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A Spanish registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service within Irish waters. 

The detention by the LÉ William Butler Yeats was in relation to "alleged breaches of fishing regulations", the Defence Forces press office said.

It did not give the position of the detention, other than stating it was "within the Irish exclusive economic zone". It said it would be escorted to port and handed over to the Garda.

This is the seventh vessel detained to date this year by the Naval Service, which conducts inspections at sea in line with a service level agreement with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Earlier, this month a French registered fishing vessel was detained by the Naval Service off Mizen Head.

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Irish MEP Sean Kelly has called on the government to “rethink” its refusal to assist an Arklow fishing family after it lost substantial funds over a vessel bought abroad which proved to be dangerously unstable.

As the Times Ireland reports, the MEP for Ireland South said the case was a “one-off” and should be dealt with quickly and sympathetically by the Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

Skipper CJ Gaffney (49) of a well known Arklow fishing family - with five generations of service with the RNLI lifeboat – incurred substantial losses over the purchase of the vessel which had been certified as safe by German authorities.

The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands in 2007, with the Gaffneys borrowing 620,000 euro for the purchase.

The vessel was registered under the German flag, and was certified by Germanischer Lloyd Classification Society.

However, when CJ Gaffney began fishing the vessel in January 2008, he noticed that it was significantly more unstable than his previous older boat.

Tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the vessel, and the family opted to lengthen it to make it safer.

The family also initiated legal action against several German companies and the German Marine Safety Authority, but jurisdiction could not be established.

Ireland’s Marine Survey Office (MSO) would not allow the boat fish due to the dangerous stability issue, but issued a stability certificate in 2009 when it had been modified.

However, the Gaffneys had run out of money to buy an additional license.

The Gaffney family were left with a loan of almost 2 million euro after the banks sold the vessel in a fire sale. CJ Gaffney is currently working as a pilot in Dublin Port.

Research by the Gaffney’s legal representatives and naval architect established that other vessels of similar design were built for European waters and could have safety issues.

The European Commission, which gave the family a hearing over the issue back in 2011, says it is outside its remit, but indicated to the Gaffneys that Irish authorities could draw on EU funds to assist them.

Kelly said that he had been in touch with the European Commission, and it was “very sympathetic” and had “made it clear” it would like to see the Gaffney family being assisted financially.

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has also called on the two ministers to resolve the issue on humanitarian grounds.

“C J Gaffney did everything he could , and he has prevented people from drowning,”Ms Whitmore said.

The Department of Transport said that the Marine Survey Office (MSO) “has been very proactive on this issue”.

The German ship safety division, the vessel designers and McConalogue’s department declined to comment.

Read The Times here

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Applications are being sought for a business diploma with a “salty air taste” run by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Institute of Technology (IT) Carlow.

The closing date is September 3rd for prospective participants in BIM’s higher diploma in business in fisheries and aquaculture.

The course, now in its fifth year, is designed for those interested in management, financial, research and development or regulatory roles in fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and related fields.

It may also appeal to those looking to start an aquaculture or fisheries business company or expand an existing company into new markets, BIM and IT Carlow IT.

As Dick Bates - from a well known Kilmore Quay fishing family - explains, the course is the only one in Ireland of its type at third level dealing with fisheries and aquaculture.

It is “more accessible than ever now all over the coast and the offshore islands, due to continuing online delivery”, Bates says.

“My dad was a fisherman from Kilmore Quay, who through circumstances of the time could not progress beyond primary education,” he says.

“I am immensely proud to be involved with the higher diploma in a voluntary capacity in my retirement. I think he would approve,” Bates says.

“I really believe in the transformative powers of education and believe that the way that the fisheries sector has been ignored by the third level institutions in Ireland for so long is not right. I also believe that training is no substitute for education,” Bates adds.

Entry requirements are NFQ Level 7 or level 8 Award or equivalent in a related discipline or relevant industry experience.

Organisers say consideration will also be given to applicants who do not hold level 7 QQI academic qualifications but who have extensive industry experience.

Currently, all modules are being taught remotely due to Covid -19 restrictions on Fridays and Saturdays every second week.

Funding for the course fee and subsistence costs may be available through here

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The Marine Minister and Donegal T.D., Charlie McConalogue, visited Killybegs for a day of engagements with the fishing industry on Friday 23rd July.

The Minister started the day visiting the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master, lead officials on works to the harbour and the SFPA. In May the Minister announced almost €9m in funding for work to Killybegs Harbour including €6.5m for phase two of the Smooth Point Pier Inspection which he visited on his tour of Killybegs.

Throughout the day the Minister met with the IFPEA, the KFO and inshore fishers including NIFA and NIFO representatives and boarded a vessel and visited a processing factory.

Commenting on the visit, Minister McConalogue noted: "I had a constructive day of meetings with fishers and fisher representatives throughout my visit to Killybegs. It was great to also take an opportunity to view the ongoing infrastructure projects to the harbour and to see progress on these projects."

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The Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has undertaken a series of visits to some of Ireland’s main fishing ports. The Minister has met with fishers, processors fishing organisations and other stakeholders, as he visited Howth, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East and Killybegs earlier this month. The visits will continue with a trip to Union Hall and Castletownbere later this week, with further visits to fishing ports planned.

In Howth, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced €8.3m in funding for work to Howth and he visited ongoing infrastructure work. The Minister met with fishers on the Pier to discuss fishing matters and the group included fishing representatives from ISEPO, FLAGs NIFF and NIFA & NIFO. He also met with local businesses including Kish Fish and processors including OceanPath.

In Kilmore Quay, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced over €200k in funding for work to Kilmore Quay. The Minister also met with fishers on the Pier, with the group including fishing representatives from ISEPO, NIFF and NIFA & NIFO.

In Dunmore East, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced over € 2.4 m in funding for work at Dunmore East. The Minister also met with fishers on the Pier, with the group including fishing representatives on the Pier to discuss fishing matters and the group included fishing representatives from ISEPO, NIFF and NIFA & NIFO.

In Killybegs, The Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master, lead officials on works to the harbour and officials from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority. In May the Minister announced almost €9m in funding for work to Killybegs Harbour including €6.5m for phase two of the Smooth Point Pier Inspection which he visited on his tour of Killybegs. The Minister also met with the IFPEA, the KFO and inshore fishers including NIFA and NIFO representatives and boarded a vessel and visited a processing factory.

Commenting on the visits, Minister McConalogue said: "I have had constructive meetings with fishers and fisher representatives during my visits and I thank everyone for meeting me and for discussing important matters to their community. It was great to also take an opportunity to view the ongoing infrastructure projects at all four harbours and to see progress on these projects."

Published in Fishing

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has rejected a plea for help from an Irish skipper who bought a beam trawler in the Netherlands which proved to be dangerously unstable.

As The Sunday Independent reports, skipper CJ Gaffney (49) of a well known Arklow fishing family has incurred substantial losses over the purchase of the vessel which had been certified as safe by German authorities.

The Gaffney family have five generations of service with the RNLI lifeboat.

Research by Gaffney’s legal representatives and naval architect established that at least nine other vessels of similar design in Europe could have safety issues.

The European Commission, which gave the family a hearing over the issue back in 2011, says it is outside its remit as the vessel is under 24 metres in length and falls under member state legislation.

However, it had indicated to the Gaffneys that Irish authorities could draw on EU funds to assist them.

The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands by CJ Gaffney of Arklow, Co Wicklow and his father in 2007, borrowing 620,000 euro for the purchase.

The vessel was registered under the German flag, and was certified by Germanischer Lloyd Classification Society.

When CJ Gaffney began fishing the vessel in January 2008, he noticed that it was significantly more unstable than his previous older boat and says that " on one or two occasions the boat almost turned over”.

Tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the hull, and the family opted to lengthen it to make it safer.

The family initiated legal action against several German companies and the German Marine Safety Authority.

However, jurisdiction could not be established.

Ireland’s Marine Survey Office (MSO) would not allow the boat fish initially but issued a stability certificate in 2009 when it had been modified.

The Gaffneys had run out of money to buy an additional license at this stage.

A potential sale to Britain fell through as the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency would not allow it to be registered – in spite of Irish certification to show it was seaworthy.

“The banks subsequently sold the Mary Kate in a fire sale leaving the family with a massive loan of almost €2 million, which is still outstanding,” Gaffney says.

The case has been raised at EU level by a number of Irish MEPs and was referred to the European Parliament’s petitions committee.

It has been raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD and fisheries spokesman Pádraig MacLochlainn and by Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Mr McConalogue has said it is a private commercial matter, and that safety is the responsibility of the Department of Transport.

Ms Whitmore, who attended an online meeting hosted by Mr McConalogue with the Gaffneys late this week (Fri July 16), said she was calling on the marine minister to work with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on the issue.

“C J Gaffney did everything he could, and he has been a whistleblower for safety,” Ms Whitmore said.

“There are obvious regulatory gaps at European level that need to be addressed.”

The German ship safety division, the vessel designers and Mr McConalogue declined to comment.

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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has accepted a business case from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) for the development of a new Sea Survival Training Unit at BIM’s National Fisheries Training College in Greencastle, Co Donegal. The Department is working with BIM on how the project will be delivered as early as possible. Speaking during a visit to the Greencastle College, Minister McConalogue said:

“I am delighted to announce today that I have approved a business case from BIM for the provision of a dedicated Sea Survival Unit at the Greencastle fisheries training college. The project involves an above ground pool, upgraded modern changing rooms together with a new navigation simulator and a radio suite for the new centre.”

The total estimated cost of the proposed BIM project will be approximately €1.1m. The Minister continued: “The new Sea Survival Unit at Greencastle will significantly build upon the professional level of maritime training which BIM currently offers to the Irish seafood sector. It will also facilitate development and expansion of BIMs training programmes over the coming years. The provision of a fit-for-purpose pool, together with new, modern training equipment will also result in a high-quality national asset that will deliver a centre of excellence to support essential training for fishers, providing the instruction needed to equip seafarers with current and future skills needed to pursue varied careers in the seafood sector.”

Following confirmation by BIM that the new facility will be among the nation’s only ‘Green energy pools’ the Minister added: “I welcome BIMs proposal to fit a “green pool” by including an appropriate renewal energy source to fund the pumps, heating and filtration system which is in keeping with national policy and ensure that running costs will be sustainable for the future. I am delighted that the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) will be assisting BIM in ensuring the delivery of a sustainable facility including the provision of necessary advice prior to the procurement process. “

In response to the Minister’s announcement that the project is under active consideration subject to availability of funding, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM said: “Safety is an essential part of training for all those embarking on a career in the seafood sector who intend working at sea. With 2,030 registered fishing vessels in Ireland and 2,881 adults working in the fisheries sector, it is important that we continue to prioritise the provision of high quality safety training for the crew of vessels. This new facility will encourage those who wish to pursue life long rewarding careers in the seafood industry and most importantly ensure that safety at sea and on the water is prioritised”.

The Minister concluded; “I am confident that this project when completed will provide a high quality training facility which will ultimately help to save lives and support this important industry which is so crucial to the economies of coastal communities in particular. My ambition is to have the facility fully operational by the end of the first half of 2022”

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Inshore fishers have expressed shock at the sudden closure of the hook and line fishery for mackerel due to an exhausted quota.

As the Times Ireland reports, the hook and line method used to catch the fish inshore has low environmental impact, as there is no risk of by-catch of dolphins and turtles and other marine mammals.

The growth of farmers’ markets has opened up new domestic opportunities to sell the highly prized migratory fish - which is in demand worldwide because of its rich oil content.

However, a number of skippers among up to 2,000 other vessels under 15 metres entitled to catch inshore mackerel were shocked to hear earlier this month (June) that the fishery has closed early.

“We were told our 400-tonne overall quota for the entire inshore fleet has expired,” Eamon Dixon of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association in Mayo says.

“We had dozens of young lads working on this fishery up here for up to three months of the year, and it has been so valuable for this area,” Dixon explains.

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has called on Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue to explain why over 98 per cent of Ireland’s overall quota of mackerel has been allocated to 49 larger Irish vessels – leaving less than a per cent for the inshore fleet.

National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) secretary Alex Crowley said the popularity of line-caught mackerel had risen in recent years, taking pressure off shellfish stocks and at a time when the price of crab had fallen.

“Up to last year, there was a trip limit of 500 kg, but this was increased by the department to 750kg per trip which had made it viable,” he said.

“For remote communities like north Mayo, it is an opportunity and with such a low impact,” he said. “However, our own management regime is choking this fishery”.

Dixon and colleagues believe there should be no quota set for smaller vessels, as they pose no threat to supertrawlers – both Irish and international - following the mackerel shoals between Norway, Scotland and Ireland.

Mr McConalogue’s department said that when the 400-tonne limit was exceeded in the fishery in 2020 it was “unexpected”, as total landings for vessels under 15m had been below this until then.

“The 2021 fishery was closed by the minister on June 12th, when the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) advised the Department that the available quota had been caught and exceeded,”it said.

The policy for allocation of 400 tonne to smaller vessels had been set in 2010, amended in 2017, and the minister must be “satisfied that there is satisfactory evidence of changed circumstances to justify a policy review”, it said.

Any such review would require an assessment and full public consultation, the department said, and any increase for the inshore fleet would require that it be “taken from others who are already facing significant cuts” under the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

The Brexit TCA involves transferring 25 per cent of Ireland’s overall mackerel quota to Britain, the department pointed out.

Read more in The Times here

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Steaming up the river Liffey before sunrise, a fleet of 55 Irish fishing vessels staged a national protest in Dublin over the impact of several key issues including Brexit.

The second large-scale protest called on the government to seek a “fairer share” of the burden imposed over loss of quotas in British waters as a result of the Brexit deal.

It was supported by all the main fish producer organisations.

Inshore skippers affected by the sudden closure of the hook and line fishery for mackerel were among those who travelled to Dublin.

Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association chief executive Brendan Byrne said fishermen from right around the coast were “venting frustration and anger at successive years of policy failures at EU and national level”.

“We are over-regulated...we have no equality compared to the French, and the Spanish and Dutch fleet...we are looking for a level playing field,” he said.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said Ireland gave away a “totally disproportionate” amount of fish to Britain in the Brexit agreement.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Sean O’DonoghueKillybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue

The other “bombshell” was the withdrawal of the EU control plan which meant all fish had to be weighed at the pier – a move which could “destroy the industry”, he warned.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chairman Damien Turner said he had fished for over 30 years, but he and his wife talked recently about him leaving the industry.

“It would break my heart to leave the industry and sell the boat..but when you look at the figures and look at what’ s happening ... you can’t let your heart rule your head,” Turner said.

“It is not just the men and women working on the boats, but up to 15 companies relying on us from electronics to engineering to the local supermarket,” he said.

Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation chairman John Lynch said that "a once-off temporary tie-up scheme is not enough".

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogueMinister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue

The Irish government’s seafood task force committee has recommended a tie-up scheme in the autumn as part of a series of measures to support the fleet after Brexit.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said he held constructive talks over two hours with representatives of the fishing industry in Dublin, following the flotilla and protest.“

“ I welcome continued engagement with the industry,” he said.

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A commitment by Taoiseach Micheál Martin to “do right by the Irish fishing community” has failed to avert a large scale protest planned by the sector for Dublin Port this week.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the protest planned for Wednesday (June 23) is expected to involve vessels from many ports steaming up the river Liffey.

They will berth close to the National Convention Centre, where the Dáil has been sitting temporarily.

Supported by the main fishing industry organisations, the protest comes several weeks after a similar “steam-in” to Cork harbour to highlight the impact of the Brexit deal which was co-ordinated by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation.

Mr Martin and Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue are due to hold online discussions on Brexit and other issues today (Mon June 21) after a visit by Martin to west Cork ports including Castletownbere and Union Hall.

Castletownbere fishing port in West CorkCastletownbere fishing port in West Cork

Speaking to reports in Castletownbere, Martin said that the Government had “already signalled to the European Commission that we are not happy with the unfair burden-sharing that occurred as a result of Brexit.”

Allocation of quotas was “challenging” and he hoped to “redress the balance” and “do right by the Irish fishing community”.

Martin’s weekend visit to hear the views of fishermen was organised by Fianna Fáil Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan, who called in the Dáil last week for a “whole government” approach to addressing the “unfair burden share” imposed on Ireland in the Brexit deal.

The EU-UK free trade agreement has resulted in a 15 per cent overall reduction in Irish fish quotas – to the value of 43 million euro – between now and 2026.

Irish fishing industry organisations are demanding that the Taoiseach demands a “fairer burden share” from the EU.

Ireland currently bears the largest proportionate loss of fish among eight EU coastal states which had fished in British waters.

The protest is calling for a renegotiation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to ensure Ireland is allocated a fair share of quotas in its own waters.

It is calling for “equal burden sharing” among EU member states in relation to the Brexit deal, and a fair share of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund for the fishing industry.

The withdrawal of Ireland’s control plan by the EU – which means all fish has to be weighed on the pier, affecting quality – and issues with the current penalty points system for fishing offences are also being highlighted.

The industry also wants “immediate reinstatement” of traditional access to fishing grounds at Rockall and equal rights for all seafarers under Revenue and taxation laws.

An interim report published last week by the Government’s seafood task force had many valid proposals to ease the Brexit deal's impact, the spokesman said.

The interim report recommends a voluntary temporary tie up scheme of one month’s duration be offered to approximately 220 whitefish vessels impacted by the quota reductions in the period from September to December this year, among other measures.

Read more in The Times Ireland edition here

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Page 3 of 64

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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