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Displaying items by tag: Blue Whiting

Irish fishing industry bodies say they are “gravely concerned” that the outcome of current ongoing negotiations in Oslo will see Norway granted access to Irish waters to fish 150,000 tons of blue whiting.

This move would confer a value to the Norwegian fishing sector estimated at €42 million and without any compensation to the EU and Irish industry, they claim.

Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) said that the Irish industry is not opposed to granting Norway access arrangements to fish blue whiting, as they have done so for many years.

However, the industry “considers it entirely reasonable” that the EU receives compensation from Norway for granting such access.

O Donnell says: “We are in Oslo to participate in ongoing fishing negotiations for 2024 and with a prospect of Norway being granted access to our waters to fish almost three times Ireland’s own quota and free gratis. This access ambition is of critical importance to Norway as this blue whiting stock is abundant mainly in Irish waters.

“We are not opposed to reaching an agreement and there is precedence in such arrangements for granting access. The access for Norway to Irish waters underpins their profitability for this fishery.

“However, a fair treatment is needed if Ireland’s seafood sector is to survive and grow, as Norway’s is. This is critical for the Irish industry, which is still reeling from the Brexit TCA in which we lost 40 per cent of the total EU value in this deal.”

Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) says Irish fishing bodies are united on this issue.

“The Irish industry has grave concerns at the prospect of Norway being granted enormous levels of free access to Irish waters,” Byrne says. “This cannot be at Ireland’s expense, and so there must be something on the table for us too.

“The Irish Government must maintain the position similar to the UK, that any access for Norway to our fishing grounds must be adequately compensated. Discussions are ongoing and a firm position must be taken until an arrangement is reached which benefits the EU and Ireland in particular, as much as Norway. Ireland must no longer attend the table as a perpetual loser; we must refuse to countenance any additional unfair deal with a non-EU member.”

O Donnell adds: “We are at a crossroads and Ireland must be prepared to maintain a firm unwavering stance. A radical reset is required regarding access by third countries to fish in our waters. The UK granted access rights to Norway in 2023 to fish mackerel in its waters and received in return a quota transfer that benefitted the UK sector to the tune of approximately €35 million. This mechanism is a benchmark that can be equally applied to the blue whiting access under discussion for Norway.

“We ask the [Marine] Minister [Michael McConalogue] to maintain a resolve and be prepared defend our interests with a meaningful compensatory transfer of quota by Norway in lieu of access. This is required as a step to turn the tide for our coastal communities.”

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue welcomed the conclusion on Monday (20 March) of prolonged negotiations between the European Union and Norway, resulting in a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2023.

And for Ireland, the outcome is an 89 per cent increase in the blue whiting quota from 28,438 tonnes in 2022 to 53,776 tonnes in 2023.

“These are always difficult negotiations with different member states having different interests,” the minister said. “For Ireland, I am satisfied that the final outcome is the strongest possible one for our fishers. They now have a quota of 53,776 tonnes for 2023 worth in excess of €13 million.

“There were many different elements in these complex talks including reciprocal access to waters and transfers of quotas between the parties and internally in the EU.

“In that regard, I am particularly satisfied that in relation to blue whiting, Ireland was able to secure a 33% reduction in the traditional level of Norwegian access to EU waters from 68% to 45% and their complete exclusion from the blue whiting fishery in the Irish Box off the North West Coast of Ireland.”

Minster McConalogue added: “In terms of quota transfers I was able to maintain the principle that Ireland's contribution to the EU quota transfer to Norway would be capped at 4% and, as importantly, established for first time that Ireland would be directly compensated with additional quota by other member states for transfers and access provisions. In this regard I was able to secure an additional 4,820 tonnes of blue whiting for the Irish fleets.”

The minister also remarked on the latest scientific advice “that the blue whiting stock is in good shape and expanding rapidly and this, coupled with the agreement secured, bodes well for the sustainability of this fishery for Irish fishers going forward”.

Minister McConalogue concluded by thanking Irish Fishing industry representatives Aodh O’Donnell (IFPO), Sean O’Donoghue (KFO), Patrick Murphy (ISEFPO) and Brendan Byrne (IFPEA) “for the close cooperation throughout the process and their active campaigning in Europe that helped to secure this strong outcome for Irish fishers”.

Earlier in Monday’s meeting of the Agricultural and Fisheries Council in Brussels, the minster expressed concerns at proposals for a blanket ban on bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas in the absence of an impact assessment, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

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Ireland's Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD welcomed the conclusion of prolonged negotiations between the European Union and Norway, resulting in a bilateral fisheries agreement for 2023.

The Minister said, “These are always difficult negotiations with different Member States having different interests.  For Ireland, I am satisfied that the final outcome is the strongest possible one for our fishers. They now have a quota of 53,776 tonnes for 2023 worth in excess of €13m.”

McConalogue added, “There were many different elements in these complex talks, including reciprocal access to waters and transfers of quotas between the parties and internally in the EU.  In that regard, I am particularly satisfied that in relation to Blue Whiting, Ireland was able to secure a 33% reduction in the traditional level of Norwegian access to EU waters from 68% to 45% and their complete exclusion from the Blue Whiting fishery in the Irish Box off the North West Coast of Ireland.”

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TDMarine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD

The Minster noted that “In terms of quota transfers, I was able to maintain the principle that Ireland's contribution to the EU quota transfer to Norway would be capped at 4% and, as importantly, established for first time that Ireland would be directly compensated with additional quota by other Member States for transfers and access provisions.  In this regard, I was able to secure an additional 4,820 tonnes of blue whiting for the Irish fleets.”

The Minister remarked that “Scientific advice tells us that the Blue whiting stock is in good shape and expanding rapidly and this coupled with the agreement secured bodes well for the sustainability of this fishery for Irish fishers going forward”.

Minister McConalogue has thanked Irish Fishing industry representatives Brendan Byrne (IFPEA) (above left), Patrick Murphy (ISEFPO) (centre), Aodh O’Donnell (IFPO) (right), and Sean O’Donoghue (KFO),  and  “for the close cooperation throughout the process and their active campaigning in Europe that helped to secure this strong outcome for Irish fishers”.

Minister McConalogue has thanked Irish Fishing industry representatives Brendan Byrne (IFPEA) (above left), Patrick Murphy (ISEFPO) (centre), Aodh O’Donnell (IFPO) (right), and Sean O’Donoghue (KFO),  and  “for the close cooperation throughout the process and their active campaigning in Europe that helped to secure this strong outcome for Irish fishers”.

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Irish fishing industry organisations have welcomed the “breakdown” of attempts by Norway to seek unrestricted access to blue whiting grounds off the Irish coast.

“Now is the time for the Irish Government and the EU to address the massive disparity in Ireland’s share of EU fishing quotas,” three organisations have said in a joint statement.

The statement by the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO), Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) and the Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA) said Ireland's fishing industry has “suffered massive negative impacts from EU membership, compared to other sectors of our economy”.

“We welcome the breakdown of Norway’s recent attempts to secure unfettered access to our blue whiting grounds from the EU,” IFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said.

“We also welcome the Minister for the Marine’s commitment to resist the Norwegian overtures. We note that Norway has now secured a deal for blue whiting with Russia,” he said.

“But the whole blue whiting row has underlined an appalling attitude at EU level towards Ireland’s fishing industry. The EU has never delivered an equitable share of fishing rights to Ireland. This has been compounded over the decades by our Government’s failure to secure a fair deal for our fishing industry,” he added.

IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne said Ireland is at “a critical point in our fishing industry”.

“Brexit and the disastrous TCA deal for Irish fishing has left an industry that is struggling to survive,”he said.

“ That EU deal created a 40% loss in the value of our permitted catch, compared to just 6% for Spain – who are allowed to catch more fish in our waters then we are,” Byrne said.

“When you consider this context, it is profoundly shocking that the EU would even consider granting Norway unfettered access to Irish waters, without a comparable dividend to Ireland,”he said.

“The Government urgently need to make it abundantly clear, that the historical arrangements between the EU and Norway will be honoured. However, they must also make clear that any new or additional access south of the 56 degree line or east of the 12 degree line must be dealt with separately and with consideration for the Irish,”he said.

“For too long Ireland’s fishing industry has suffered or paid a price to accommodate others, while all the time our own fishing industry declines. This is where we say no more and no further – the very life blood has been long drawn from the Irish fishing industry we need to take a stand here,” Byrne said.

“Ireland will play the part of good Europeans but that is a two-way process. We also need to be respected and treated fairly by our EU colleagues as equal members of this union of states,”he said.

IS&WFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy said Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue had “shown determination at EU level to reduce the EU transfer of blue whiting quotas to Norway”.

‘’It is vital that the Minister maintains this position and secures a meaningful transfer of quota to Ireland from this third country, and as a compensatory measure, in lieu of access to our waters,”he said.

“ Blue whiting in Irish waters is valued at an estimated €100-€120m for 2023. Ireland currently has just 3% of the EU allowable quota for blue whiting, while Norway already has 18% and was seeking more from our waters,”he said.

O’Donnell said Irish fishing bodies had “pulled together to fight the Norway blue whiting plans”.

““The EU clearly expected Ireland to just roll over and accept this appalling proposal, and did not expect our vociferous and effective opposition. We must continue to pull together to benefit our members and the nation’s fishing industry,”he said.

“We want to work closely with the Minister for the Marine and the EU in 2023 to secure a better deal for Ireland. There are serious issues involved here. There is the survival of the Irish fishing fleet and the coastal communities who depend on them. There is the issue of food security and Ireland’s supply of fresh fish,” he said.

He said that the “hits” which Ireland’s seafood sector had taken over the past few decades has “reduced its value to the Irish economy”.

“It’s time now to work collaboratively to turn this around so Ireland can more equitably and sustainably benefit from the ocean resource that surrounds our island,” he said.

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Irish fishing industry representatives have commended the European Commission for “standing firm” over a push by Norway for additional access to Irish waters.

Negotiations between the EU and Norway were suspended late last week without approving Norway's request for more access to blue whiting off the Irish coast.

It was anticipated the issue would be referred on to the annual EU agrifish council, which opened on Sunday in Brussels.

Commenting on behalf of the Irish seafood sector, IFPO chief executive Aodh O'Donnell commended the EU for "standing firm in relation to the Norwegian request for additional access to Irish waters", and urged the European Commission and Mr McConalogue to "maintain a firm line".

An overall 81 per cent increase in blue whiting quota had been recommended by scientists for the next year.

Blue WhitingBlue Whiting Photo: Wikipedia

Norway is seeking to catch much of its anticipated increased share off the Irish west coast, without any return in terms of quotas directly to Ireland, according to the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell.

““This not just about blue whiting - there is a principle here, where a non-EU member state should not be given access to areas within our EEZ without some return for Ireland,” O’Donnell said.

Reciprocal Arctic cod quotas would mainly be allocated to other EU member states, including Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal, the IFPO leader said.

“The Norwegians need to be equitable and fair in making a request such as this,” Irish Fish Processors and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA) chief executive Brendan Byrne said.

Fine Gael MEP Colm MarkeyFine Gael MEP Colm Markey

O’Donnell raised the issue with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius at a meeting arranged by Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey in Brussels several weeks before the opening of the annual EU fish quota talks.

The IFPO said it believed the Commissioner understood the “access principle” in relation to a non-EU member seeking to fish inside the Irish exclusive economic zone.

Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries State Secretary Vidar Ulriksen has said allocation of cod to other EU members in return for blue whiting is “internal EU policy, and Norway is not involved in these decisions”.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue was “seeking to address the challenge” and was maintaining close contact with the Irish industry.

Published in Fishing

"Political engagement" is required to resolve the row over Norway’s bid for “unfettered access” to Irish fishing waters, according to Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey.

Irish fishing bodies have asked the EU to suspend talks on Norway’s bid for access to Ireland’s blue whiting grounds.

Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said it was “alarming that the EU could unilaterally negotiate away rights to our blue whiting”.

“Meanwhile Norway, a non-EU member, is offering no meaningful reciprocal arrangement to Ireland,” he said.

O'Donnell calculates Ireland’s blue whiting fish stocks are worth over €160m. 

Fine Gael MEP Colm MarkeyFine Gael MEP Colm Markey Photo: via Wikipedia

“ Norway already has 18% of the European and coastal states quota for blue whiting – compared to Ireland’s share of just 3%. But they are now seeking further - and unilateral access - to Irish waters, to catch much of their enormous blue whiting quota in 2023 of over 400,000 tonnes,”he said.

“This is being negotiated by the EU on behalf of Ireland, though no agreement has been reached despite two rounds of talks.”

The IFPO, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) have issued a joint call for the talks to be suspended in a letter to the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius.

EU Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus SinkeviciusEU Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius

“The negotiations on the additional access to Irish waters should be deferred until the New Year and particularly until after the annual December [fish] council meeting,” IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne said.

“An in-depth consideration on blue whiting is required, and that is where it should take place,”Byrne said.

“ Ireland already bore the brunt of EU fishing quota cuts after Brexit. Why should we take the hit again, with nothing in return and the burden share from TCA/Brexit still unresolved? This is surely a political decision and requires an equitable political solution,”he said.

IWSFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy said the EU fisheries commission “has no mandate for a decision which would have such a negative impact on Ireland's fishing interests”.

Mr Markey said he had raised the issue with the EU Fisheries Commissioner in the European Parliament last week, and was told that any agreements will be equally treated across Europe.

“When it came to Brexit, Ireland didn’t get equal treatment so if somebody is being offered unfettered access into Irish waters to fish for additional blue whiting, there has to be some consideration given to us,”he said.

“The Commission said officials are working closely with member states but I am unconvinced and believe a political solution is needed that takes into account concerns raised by a member state. This matter is too serious to be dealt with on a technical level - behind closed doors,”he said.

The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation said that “given the proximity of Ireland to the main fishing grounds of this stock, landings into Ireland are attractive for foreign vessels”.

“It is therefore of critical importance that any transfer to Norway in the ongoing EU/ Norway negotiations is kept at a very low level and that access to the Irish Box is paid for by the transfer of blue whiting quota,”the KFO said.

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Killybegs fishers have lashed out at a deal between the Faroe Islands and Moscow that they say creates a “loophole” for Russian trawlers to muscle in on the blue whiting fishery around Irish waters.

According to The Irish Times, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has called on the Government and European Commission to impose sanctions on the North Atlantic island country over the “immoral” deal that poses “an existential threat to the catch of blue whiting in Irish waters”.

The organisation’s chief executive also accused the Faroes of “aiding and abetting” the Russian invasion of Ukraine by way of the deal, which allows its own vessels to fish for cod in Russian waters.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

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A fisheries science partnership previously touted as a ‘game changer’ in the field of marine food is developing new health supplement based on fish protein from blue whiting.

Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland (BII) is preparing to begin clinical trials of its soluble protein hydrolysate power, which it’s hoped could improve muscular health among the elderly.

“We are one of the first companies globally to take under-utilised raw fish materials and transform them into powders suited to applications for human nutrition,” said Dr Snehal Gite, senior research and development technologist.

“At BII, we are processing a low-value blue whiting fish into a high value nutritional ingredient which could offer enormous benefits for skeletal health in older people.

“The outcome of this research project could see BII enter a valuable global market, which will ultimately benefit Irish fishermen, industry and the associated supply chain.”

Research on this potentially health-boosting supplement is featured in this week’s Oceans of Learning series from the Marine Institute, which looks at the ocean and its connection to human health and wellbeing.

The work of the National Marine Biodiscovery Laboratory of Ireland (NMBLI) is also in focus, as a number of new natural products with potentially powerful properties have been found in Ireland’s waters in recent years.

“Our ocean could offer a treasure trove of cures,” said Joe Silke, director of marine environment food and safety Services at the Marine Institute.

“With so much of our marine habitats yet to be explored, and an ever-changing marine environment … Ireland’s ocean wealth is still to be uncovered.”

Videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources are available from the Our Ocean: Our Health and Wellbeing portal on the Marine Institute website.

Published in Marine Science

Marine Minister Michael Creed last week welcomed agreement reached between the European Union, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland regarding the blue whiting fishery for 2020.

“This agreement provides welcome stability in this important fishery for Irish fishermen,” he said in London last Friday (25 October).

“There will be a small increase compared to 2019 with a quota of approximately 38,500 tonnes in 2020 for Ireland.”

The total allowable catch of 1,161,616 tonnes agreed between the parties is fully in line with the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Minister Creed added: “In these uncertain times, stability for our fisheries sector is always welcome.

“The agreement reached following the negotiations this week, in which Ireland was an active participant, will provide a quota worth approximately €11.5 million for our fishermen next year.

“This follows the international negotiations two weeks ago which agreed to a 41% increase in the mackerel quotas for 2020 in line with the scientific advice, giving Ireland a mackerel quota of over 78,000 tonnes worth over €80m directly to our catching sector for 2020.”

The minster also acknowledged the assistance provided on the Irish delegation by the Marine Institute and fishing sector representatives.

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#MarineScience - Marine scientists on board the RV Celtic Explorer have posted their first blog entry from this year's blue whiting acoustic survey voyage.

Setting sail from Cork on St Patrick's Day last week, the team – comprising acousticians, biologists and marine wildlife observers – are preparing to cover a massive area between the West of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland, including Rockall, as part of a flotilla of international research vessels from the Netherlands, Norway and the Faroe Islands.

The Scientists@Sea blog has more on the mission HERE.

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Ireland's new multi-purpose marine research vessel RV Tom Crean, was delivered in July 2022 and will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

The RV Tom Crean will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support high-quality scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel is a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel (designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research), capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Tom Crean is able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and is designed to operate in harsh sea conditions.

RV Tom Crean Specification Overview

  • Length Overall: 52.8 m
  • Beam 14m
  • Draft 5.2M 

Power

  • Main Propulsion Motor 2000 kw
  • Bow Thruster 780 kw
  • Tunnel thruster 400 kw

Other

  • Endurance  21 Days
  • Range of 8,000 nautical miles
  • DP1 Dynamic Positioning
  • Capacity for 3 x 20ft Containers

Irish Marine Research activities

The new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft (6t@ 10m, 3T@ 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations

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