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A West Cork fishing skipper has had fines totalling 4,000 euro imposed after a court hearing relating to breaches of sea fisheries law.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) says that the case was heard at Bandon District Court, Co Cork, on May 19th, 2024.

Johnny Walsh, from Kinsale, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to four charges relating to breaches of sea-fisheries law, namely the non-compliant use of below minimum mesh size while fishing for Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus), failure to retain a stowage plan and a certified capacity plan, and failure to having an operating Automatic Identification System (AIS) on board.

The SFPA says the offences were detected during an at-sea inspection onboard the vessel “Naomh Peadar II”, in the Celtic Sea, by officers on board the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) patrol vessel “Ocean Guardian”.

The vessel was detained in an operation involving sea-fisheries protection officers of the SFPA and the Garda Síochána on May 17th and 18th.

An SFPA spokesperson commended “the thorough and efficient inspection by the officers involved in this investigation and the cooperation between the EFCA patrol officials, sea-fisheries protection officers and An Garda Síochána”.

“Masters and owners of fishing vessels must ensure consistent compliance with mesh size requirements for gear used during each trip, particularly having regard to the potential damaging impact of not doing so,” the SFPA spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that “masters and vessel owners must ensure Automatic Identification Systems are operating at all times, and take immediate remedial steps, and have procedures in place, where a power outage occurs”.

Published in SFPA

Fishing and seafood organisations are hosting a “hustings” for budding MEPS in the current European Parliament election campaign.

The “#fight4fishing campaign” has invited Midlands North-West European Parliament election candidates to a public meeting in Killybegs next Wednesday, May 22nd.

Candidates confirmed to attend include sitting MEPs Chris MacManus (SF) and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Ind).

Others confirmed include Senator Lisa Chambers, (FF) Dr Brian O’Boyle (PBP); James Reynolds (TNP), and independents Peter Casey, Saoirse McHugh and John Waters

“We want to hear their views on the industry,” says IFPO chief executive Aodh O Donnell. “We want to know what they aim to do to address the crisis we are facing.”

The IFPO says it has joined forces with the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO) and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) to highlight fishing issues in the election campaign.

“Ireland has 12% of EU fishing waters but just 5.6% of EU fishing quotas and this huge disparity has to be addressed,” O’Donnell points out.

“For too long, the Irish government and the EU have ignored this injustice, and we need elected representatives who will demand change,”he says.

KFO chief executive Dominic Rihan says the cumulative value of Irish fishing quotas will have dropped by around €140m by 2025 due to Brexit.

“The biggest share – 40% - of what the EU transferred to the UK after Brexit was taken from Irish quotas. There was no assessment of the far-reaching impacts this would have on an industry which was already struggling,”Rihan says.

IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne says the situation becomes even bleaker when you see what the EU is handing out to non-members.

“Basically, the EU is allowing non-EU countries to catch more than 3 times as much fish as us this year alone… in our very own waters. Other EU and non-EU countries see growth in fishing, while our catches are shrinking.”

The three fishing organisations are also appealing to the public to put EU election candidates under the spotlight on fishing issues.

“Ask questions on the doorstep, post about fishing on social media, share our posts and demand change,” O’Donnell says.

“Our industry crisis affects not just the fishing fleet. It impacts coastal communities, support industries, restaurants, supermarkets and ordinary consumers who want to buy fresh Irish fish.”

Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA says the seafood industry is “in decline”.

“The bottom line is that our rich marine resources are being unfairly exploited by others with the EU’s consent. We need effective representation at national and EU level to defend our resources, our fishing and seafood industries and our coastal communities,’’ he says.

Dominic Rihan of the KFO says the #fight4fishing campaign aims to educate EU election candidates about the grave state of the fishing and seafood industry.

“Our Killybegs event will provide a forum for exchanging views and allow our community to raise their concerns,” he says.

Dominic Rihan of the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO)Dominic Rihan of the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO)

The Killybegs meeting with election candidates takes place at 7pm in the Tara Hotel on May 22nd, and will be chaired by Highland Radio presenter, Greg Hughes.

Candidates will be invited to speak and take questions from the floor and the meeting is open to the public to attend on a first come first served basis.

The #fight4fishing or #cosaintiascaireachta campaign is also launching an online guidance sheet to show members of the public how they can help.

The sheet provides fishing statistics, graphics to use on social media, and sample questions to ask candidates on the doorstep.

Information on it is here

Published in Fishing

Ireland must fight for its fair share of EU fisheries quotas as what is unfolding is a travesty for the industry. This is according to John Mullins, a former Chairman of the Port of Cork, who is running for the European elections for Ireland South.

Mr Mullins visited Castletownbere in West Cork recently and paid a visit to the harbour.

“Ireland South is a strategic economic hub for the seafood industry and we need to be a leading voice in Europe when it comes to supporting the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The sector is in decline and it is a travesty that this is the case considering that we are an island nation surrounded by a fantastic seafood resource.” Mullins said.

"We must fight for our fair share of EU Fisheries Quotas as we have a travesty on our hands right now"

“I fully support the recently announced comprehensive review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Ireland’s quotas were set when information was not as accurate as it is today. Irish fisheries were disadvantaged by bad information in the past and this wrong must be righted.” he said. 

“And so as part of the CFP review, I am pleased that a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of Brexit on the functioning of Ireland’s fisheries will take place. Additionally, protecting Irish fisheries from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing from entering our market is of particular concern to me. The people I spoke to are of the view that inspectors in other EU countries are not as steadfast as Irish authorities, and as such, there is not a level playing field", Mullens added.

“There are serious issues around stability of income and succession in the Irish fisheries sector. Boats are tied up too often and impacting the very viability of an industry where brave crew encounter all challenges to make a living. Norwegian boats are entitled to 20% of native Irish Blue Whiting stock while Irish fishermen are entitled to only 3.5%. Irish fishermen should also receive enhanced quota for Blue Fin Tuna which is now arriving off our shores. I vow to be a voice for the fishermen of Ireland South and all of Ireland if elected to Brussels.”

John Mullins is a first-time candidate for the European Elections for Fine Gael and is entering politics from a business and civic background. He is also an accomplished entrepreneur.

He founded renewable energy company, Amarenco in 2013 and was nominated as an EY Entrepreneur of the year in 2019. He also served as Chairman of the Port of Cork and was Chief Executive of Bord Gáis Eireann from December 2007 until the end of 2012. Mullins was awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French Government for sustainable investment in France. 

Published in Fishing
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Fishing opportunities have been reduced by major storms, according to one of the leading Irish fish producer organisations.

“Eleven major storms since January first,” says Aodh O Donnell, Chief Executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation. This has left many of them unable to fish their monthly quotas in full and they lose these quotas as a result.”

The offshore prawn fishery is one of the worst hit as the weather has caused havoc for fishermen this spring, says the IFPO. “Climate change is a further hammer blow to a struggling industry poorly understood by the general public and the political classes.”

“The Government and the EU must address the impact climate changes have had on fishing. They have done so for agriculture. Why isn’t fishing helped?”

Aodh O Donnell says the catching sector “needs action to address these external factors such as weather, fuel prices and geopolitical market volatility. It’s time to draw up and implement short, medium and long-term measures to address the crisis. This sector plays a vital role in maintaining EU food security in an uncertain political environment. The Government must act to address our very real concerns in a meaningful way.”

Published in Fishing
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A guide to assist fishing skippers to meet landing obligation requirements has been published by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).

A waterproof copy of the guide has been posted to all vessel owners with an electronic logbook onboard. One guide will be delivered for each 12 metre and over vessel.

The guide was compiled with input from the SFPA consultative committee.

Discarding is a term specifically used for catches of species which are not kept but returned to the sea.

The “landing obligation” is the term used by the EU to put an end to the wasteful practice.

Under the landing obligation requirements, all catch subject to Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits must be retained, recorded, and landed, unless an exemption applies.

The SFPA’s guide offers detailed instructions on how discards can be recorded using ieCatch V3, the latest version of the Irish electronic logbook software.

Illustrated with step-by-step procedures, screenshots, and examples, it guides users through the process of logging a discard.

Welcoming the publication of the guide, SFPA executive chair Paschal Hayes said he was “encouraged that representatives from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee have partnered with the SFPA in the production and promotion of our Landing Obligation Exemptions Guide”.

“It is imperative for fishing vessel masters and owners to familiarise themselves with this guide to ensure accurate recording of discards and compliance with conditions for discarding under de minimis and high survivability,”Hayes said.

“Accurate reporting of discards plays a role in the sustainable management of our marine resources. The SFPA continues to ensure the implementation of the Landing Obligation through inspection, control activities and consultation with fishers, other control agencies and various stakeholders,”he said.

Sea-Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee chair Catherine McManus said the guide is “a practical example of the Consultative Committee, working with the SFPA”.

“ Promoting compliance with the Landing Obligation is important to ensure fishers are fully informed of their obligations and that the future sustainability of the sector is safeguarded. I want to thank my colleagues in the Consultative Committee who worked with the SFPA to progress this initiative,” McManus said.

The guide is accessible here

Published in SFPA
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A group of Kerry secondary school students are participating in a presentation by inshore fishermen on the crisis in the sector, which will be delivered to Government TDs and senators on Wednesday (Feb 28).

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) has been invited to outline the situation of its members to TDs and senators via the audio-visual room.

Shellfish markets have collapsed, margins have tightened, there are new restrictions on catching pollack, and many boats have had no earnings for the past two months.

Transition year students from Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare have been working on a campaign for the ECO Unesco Young Environmentalist Awards (YEA), and have selected the issue of the impact of inshore trawling by boats over 18 metres in length.

They believe the fishing for sprat by larger vessels to provide fishmeal for farmed salmon is having a negative impact on stocks targeted by smaller inshore vessels.

The all-Ireland environmental awards programme recognises and rewards young people who raise environmental awareness and improve the environment.

Environmental scientist Rachel Hawker, who has been working with the TY students, said they held a workshop in Kenmare earlier in the month which some members of NIFA attended.

Following this, NIFA invited the students to present on the situation in Kenmare at the meeting in the Dail on Wednesday.

Hawker explains that the students found that the trawling by large boats in the Kenmare Bay area is “directly relevant their chosen themes of the Eco UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award, including biodiversity and marine life and the impact of removing sprat”.

The students also believe it has a negative impact on food supplies, citing the statistic that it takes five kilo of sprat to produce one kilo of farmed salmon.

Earlier this month, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue initiated a public consultation on fishing with trawls inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines.

As Afloat has reported, NIFA has already highlighted its situation before an Oireachtas committee.

The Government’s failure to implement a national inshore fishing strategy drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has been disastrous for the sector, the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine was told in January.

Published in Fishing
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The Dingle Peninsula's fishing community takes centre stage in a new maritime television series set to air on TG4.

The show, which begins on Tuesday, March 5th at 7.30 pm, follows the lives of the locals as they carry out their work over the fishing season from March to October.

The series explores the strong fishing culture of the area, which has been passed down from generation to generation. Despite the challenges posed by the weather and government regulations, many continue to make their livelihoods from the sea. Viewers will get a chance to meet the fishing community of Corca Dhuibhne, their families, and their community.

In the first programme, the audience meets Éamonn Ó Corcara from Bréanainn, who is seen fishing for oysters during the last day of the season. Eddie Moore and his son Cathal from Dingle are also featured, as they work to refurbish their boat and prepare for their return home from Limerick. In addition, Chef Aoife Ní Chiobháin from Na Gorta Dubha discusses her search for fresh local fish, while long-established company Iasc Uí Chatháin has a new project in the works.

Aoife Niė Chiobhaėin from Na Gorta Dubha Aoife Niė Chiobhaėin from Na Gorta Dubha 

The second show follows the crew of the Kate Marie as they fish for crabs and lobsters. The Iasc Uí Catháin team can be seen putting the finishing touches on a new tourist attraction, located on the site of the old fish processing factory, which was once a major employer in the area. Caitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta Dubhai is waiting for the crew of the Misty Dawn to return home, while Eoin Firtéar from Com Dhíneol is doing his best to complete work on his new boat, the Órla Méabh.

Caitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta DubhaiCaitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta Dubhai

Viewers are introduced to Kevin Granville from Dingle in episode three, where he skippers the Virtuous, which is full of prawns. The show also features Áine Uí Laoithe from Dún Chaoin, an expert on the rich song tradition associated with the seas around West Kerry. The Dingle regatta is blessed with a weekend of sunshine, and the crew of the Kate-Marie bring crabs into Ballydavid pier in the pouring rain.

Áine Uí Laoithe from Dún ChaoinÁine Uí Laoithe from Dún Chaoin

The final episode introduces viewers to the fisherman Maidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile Íochtarach, who is using his experience at sea for a new venture. Alec Ó Cíobháin from An Muiríoch shares his side of the story during the illegal salmon fishing era around Bally David, and the net making tradition is going strong with Edward Mac Gearailt from Baile Dháith.

Maidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile ÍochtarachMaidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile Íochtarach

As the peninsula's community prepares for the Dingle Food Festival, viewers will have to wait and see what becomes of Eoin Firtéar from Com Dhíneol, as he hopes to launch his new boat. Join us and experience the ups and downs of life at sea with the working crew of the sea.

Published in Maritime TV

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D has launched Ireland's National Seafood Development Programme under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2012-2027 (EMFAF).

The programme, which had multiple stakeholder consultations and environmental assessments, secured funding of €258.4 million for the new programme, an increase in funding over the previous EMFF Programme 2014-2020.

The new programme builds on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) Schemes and provides for additional, longer-term supports to enable the seafood sector to engage in transformational change and for coastal communities to thrive.

The Programme envisages support for capital investment both on board and ashore, relating to landing obligations, innovation in fishing gear and methods, technical advice to the fleet, acquisition of the first vessel by young fishers, support to the inshore fleet, training and marketing.

The Minister explored the details of the Programme and met with the EMFAF Monitoring Committee members to discuss the strategic objectives of the EMFAF fund.

The launch took place at the annual Skipper Expo in Limerick in the presence of the EMFAF Monitoring Committee.

Published in Fishing
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An Oireachtas committee is to hear the case of the Arklow fisherman who discovered serious stability issues with a Dutch-built trawler and was left with debts of 1 million euro.

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsmen meets today (Thurs 22) to discuss the experience of CJ Gaffney, owner of the former vessel Mary Kate.

The issue is listed as Public Petition Number P00012/23 on “Justice and Safety”, and will hear from Gaffney as petitioner.

It will also hear from Mary Bertelsen, campaigner and concerned citizen on people’s rights; Jakob Pinkster, stability and ship building expert; and Justin Delaney, stability expert.

Committee cathaoirleach and Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne said the petition relates to Gaffney’s “long campaign for compensation following his purchase in 2007 of a Dutch-built, German-registered trawler, which was then registered in Ireland and later found to be unstable and unsafe”,

“The committee welcomes Mr Gaffney and his supporting witnesses and looks forward to discussing his case, which has clearly had a considerable impact on him, his family and his business,”Browne said.

As Afloat has previously reported, Gaffney tried to take legal action in both the Netherlands and Germany after he discovered the stability issues, took out a loan to cover fixing the vessel and then had to surrender it to the bank in 2012.

He sought EU funds in compensation, but the EU said it was up to the national state. The vessel was broken up in New Ross, Co Wexford last year under the Government’s decommissioning scheme.

Gaffney maintains that questions need to be asked at both national level and EU level as to how the beam trawler was issued with a stamped stability book from a renowned international classification society.

He says questions should be asked as to how a valid ship sailing permit was issued when it had 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel present since new build, and how the case was handled after various authorities had been notified of this.

The Oireachtas committee will also discuss a number of other petitions from members of the public.

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsmen is a standing committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas and has 11 members, seven from the Dáil and four from the Seanad.

It will meet on Thursday February 22nd at 1.30pm in Committee Room 1 of Leinster House.

The meeting in the Committee Room 1 can be viewed live on Oireachtas TV.

Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

Published in Fishing
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Inshore fishermen are due to state their case about the crisis experienced by their members to TDs and senators later this month (Feb).

Members of the Dáil and Seanad have been invited to hear the delegation from the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) speaking to the chamber via the audio-visual room on February 28th.

NIFA spokesman Michael Desmond said that members have already outlined the serious difficulties in the sector in a presentation to an Oireachtas joint committee last month.

The Government’s failure to implement a national inshore fishing strategy drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has been disastrous for the sector, the 14 members of Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, food and Marine were told.

NIFA outlined how shellfish markets have collapsed, margins have tightened, there are new restrictions on catching pollack, and many boats have had no earnings for the past two months.

The NIFA delegation was led by Michael Desmond, accompanied by board members John Menarry and Eamon Dixon.

Their presentation at a full parliamentary hearing comes just several weeks after a new public consultation on a proposed six-mile ban by Irish marine minister Charlie McConalogue was opened.

It is the second such public consultation on the issue- a previous transition to a ban on trawling inside six nautical miles for vessels over 18 metres was overturned by a legal challenge.

NIFA represents over 200 Irish inshore vessels, with 150 members extending from Donegal to Cork and Kerry.

The association was recognised as an EU seafood producer organisation in January 2023.

Published in Fishing
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