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Displaying items by tag: conservation

#Angling - The 2015 Salmon Conservation Fund (SCF) and Midland Fisheries Fund (MFF) are now open for applications, Minister Joe McHugh has announced yesterday (Wednesday 15 April).

In total, €240,000 is available to conserve and develop the inland fisheries resource from funds generated through the sale of salmon licences and Midland Fisheries Area permits.

The schemes administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IF) will facilitate clubs, fishery owners, commercial salmon fishers and other organisations to undertake works to improve habitat, stocks, access, invasive species management and angling, under the supervision and direction of IFI.

The works undertaken are important in maintaining and improving capacity within the inland fisheries resource, which is estimated to contribute €755 million annually to the Irish economy.

Announcing the schemes, Minister McHugh said: “I am pleased to be able to support IFI in making these funds available to fisheries interests to allow for ground-up, managed sustainable development of the inland fisheries resources.

"Some wonderful projects have been supported since these funds have been established and I encourage all those interested in fisheries to investigate the possibilities under the various schemes to conserve, develop and promote their local fisheries.” 

The Salmon Conservation Scheme has been in existence for eight years and has allocated funding to 184 salmon projects all around Ireland. €200,000 is available for distribution under this scheme in 2015.

The Midland Fisheries Fund, which is now beginning its third year, has seen 17 projects undertaken in the midlands area developing angling resources, supporting scientific research and conserving fisheries habitat. A further €40,000 is available under this scheme for 2015.

Full details and application forms are available on the Midland Fisheries Fund HERE.

Published in Angling

#hyc – Howth Yacht Club's Pat Murphy presents the life of Asgard, this famous yacht in Irish history from her launch in 1905 to her current conservation in Collins Barracks Museum and the 100th commemoration in 2014. The venue for the special talk is Howth Yacht Club this Wednesday, 18th February at 20:00. The lecture is open to all inlcuding non–yacht club members.  

'Asgard's' 23 day voyage to collect the guns and ammunition for the Irish Volunteers and their landing in Howth in July 1914 is described in detail with unique photographs. Also covered will be the landing of Conor O'Brien's 'Kelpie' in Kilcoole.

Donations, no matter how small, will be welcomed on the night for the Howth 17s Heritage Fund.

Published in Howth YC

#Lobster - Ireland's Marine Minister "is displaying no scientific understanding, and leaving older lobsters in the sea to die" in his new measures to protect lobster stocks, according to an inshore fisheries leader.

As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, Minister Simon Coveney signed into law new conservation measures that introduce a new maximum landing size of 127mm, in order to preserve larger lobsters and enhance the reproductive potential of the stock.

The move follows the introduction earlier this year of an enhanced 'V-notching' programme to mark lobsters that should not be re-caught. And the minister has allowed for a two-year transition for lobstermen to avail of financial assistance to V-notch oversize lobsters and return them alive.

But Eamon Dixon, chair of the North-West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum, told The Irish Times that fishermen would be put out of business by the "crazy" new landing size limit, well above the 89mm previously proposed.

Dixon added that the changes "will do nothing to protect the stock, and will only anger fishermen who had asked [the minister] to defer any change until the new regional inshore fisheries forums were up in action."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#lobster – The Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., has signed into law, conservation measures as part of an integrated package to protect the long-term sustainability of lobster and shrimp stocks.

Lobster & Shrimp stocks are vital stocks for the important inshore fisheries sector and these stocks have been under increased fishing pressure requiring a number of conservation measures to ensure their sustainability.

In May, the Minister announced that the rate of financial assistance provided to fishermen for v-notching lobsters was increased to 75% of the market value. Figures from BIM, which administers the lobster v-notching programme, indicate that the number of lobsters v-notched in 2014 was more than double the numbers of recent years, with some €250,000 of funding supporting the return of more than 30,000 berried female lobsters to the sea this year.

As part of the Minister Coveney's announcement in May he also published the results of an extensive consultation process on lobster and shrimp management and announced that he had approved plans to revise conservation measures for these stocks. Following the success of the enhanced v notching programme for Lobsters and the completion of the consultation exercise the Minister is now enhancing the conservation measures further as part of an integrated approach. Under the new protection measures for lobster, a maximum landing size of 127mm is being introduced to support the reproductive potential of the stock. The retention of very large Lobsters in the Lobster stock are known scientifically to greatly enhance the reproductive potential of the stock and help to ensure its future sustainability.

Minister Coveney said, "I am greatly encouraged by the upsurge in v-notching conservation activity since my announcement in May. Lobsters are one of the most important species to the inshore sector and we need to work to ensure the long-term future of this valuable stock."

To ease the introduction of the new measure, during the first two years of this new measure's operation fishermen can avail of financial assistance for v-notching 'oversize' lobsters and returning them alive to the sea as a conservation measure. In the case of the shrimp fishery the new measures will see an earlier closing date of 15 March, instead of 1 May, commencing in 2015. This will improve stock protection during the critical shrimp spawning period.

Published in Fishing

#Turlough - TheJournal.ie reports that waste water from a whole town in Co Galway is being piped into a Special Area of Conservation.

According to an investigation by Ireland's national trust An Taisce, sewage from the town of Glenamaddy, home to some 700 residents in the north-east of the county, is being discharged in a local turlough - a lake that appears and disappears as the water table rises and falls - from which is has contaminated a nearby spring.

An Taisce described the town's present sewage unit as "primitive" and said: "It has been a subject of internal discussions within various public authorities for the best part of at least 20 years, yet the hazard continues to this day.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#MaritimeBorder - Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has signed a new agreement that establishes a fixed maritime boundary between the UK and Ireland's offshore areas, as The Irish Times reports.

Gilmore put pen to paper on the deal with British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that finalises a single boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and continental shelves of both countries.

The agreement is expected to ease development of offshore energy projects, as well as improve fisheries protection and marine conservation in the EEZ, which lies above the continental shelf between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the coast.

However, despite the new deal, Ireland and Britain's differing claims over Rockall in the North Atlantic remain.

The small rocky islet, 228 nautical miles northwest of Donegal, is also claimed by Denmark and Iceland.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - UK environmentalists have expressed their disappointment at the British government's slow progress on developing its promised network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The consultation period was for the proposals was set to end on Sunday 31 March - amid fears among conservation groups that were realised some months ago with the news that just 31 out of a potential 127 sites would be designated as protected for marine wildlife and plantlife by the end of this year.

It's being reported that Environment Minister Richard Beynon is blaming budget cuts and the high cost of scientific assessment for the slowdown in progress on the government's side.

"I want to do as many zones as we can for as little as we can," he told the BBC. "People have waited many years for this; we will designate the first tranche in September and will announce the next lot for consultation then."

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said in December that it was "encouraged" by the British government's "sensible" phased approach to the MCZ plans.

However, conservationists like Jolyon Chesworth from the Wildlife Trusts argue that their interests are being asked "to compromise on a compromise".

Chesworth added that the original 127 zones "were only nominated after very long discussions with anglers, sailors and the fishing industry".

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RYA - The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has said it is "encouraged" by the British government's approach to designating Marine Conservations Zones (MCZs) around the coastlines of England and Wales - the details of which have disappointed environmental groups.

RYA planning and environment advisor Caroline Price commented: “The phased approach that government is proposing appears on the face of it to be very sensible.  
 
“The RYA has been resolute in insisting that an MCZ should be no larger than required to protect the habitats and wildlife features which it is intended to protect and that the scientific basis for designating a particular feature for protection should be sound.  

“We are pleased therefore to see that ministers have recognised that they need to have a strong evidence base when looking to designate sites, from both an ecological and socio-economic perspective.

“We are particularly encouraged that the approach to highly protected sites is being reviewed as the proposals for Reference Areas are of great concern to us.” 

Of the 31 sites proposed in the consultation for designation by the end of 2013, the RYA has objections to only one of the sites - the Aln Estuary, which contains "a small charted anchorage in the one location in which a vessel can stay afloat at all states of the tide in the estuary". 

The response from the RYA comes just days after environmental groups in the UK expressed their dismay over the government's decision to designate just a quarter of the recommended 127 sites.

As the Guardian reports, Westminster was accused of a "lack of ambition" by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the announcement last Thursday 13 December, which it says ignores the government's own advisers who recommend a 'coherent network' that includes immediate designation for 59 sites regarded as 'highly threatened'.

The RYA says it is "broadly supportive of government plans to establish a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas and Marine Conservation Zones.

"However, it has fought throughout the process to date, and will continue to do so, to protect the public right of navigation and to ensure, as far as is possible, that recreational boating interests are not adversely affected by the designation of such MCZs."

It also emphasises that the "omission of the detail of management measures from this [public] consultation means that we still don’t really know what designation will actually mean" to affected local communities.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Fears among conservation groups that the UK would enact just a quarter of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in British waters have been realised with the news that just 31 out of a potential 127 sites will be designated as protected by the end of 2013.

The original proposals, as reported last year on Afloat.ie, cover the waters around the English and Welsh coastlines - of which only 1% is currently protected - recommending a variety of zones that offer different levels of protection for marine wildlife and plantlife, allowing flexibility for fishing and other activities.

A government decision on the conservation areas was already postponed in November last year after pressure from coastlines users.

But as the Guardian reports, Westminster has now been accused of a "lack of ambition" by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the announcement on Thursday 13 December, which the charity says flies in the face of the government's own advisers who have recommended a 'coherent network' of sites around Britain, including the immediate designation for 59 sites regarded as 'highly threatened'.

"We cannot delay protection," said Jean-Luc Solandt of MCS. "We wouldn't stand by and let wildflower meadows and ancient forests be dug up and cleared, and yet heavy fishing gear is dragged across all kinds of habitats, destroying large swaths of the seabed with very little control."

The World Wide Find for Nature (WWF) added to the chorus of disapproval, saying the decision by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) "falls woefully short of what is needed to protect the marine environment".

Ali Champion of WWF UK said: “It’s disappointing and shows a complete lack of commitment to the protection of our seas in a coherent way."

Of the four zones recommended for the Irish Sea area, only one - at Fylde Offshore, off Lancashire - has been chosen by Defra for protection. But as the Blackpool Gazette reports, local campaigners say they will vow to continue the fight to 'save our seas'.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#ANGLING - The Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) annual Sponsorship Scheme for 2013 is now open for applications. 

There are some changes to the scheme for 2013, with biosecurity and catch and release conditions "safeguarding Ireland’s wonderful inland fisheries and sea angling resources". 

Prizes may be sponsored under the scheme, but must be fishing tackle or angling-related in order to support those providing a service to Ireland's estimated 500,000 anglers.

The scheme is open to federations, clubs, individuals, youth groups, commercial salmon sector, etc who in the past have gained sponsorship for competitions, angling lessons, heritage projects and international, national and local events, all of which promote some or all of the following: inland fisheries, recreational angling and conservation.

Minister Fergus O'Dowd welcomed the scheme, saying: “Angling, and Ireland’s wonderful fisheries are there for all to enjoy. IFI, by supporting such activity is empowering individuals and organisations to boost their local economies, teach all ages and abilities to fish, have a hobby for life, and helping protect and sustain our fisheries resource into the future.”

Full details of the scheme are available on the IFI website and the closing date for receipt of applications is 15 January 2013.

Meanwhile, Minister O'Dowd has also announced the opening of the 2012-13 Salmon Conservation Fund Contributors Scheme, which has an initial allocation of €200,000 available for projects which help in the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon. 

Applications are invited from clubs, fishery owners, individuals and commercial salmon fishermen who have contributed to the fund by 15 March 2013.

According to IFI, the scheme - which was run on a pilot basis for the previous two years - has been a success to date, with projects from all over Ireland awarded funding. 

Applicants work with IFI to agree projects and many have been successful in securing additional LEADER funding.

The minister commented: “I never cease to be impressed by the work enthusiastic, passionate anglers and individuals can get done, ensuring that our natural resource is conserved and protected for future generations. 

"The long term effect will ensure biodiversity and improved stocks of salmon from which Ireland can derive economic benefit through recreational angling, and commercial exploitation in years to come.”

Details of the scheme can be downloaded from the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling
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Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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