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Bord Iascaigh Mhara chief executive Jim O’Toole is to move to Bord Bia where he will head up the organisation from November 1st.

Mr O’Toole is the second BIM chief executive to move to Bord Bia.

His predecessor, Tara McCarthy, was just over a year with BIM when she was appointed to succeed Aidan Cotter as Bord Bia head in January 2017.

Ms McCarthy moved to Alltech in June of this year, and Michael Murphy took over as interim Bord Bia chief executive.

Bord Bia chairman s Dan MacSweeney said “on behalf of the board, I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Jim O'Toole as CEO of Bord Bia”.

“We welcome Jim to Bord Bia and the knowledge, experience and insight he brings to the role and to the organisation,” he said.

“ His considerable experience in the agri-food sector, depth of international experience and strong corporate, strategic and operational expertise makes him an ideal leader to deliver strategic transformation, building on the great work of his predecessors and the rest of the Bord Bia team,” McSweeney said.

“ We look forward to working with Jim, and are confident his leadership will ensure Bord Bia continues to deliver on its strategic mission to promote sustainably-produced Irish produce to customers around the world,” he said.

He also paid tribute to interim chief executive Michael Murphy.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue said that O’Toole “brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and strategic understanding of our agri-food sector”.

“I have worked closely with Jim in his current role as CEO of BIM, and he will be an excellent CEO for Bord Bia. This is a very exciting time for our agri-food industry and Jim will lead a very talented team during one of the most defining periods for our sector,” he said.

“I particularly thank Michael Murphy, who will continue to lead Bord Bia as Interim CEO until November. Along with Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D., I look forward to leading a major agri-food trade mission to key Asian markets (Japan, Singapore and Vietnam) with Bord Bia and my Department, starting at the end of August,” McConalogue said.

The appointment was also welcomed by junior ministers Martin Heydon and Pippa Hackett.

O’Toole said he is “deeply honoured to be appointed as Bord Bia’s CEO and I look forward to working with the Board and the talented team in Bord Bia to implement the recently published strategy”.

“ I have been most fortunate to have previously spent over twenty years in Bord Bia and more recently have had the privilege of being the CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara for over five years. I sincerely wish my BIM colleagues the best for the future and look forward to continuing the close collaboration between the two agencies,” he said.

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Engineering, scientific and aquaculture entrepreneurs gathered for the annual Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Aquatech Community Day at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ Building on Tuesday, July 26.

The event, now in its fifth year, is the culmination of a month-long Innovation Studio where ten business start-ups from different disciplines took part in an intensive programme to help fast-track their business ideas for commercial viability in the Irish and global aquaculture industry.

To date, 46 start-ups have participated from BIM’s Innovation Studio, supported by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and run in partnership with global aquaculture accelerator Hatch.

The initiative has seen more than €13 million invested and g130+ new jobs generated in aquatech in Ireland.

Sound technology that monitors oyster welfare 

Lee Hunter, a young Donegal oyster farmer was among the start-ups taking part in this year’s programme. His business, The Oyster Pitch, uses sound technology to monitor oyster welfare and to reduce mortality.

Another 2022 Innovation Studio participant included Aquamontrix, a continuous real-time sensor technology to monitor nitrate and nitrite levels in sea water.

Pictured from left to right, Lee Hunter, Founder and CEO, The Oyster Pitch, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM and Tanja Hoel, Director at Hatch Innovation ServicesPictured from left to right, Lee Hunter, Founder and CEO, The Oyster Pitch, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM and Tanja Hoel, Director at Hatch Innovation Services

Fostering aquaculture discipline

Giving the opening address at the event, BIM CEO Jim O’Toole spoke about food security and the long-term strategy to develop and foster local aquaculture talent. This involves attracting other crucial disciplines like engineering, analytics and finance to help them develop Irish aquaculture businesses with a global reach.

“Investing in aquatech is specifically targeted in the Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy and is something BIM is intent on delivering. Our ambition is to position Ireland as a global centre for aquaculture innovation and to support companies to grow and develop in this sector in collaboration with other agencies.”

Wayne Murphy, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Hatch, referred to the risk-taking intrinsic to entrepreneurship and central to the continued innovation and growth within aquatech in Ireland and globally. He referred to the initial approach Hatch made some 5 years earlier with BIM and how the State seafood development agency had been supportive from the outset.

“Aquatech has entrepreneurship at its core - and entrepreneurship is about risk-taking. BIM were enthusiastic partners when Hatch first approached the agency. 5 years on and 46 start-up businesses from a wide range of disciplines have taken the risk, creating more than 130 jobs.”

During a panel discussion with Teresa Morrissey, Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Aquaculture, Carsten Krome, Founder & Partner, Hatch, Martin Dempsey, Founder and CEO, Sealac Ltd. and Richard Donnelly, Shellfish and Salmon Manager, BIM, Richard Donnelly drew parallels with the IFSC’s ability to spur investment and innovation following its established three decades earlier.

“It is just 35 years since the IFSC was established. It is remarkable to consider how its establishment was truly visionary at the time, and how many other sectors followed in its path. The aquatech sector in Ireland has the potential to achieve this same effect.”

The global aquaculture industry is the fastest-growing food sector today. Its value exceeds €280 billion. The Irish aquaculture industry is currently valued at €175 million with primary production (fin-fish and shellfish farming) at its core.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has today (Monday 25 July) announced approval for a scheme which will provide €20 million in funding for capital investments to accelerate the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scheme is based on a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force which was established by the minister to assess the impacts of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the fishing sector and coastal communities.

The Seafood Task Force recommended the aquaculture sector be provided with support for its development in order to mitigate against the collective negative impacts across sectors of the seafood industry. This scheme is proposed for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

This scheme aims to mitigate the adverse economic and social consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on seafood processors adversely affected by loss of raw material supply arising from the TCA quota reductions, aquaculture enterprises directly impacted by the UK withdrawal, and coastal communities adversely affected by a broad range of impacts arising from the TCA quota reductions and wider Brexit impacts.

It aims to achieve these objectives by developing alternative sources of suitable employment in the coastal communities affected, by developing an alternative source of native raw material supply for seafood processors and by enhancing the viability of aquaculture enterprises.

The three scheme objectives will be pursued by accelerating the sustainable growth of aquaculture enterprises, thus aiding enhanced local employment in coastal communities, producing more farmed fish to supply the processing sector and directly enhancing the viability of the aquaculture enterprises concerned. This scheme will support aquaculture enterprises to undertake capital investment projects.

The minister’s department says these investments will enable aquaculture enterprises to sustainably grow production, value and employment, will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture enterprises and will support the evolution of SME enterprises through scaling up.

While investment will generally be supported at a maximum of 40% of eligible costs, a higher incentive rate of 50% will apply to certain climate change investments, to investment in seaweed aquaculture and to investment in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) projects.

Funding will be prioritised for projects that contribute most to the objectives of the scheme, to climate change objectives and to prioritisation of SMEs generally.

Announcing the approval of the scheme, Minister McConalogue said: “Our aquaculture sector employs 2,000 people directly and supports thousands more in the local economies. There is even greater potential for growth. The supports for these producers will help create jobs and increase Ireland’s supply of high-quality seafood to local markets and for export.”

Based on the recommendation by the task force, the scheme will support investments in modernisation and capacity building, increasing added-value in products, improving energy supply and efficiency, and reducing environmental impact. Importantly, the scheme will also support new entrants into the aquaculture industry. Grants of 30% to 50% of eligible costs will be available.

“This scheme will be a significant boost for the aquaculture sector and will allow for expansion which focuses on sustainability and which is sensitive to our natural environment,” the minister said. “It will assist Ireland to maintain and grow its reputation as a producer of high-quality seafood, both at home and abroad, and help aquaculture producers achieve their ambitions for sustainable expansion.”

The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the minister has requested that BIM open its call for applications as soon as possible. Due to the time limitations placed on BAR funding, investment projects must be completed by October 2023 to qualify for funding.

The minister added: “This is the latest in a series of schemes that I have announced to support the seafood sector and coastal communities which are most dependent on the sea for their livelihoods. The scheme will assist the aquaculture industry in sustainably growing production, value and employment.

“These investments will ensure that Ireland maintains its reputation as a source of premium quality seafood, protect food supply chains in times of uncertainty, grow coastal economies and sustain the natural environment.

“I am acutely aware that the past few years have presented a challenging operating environment for these sectors and I am pleased that we have been able to be responsive in offering considerable amounts of support to help stakeholders overcome this challenges and engage in growth initiatives.”

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The fast-changing and evolving landscape of Ireland’s post-Brexit blue economy mean the skills needed for these types of jobs in coastal communities are also changing and evolving.

Individuals already working in the blue economy who want to develop their career or those who would like start to work in the blue economy are being urged to apply for training grants of up to €10,000 available under the €25 million Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme, which is being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The blue economy covers a wide range of economic activities within coastal communities. In Ireland, about 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast and many communities along the Irish coast depend on blue economy industries such as tourism, fishing and aquaculture.

As well as providing funding of up to €200,000 for capital projects, the recently launched Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme also provides funding of up to €10,000 per applicant for skills development and training.

Given that many courses begin term in the autumn, BIM is calling on all interested parties to visit its website to learn more about the grants that are available for skills and development.

Brenda O’Riordan, regional officer at BIM said having the right skills and training can help businesses manage change and the growing need to be more flexible and adaptable within today’s blue economy. 

“One of the certainties for anyone working today is the need to be able to adapt to change,” she said. “For example, having digital skills is increasingly important for many seafood and other blue economy businesses, as more transactions move online. This is just one example of where an individual could really enhance their skills for the benefit of themselves and the wider coastal community.”

The Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme is an initiative of the Government of Ireland and is being administered by BIM. The aim of this new scheme is to help address economic and social impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union for businesses operating in the blue economy and located in communities within 10km of the coastline.

The scheme has a €25 million budget available in 2022 and 2023, funded under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve. For more details visit bim.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has today (Tuesday 21 June) announced an extension of the 2022 Brexit Voluntary Temporary Fishing Vessel Tie-up Scheme for the polyvalent and beam trawl fleets to include the month of November 2022.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scheme is an extension of the 2021 Tie-up Scheme, with some modifications, and aims to help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts for 2022 arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The scheme delivers on a recommendation of the Report of the Seafood Task Force – ‘Navigating Change’ (October 2021) and is proposed for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

In light of the quota cuts taking effect in 2022, Minister McConalogue modified the scheme so that vessel owners can, if they wish, choose to tie-up for up to two calendar months — thereby freeing up additional quota for those vessels continuing to fish, supporting viability in the wider fleet.

However, vessels choosing to tie up for two months must maintain a two-month gap between tie-up months, for example June and September or July and October

Payment rates will be the same as the 2021 scheme. Vessel owners participating in the 2022 scheme will again be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew.

As previously reported, the minister made a formal request to the European Commission to amend the approval of the scheme to encompass November so as to provide for an additional August/November tie-up option.

An official response was received today with no objections to the scheme as amended, on the grounds that it is compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

“I am pleased to have secured this extension of the time frame allowable for the 2022 Brexit Voluntary Tie-up Scheme,” Minister McConalogue said. “The third option of an August/November tie-up is key to the industry’s ability to manage and maintain the supply of fish to all its customers throughout the six month period of the tie-up scheme.

“This extension has been sought by industry and I welcome their responsiveness to learnings from the experiences of the 2021 scheme.”

The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and further details will be published by BIM shortly.

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, announced (Friday, 3 June) the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme is officially open for applications for grant funding to enable coastal communities to restructure, reconfigure, retrain, and diversify post-Brexit.

An initiative of the Government of Ireland, and administered by BIM, the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme aims to counter the adverse economic and social consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on businesses operating in the blue economy and located in communities within 10km of the coastline.

The Scheme, the largest of its kind ever, will have a €25 million budget available for the years 2022 and 2023, funded under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The Scheme will be delivered through the existing Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs). The Fisheries Local Action Groups uniquely focus local development funding specifically for areas within 10kms of the sea around the entire coast, precisely the communities that are most impacted by Brexit.

The Scheme is one of the recommendations of the Seafood Sector Taskforce, established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. in March 2021 to mitigate against the impacts of Brexit on the wider Irish seafood industry and coastal communities.

Welcoming today’s announcement the Minister Charlie McConalogue said: “The blue economy is the beating heart of Ireland’s rural coastal communities. This new Scheme is designed to help strengthen and rejuvenate those communities by giving businesses an opportunity to apply for funding for their blue economy activities in areas including seafood, coastal tourism, boat building and maintenance, marine recreation, and renewable energy initiatives.”

Stimulating entrepreneurial activity, providing mentoring to help businesses adapt and find new opportunities and helping people train or retrain to allow them to keep and use their marine skills within the blue economy will enhance the profitability and economic viability of these community’s post Brexit. Grants of up to €200,000 are available and can be used to cover capital investment projects, along with mentoring and training.

In Ireland, 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast and many communities along the Irish coast depend on industries including tourism, fishing and aquaculture. Launching the Scheme Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM, referred to the unique identity of Ireland’s coastal communities and how this latest scheme will help to stimulate already established businesses, and new business ideas, in these communities.

“The seafood sector is an important contributor to Ireland’s coastal communities and combined with other blue economy activities, gives Ireland’s coastal communities a unique and rich heritage - for those who live and work in them and for those who visit. This new scheme will help these communities adapt to new market realities in the post-Brexit landscape by stimulating further growth of the blue economy.”

More here

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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, today announced the appointment of Aidan Cotter as Chair of Board Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). BIM is the State Agency that helps to develop the Irish seafood industry by providing technical expertise, business support, funding, training and promoting responsible environmental practice.

Mr Cotter has been appointed following a Public Service Appointment Service (PAS) process from 17 May 2022 for a period of three years.

Minister Mc Conalogue said “ I am very pleased that Aidan Cotter has undertaken the important role as Chair of BIM. BIM provides an essential service in supporting and developing the seafood sector and Aidan will lead the work of BIM during this particularly challenging period dealing with the impacts of the EU/UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement and high fuel prices. I am fully satisfied that Aidan experience in both his executive role in leading Board Bia and his wide experience in supporting and growing the food sector in Ireland ensures that he has the skills and experience for this important role. He will bring dedication and leadership to this role to realise the full potential of the seafood sector.”

Aidan was appointed by the Minister as chairperson of the Seafood Task Force in March 2021 and completed a comprehensive report in October 2021 – Navigating Change, the Report of the Seafood Task Force. The Task Force examined the implications of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement for the Irish fishing industry and to make recommendations. Implementation of many of the approved schemes and initiatives recommended by the Task Force is now being undertaken by BIM, working closely with the Department.

Aidan Cotter previously served as CEO of Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board - from 2004 until 2017, having earlier served the organisation in Dusseldorf and London. As CEO, he initiated significant strategic change across the organisation, covering a period which saw the sustained expansion of Ireland’s overall food and drink exports, the extension of its office network eastwards into the Middle East and Asia, and the establishment of its state of the art, globally connected Consumer Insight Centre.

In 2012, he initiated and led the launch of Origin Green, the world’s first national sustainability programme for food and drink, firmly establishing Ireland’s environmental credentials and its international reputation as a world leader in sustainability.

He served as Chairman of Slaney Foods, a joint venture between ABP Foods Group and the Fane Valley Group from 2017 to 2021 and currently Chairs the Plastics Action Alliance. He is a practising barrister.

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As the transitional period for compliance with Safe Manning legislation ends, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency is urging all skippers of vessels of 15 metres in length and above that hold a Second Hand Limited (SHL) certificate, to ensure their Certificate of Competency is endorsed for service as Second Hand Special.

Skippers and owners should check whether they need a second crew member with a Certificate of Competency to be on board to comply with the regulations.

Information on certificates of competency and endorsements may be obtained at www.seafarers.ie. At least 12 months of sea service is required to obtain an endorsement to a SHL certificate.

Safe manning relates to the safe operation of fishing vessels and takes account of the safe navigation of the vessel, operations, machinery, and maintenance. On December 19th, 2019 it became a legal requirement for all fishing vessels of 15 metres in length and above, to apply a safe manning document from the Marine Survey Office (MSO) and Department of Transport. Application forms are available from Gov.ie (MSO Application forms- FV Less than 500gt)

BIM is an approved provider of maritime training on behalf of the MSO. Its two National Fisheries Colleges of Ireland in Greencastle, Co Donegal and in Castletownbere, Co Cork and its mobile Coastal Training Units deliver training to fishers throughout Ireland, to support a safe and professional industry.

To apply to endorse your certificate of competency contact the Mercantile Marine Office at the address below or to find out more information, please contact either of the BIM colleges by email or phone.

Mercantile Marine Office (MMO)

Maritime Services Division, Irish Maritime Administration, Department of Transport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, D02TR60.

Tel: +353 (0) 1 6783480

Email: [email protected]

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue today (Wednesday 11 May) announced a 2022 Brexit Voluntary Temporary Fishing Vessel Tie-Up Scheme for the polyvalent and beam-trawl fleets.

The scheme is an extension of the 2021 Tie-Up Scheme, with some modifications, and aims to help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts for 2022 arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“The object of the scheme is to enable a reduction in quota uptake so as to improve quota availability for the fleet overall throughout the remainder of the year,” Minister McConalogue said.

“The €24 million scheme I am announcing today delivers on a key recommendation of the Report of the Seafood Task Force – Navigating Change (October 2021). In light of the quota cuts taking effect in 2022 I have modified the scheme so that vessel owners can, if they wish, choose to tie-up for up to two calendar months.

“This enhanced tie up opportunity will free up additional quota for those vessels continuing to fish, supporting viability in the wider fleet.”

Payment rates will be the same as the 2021 scheme. Vessel owners participating in the 2022 scheme will again be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew.

In order to maintain the supply of fish to processors and fishmongers, vessels choosing to tie-up for two months must maintain a two-month gap between tie-up months, for example June and September or July and October.

The scheme will initially be expected to operate over the period June to October, but the minister will be asking the European Commission to amend the approval of the scheme to encompass November so as to provide for an additional August/November tie up option.

The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and further details will be available from BIM at bim.ie/fisheries/funding/

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, in collaboration with Chef Network Ireland and Fáilte Ireland on Monday 9th May 2022 announced the Taste the Atlantic, Young Chef Ambassador Programme for 2022. The aim of the programme is to engage with five ambitious young chefs, and over a four-month period mentor them through an exciting journey of learning about Ireland’s premium seafood offering along the Atlantic seaboard. This is the second year of the successful programme. Five chefs took part in the programme in 2021.

The selected chefs will benefit from on-site farm visits with Taste the Atlantic seafood producers where they will learn first-hand how organic salmon, mussels and oysters are sustainably produced in Ireland. They will also receive training in social media, business, culinary and fish handling skills from experienced industry mentors, such as Michelin starred chef, JP McMahon. Each chef will be paired with a Taste the Atlantic producer to learn about the provenance of the seafood they produce, broadening their knowledge and inspiring them to create Irish seafood recipes. At the end of the programme, the chefs will work together to create a Taste the Atlantic menu, showcasing the skill and knowledge they have gained on their journey as ambassadors helping to highlight the quality and sustainably produced seafood on the Wild Atlantic Way as well as raising awareness of food tourism.

Máirtin Walsh, Development Executive with BIM said, “BIM is delighted to announce the second year of the programme and looks forward to building on the success of 2021. It was inspiring to work with last year’s chefs and to watch them develop such an appreciation of Ireland’s valuable aquaculture sector. As a sector, providing direct employment to almost 2,000 people, it’s a significant contributor to rural, coastal communities, and was valued at €175 million in 2021. The consumption of seafood in Ireland grew by 3% to €418 million in 2021, with the hospitality sector being the main contributor. We look forward to guiding this year’s chefs on their Taste the Atlantic seafood journey!”

Sarah Browne from County Kerry was one of the Young Chef Ambassadors in 2021 and went on to work at Cava Bodega in Galway after the programme. Speaking at the launch of this year’s programme, she said:

“I’m passionate about sustainable food and I was so impressed when meeting the producers last year how much emphasis they place on sustainability and how future-focussed they were. The programme really boosted my confidence in my culinary skills around seafood and it was a huge stepping-stone for my career. I’d highly recommend it.”

JP McMahon, chef-proprietor at Michelin-starred Aniar restaurant, will provide mentorship to the chefs again this year and he spoke about why he is so supportive of the programme. “This program offers a fantastic opportunity for young chefs to develop their appreciation and understanding of the wealth of Irish seafood available to them. They will get to know producers, understand how the seafood is produced and develop their culinary creativity and confidence, learning how to prepare beautiful seafood dishes. Locally sourced produce is key to any good menu, and it doesn’t get much better than the seafood offering along the Wild Atlantic Way!”

Chef Network is a professional network connecting chefs across the island of Ireland, with over 4,500 members. Programme Manager, Ruth Hegarty said, “The Taste the Atlantic Young Chef Ambassador programme is a really exciting collaboration which brings together Ireland’s up and coming culinary talent with our wonderful seafood producers to explore the food tourism potential along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is so important to keep young chefs motivated and curious through opportunities to gain experience, upskill, and explore their creativity, and in my experience, meeting food producers is hugely inspiring and motivating for chefs, which is why I am genuinely delighted that Chef Network have the opportunity to run this programme alongside BIM and Fáilte Ireland.”

The Ambassador programme is now open for nominations, with full details available on www.chefnetwork.ie. The closing date for nominations is May 24th. Interviews will take place in June, following which we will announce the five successful 2022 young chef ambassadors, who will embark on their Taste the Atlantic seafood journey from June-September

The Young Chef Ambassador Programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union, under the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).

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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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