget is putting money into a move away from the Eircom fixed line network to an independent contracted microwave network, configured to enable the coast to be covered effectively for marine radio, search and rescue, assistance information by three stations. If this was to be changed to any other configuration, if a one-centre option is chosen in Dublin, there would be an extra cost of around €10m. I have been told. Adding the €5m. already spent on the government decision to improve Valentia and Malin, I wonder what the point of all of this is? Why is Coast Guard management opposed to the costal-based marine radio stations, at the same time as building other Coast Guard bases around the coast. There seems a lack of logic in this approach.

 

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A LIFE ?

In safety-at-sea terms the present maritime coastal radio station configuration of Valentia and Malin will always be required, as long-range Medium Frequency communications will stay there, used in addition to VHF to cover wider areas of reception. So even if a one-centre manned set up was followed, with an unmanned centre duplicate in case of Dublin breakdown, there would be two additional unmanned sites at Valentia and Malin to be maintained for long-range communications with attendant costs.

Dublin operates three 8-hour watches while Malin and Valentia have operated a 12-hour shift pattern with the effective saving of 2 staff positions without the requirement for overtime.

Coast Guard officials and the Minister for Transport should back away from proposals to do anything which would reduce the effectiveness of safety at sea.

They would be well advised to do so.

 

THE FUTURE OF BORD IASCAIGH MHARA

The Chief Executive of the national fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, has told me that: "If you look at where the economy is at now, the need for a standalone agency dealing with seafood development makes sense more than at any time in our economic development. The case is stronger today than it has been for many a long time."

Jason Whooley was speaking to me about suggestions that BIM should be abolished and its functions absorbed elsewhere:

"I hope and would expect the review of BIM will come to the conclusion that it is vital to the seafood sector, to the fishing industry, to maintain BIM, but equally it is up to us as an organisation to constantly review ourselves and our services and deliver for the industry. People may see us as a State agency, cushioned from the wider economy and that an organisation needs a jolt. Perhaps that keeps us on our toes, because we are looking at ourselves constantly to improve our services, so I do think BIM has a strong future."

Closing BIM would, in my view, indicate disregard for the role of the marine sphere in government. The opinions of economic consultants are too easily accepted without challenging the damage they could do to the nation's future.

 

NATIONAL MARINE PLAN

in marineplan

"For too long we have turned our backs on the sea. It's time now to look to our ocean as a national asset, to harness the opportunities for economic recovery. We need to treasure what we have and protect it for future generations. We also need to build on the potential of our ocean wealth and what it can give back to its people. 'Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth,' the title of this plan, puts a structure in place to make that happen".

That was the opinion expressed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney when he launched the national maritime development plan with the Taoiseach in Galway. It proposes that the value of Ireland's ocean wealth could be doubled to 2.4% of GDP and the turnover from our ocean economy be increased to more than €6.4bn by 2020.

It is a long-term outlook, but one to focus on, for seafood, fishing, marine tourism, shipping, oil and gas, renewable ocean energy and new applications for health, medicine and technology. It sets out goals to achieve a thriving maritime economy, healthy ecosystems and to increase the nation's engagement with the sea, focussing on the State creating the right conditions to promote investment and enable growth.

 

POOR OLYMPIC COVERAGE

I have had quite a few calls and Emails complaining about television coverage of sailing at the Olympics. It has been poor. TV coverage for the Games is provided by t Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS), an agency of the International Olympic Committee and prevents other broadcasters from covering the events. In sailing coverage has not been satisfactory and at times is done on a single camera which is not acceptable at this level of the sport. The IOC has treated sailing badly in television coverage. For a link to all the latest Irish Olympic sailing news click here.

• Email comments, opinions, information to: [email protected]

Follow more marine news and comment on Twitter: @TomMacSweeney

• And on Facebook – THIS ISLAND NATION

Published in Island Nation

#FISHING - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney briefed the Irish Skipper Expo in Galway last weekend on a new initiative promoting the use of selective conservation fishing nets, which allow young fish to escape.

Under the initiative in the Celtic Sea, additional quotas of up to 25% will be made available by the minister to skippers of Irish fishing boats which use an escape panel in their nets, allowing young whiting and haddock to escape.

The escape panel, developed by the Irish industry, has been endorsed at EU level and is expected to be a mandatory requirement later in the year.

Minister Coveney said on Saturday: “The use of this panel will significantly reduce discards of juvenile whiting and haddock in the Celtic Sea, allowing juvenile fish to grow and mature and contribute to increased stock size and returns for fishermen in future years.

"I believe that this offers an example of a practical approach to dealing effectively with the discards problem and retention of a flexible quota allocation system that we should take forward in the context of the Common Fisheries Policy Review."

In other news, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) announced €1.5 million in grant aid for the Irish fishing industry at the expo.

A spokesperson for BIM confirmed to the Galway Independent that the funding will be available to industry through a variety of schemes including fleet safety, seafood environmental management, lobster V-notching and coastal action groups.

Over 100 companies displayed their products and services to fishermen at the Irish Skipper Expo International 2012, held at the Galway Bay Hotel on 24-25 February.

Published in Fishing
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