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The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation has advised its members not to sign up to the Irish Fishing Master Register.

“This is akin to what happened in South Africa in the 1950s and also in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s which is the creation of a Register for an ethnic minority.” said the CEO of the Organisation, Patrick Murphy.

The Board of Directors of the South West FPO told members that they had not yet seen the legislation applicable to what the Minister stated in his communication as the Act is not yet published, but that it is their belief “that this is utterly discriminatory to Irish citizens and it should be challenged. We are currently seeking professional and legal advice.

It has advised its members to “hold off from signing on to the Register or providing the information sought until we have an opportunity to see the actual legislation and its details.”

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue announced that from May 3, upon the commencement of the Sea-Fisheries (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 the Irish Fishing Master Register will be set up “to bring Irish legislation in line with EU Council Regulation 1224/2009, which established a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and establishing a level playing field across the EU on fisheries control.”

“Under the Act, it will be an offence for anyone to lawfully take charge of a sea fishing boat unless registered on the IFMR, whether owner of the boat or not. “It will also be an offence for a registered sea fishing boat licence holder to knowingly employ someone as a master who is not registered as such on the IFMR.”

The Act defines a ‘Master’ as the ‘Master, Skipper or other people for the time being in charge of the boat.”

All Masters must be registered on the IFMR upon the commencement of the act on 3 May 2022.

Published in Fishing

The Unfair Trading Practices Enforcement Authority want to hear the views of primary food producers about any Unfair Trading Practice related issues they face within the food supply chain, including whether buyers are treating them fairly and lawfully in compliance with Unfair Trading Practices Regulations.

This is an invaluable opportunity for fishers to be heard on this important issue.

Visit www.utp.gov.ie to complete the short online survey by 15th March.

All results received will be processed anonymously by a market research company and the survey findings will be made available in the coming weeks.

Published in Fishing

Ireland‘s unique opportunity to help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil could be hampered by a severe skills shortage for developing offshore renewable energy, industry experts have warned.

And unless the Government moves quickly on establishing a stakeholder liaison group, offshore wind and the fishing industry are on a “collision course”, a conference at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) was told.

Ireland can be a leading wind and wave energy supplier, but it will only capture just over 20 per cent of jobs required unless the Government co-ordinates specific training, Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe said.

Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel CunniffeWind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe

Cunniffe was speaking at the event hosted by Simply Blue Energy, on the theme of “Our Offshore Renewable Energy Opportunity – Is Ireland Ready” which dealt with maritime qualifications and certification.

His organisation, which represents the wind energy industry, has urged development of specialist marine apprenticeship schemes and a skills plan for renewable energy involving schools and universities, he told the conference at the NMCI hosted by Simply Blue Energy.

This was echoed by Dr Alan Power of the Government’s expert group on future skills needs, who said that marine careers are a “significant growth area”.

To meet the Government’s five GW target for offshore wind by 2030, a range of key occupations will be required including engineers, ecologists, marine biologists, hydrologists, and people with construction and technical skills, Power said.

Marine operators and ship crew, wind turbine technicians and experienced professions in transport and logistics will also be required, he said.

Marine renewable expert Prof Tony Lewis of University College Cork recalled a similar discussion on skills shortages in oil and gas 40 years ago when the Kinsale gas field was being developed.

Prof Tony Lewis of University College CorkProf Tony Lewis of University College Cork

“We missed that opportunity then,” he said, urging a coordinated approach with an “enterprise focus” to ensure Ireland could supply the required expertise without losing out to foreign companies.

Mark de Faoite of Údarás na Gaeltachta said renewable energy jobs could also help to sustain Gaeltacht areas, but a holistic approach to skills and training was required by all Government departments and agencies.

Mark de Faoite of Údarás na GaeltachtaMark de Faoite of Údarás na Gaeltachta

However, offshore wind and the fishing industry are on a “collision course”, with fears about the impact on fishing now greater than the impact of Brexit, John Lynch, chief executive of the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation said.

“There is no question that we do require renewable energy and it is a great opportunity,” Lynch said, but it had “got off to a bad start”.

He described how renewable energy companies came to meetings with fishers with “a presentation, a map” but with “pre-determined sites” in inshore coastal areas.

“We had no input into the position of those sites,” he said, and “co-existence would have been far easier” if there had been prior consultation.

Even if fishing was allowed near an offshore wind farm, the risk of snagging gear, accidental damage to equipment and the risk of prosecution over same would pose serious challenges and could cause insurance problems, Lynch explained.

Co Waterford vessel owner Caitlín Uí Aodha said “the hunters are being hunted off their grounds”.

“We want to be green, but we need you to understand fishing is not just a job, but a way of life, a tradition, a heritage,” Uí Aodha said, emphasising the need for seafood protein suppliers to survive.

“I am not convinced that those involved in this [renewable] industry are there to look after me..you’re there to make money,” she told renewable energy representatives at the conference.

In his opening address, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue acknowledged delays in establishing an offshore renewable energy/seafood liaison forum, and recruitment was ongoing for a chairperson.

Attracta Uí Bhroin of the Irish Environmental Network identified delays in marine spatial planning by Government as being critical.

Ireland is required to extend its network of marine protected areas, but any attempt to co-locate offshore wind farms in protected areas cannot be a “box-ticking exercise” in relation to protected of the marine environment, she said.

Published in Power From the Sea

Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan has welcomed this week’s High Court judgment which will see the European Court of Justice being asked to rule on a missed deadline set for sustainably set fish quotas in European waters.

Environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment CLG (FIE) brought the case to the High Court over the alleged failure by the Irish State to meet a legally defined deadline of ending overfishing of all stocks by 2020.

FIE, which was supported by the legal non-governmental organisation (NGO) Client Earth, claimed the main goal of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was to restore and maintain fish stocks above sustainable levels.

The European Commission had set a target of 2015 for sustainable levels for all fish stocks to be achieved - or by 2020 at the latest.

FIE claimed the European Commission has set total allowable catches for national fleets, for a wide range of fish stocks, at unsustainable levels in 2020.

It said it would have “profound negative consequences for the marine environment and the sustainability of European fishing activities”.

In his judgment on February 8th, Mr Justice Barr said that while the court was satisfied that the issues between the parties in relation to the 2020 Regulation and the fisheries management were “moot”, given the fact that time had passed, it was likely to be a “live issue” in respect of other regulations issued by the EU Council in the future.

“Accordingly, it is desirable that a decision be reached on the general legality of such regulations in terms of their compliance with Article 2(2) of the CFP,” he said.

He also said that the case raised issues of “general public importance” for two reasons.

“Firstly, the application raises issues in relation to the conservation of fish stock, which are of fundamental importance to the citizens of the EU and secondly, the issues raised

herein have enormous ramifications for the fishing industry in the member states of the EU,” Mr Justice Barr said.

Mr O’Sullivan, who is Green Party spokesperson on the marine and a member of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, welcomed the ruling.

“Time after time, member states, including Ireland, have exceeded the scientific advice provided for sustainable fishing levels,” she said.

“In the North Atlantic alone, around 46% of Northeast Atlantic total allowable catches (TACs) could be considered ‘unsustainable’ in 2020,” she said.

“ This goes against the EU’s own legal commitment to end overfishing and is extremely damaging to our marine environment, not to mention the fishing communities that depend on healthy stocks,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan said it was significant that this first challenge came from Ireland, as the European Commission recently expressed concern that “Ireland continues to be the most expensive member state in which to make an environmental claim before the courts”.

“The European Union has set many ambitious goals recently, in light of the European Green Deal and the Environment Action Programme to 2030. But if we do not act on the science, then our efforts to end the climate and biodiversity crises will be pointless,” she added.

Published in Fishing

The announcement by Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue that he is establishing a Common Fisheries Policy Review Group is being seen as a response to increased pressure from the fishing industry for a strong level of preparation for changes in the CFP.

The Policy which has been blamed for causing severe damage to the Irish fishing industry, because of the bigger size of quotas it allocated to foreign vessels in Irish waters, while keeping Irish quotas much smaller.

The ten-year review of the CFP has to be completed by December 2022. However, this review does not imply major changes being made in the Policy.

In fact, on his visit to Ireland last October, EU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “We’ll do a review, and we will be listening to stakeholders’ concerns, and we’ll look at certain changes, but I cannot promise we will be reopening the CFP.”

The general attitude in the Irish industry is that only a thorough review of the Policy can address the Irish fleet’s reduced access to quotas and the impact of Brexit, as well as the refusal of other EU countries to agree to “burden-sharing” of the Brexit impact. The initial response to the Minister’s announcement is that it is a “needed, welcome and positive move, needed to get a strong Irish position established about the CFP,” industry sources told Afloat.

"a forum of key stakeholders to produce a report to inform Ireland's position"

Commissioner Sinkevičius acknowledged that the review will have to take Brexit into account. He added that climate change, pollution and sustainable fishing would also be included.

EU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus SinkevičiusEU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius

“The seafood sector has faced challenges over the recent past, arising in particular from Brexit,” said Minister McConalogue in announcing the Review Group. It will be, he said, “a forum of key stakeholders to produce a report to inform Ireland's position during the course of the CFP review. This forum will be able to draw on the expertise in my own Department, the Marine Institute and BIM, to provide the necessary policy, scientific and technical support.”

It will be chaired by Mr John Malone, former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Malone will be assisted by a steering committee comprising Mr Micheal O Cinneide, former Director of the Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency and Mr Donal Maguire, former Director in BIM.

The Group will involve representatives of stakeholders, including Producer Organisations, National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the Aquaculture industry, Co-Ops, and the Seafood processing industry. It will also include representatives of environmental NGOs. Its purpose is to examine the issues that arise for Ireland in the context of the CFP Review, to advise the Minister on priorities for the negotiations and to identify strategies most likely to influence the outcome of the review.

The Minister is seeking from the Group recommendations in relation to the CFP Review, to focus on supporting the social and economic health of our fisheries dependant coastal communities, economic development in our sea-food sector, delivering long term sustainability of fish stocks and maximising protection of habitats and the marine environment.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation (Regulation EU 380/2013) provides that the European Commission will report to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the CFP by the end of 2022. The European Commission has launched an online questionnaire as part of its public consultation on the preparation of this report. The Commission has stated that it intends to close its consultation process with a stakeholder event before the summer of 2022.

The Minister has asked the Review Group to complete its work by June to ensure that Ireland’s priorities are clearly set out and inputted into the formal Commission process.

Minister McConalogue said that he is issuing invitations to the relevant Stakeholder organisations for nominations to the Group and expects the Group to get to work once all nominations to the Group are in place.

Those being invited to be part of the Group have been named as:

  • Fishing and Aquaculture representatives - One representative each from: Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation; Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation; Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation; Irish Fish Producers Organisation; Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation;
  • National Inshore Forum; Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association; IFA Aquaculture.
  • Co-Ops: 2 representatives
  • Environmental NGOs: 2 representatives
Published in Fishing

The International Transport Workers' Federation says it is handing in a study Maynooth University conducted on migrant fishing crew to a Government review today.

The study by Maynooth University’s law department on the experiences of non-EEA workers in the Irish fishing industry will be submitted to the Government's review of the Atypical work permit scheme.

Michael O’Brien, who is the federation’s fisheries campaign lead for Ireland, says the study is a “devastating critique of the failures of the Atypical scheme since its inception six years ago”.

He says it makes a number of recommendations that, if implemented, would “go far in liberating migrant fishers, both documented and undocumented, from below minimum wage employment and precarious status in the state”.

The study collated testimony from migrant fishers of “ongoing abuses in the sector”, O’Brien said.

The Government announced that an inter-departmental group, headed up by the Department of Justice, would carry out the review of the Atypical work permit scheme.

Read the submission here

Published in Fishing

The EU’s fisheries commissioner has paid tribute to Irish fishermen for their role in shifting the location of Russian military exercises outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a tweet, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said that “Irish fishermen got their diplomatic game on! “

“They managed to stop Russian military exercises that would undermine their activities and marine life,” he said.

“ Real custodians of the sea on duty! The world could use more of you!” the commissioner, who holds the environment, oceans and fisheries portfolio, tweeted.

He was responding to a report on Irish Central headlined “Irish fishermen defeat the Russian navy”.

The Russian ambassador to Ireland has credited both the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) and the Irish government with its decision to relocate planned military exercises outside the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In a statement on Saturday, Ambassador Yuriy Filatov said that the Russian Federation’s defence minister Sergey Shoigu has decided “as a gesture of goodwill” to relocate exercises on February 3rd to 8th to an area outside the Irish EEZ.

The military exercises had been planned to take place some 240 km off the Irish southwest coast, within the Irish EEZ.

This had led to serious concerns among fishermen about the impact on their economic activity, while environmental groups expressed fears about the impact on marine life, including cetaceans.

North American news network CNN has described the latest development as a victory for Irish fishermen.

“Russians blink after Irish fishermen’s vow to block Navy war games,” CNN said in a headline to the report by CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, broadcast live from Castletownbere, Co Cork on Saturday.

IS&WFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy, who met the Russian ambassador to Ireland over the issue last week along with Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association chief executive Brendan Byrne, has stated that Irish fishing vessels were not protesting, but were asserting their right to fish their quota on their traditional grounds.

The breakthrough on Saturday was confirmed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney,m who said that he had written to his counterpart, the Russian Federation’s defence minister, this week, “to request a reconsideration of naval exercises off the Irish coast”.

“This evening I received a letter confirming the Russian exercises will be relocated outside of Ireland’s EEZ. I welcome this response,” Coveney tweeted.

"We don’t know where they plan to have military exercises, but it certainly won’t be in international waters that Ireland has responsibility for,” Mr Coveney told RTÉ News.

Ireland would try be a voice for compromise to help avoid a war between Russia and Ukraine describing any conflict as potentially being the largest land war in Europe since the second world war, he said.

Published in Naval Visits
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Two fishing industry organisations have sought to clarify what they describe as “confusion” in some media outlets over their talks with Russian ambassador Yuriy Filatov on the forthcoming Russian military exercises off the south-west Irish coast.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (ISWFPO) chief executive Patrick Murphy and Irish Fish Processors and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA) Brendan Byrne issued the statement on Friday morning, the day after what they described as a “successful and positive meeting” with the ambassador in Dublin.

The Irish Times reported that the Russian embassy has disputed claims by Irish fishing industry representatives that the ambassador gave them “an absolute guarantee” that their fishing grounds will not be affected by the military exercises 240 km off the Cork coast.

“There was no discussion of guarantees of any kind,” the embassy’s spokesman Nikita Isakin said in a statement.

However, Murphy and Byrne said that they were " referring to the areas known as the Porcupine Bank and the Porcupine Sea Bight - fishing grounds immediately north and northwest of the area in which the naval drill is scheduled to take place in early February".

“The confusion has arisen in that some media outlets believed the traditional fishing grounds and the naval drill area to be one and the same area,” they said.

“ This is not the case, they are two specific areas that adjoin one another, “ they said.

“The Russian Ambassador made it clear to the fishing delegation that the naval exercises would only take place within the exclusion zone as notified to Ireland, therefore it is self-evident that no impact or intrusion will occur into the areas known as the Porcupine Bank and the Porcupine Sea Bight,” they said.

“Both the IS&WFPO and the IFPEA are again at pains to stress that fishing activity is guaranteed to be uninterrupted or negatively impacted in the traditional fishing grounds of these two areas namely the Porcupine Bank and Porcupine Sea Bight. The naval drills and exercises will take place within the notified area south of these traditional fishing areas,” Murphy and Byrne said.

“Both the fishing vessels and the Russian Navy can co-exist for the duration of these exercises at safe distance apart while both go about their respective tasks and routines,” the fishing industry organisations said.

Published in Naval Visits
Tagged under

The Russian Embassy in Ireland has described as “constructive” and “positive” the outcome of discussions with two Irish fishing industry organisations in relation to proposed Russian military exercises next week in the Porcupine Seabight off the south-west Irish coast.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFO) chief executive Patrick Murphy and Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association (IFPEA) Brendan Byrne also said the 50-minute discussion with Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov was very positive.

Byrne, who said he was “very surprised” by the wealth of knowledge of the ambassador about issues relating to the Irish fishing industry, said it was agreed that there would be a “buffer zone” between Russian vessels and fishing trawlers when military exercises are underway.

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy FilatovVery positive - Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov

This is subject to approval from Moscow, Murphy confirmed, adding he was very happy with the meeting.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFO) chief executive Patrick MurphyIrish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFO) chief executive Patrick Murphy

“We have now come to an accommodation where there is a pathway for coexistence for the naval exercises and for our fishing fleet,” Byrne said.

Both men praised the level of communication with the Irish industry which, they said, was better than anything they had experienced from their own government.

Earlier, Murphy had expressed anger at publication by the Department of Transport of a marine notice – without advance consultation with the fishing industry - warning of “serious safety risks” posed by military exercises 240 km off the Cork coast from February 3rd to 8th.

The marine notice said the Russian Federation “has indicated that the exercises will include the use of naval artillery and launching of rockets”.

Non-governmental organisations have expressed serious concerns about the impact on marine wildlife, while military sources that the Russian Federation had selected the sea area as the “EU’s back door”, with risks posed to vitally important undersea communication cables.

International news networks covering the Ukraine crisis have reported on the Irish dimension, focusing on the stance taken by the Irish fishing industry.

Commenting on the row on January 26th, before the meeting between the Russian ambassador and Irish fishing industry representatives, North American television commentator Rachel Maddow of MSNBC noted that there was not much that Ireland could do about the military exercises. See clip below.

Maddow referred to Ireland’s weak defence capability – “no offence, but they don’t have much of a navy” and the “lack of a military radar".

She referred to Irish concerns about a Russian “spy ship”, the Yantor, which turned up off the Donegal coast last August.

“You know what Ireland does have to defend itself in this instance....it has very annoyed fishermen,” Maddow commented.

Maddow then played recent RTÉ news reports with the IS&WFPO, recorded before the organisation’s meeting with the Russian ambassador.

“The whole world, to Vladimir Putin’s great delight ...the whole world is on tenterhooks, waiting to find out whether Russia is going to start another war,” Maddow said.

“Irish fishermen on the other hand are heading out to actively stop it and fish for mackerel while they’re at it. God bless them, every single one of them,” Maddow said.

The Irish Times reported last night that the Russian embassy disputed claims by Irish fishing industry representatives that the ambassador to Ireland gave them “an absolute guarantee” that their fishing grounds will not be affected by the military exercises.

“There was no discussion of guarantees of any kind,” the embassy’s spokesman Nikita Isakin said in a statement released to The Irish Times.

Published in Naval Visits
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Irish fishermen planning a peaceful protest over Russian naval exercises off the south-west Irish coast have been invited to talks by the Russian Ambassador to Ireland.

Ambassador Yuriy Filatov asked members of the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) to discussions at the Russian embassy in Dublin on Thursday to hear their concerns about the proposed naval exercises planned for early February.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Russia should call off its plans for military exercises off the Irish coast, saying it would “demonstrate goodwill” that they want to de-escalate tensions at a time of concern over a potential war in Ukraine.

The IS&WFPO announced its protest earlier last week over concerns about the potential harm to fish stocks and cetaceans from the effect of military sonar use and possible disruption from live ammunition drills in the area during the drills.

ISW&FPO chief executive Patrick MurphyISW&FPO chief executive Patrick Murphy

It is expected that the ISW&FPO delegation headed by chief executive Patrick Murphy will request that the planned area for the five-day exercise would be relocated further south west into deeper water off the Continental Shelf.

Up to 60 fishing vessels affiliated to the IS&WFPO pledged to peacefully disrupt the exercises, due to take place within Ireland’s exclusive economic zone, due to the threats to marine life and biodiversity.

Murphy said that there were currently "half a billion tonnes" of blue whiting in the area that move up along the coastline, representing "a one million tonne fishery".

"We should be entitled to go fishing there, and if we're fishing there then these boats, these warships, shouldn't be having war games."

Murphy said an issue of "real concern" was that fishing gear could get tangled with a submarine.

In a comment, the Russian Embassy said it would be “reckless” for the fishing organisation to send vessels to the area within the exercise.

Ambassador Filatov said earlier this week that controversy around the exercise was "hugely overblown"..

He told a press conference that the planned exercises by Russian naval vessels were "not in any way a threat to Ireland or anybody else" and that no harm was intended by it.

Filatov said three or four ships would be involved, but he did not know if missiles or submarines would be used.

In an interview on RTÉ Radio’s Claire Byrne Show on Wednesday, Varadkar said that while he respected fishermen’s right to peaceful protest, he urged them not to be “naive” and not to put themselves at risk.

He said the Russian plans for naval exercises in the Republic’s exclusive economic zone are “not illegal” but “not welcome” and this had been conveyed to the Russian ambassador by Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney.

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said he was “ deeply concerned” about the impact on marine mammals, and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has expressed similar fears.

Published in Naval Visits
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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.

©Afloat 2020

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