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“There is a better way” than the present approach taken by government to the fishing industry, according to the Chairperson of Comhdháil Oileán na hEireann, the Islands’ Federation.

“This is a matter of huge importance regarding island community livelihoods and sustainability not to mention heritage and traditions,” wrote Chairperson Aisling Moran in an open letter on behalf of the offshore island communities to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

They have asked him to “intervene personally in the difficult situation facing the fishing industry.”

“We implore you to act to prevent the loss of hundreds of jobs, a way of life and a key element to coastal communities, Irish heritage and tradition. Island communities are intimately acquainted with the consequences of changes to fishing rights and regulations inflicted through the years. Islanders are by nature people of the sea. To sacrifice their ability to make a living though life-learned skills they are passionate about is beyond unreasonable. This continued decimation of the Irish fleet has been magnified with the onset of Brexit and the Irish fishing industry is fighting for its life.

“As Taoiseach we consider it appropriate for you to personally intervene in this serious situation. We ask all involved with the control and regulation of the fishing industry to have a hard look at the consequences of their actions against a proud and respected Irish livelihood.

“There is a better way.”

The Federation represents 16 offshore island communities. It was set up in 1984 to draw attention to “the difficulties facing islanders” in socio-economic development, problems which they felt were not being addressed at regional or national level

“We don’t know if he read our letter, but his Department sent a reply that it had been forwarded to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,” the Comhdháil told Afloat.

Charlie McConalogue is Minister at that Department, but the islanders had already sent a copy of the letter to him.

Published in Island News
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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D today paid tribute to the men and women working in Ireland’s seafood sector for their continued efforts to reduce Ireland’s marine waste as part of the Clean Oceans Initiative.

To date, the collaborative efforts of the sector have resulted in more than 600 tonnes of mainly plastic waste being collected at sea and during shore and pier clean-ups.

The Clean Oceans Initiative is being led by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, and supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

Speaking at the pier in Greencastle, Co Donegal, Minister McConalogue commended Irish fishing, aquaculture and coastal communities for their achievements in helping to reduce what he described as “the plastic pollution pervading the marine environment.”

The Minister also highlighted the collective and ongoing work of the sector to better manage gear to prevent it from entering oceans in the first place and their efforts to remove waste from the Marine environment.

He stated, “The Irish seafood sector are a leading example of what can be achieved through collaboration. This collective approach is the key ingredient needed to tackle the plastic pollution pervading the marine environment. I am ever- impressed by the level of ingenuity being taken by the sector and this new focus to address the problem of marine waste is helping to protect Ireland’s marine environment for future generations.”

The Clean Oceans Initiative is being led by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, and supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM spoke of the learnings being gained from the sector’s involvement in the pilot project to better understand the benefits of a circular economy and said, “BIM is proud to support the work of Ireland’s fishers, aquaculture producers and other members of the seafood sector in their continued Clean Oceans Initiative activities. The sector has assumed a leadership role in the protection of the marine environment through marine litter retrieval. BIM will continue to work with industry to ensure they are prepared for new waste management requirements under impending EU legislation.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

Britain and the EU have reached agreement “in principle” on joint management of fisheries for this year, after over five months of negotiations.

The agreement was finalised in a phone call on Wednesday afternoon, June 2nd, between the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, and Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice, the commission says.

“Today's agreement closes the first-ever annual consultations on fishing opportunities between the EU and the UK under the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA),” the commission said last night.

“The successful conclusion of the negotiations, which started in January, creates a strong basis for continued EU-UK cooperation in the area of fisheries,” it said.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George EusticeBritain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice

The agreement establishes the total allowable catches (TAC) for 75 shared fish stocks for 2021, as well as for some deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022, it said.

“It also provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species. The signing of the agreement, expected in the coming days, will also enable both parties to engage in quota exchanges,” the commission said.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said the agreement “provides predictability and continuity for our fleets with definitive TACs for the remainder of the year”.

“This is good for fishermen and women, our coastal communities and our ports, as well as for the sustainable use of our marine resources. This also proves that two partners on both sides of the Channel can find agreements and move forward if they work together,” he said.

The EU said the agreement is “based on the best available scientific advice on the state of fish stocks, as provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea”.

“It takes into account important sustainability and management principles, such as maximum sustainable yield and the precautionary approach, which are central to both the EU's Common Fisheries Policy and to the fisheries provisions of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” it said.

It said it would “shortly propose to the EU Council to incorporate the agreement into EU legislation”.

Published in Fishing
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After carrying out a high level of data and positional data analysis, the Naval Service has detained the Spanish fishing trawler involved in an incident with a Castletownbere trawler in Bantry Bay last Friday.

As Afloat reported earlier, the LÉ Roisin detained the Punta Candierira approximately 95 Nautical Miles South of Mizen Head for alleged breaches of fishing regulations and is escorting it to Cobh.

The Spanish-registered vessel was at the centre of an incident within the Irish 12-mile limit in Bantry Bay on Friday morning when the Castletownbere trawler, Lours de Mer, alleged that it attempted to ram the Irish vessel to force it away from fishing grounds.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers' Organisation described the incident as "dangerous intimidation" and called for the Spanish boat to be arrested.

Castletownbere Skipper Kieran Sheehan said that the Spanish Skipper was "aggressive" and was "doing circles around us."

The Castletownbere trawler claimed that the Spanish gill-netter vessel was long-line fishing inside the 12-mile limit and cut its gear to get outside the 12-mile limit before the Navy got to the scene.

The Naval Service said it conducted a search of the area but did not find any fishing gear.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority said the Spanish vessel was "operating" within the Irish 12-mile limit.

Spanish vessels do not have rights to fish there.

The Naval Service said that they "had to contact a high level of data and positional data analysis" in the case which resulted in the detention.

This is the fifth vessel detained by the Naval Service in 2021.

Published in Navy
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Researchers at the Marine Institute are calling on fishers from around the country to participate in a new project aimed at reducing unwanted catches across harvesting practices, in an ecological, economic, and socially sustainable way.

The project, IFISH, will use a behavioural approach involving near real time on-line mapping of unwanted catches in order to simultaneously help fishers adhere to EU quotas and promote sustainability of fish stocks. Effectively the system aims to help fishers reduce the amount of catch they don't want, avoiding discards. The project is funded by a Science Foundation Ireland SIRG grant.

According to Dr. Julia Calderwood, Principle Investigator on the project, over the past few decades fishers and the wider public began to realise that discarding of fish was a significant issue throughout fisheries worldwide.

“Discarding is the throwing back of dead or damaged fish into the sea, which can undermine sustainability,” she says. “That's why legislation was introduced by the EU meaning the discarding of many fish species is no longer allowed.”

Dr. Calderwood explains that quotas are set on how much fishers can land each year. This is rolled out initially at an EU level and is thereafter divided out between the member states to manage their own stocks accordingly. In that way the species populations should be capable of replacing themselves.

Methods to control stocks

In order to adhere to quotas, fishers adopt an array of solutions that help increase selectivity in a fishery. Technical measures include using more selective nets such as those with larger mesh sizes or escape panels so that unwanted catch aren’t retained in them. However, marine researchers around the world are now considering ideas at a more sophisticated level of planning. For example, scientists at the Marine Institute have previously worked on a project to develop probability maps to help understand where and when the species subject to quotas were most likely to be caught.

“The maps didn't reveal anything truly surprising,” says Calderwood. “Fishers told us that they were generally useful as a reference tool, and broadly agreed with their own knowledge. But they were limited because they were based on catch information collected over broad areas, and over broad timeframes or seasons.”

“So, the fishers said it might be something that they would check in on every now and then, but the maps weren’t going to be used every day, because they weren’t giving them the up-to-date information on where the fish are right now.”

The IFISH system

Dr. Calderwood and her team then decided to try something more innovative. The idea is to create a mobile phone app using a near real-time mapping system to provide advice to fishers about where they might avoid fishing to not catch unwanted species or sizes of fish, helping them to stay within their quotas and improve their catch efficiency so they are still making a viable living.

“That's the IFISH project,” she says. “The idea is for skippers to provide live information on unwanted catches they encounter using our app. So, for example, they could log in and very simply and easily click on the map to indicate that, say, right here, right now, we're catching lots of something that we don't want, like undersize fish or species which aren’t marketable.”

“The app would then create an alert that would be shared among vessels who are signed up to use the app together, helping them to avoid areas with this unwanted catch. It's a win-win situation for everyone, but we need fishers to help us by signing up to help develop and test the app.”

The project aims to have an app in use during 2022 but is currently designing what is needed for this app alongside industry so that the final product best addresses their needs. The project is currently asking fishers to sign up and join in the design process. Further information and contact details can be found at www.i-fish.org

This focus on research is presented as part of the Marine Institute’s four-week Oceans of Learning campaign, which will enable everyone to engage with our ocean from anywhere. Oceans of Learning includes a new podcast series, videos and short films, news and online resources all about our ocean. There’s something for everyone and the Oceans of Learning series will explore all aspects of our marine resource - from our rich marine biodiversity, to our changing ocean climate, and our oceans future.

Published in Fishing
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The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) says that a Spanish-registered fishing vessel was "operating within the waters of Bantry Bay and therefore within Ireland's 12-nautical mile limit" during what Irish fishermen in the South West claim was an attempted ramming incident.

The incident was filmed by the crew of the Irish trawler.

The Irish skipper can be heard on VHF radio telling the Spanish boat to 'stay away from us.'

The CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers, Patrick Murphy, called SFPA Chair Susan Steele and asked for immediate action.

Fishermen also called for the Navy to protect Irish fishing boats.

The CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers, Patrick MurphyThe CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers, Patrick Murphy

"The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority are aware of a situation that arose when a Spanish registered vessel was encountered by an Irish-registered vessel operating within the waters of Bantry Bay and therefore within the IRL 12-nautical mile limit. The situation continues to be closely monitored by the National Fisheries Monitoring Centre at the Naval Base, Haulbowline," the SFPA said in a statement.

The incident happened on Friday morning, two days after fishermen staged a demonstration in Cork protesting at the dominant quotas held by non-Irish EU vessels in Irish waters.

"This was an attempt to force Irish boats off our own fishing grounds. It is intimidation. Our authorities must take action against this vessel acting extremely dangerously at sea and endangering life," the Chief Executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers' Organisation, Patrick Murphy, said. "It is appalling. This was a threat to life at sea, so action must be taken against the vessel which tried to do the ramming. The Spanish boat should be arrested and stopped from fishing in Irish waters."

Published in Fishing

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D., said that Norway unilaterally announced this morning that it would give itself a 55% increase in its share of the Mackerel Stock in 2021. In tonnage terms, this means an increase from 191,843 tonnes to 298,299 tonnes – an increase of 106,456 tonnes for 2021. The Norwegian decision seeks to increase its share of the Mackerel Stock from 22.5% to 35%.

Mackerel has been managed under a UN Coastal States Agreement that involved the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands for the period 2014 to 2020. Iceland had refused to participate in the management agreement and the three parties set aside a share of the stock for it. In 2021, after Brexit and the UK departure from the EU, the new parties involved have not been able to put a new Coastal States Agreement on Mackerel in place.

Minister McConalogue said, “This declaration by Norway to hugely increase its fishery for mackerel is a direct threat to the sustainability of the mackerel fishery and the future of the Irish pelagic fishing industry. There is no justification for this unilateral, opportunistic and unsustainable move. This is all the more disappointing because it undermines the critically important arrangements for joint management of mackerel by the Coastal States under the UN structure. As the scientific advice sets the sustainable level of fishing each year on mackerel, an increase by Norway means either the stock is overfished or other parties must take a smaller share. Neither option is acceptable.”

The mackerel stock is a widely distributed, migratory fish that inhabits much of the north-eastern Atlantic shelf ranging from south of Ireland and the Bay of Biscay to north of Norway. It is fast swimming forming dense shoals when migrating from its spawning grounds to the south and west of Ireland and migrate to northern waters to feedThe mackerel stock is a widely distributed, migratory fish that inhabits much of the north-eastern Atlantic shelf ranging from south of Ireland and the Bay of Biscay to north of Norway. It is fast swimming forming dense shoals when migrating from its spawning grounds to the south and west of Ireland and migrate to northern waters to feed

Under the EU /UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement, there was a 26% reduction in our mackerel quota within the EU by 2026, with 60% of this reduction applied in 2021. Mackerel remains Irelands most important fishery with a quota for 2021 of 60,849 tonnes valued at approximately €80m and it underpins the important Irish pelagic fish processing industry in the North West. Ireland is the largest Mackerel quota holder in the EU.

Minister Mc McConalogue made clear that; “I am calling on EU Commissioner Sinkevičius to reject completely this unilateral action by Norway to claim a much higher share of the mackerel stock. I am writing to him immediately to ask him to respond without delay to this provocative and irresponsible action. I will ask him to outline what actions the European Commission will take to protect the important EU mackerel fleets and mackerel processing industry. It is vital that the EU Commissioner takes urgent steps to counteract this irresponsible action by Norway. Norway must understand that responsible partners do not get rewarded for such unacceptable action.”

Minister Mc McConalogue added, “Our mackerel fishermen have already taken unacceptable cuts to their share of the mackerel stock under the EU/UK TCA. I am working with them to pursue all avenues to deliver a more equitable burden sharing within the EU. I am very concerned that this action by Norway will add further uncertainty to the mackerel industry already trying to adjust to reduce quotas after Brexit.”

Published in Fishing
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A flotilla of 73 Irish fishing vessels participated in a mass demonstration yesterday which may be the first in a series of protests, according to industry leaders.

The “Show and Tell” event organised by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) delivered a letter to the constituency office of Taoiseach Micheal Martin in Cork, seeking direct talks with him.

Vessels from Clogherhead, Co Louth right round to Rossaveal, Co Galway, and including all southern ports, participated – leaving berths up to 24 hours beforehand in some cases to make it to Cork harbour.

“This is the first stage in a campaign, where we want to show the Irish people what is actually happening to our industry,” IS&WFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy said.

80 per cent of the beamer fleet from south coast Irish ports also took part, Murphy noted.

80 per cent of the beamer fleet from south coast Irish ports took part in the Cork Harbour campaign Photo: Bob Bateman80 per cent of the beamer fleet from south coast Irish ports took part in the Cork Harbour campaign Photo: Bob Bateman

The loss of 15 per cent overall of Irish fish quota in the Brexit deal and the reintroduction of an administrative penalty points system were key issues that the event aimed to highlight.

The protest also aimed to emphasise the impact of the recent withdrawal of the EU control plan - which means all fish catches have to be weighed on piers.

The Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association has called on Irish Marine minister Charlie McConalogue to demand evidence from the EU for what it has described as a “blunt, crude” decision by the EU Commission.

“What makes this unbearable is that all this is happening during a global pandemic, where the Irish fishing fleet was designated an essential service for the continuity of food supply,” Murphy said.

The fleet assembled at Roche’s Point off Cork harbour early on Wednesday and steamed up to Cork Port.

“Fishing crews, mechanics, engineers, oil companies, net manufacturers, shops, supermarkets all supported us –it was a real community event,” Murphy said.

Murphy paid tribute to the Garda, Naval Service and Port of Cork for accommodating the peaceful protest, and to members of the public for supporting it.

“Fishermen are putting themselves before the public, to show them the boats they have, the huge investment, creating jobs, the families with long traditions who face being forced out of fishing,” he said.

“Many businesses throughout the country, through no fault of their own, will not survive the current climate financially,” the IS&WFPO has warned.

“ The countless job losses, financial worries these people have of maintaining mortgage payments and putting food on their tables is unimaginable,” it says.

A photo gallery of the trawler protest at Roches Point is here

Published in Fishing
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Fishing vessels are steaming up the river Lee to Cork city this morning in protest over serious issues affecting the Irish industry.

A beautiful morning in Cork Harbour has allowed the fleet to assemble at Roches Point in perfectly flat sea conditions.

See photo gallery below

The “Show and Tell” campaign, spearheaded by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO), aims to deliver a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s constituency office in Turner’s Cross, Cork.

The IS&WFPO says it has the co-operation with the Port of Cork Company and the Garda for the event and is inviting the public to “come and view these vessels, meet the men and women who work these vessels, hear their stories and talk with our representatives”.

The protest fleet assembled off Roches Point, Cork Harbour at 7 am on Wednesday, and a public address will be held at Horgan’s Quay, Cork at 12 noon, before the walk to Turner’s Cross.

 
Published in Cork Harbour
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Fishermen from the South West Coast will head for Cork Port on Wednesday to "show and tell the crazy scenario" facing their industry.

"We are not being treated fairly by either the EU or the government who are not protecting the natural resource of Ireland to which Irish people should have the major rights," according to their Chief Executive Patrick Murphy.

"Fishermen don't want to be in this situation. It is not what they want to be doing, but they are left with no choice; things are so bad. The fishing industry is a vital part of our coastal economy and we need community support for it," says the CEO.

The planned flotilla will assemble at 7 a.m. on Wednesday at Roche's Point and sail up the River Lee to the city quays.

The 'show and tell event' is being coordinated with the Port of Cork and An Garda Síochána to minimise any disruption to harbour traffic and commercial business.

Listen to Tom MacSweeney's podcast with Fishing Chief Patrick Murphy below and read Afloat's report by Lorna Siggins on the protest here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Page 4 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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