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An environmental group has called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to separate the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Agency from control by the Department of Agriculture and the Marine.

As The Times Ireland edition reports today, the Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) believe EU penalties imposed on the Irish fishing sector are a consequence of the SFPA's lack of independence.

The entire Irish fishing sector is now having to bear the burden of penalties arising from an EU audit of specific breaches which were not sufficiently addressed by Irish authorities, FIE says.

The 2018 EU audit had identified “severe and significant weaknesses in the Irish control system” for the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, detailing irregularities, including the manipulation of weighing systems in some instances.

Ireland is already negotiating terms of a payback quotas, as the EU auditors found that Ireland had overfished its quota of mackerel by 28,600 tonnes; horse mackerel quota by 8,100 tonnes and blue whiting by 5,600 tonnes between 2012 and 2016.

The EU’s recent decision to withdraw Ireland’s control plan for weighing catches has caused consternation within the industry, as all seafood catches by both large and small vessels now have to be weighed at the point of landing.

Ireland had previously secured a derogation to allow weighing in factories, due to the loss of quality involved in weighing at the pier.

The FIE has published the full EU audit report on its website, and has also written to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations and to the Criminal Assets Bureau, asking both agencies if they are aware of the audit team’s recommendations in relation to tackling fraud.

SFPA chair Dr Susan Steele,who is due to take up a post as head of the EU’s fisheries control agency in Vigo, Spain in September, said the EU decision on weighing catches at the point of landing is a “clear marker of tougher fisheries controls across the EU”.

However, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has said it is “simply flabbergasted” that what it described as “this bewildering move which has such a direct and draconian impact on all aspects of Irish fisheries” could “be considered without any advance notice”.

In its letter to the Taoiseach, the FIE says that that the root cause of the problem is an undermining of the independence of the SFPA by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Noting the department's “ development priorities”, FIE Director Tony Lowes said the “necessary and appropriate checks and balances incumbent on the department in the exercise of its functions are impossible”.

“The compounding procedures brought against Ireland by the EU are because the SFPA, like the Marine Institute, is administered by the part of the Department of Agriculture also responsible for the promotion of the seafood industry,” he said.

He has urged the Taoiseach to transfer administration and financing of the SFPA to “one of the many non-marine divisions”.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said it was "not accurate" to suggest it undermined the SFPA's independence.

It said the SFPA's independence is laid down in legislation that is "fully respected", and it said it had also increased the SFPA's budget with further recruitment planned for this year.

Read The Times here

Published in Fishing

Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s strategic location as an EU port in the middle of the Irish Sea may have been overlooked by commercial fishing fleets for years but since Brexit, it appears Belgian fishermen have been quick to see the advantage of the Dublin Bay port.

Not only did two Belgian trawlers take shelter from today’s forecasted south-easterly gale but both 38-metre boats also offloaded catch at the harbour’s number two-berth on the Carlisle Pier.

It brings to four the number of big Belgian vessels using the port this month, more than doubling the sporadic arrival of such visits last year.

Is it a possible positive Brexit spin-off for the Victorian harbour that is itself the subject of its regeneration plans?

The Jasmine alongside at Dun LaoghaireThe Jasmine alongside at Dun Laoghaire

The trawlers, that catch Whitefish, on Cardigan Bay off the Welsh coast used to land in Liverpool but current Brexit arrangements are causing difficulties leading to the requirement for deepwater alternatives.

The six-metre draft of the trawlers is just too deep for other east coast ports (other than Dublin) so Dun Laoghaire Harbour is proving a convenient and well-serviced location.

The Carlisle Pier provides easy access for trucks to take the catch to market. And it's not the only port the Belgians are accessing, they are also landing fish in Cork, according to local sources.

The main fishing grounds of the Belgians are the southern and central North Sea, accounting for 44 per cent of total catches. Other important fishing grounds are the English Channel (26 per cent), the Celtic Sea (18 per cent) and the Irish Sea (8 per cent).

Published in Fishing

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, announced this morning details of a €38.3m Capital Investment Package for the ongoing development of Ireland’s publicly owned harbour network including 79 Local Authority Harbours across 12 coastal Local Authorities.

See funding allocations below

In announcing the 2021 programme, the Minister said, “I am delighted to announce this €38.3 million capital investment package in our six Fishery Harbour Centres and 79 Local Authority owned piers and harbours around our coast which underlines the importance this Government places on the contribution of the wider Seafood sector to Ireland’s economy and to rural coastal communities in particular.”

Essential repairs to a fisherman's pontoon has been granted €72,750 and  slipway improvement works were awarded €60,000 at Kinsale Harbour in West CorkEssential repairs to a fisherman's pontoon have been granted €72,750 and  slipway improvement works were awarded €60,000 at Kinsale Harbour in West Cork

The Local Authority programme which forms part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marines’ 2021 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, whereby the Department co-funds up to 75% of the total cost of approved projects with the Local Authority providing the balance (see table 1 below).

In regard to the Local Authority scheme, the Minister stated, “It was important to me to place added importance on the Local Authority scheme this year and I am pleased to be to in a position to announce an enhanced €4.2 million programme in 2021 to assist Coastal Local Authorities in the repair and development of fishery and aquaculture linked marine infrastructures under their ownership. This year I have redirected savings due to Covid limitations on other projects to increase the monies available to the Local Authorities resulting in a 35% increase in 2020 allocations. Together with funding from Local Authorities, the total amount to be invested in local piers and harbours in 2021 under this scheme comes to €5.6 million.”

 €30,000 has been granted for the installation of a pontoon at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire Harbour €30,000 has been granted for the installation of a pontoon at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Minister McConologue went on to say, “The €4.2 million package I am making available this year provides funding for a diverse suite of 79 projects geographically spread across 12 Local Authorities which will improve the amenities provided to the wider Marine community in these coastal areas. It will provide a much needed economic boost to rural coastal communities particularly in these trying times and also make them more attractive to tourists in the longer term. During the pandemic, we have become more aware than ever of the importance of our outdoor spaces and local amenities. The continued upgrading and refurbishment of our local piers and harbours will support local fishers, tourism and will have numerous knock-on benefits for local economies. This again demonstrates our Government’s commitment to rural Ireland.”

New development works are budgeted for at the Fishery Harbour at Howth in County Dublin   New development works are budgeted for at the Fishery Harbour at Howth in County Dublin

Overall, the annual Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme provides funding for safety, maintenance and new development works at the six Fishery Harbour Centres at Howth, Dunmore East, Castletownbere, Dingle, Ros An Mhíl and Killybegs (see Table 2 below).

The primary function of the Fishery Harbour Centres is to underpin the ongoing development of the fisheries and seafood processing sectors, while also facilitating other diverse marine-related activities.

The Minister said, “Critically, this year’s funding for the Fishery Harbour Centres provides for the completion of three strategically important projects in Castletownbere, Killybegs and Howth, delivering an additional 460 metres of berthing space in the respective harbours. These projects have experienced delays as a result of the necessary Covid restrictions. This is in accordance with Action 65 of my Department’s 2021 Action Plan. Additionally, a number of new projects are commencing across the six Fishery Harbour Centres continuing the improvements being made in facilities available to fishermen and other harbour users."

The Minister concluded by saying “All told, €140 million has been invested in the Fishery Harbour Centres between 2010 and 2020, with a further €31 million invested in Local Authority owned marine infrastructure over the same period. This years €38.3 million investment in 2021 will create short term employment in some of the most rural coastal communities during the works, as well as reinforcing the strategies for diversification and to develop an environment for long term, sustainable economic opportunities around our coast.”

Table 1: The 79 approved capital projects across 12 Coastal Local Authorities approved for funding in 2021

County Council

 

Location

 

Works

 

Total Project Cost

 

Grant Aid Approved by DAFM

 

Clare County Council

 

Bournapeaka Pier (Ballyaughan)

 

Pier Repairs

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Seafield Pier, Quilty

 

The installation of a crane to enable the fishermen to safely load and offload their boats.

 

35,000

 

26,250

 
 

Doolin Pier

 

Pier upgrades including installation of additional mooring bollards.

 

73,718

 

55,289

 
 

Carrowmore Slipway, Doonbeg

 

Reconstruction of the slipway wall.

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Seafield Pier, Quilty

 

Repairs to pier

 

5,000

 

3,750

 
 

Doonmore Pier, Doonbeg

 

Provision of floating ramped access platform, to provide easy access between the pier & the floating pontoon platform.

 

35,000

 

26,250

 
 

Carrigaholt (old) Pier

 

Repairs and upgrade to pier

 

32,000

 

24,000

 
 

Carrigaholt (old) Pier

 

Repairs to quay wall

 

10,000

 

7,500

 
 

Seafield Pier, Quilty

 

Repairs to quay wall and slipway

 

25,000

 

18,750

 
 

                                                         Total Clare County Council

 

445,718

 

334,289

 

Cork County Council

 

Kinsale Harbour -  Fisherman's Pontoon

Phase 1

 

Essential Pontoon Repairs

 

97,000

 

72,750

 
 

Keelbeg

 

Safety Improvement Works

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Ballycotton Pier                        

 

Pier Improvement Works:                      

 

60,000

 

45,000

 
 

Ballycrovane Pier

 

Pier improvement works and safety signage

 

55,000

 

41,250

 
 

Kinsale Harbour - Slips  Phase 1

 

Slip Improvement works to various slips and safety signage                                            

 

80,000

 

60,000

 
 

Traavarra

 

Pier Remedial /Safety Improvement Works and safety signage                

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Zetland Pier

 

Safety Improvement Works and safety signage.

 

124,000

 

93,000

 
 

Total Cork County Council

 

646,000

 

484,500

 

Donegal County Council

 

Leenan Slipway

 

Construction of slipway.

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Portnoo Crane

 

Installation of a pier crane and associated works.

 

80,000

 

60,000

 
 

Greencastle

 

Electrical upgrade and installation of CCTV

 

80,000

 

60,000

 
 

Ballyshannon

 

Slipway Repair

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Downings

 

Repair works

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Bunaninver

 

Pier head repairs and provision of signage and railings.

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Binwee (Magheragallon)

 

Pier upgrade works.

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Bundoran Pier

 

Pier repairs and upgrade

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Portnablagh Pier

 

Pier and slipway upgrade, signage railings etc.

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Mevagh

 

Installation of berthing pontoon and access gangway

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Lahardan

 

Breakwater repairs

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Ballywhoriskey

 

New pontoon, anchors and access gangway.

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Total Donegal County Council

 

850,000

 

637,500

 

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

 

Coliemore Harbour

 

Remedial repairs.

 

100,000

 

75,000

 
 

Traders Wharf, Dun Laoghaire Harbour

 

Water and electrical upgrades

 

45,000

 

33,750

 
 

West Pier, Dun Laoghaire Harbour

 

Installation of  pontoon.

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Total Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

 

185,000

 

138,750

 

Fingal County Council

 

Loughshinny Harbour

 

Reconditioning and re-strengthening of pavement and sea wall and ancillaries

 

80,000

 

60,000

 
 

Skerries

 

Replacement of existing AToN serving Skerries Harbour, Replacement of existing fenders serving the outer pier at Skerries Harbour

 

70,000

 

52,500

 
 

Balbriggan Harbour

 

Replacement and installation of 3 x ladders serving Balbriggan Harbour

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Total Fingal County Council

 

190,000

 

142,500

 

Galway County Council

 

Inisboffin Harbour

 

Upgrade works, safety works, replace moorings etc.

 

138,984

 

104,238

 
 

Cleggan

 

Repair and upgrading works to pier and crane

 

90,800

 

68,100

 
 

Safety Bundle 1. Aughrusmor, Ard Mór Pier, Kilkieran, Aibhnin, Maumeen, Caladh Feenish, Trawbaun

 

Safety works

 

75,000

 

56,250

 
 

Derryinver

 

Repair works and safety signage

 

50,000

 

37,500

 
 

An tOilean Mór

 

Repair and safety works and safety signage

 

22,000

 

16,500

 
 

Safety Bunde 2. Rinville, Blackweir, Killeenaran, Tarrea, Kinvarra, Parkmore, Newtown Lynch Pier

 

Repair works and safety signage

 

50,000

 

37,500

 
 

Garafin - Rosmuc

 

Repair and safety works and safety signage

 

34,000

 

25,500

 
 

Total Galway County Council

 

460,784

 

345,588

 

Kerry County Council

 

Dún Chaoin Pier

 

Repair works and development of new slipway

 

100,000

 

75,000

 
 

Knightstown Marina

 

Replace breakwater pontoon and electrical bollards at Knightstown Marina

 

145,000

 

108,750

 
 

Dooneen Pier (Feohanagh)

 

Repair works

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Total Kerry County Council 

 

285,000

 

213,750

 

Mayo County Council

 

Porturlin Harbour

 

Improvement works on the Pier/sea wall

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Purteen Harbour Achill

 

Remediation works on slipway and safety improvement works.

 

45,000

 

33,750

 
 

Roigh

 

Remedial works on pier.

 

70,000

 

52,500

 
 

Rinroe Pier, Kilgalligan

 

Safety improvement works, replacement of ladders and railings

 

60,000

 

45,000

 
 

Killerduff Pier

 

Remove rocks and debris from harbour area. Repairs to slipway and breakwater wall.

 

60,000

 

45,000

 
 

Belderrig Pier

 

Safety improvement works, including replacement of the existing winch system, ladders and railings.

 

150,000

 

112,500

 
 

Kilcummin Harbour

 

Repairs to old breakwater wall, and safety works to slipway and pier.

 

100,000

 

75,000

 
 

Mulranny

 

Remedial works to pier / sea wall.

 

150,000

 

112,500

 
 

Total Mayo County Council

 

835,000

 

626,250

 

Sligo County  Council

 

Aughris Pier

 

Repairs to pier.

 

70,000

 

52,500

 
 

Easkey Pier

 

Pier repairs

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Total Sligo County Council

 

270,000

 

202,500

 

Waterford County Council

 

Helvick Pier

 

Pier upgrades

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Tramore North Pier

 

Pier upgrade and remediation works

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Cheekpoint Pier

 

Pier repair, upgrade and remediation works..

 

200,000

 

150,000

 
 

Ballinacourty Pier

 

Pier repairs and small scale dredging.

 

70,000

 

52,500

 
 

Bunmahon Slipway - West Side

 

installation of handrails to existing slipway for health and safety improvements.

 

10,000

 

7,500

 
 

Total Waterford County Council

 

680,000

 

510,000

 

Wexford County Council

 

Kilmore Quay 1

 

Upgrade of power points

 

80,000

 

60,000

 
 

Kilmore Quay 2

 

Repair to Quay walls

 

25,000

 

18,750

 
 

Duncannon 1

 

New Waste Oil Tank

 

20,000

 

15,000

 
 

Kilmore Quay 3

 

Mooring Bollards

 

25,000

 

18,750

 
 

Fethard harbour

 

Public lighting of harbour

 

40,000

 

30,000

 
 

Ballyhack

 

Mooring rings, repointing

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Wexford Harbour 1

 

Remedial works to Ferrybank slipway

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Kilmore Quay 4

 

Access ladder on west pier

 

18,000

 

13,500

 
 

Wexford Harbour 2

 

Power supply on quay

 

60,000

 

45,000

 
 

New Ross Marina

 

Repair works to marina

 

25,000

 

18,750

 
 

Kilmore Quay Marina 1

 

Repair works to marina

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Cahore 1

 

Provide barrier system on slipway

 

20,000

 

15,000

 
 

Killurin

 

Repair of quay walls

 

12,000

 

9,000

 
 

Kilmore Quay Marina 2

 

Painting of marina piles

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Total Wexford County Council

 

445,000

 

333,750

 

Wicklow County Council

 

Inner Dock, South Quay Arklow  and Main Berth on South Quay, Arklow

 

Replacement of fenders with new fendering system.

 

60,000

 

45,000

 
 

South Quay, Wicklow

 

Pier upgrade, safety works and utility upgrade.

 

70,000

 

52,500

 
 

North and South Quay, Arklow

 

Ladder replacement programme throughout Arklow Harbour - Quays and Piers

 

45,000

 

33,750

 
 

South Quay, Arklow Harbour

 

Upgrading works to the slipway at the Inner Dock, South Quay.

 

35,000

 

26,250

 
 

Greystones Harbour

 

Safety works including installation of demarcation buoys and the provision of a swim raft/platform within the public harbour.

 

32,000

 

24,000

 
 

Wicklow Harbour

 

Repairs and surfacing of sections of the slipway.

 

30,000

 

22,500

 
 

Total Wicklow County Council

 

272,000

 

204,000

 

Total Projects Cost

 

5,564,502

 

 

 

Total Grant Aid Approved

     

4,173,377

 

Table 2: The overall Fishery Harbour & Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme 2021

Location

 

Project Description

 

Cost €m

   

Howth:-

 

Middle Pier Berthing Face

Harbour Workshop

Harbour Master & Engineering Office

Harbour Dredging

Other Contractual Commitments

CCTV Upgrade

Fishermans’ toilet & shower facility

No 11 West Pier Building Upgrade

Boat store upgrade

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access

 

6.00

0.90

0.05

0.20

0.30

0.075

0.15

0.25

0.05

0.30

0.02

   
   

Total

 

8.295

   

Dunmore East:-

 

South Pier/Wharf upgrade work

Site 18 – Replace building

X-Block protection of East Pier breakwater

Industrial Effluent Pipeline

Water Metering

Other Contractual Commitments

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access

 

0.30

0.25

0.60

0.50

0.40

0.05

0.30

0.02

   
   

Total

 

2.42

   

Castletownbere:-

 

Dinish Island pier extension

Castletownbere Slipway

Mainland Quay Wall repairs

Syncrolift Dredging upgrade works

Water Metering

Re-route Dinish Sewer network

Other Contractual Commitments

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access

 

6.8

2.00

0.35

0.70

0.50

0.40

0.65

0.35

0.02

   
   

Total

 

11.77

   

Dingle:-

 

Upgrade Marine Facilities Building

Other Contractual Commitments

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access

 

0.50

0.30

0.30

0.02

   

 

 

Total

 

1.12

   

 

Ros an Mhíl:-

 

Deep Water Quay

Upgrade of Harbour Master offices

Net storage Area

CCTV upgrade

Other Contractual commitments

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access

 

0.10

0.20

0.10

0.03

0.39

     0.25

0.02

 
   

Total

 

1.09

 

Killybegs:-

 

Smooth Point Pier Extension (Phase 2)

Small Craft Harbour service building

Landing Pier Fendering

Boat Repair Building Extension

Harbour Master stores

Plant & Material storage shed in shipyard

Other Contractual Commitments

Safety and Maintenance

Disability Access       

 

6.50

0.65

0.55

0.07

0.25

0.25

0.02

0.40

0.02

 
   

Total

 

8.71

 

Total FHC’s

 

 

 

33.405

 

 

Cape Clear

 

Safety and Maintenance

Duffy’s Pier remedial works (Phase 2) & road improvement

Disability Access       

 

 

0.04

0.60

0.01

 

 

 

Total

 

0.65

 

Local Authority

 

Local Authority Programme

 

4.2

 

PLBs

 

Piers, Lights and Beacons

 

0.024

 

Total

 

Total 2021 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme

 

38.279

Published in Irish Harbours
Tagged under

The Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association has called on the Minister for the Marine to "do his duty and stand up for the industry he is mandated to represent."

The Chief Executive of the Association, Brendan Byrne, has described as "draconian and brutal" the European Commission's decision to withdraw from the Irish industry the derogation it had held to weigh fish at factories rather than landing ports. The Commission has cited suspicion of fraud in the process, which is rejected by the IFPEA, to justify its decision. There are 160 processing companies in Ireland.

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogueMarine Minister Charlie McConalogue

Mr Byrne has called on the Commission to produce evidence to prove the charges against the organisation. "We don't have any knowledge of what we are accused of." The major Fish Producer Organisations have also called for the production of evidence.

Speaking on Tom MacSweeney's Maritime Ireland Radio Show, (Iisten to the interview below) Mr Byrne said the IFPEA is confident of its position and will defend it strongly. The Commission and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, and the Minister should produce the evidence; he says: "Show us what we are being accused of."

Published in Aquaculture
Tagged under

An Irish marine biologist has been appointed head of the EU’s monitoring body for the Common Fisheries Policy.

Dr Susan Steele, who grew up on West Cork’s Beara peninsula, has been appointed executive director of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

She is currently chair and chief executive of the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

The EFCA’s primary role is to organise coordination and cooperation between national control and inspection activities, ensuring the rules of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy are “respected and applied effectively”.

Based in Vigo, Spain, it cooperates with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency to support national authorities.

The EFCA confirmed Dr Steele’s appointment on Thursday (Apr 22), stating that she has a “solid background in fisheries management and control!.

Dr Steele had been head of the SPFA since 2013, and was previously head of the innovation at the national Seafood Development Centre from 2009.

She also worked with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) as head of aquaculture and business from 2006 to 2009.

She holds a PhD from the National University of Ireland, an MBA, a Masters in Education (M.Ed) and a bachelor degree in marine biology.

She is expected to take up her new European post on September 1st, 2021.

Ireland’s SFPA was recently directed by the EU to withdraw its control plan for weighing fish landed by Irish vessels, following an EU audit in 2018 conducted in Killybegs, Co Donegal.

Last year, the EFCA recorded 38,452 inspections at sea and ashore, leading to 1787 suspected infringements in EU member states.

Published in Marine Science

A Donegal Port has recorded landings of unusually large golden redfish which have been rarely seen in these waters.

Up to ten of the species were landed into Greencastle, Co Donegal and acquired for sale by Stefan Griesbach of Gannet Fishmongers in Galway.

Several of the fish were over 6 kg, which is the heaviest Griesbach says he has handled.

The golden redfish, or sebastes norvegicus, is prevalent in Iceland, and can be found along the North American coast, south of Greenland and along the Norwegian coast.

In July 2014, a 5.9kg specimen was caught by Aran islander Tomás Conneely of the Ocean Harvester II, while fishing for prawns on the Porcupine.

Several of the fish were over 6 kg, which is the heaviest Griesbach says he has handled Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessySeveral of the fish were over 6 kg, which is the heaviest Griesbach says he has handled Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The cold-water species swims at depths of 100 to 1,000 metres and can live for 60 years and weigh up to 15kg, according to rare fish expert Dr Declan Quigley.

A specimen was reported from Isle of Man waters in the Irish Sea in 1927, and seven juveniles, which may have travelled in larvae dispersed from more northern latitudes, were authenticated between 1968 and 1978 in the Dingle Bay area.

Conneely’s catch seven years ago was served by Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant to Galway arts festival visitors as a “ceviche” or Peruvian seafood starter, soaking it in coconut milk and lemon, along with rapeseed, soaked red onions, lime juice, avocado and coriander.

“Its flesh was so delicate and we felt everyone should have the opportunity to try it – so we went for the starter for many rather than a main course for a few,” she explained at the time.

Published in Galway Harbour
Tagged under

The European Commission has withdrawn Ireland’s control plan for weighing seafood catches as a result of lack of confidence in the Irish monitoring system.

As The Times Ireland edition reports today, all fish landed by both small Irish inshore vessels and larger supertrawlers with substantial mackerel catches must now be weighed at point of landing – as in on or close to piers.

The European Commission’s decision is to be implemented with “immediate effect,” the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has confirmed.

Brussels has revoked a derogation granted to the Irish industry to weigh catches away from the place of landing, such as in fish factories.

It will not affect other EU vessels landing into Irish ports – such as Belgian and French vessels which then weigh their catch in Europe.

The decision follows an EU audit in 2018 of controls for Ireland’s pelagic fisheries – as in mackerel, herring and blue whiting – in Killybegs, Co Donegal.

The 2018 audit had identified irregularities, including the manipulation of weighing systems in some instances.

The SFPA said that these irregularities were “subsequently confirmed in an administrative inquiry” which it conducted.

The EU move is the latest in a series of setback for the Irish fishing industry, already facing a 15 per cent overall reduction in quotas due to Brexit.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has also been engaging with the European Commission over a “payback” from pelagic quotas as a result of under-reporting catches.

Whereas the “payback” issue affects one sector of the industry, the entire Irish fleet is affected by the new weighing rules.

National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) secretary Alex Crowley said it had not yet heard directly from the SFPA on the issue.

“We had expected that any sanctions would only apply to the pelagic sector, as this is where the irregularities were found,” Mr Crowley said.

“A lot of smaller boats landing fish would transport their catch to first point of sale themselves, so we are waiting to see what the implications of the EU decision will be,” he said.

SFPA chair Dr Susan Steele said it would be “contacting producer organisations and industry representatives as well as holding local meetings to ensure that the industry is familiar with the changes that are required”,

“The accurate weighing of catches remains the responsibility of industry,” Dr Steele said.

“ The EU’s decision, however, will involve changes to weighing practices. We will be working to ensure that industry can introduce these efficiently and in a way that assures compliance with EU regulations,” she said.

“This decision is a clear marker of tougher fisheries controls across the EU,” she added, stating that the SFPA “takes its commitments under the CFP very seriously”.

Read The Times Ireland here

Published in Fishing
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Inshore fishermen are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate why stocks of shellfish have declined and seaweed has stopped growing in parts of the Waterford estuary.

As The Times Ireland edition reports today, the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) is also appealing to the EPA to refuse a revised discharge license application sought by a gas-powered plant at Great Island, near Campile, Co Wexford, on the confluence of the Suir and Barrow river estuaries.

NIFA, which was established in 2017 to represent some 200 commercial inshore boats of less than 12 metres in length, works closely with the National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation (NIFO), which also opposes the license application.

NIFA general secretary Alex Crowley says that the Waterford estuary supports important inshore fisheries for shrimp, whelk, lobster, velvet and green crab, and there is also pelagic trawling for sprat and herring and dredging for various bivalve species.

The estuary is close to an “important spawning ground for a number of commercially important species including Celtic Sea herring”, the organisations state.

Crowley says that local fishermen have noticed how shrimp, whelk and velvet crab stocks have recorded a “noticeable decline”.

The fishermen claim that there has been “significant die off” of bivalve shellfish species, and seaweed no longer grows in the intertidal zone for “some miles” downstream of the plant’s current outfall pipe.

SSE Generation’s 464MW natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant dates from 2015, replacing the former oil-fired station run by the ESB.

All large combustion plants are now required to renew their emissions licence under the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, and SSE’s application for a licence review is part of this process, the company says.

The company describes the plant as “one of the cleanest and most-efficient power stations on the island of Ireland, generating enough electricity to power half a million Irish homes”.

It says it works with the EPA on an ongoing basis to ensure it is compliant with its licence conditions at all times.

However, NIFA is concerned that the EPA learned last September that some 1300 tonnes of chemicals were being discharged into the estuary under a license covering just five tonnes.

NIFA is specifically concerned with the use of chlorine, in the form of sodium hypochlorite, which is added to cooling water at intake to prevent fouling of pipes within the power station.

The EPA said it had investigated the allegations and found SSE to be “compliant with the license limits on the concentration of chlorine in discharged water”.

The EPA said it found no evidence that SEE’s discharge was having “such an effect on shellfish and fish mortality”, and said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude which individual pressures, if any, are contributing to impacts on marine life in the estuary”.

The EPA said the submission by NIFA would be considered as part of the revised license application under the relevant legislation

Read The Times here

Published in Aquaculture
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Ireland’s seafood sector remains “resilient” in spite of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) says.

Its annual Business of Seafood report says that Ireland’s seafood economy declined in 2020, with a drop of 12% (-€142million) compared to 2019, giving a total value of €1.1 billion.

It says this was driven mainly by a reduction of 18% in domestic consumption due to the closure of the food-service sector with additional impacts of a 17% reduction (-€44 million) in private investment and an 8% decline (-€50 million) in exports.

Global markets faced severe disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic, and when added to the continued uncertainty from the UK’s departure from the EU, this made for challenging trading conditions.

It says that despite these challenges the seafood sector remained resilient and adapted to the disruption the market faced. While there was a decrease of 18% in domestic consumption to €406 million, mainly due to a fall in sales in foodservice, this was somewhat offset by a 6% increase (€18m) in retail sales.

There was also a reduction in private investment to €213 million (-17%) reflecting the uncertainty in the markets leading to cautious activity from many seafood businesses. There was also a decline in our seafood balance of trade (exports – imports) which fell by €28 million (-10%) to €263 million.

Overall investment in the sector was €416 million, equivalent to 39% of seafood GDP, a slight increase compared to 2019, underlining the importance of strong public sector support through times of economic turbulence.

Ireland imported some €327 million euro worth of fish last year, with €188million coming from Britain.

While exports of Irish seafood to European and Asian markets were hit, Ireland’s mackerel landings drove an 87 per cent increase in the value of exports to Africa and a 43 per cent increase to the Middle East.

The assessment states that the total value of Ireland’s seafood economy in 2020 was just under €1.1 billion - a decrease of 12% (-€142million) on 2019.

BIM says this was “driven mainly by the severe disruption in global markets”, while “the continued uncertainty of the UK’s departure from the EU made for challenging trading conditions”.

“Despite the pandemic, and even with reduced demand in the foodservice sector, employment in the seafood sector remained stable in 2020,”it says, with over 16,000 employed directly and indirectly in the seafood industry.

Employment remained “high” in coastal regions, generating “significant socioeconomic value in these areas”, particularly Donegal, Cork, Galway-Clare and along the east coast.

“Undoubtedly 2020 was a challenging year for the seafood sector but yet again the sector displayed its ability to adjust and refocus to the available market opportunities,”Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue said.

“The Irish seafood sector sells a lot of its produce to foodservice markets in Europe and in Asia which experienced lengthy lockdowns significantly impacting sales,”BIM chief executive Jim O’Toole said.

He said the industry showed “great agility” during the year, switching where possible from supplying hospitality to supplying the retail market and online sales.

Domestic consumption amounted to €406m, down 18%, exports-imports were valued at €263m, down 10% and private investment was valued at €213, down 17%, BIM says.

However, there was an increase of 9% on government investment – an increase to €203m.

Overall investment in the sector was €416 million, equivalent to 39% of seafood GDP, a slight increase compared to 2019, it says.

Some 346 million euro worth in landings was recorded in Irish ports last year, with Killybegs, Co Donegal recording 112 million euro and Castletownbere, Co Cork, recording 104 million euro worth of landings.

Some 406 million euro in domestic sales value involved 316 million euro in retail and 90 million euro in “food service”.

Top selling species were salmon at €120m and cod at€46m, and the main export markets were the EU, valued at €321m, Britain at €93m and Africa at €75m

The volume of seafood produced by the Irish seafood sector surpassed 220,000 tonnes with a value of €394m, it says.

While less than 20% of this volume was produced by the aquaculture sector, it contributed 46% of the total value.

Species by value:

  • Salmon €127m (+13%)
  • Irish Rock Oysters €37m (-19%)
  • Seabed Cultured Mussels €7m (-15%)
  • Rope mussels €6m (-11%)
  • Other finfish €2m (+12%)
  • Other shellfish €1m (-6%)

By volume:

  • Salmon 13,400 (+14%)
  • Irish Rock Oysters 9,000 (-14%)
  • Seabed Cultured Mussels 4,400 (-11%)
  • Rope mussels 10,300 (-1%)
  • Other finfish 600 (-1%)
  • Other shellfish 300 (-1%)
Published in Fishing
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Marine environment and inshore fishing groups have welcomed a temporary reinstatement of a ban on larger vessels trawling within six nautical miles of the Irish coast.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has also welcomed the decision by the Court of Appeal to reinstate a policy directive underpinning the ban, pending a full hearing of the case in late June.

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) paid tribute yesterday to Mr McConalogue’s department.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said hoped it would “pave the way for full restoration of the ban at the next court hearing”.

“Much of the activity inside the six nautical mile limit by a small number of larger vessels is over for the winter, so it won’t make any practical difference now,” Padraig Whooley of the IWDG pointed out.

However, for marine mammals like the recent Arctic walrus recorded on Kerry’s Valentia island, it is a “positive move”, he said.

NIFA secretary Alex Crowley also said the ruling was very positive in ensuring the sustainability of stocks for some 80 per cent of the Irish fleet.

However, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said that the directive still required scientific backing to support it.

The policy directive was introduced in March 2019, stating that from January 1st 2020 “all trawling by large vessels, over 18 metres in length overall, in coastal waters inside Ireland’s 6-mile zone was to cease, other than for a sprat fishery which was to be phased out during 2020 and 2021”.

Following a judicial review by two fishermen, the High Court made an order in favour of the applicants last October and the policy directive was declared “void/or of no legal effect”.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Fishing
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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