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Displaying items by tag: Charlie McConalogue

Irish Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. today (6th April) met with his French counterpart, Annick Girardin, the French Minister of the Sea, in Paris. The primary focus of the meeting was to discuss Minister McConalogue’s case to provide greater protection to the inshore fishing waters around Ireland under the Common Fisheries Policy.

The background to the meeting is that the European Commission has proposed to roll over the existing access arrangements for Member States' access to Coastal Waters for a further 10 years. At present, a number of Member States have historic rights to fish in our 6 - 12 mile zone.

Commenting on the meeting, the Minister said “The meeting today was constructive and I made my case requesting the French Presidency to give further consideration to the Irish position on access to our coastal waters. We had a detailed engagement on the issues and I am satisfied that the French Presidency has a better understanding of the Irish case following the meeting. The French Minister, Minister Girardin, undertook to consider how the French Presidency would proceed taking account of the views of other relevant Member States.

Discussions on an EU Fisheries Council position are expected to be concluded in the coming weeks. The European Parliament is also setting out its position. The agreement of the Council, Parliament and Commission on access arrangements is expected to be finalised before the summer.

Published in Fishing

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue met with representatives of the Irish fishing industry this afternoon (Wednesday 23 February) to brief them on a number of important policy developments.

Describing the meeting as “very productive”, the minister said: “This is an important year for a sector that is critical to sustaining vibrant coastal and rural communities.

“I was pleased to be able to brief [industry representatives] on the work being done in my department to advance the interests of the sector, and to engage directly with them on their priorities for 2022.”

The implementation of the Seafood Sector Taskforce Report and EU issues, including the upcoming negotiations on mackerel and blue whiting sharing arrangements and management involving the EU, Norway, UK and Faroe Islands, all featured in today’s discussions.

New challenges facing the industry to deliver on sustainability and climate change targets were also discussed.

Referring to the work of the Seafood Task Force, Minister McConalogue said: “We are making significant progress in rolling out the recommendations of the Sea Food Task Force which reported to me in October. That report proposed a number of measures to address the challenges posed by Brexit.

“I have already received Government approval for a number of specific schemes recommended by the task force, and I look forward to working closely with the industry in the implementation of its remaining recommendations.”

The minister also led a discussion on the broader policy challenges facing the sector, including the review of the Common Fisheries Policy due to take place at EU level shortly.

Earlier this month he announced the establishment of a CFP review group, comprising a broad range of stakeholders, to prepare Ireland’s negotiating position for the review due to take place later this year.

He also advised the meeting that he has secured Government approval to seek an extension to Ireland’s six- and 12-mile zones.

“Later this year the arrangements governing the six- and 12-mile restricted access protection zones are due for review at EU level. I believe that there is a strong case to be made to increase the protections for Ireland’s fishing fleets in these waters, particularly against the background of Brexit,” he said.

“With this in mind, yesterday I secured Government approval to seek an extension of the zones around Ireland to 12 and 20 miles respectively. I will now engage with Commissioner Sinkevicius, fellow fishery ministers and MEPs to seek to advance Ireland’s case on this matter.”

Concluding, the minister said that he looked forward to working closely with the sector on all of these issues through the course of the year.

Industry bodies represented at today’s briefing were the Irish South & East Fish Producers Organisation, Irish Fish Producer Organisation, Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation, Irish Islands Marine Resources Organisation, Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association, National Inshore Fisheries Forum and various cooperatives.

Published in Fishing
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A 25 million euro deepwater development of the Connemara fishing port of Ros-a-Mhíl is due to be announced today by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Construction of a 200-metre deepwater quay at the State-owned harbour and island ferryport may also position Ros-a-Mhíl as a strategic hub for the floating offshore wind sector with potential for 900 jobs. 

The project will bring the Connemara harbour “closer in line” with the leading fishing ports of Killybegs in Donegal and West Cork’s Castletownbere.

Planning permission has already been secured, and construction is expected to take 28 months to complete.

McConalogue is bringing a memo to Cabinet on the project before meeting the Ros-a-Mhíl community this evening.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogueMinister for Marine Charlie McConalogue

The approval is the result of a campaign lasting over 20 years, spearheaded by the Aran and Connemara fishing industry and supported by Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív.

Ó Cuív said he hoped it would regenerate employment in fish processing, which has suffered due to lack of infrastructure for larger vessels.

Just under 90 per cent of all fish landed into Ireland came through the State’s fishery harbours in 2020, and Ros-a-Mhíl’s landings were primarily from Irish vessels and valued at €7 million in that same year.

The deep-water quay for the harbour – which is also a ferry port for the three Aran islands – will add 200 metres of quayside and provide greater depth to accommodate larger fishing vessels 

Ó Cuív predicted it would also be a “game changer” for supporting offshore renewable energy in the west, which he described as “the ultimate oil well”. 

A report commissioned by State agency Údaras na Gaeltachta noted that the Connemara harbour was “unique among ports on the Irish west coast in having existing permission for infrastructure ... to support the floating offshore wind project pipeline”.

The report by Dublin Offshore Consultants was presented to McConalogue in Ros-a-Mhil last October, 

An additional four hectares of State-owned land with “laydown/development potential” will be added to the harbour centre as part of the works.

Údaras na Gaeltachta owns an additional 30 acres adjoining this four hectares which will be key to developing an offshore renewable energy hub. 

Early signs of market intent for offshore wind in the region have been demonstrated by Green Investment Group’s recent acquisition of the 400MW Sceirde Rocks offshore wind farm off the Connemara coast.

The Marine Renewables Industry Association has said that new port capacity would be required in the west, in addition to Galway and Shannon Foynes, and it has identified Ros-a- Mhíl as “the obvious candidate”.

Procurement for the detailed design of the quay at Ros-a-Mhíl will be followed by a tender for construction later in the year, and the projected €25 million cost excludes VAT.

McConalogue has said the exact costing will only be clear when detailed design work is complete and an open tendering competition has taken place.

The project will be funded under the fishery harbour centres and coastal infrastructure development programme.

Published in Irish Harbours

The Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today welcomed the agreement between the EU and the UK on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for shared stocks in 2022. This agreement covers all our whitefish stocks including Haddock, Cod, Whiting, Monkfish, Prawns, Sole and Plaice and other stocks including Horse Mackerel and Herring.

The Minister said: “Negotiations with the UK on the fishing quotas began in early November and have proven very difficult, particularly in relation to stocks in the Celtic Sea. The negotiations commenced on the basis of the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) but there were significant differences between the parties on how the scientific advice should be applied in mixed fisheries. Throughout this process, I worked closely with Commissioner Sinkevičius to protect Ireland’s key interests in these negotiations. I thank the Commissioner and his negotiating team for their hard work over the last number of weeks.”

The Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.DThe Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D

The Minister added that: “I had sought that the quotas should be set following the scientific advice and had pressed this point in relation to certain key stocks where the UK took a different position. However, taking account of the need for fishers to have certainty for the coming year, and in the context of what were very difficult and prolonged negotiations and widely diverging views on some stocks, I am satisfied that the Commissioner delivered a balanced overall agreement. Like all agreements, it involved compromises. This agreement will support the sustainable management of our shared stocks and enable fishermen to plan their activities for the year ahead. The agreement sets sustainable quotas for the stocks of interest to Ireland and by-catch only quotas for vulnerable stocks in mixed fisheries.”

Preliminary Analysis of 2022 TACs for EU stocks shared with UK

The quotas above have not been formally adopted by the Commission yet and are based on Department’s analysis only of IE’s quota for 2022 for stocks shared with the UK.  Hague Preferences have been included for the relevant stocks – Hague Preferences must be agreed and adopted by Council.  The table above only includes the stocks shared with the UK only.The quotas above have not been formally adopted by the Commission yet and are based on the Department of the Marine's analysis only of IE’s quota for 2022 for stocks shared with the UK. Hague Preferences have been included for the relevant stocks – Hague Preferences must be agreed and adopted by Council. The table above only includes the stocks shared with the UK only.

The Minister added: “Having this agreement in place before the end of the year will provide much needed stability and certainty for the fishing industry. My priority now is to ensure that the Hague Preferences, which increase Ireland’s quotas for our traditional stocks such as Cod, Whiting, Sole and Plaice, when the TAC is set at a low level, are applied to the relevant stocks in the final EU Regulation that gives effect to this agreement. The EU/UK Agreement determines the overall level of the EU share for the coming year and there is then a further internal EU step required to determine the detailed national quotas for each stock. That work is under way but will take more time.”

The Presidency of the EU Council has clarified that the formal regulation on fishing opportunities for 2022 – including the amendment containing the final quotas – will be finalised by the Council’s legal and linguistic experts, following which it will be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal. The provisions will apply retroactively as of 1st January 2022.

Published in Fishing

The Minister for the Marine will definitely "seek to address the imbalance in the quota transfers under the Trade & Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and United Kingdom."

So says Fianna Fail's MEP, Billy Kelleher, in a statement from Brussels saying he had received this confirmation from Minister Charlie McConalogue.

"It may also be necessary for the Minister to seek a separate mechanism, independent of the CFP review, to deal with the issue of burden-sharing due to opposition from some Member States. A separate, but important point is also the need for the fishing communities in Ireland to receive substantial financial support as part of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. Ireland will receive well over €1 billion; some of this money must be used to support our fishing industry. While Ireland has 22% of EU seas, we only have 3% of total catch. As an island nation, it needs to be reflected by the EU authorities," said MEP Kelleher.

However, the Chief Executive of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, Sean O'Donoghue, while welcoming a €10m EU aid deal for the Irish fleet, which had been recommended by the Task Force set up by the Minister says the aid has limitations.

He outlined why to Tom MacSweeney on the Maritime Ireland radio show. Listen in below: 

Published in Fishing

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

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D. has welcomed the decision of the Court of Appeal to temporarily reinstate the Policy Directive excluding large vessels from trawling in inshore waters within six miles of the coast. This will apply at least until the full hearing of the case by the Court of Appeal in late June.

After hearing the motion on Friday 19th March last, the Court was persuaded that the balance of justice leaned in favour of the State at this time and granted a stay on the order of the High Court up until the hearing of the substantive appeal in June, at which time the matter of the stay will be reconsidered by the Court.

Minister McConalogue commented today “I am pleased to hear that the Court of Appeal has allowed for the reinstatement of the Policy Directive. This decision will mean that vessels over 18 metres in length are prohibited from trawling inside our 6 miles zone, at least until late June, except for a restricted sprat fishery, which would usually not occur during the late spring/summer period. The stay has only been granted up until the June hearing.”

The Policy Directive was introduced in March 2019, following the decision of the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine that from 1 January 2020 all trawling by large vessels, over 18 metres in length overall, in coastal waters inside Ireland’s 6 mile zone was to cease, other than for a sprat fishery which was to be phased out during 2020 and 2021.

A Judicial Review was taken by two applicant fishermen who successfully challenged the validity of the Policy Directive. On 6th October 2020, the High Court made an order in favour of the applicants and the Policy Directive was declared void/or of no legal effect. A stay on the order was refused by the High Court on 10th December last. The Court of Appeal has now reinstated the Policy Directive at least until the full hearing of the appeal. The substantive hearing by the Court of Appeal is due to take place on the 22nd and 23rd June.

Published in Fishing

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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