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Mr. Sean Connick, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food welcomed the agreement reached after two days of talks in Brussels on 2011 quotas for the Irish fishing fleet.

The final agreement will deliver whitefish quotas worth some €116 million, including the protection of Ireland's €54 million prawn fishery. There will be a 10% increase in quota for Ireland's €75 million mackerel industry and a two thirds share, worth approximately €4 million, for Irish fishermen of the new boarfish industry.

Speaking at the end of the negotiations in the early hours of Wednesday (16 December), the Minister said

"The negotiations have been particularly challenging this year with the European Commission proposing cuts across many stocks of commercial importance for Ireland. Consulting with our fishing industry and NGOs, working with other Member States and concentrating on the scientific evidence, was, I believe key to securing a balanced sustainable package."

"This package will help underpin the economic future of our costal communities."

There will be 15% increase in haddock and whiting stocks in the Celtic Sea. While for the cod stocks off the North West and the Irish Sea, the quotas will be reduced by 25% in line with the Recovery Plan for these stocks. For Celtic Sea cod, the current quota level has been maintained for 2011 on the basis of new survey results from the State's Research Vessel "Celtic Explorer".

Minister Connick commented "By introducing new information on Celtic Sea cod, I secured agreement that the current level of TAC will continue into 2011, and may be increased during the year if the new survey results are confirmed by the scientists. However, given the poor state of cod stocks off the North West and in the Irish Sea, cuts were necessary".

Commenting on the 3% reduction in the prawn quota, the Minister said "Prawns are a very important fishery all around our coast. It is the most valuable catch for the Irish whitefish fleet worth €54 million. While the Commission originally proposed a 17% cut, I secured just a 3% decrease in the quota on the basis of a strong scientific case."

The quota for mackerel will be increased by 10%, and should be worth up to €75m in 2011. This is the most important fishery for the North West fleet based in Killybegs and is also important for the South West multi purpose fleet, supporting processing jobs in the coastal communities.

There were also increases in the quota for Celtic Sea herring of 30%, although there were cuts in the North West stock reflecting concerns about the state of those stocks.

Finally, Ireland secured the largest share in an important new fishery for boarfish that will be worth just under €4 million in 2011. The Irish fishing industry has been working with the scientific community to develop a management plan for boarfish, a mid-water shoaling species, now found in large volumes off the South West coast. The agreement reached in Brussels provides for a total allowable catch of some 33,000 tonnes, with two thirds going to Ireland.

Minister Connick commented "In an example of a successful investment in scientific research by industry, we have opened up a new fishery and secured the major stake in that industry. This ensures a new revenue stream for Irish industry into the future. We believe we can now develop a significant and sustainable fishery on this stock, in which we will continue to hold the largest share".

Published in Fishing
Following our weekend report on the major rescue operation swung into operation on Saturday Morning ( 13 Nov) outside Cork Harbour when a 27' fishing boat sank in minutes with two people on board there has been further details issue by the RNLI in Crosshaven.

At 11.19am , Valentia Coast Guard alerted Crosshaven RNLI Lifeboat that the fishing vessel was in serious trouble off the Church Bay area and requested an immediate launch. Crosshaven lifeboat launched within 5 minutes and with its volunteer crew of Kieran Coniry, Dan O'Donoghue and Vincent Fleming, made good progress through a two metre sea swell arriving on scene to find the fishing boat had at this stage sank and the crew safely in the Liferaft.

The Ballycotton RNLI all weather Lifeboat was at sea on exercise at the time and immediately altered course to the incident. Crosshaven Coast Guard were also tasked and en route.

When it became clear that the two crewmen were safely aboard the Crosshaven Lifeboat, the other emergency services were stood down. Crosshaven Lifeboat then brought the two fishermen back to Crosshaven.

While it is unknown what caused the fishing boat to flounder, the crew had little time to deploy their liferaft and make an emergency call before the boat sank.

Related Safety posts

RNLI Lifeboats in Ireland


Safety News


Rescue News from RNLI Lifeboats in Ireland


Coast Guard News from Ireland


Water Safety News from Ireland

Marine Casualty Investigation Board News

Marine Warnings

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Sean Connick TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today announced grant aid support for 129 projects. The European Fisheries Fund provides co-funding for specific projects which are outlined in the appendix.

Grant-aid of €1,122,084 is being provided to support a total investment of €2,023,127 for safety upgrades on board fishing vessels, lobster conservation, the development of Environmental Management Systems for Ireland's fishing fleet, and a number of collectively based projects under the new Marine Environment Protection Scheme (MEPS).

"These projects will further support our fishing industry", said Minister Connick. "Based as they are on the principle of responsible fishing practices that result in premium quality Irish seafood, the environmental focus for many of these projects will be critical in sustaining Ireland's fisheries sector during this time of unprecedented economic challenge".

A range of marine environment, conservation and safety initiatives are approved. Jointly developed by the industry and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Seafood Environmental Management System (sEMS) and the Marine Environment Protection Scheme (MEPS), respond to the growing demand by seafood providers and consumers for access to responsibly sourced wild caught fish. Included is grant-aid of over €350,000 to assist Irish fishing vessels develop and implement Environmental Management Systems as well as undergoing third-party accreditation for the newly developed BIM Stewardship Standard. This internationally accredited (ISO65 – EN45011) standard is amongst the first of its kind worldwide. Ireland led the way with the introduction of the first such scheme for salmon in 2005 and since then has developed similar schemes for mussels and oysters.

BIM will also roll out the €419,000 Marine Environment Protection Measure, a programme aimed to maintain healthy fish stocks while simultaneously developing the marine environment. The national lobster conservation programme is also funded to the tune of €113,000 with a similar investment being made by inshore fishermen.

A full list of all the projects funded is provided below.

Sea Fisheries Development Programme

Fisheries Operational Programme – European Fisheries Fund

SCHEME

Projects Approved

Investment

Total Grant Aid

Marine Environment Protection Measure*

 

8

€477,366

€418,902

SEAFOOD ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT & CERTIFICATION GRANT AID SCHEME*

 

7

€740,117

€350,073

Shellfish Discard & Live Return Reduction scheme - Lobster conservation* 

42

€205,680

€113,124

FLEET SAFETY SCHEME

 

70

€483,936

€193,574

MARINE TOURISM SAFETY SCHEME

 

2

€116,029

€46,411

TOTAL

129

€2,023,127

€1,122,084

 

 

 

Published in Fishing

Volunteers from the Gweebarra Fishing Club have completed work on a footbridge across the river near Doochary, the Donegal Democrat reports.

The new bridge is part of a three-year project to develop accessibility on the riverside for walkers and anglers alike. Inland Waterways.

Club chairman Thomas Monds commented: "There’s been nothing there since the flood swept [the old bridge] away years ago. But with the club getting going and more and more local people getting involved, we thought this was a good chance to do something."

He added: "The footbridge makes both banks of the Gweebarra accessible to both anglers and walkers, without having to retrace yours steps."

According to Monds, the new bridge in tandem with recent enhancements in the local fishery infrastructure have helped to make Gweebarra "one of the most accessible and attractive angling venues in the country".

The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Sean Connick TD, met today in Dublin with Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, of Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Minister Connick described the meeting as "a good exchange of views on significant issues affecting all sectors of our fishing industries, north and south."

The topics discussed by the Ministers included the impacts of the Cod Recovery Plan, the management of the prawn fishery in the Irish Sea, the upcoming EU negotiations on fishing opportunities for 2011 and the Community's review of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Minister Connick said, "Minister Gildernew and I had a very good discussion. Our meeting was a valuable opportunity for us to examine these important issues together and to explore areas of mutual interest. I am committed to working together with Minister Gildernew over the coming months, to help safeguard the interests of Irish fishermen."

Published in Fishing

The cost of upgrading fishing boats to comply with new regulations first mooted three years ago means some boats cannot put to sea again. It's a move that will cost hundreds of jobs to coastal communities says Tom MacSweeney

The nation may be reeling from the revelations about Anglo Irish Bank and AIB. The fishing industry is reeling from another shocker. While earlier this week it cranked up its PR machine in an attempt to convince the public it was going to create jobs, the reality is that this Friday, October 1, it wiped out at least 200 and the overall effects of what it has done may throw as many as 800 people out of work in coastal areas.

That is callous disregard for people and underlines the disinterest and disrespect which the Government has for the maritime sector.

These jobs are in the fishing industry and are being lost because of a decision by the Department of Transport that smaller fishing boats, ranging in size from 15 to 24 metres must conform to the same safety standards as bigger boats, those over 25 metres, even though they operate under different fishing methods.

There can be no argument against safety, but there should be moderate, reasonable implementation of regulations. To quote the Taoiseach in his own recent defence, "moderation in all things." There are 99 boats in the Irish fleet in the 15-24 metre category. These are, effectively, day boats which operate in inshore waters, close to land. The Department has decided to implement regulations requiring them to conform to the same standards as bigger vessels that operate farther out to sea for extended periods.

Of the 99 boats nationwide faced with the implementation of the new regulations, 39 have not applied for certification, apparently because owners could either not afford the costs of upgrading the boats to the higher standard or felt the vessels would not be able to meet those standards, irrespective of how much money was spent on them. Those 39 boats have to be tied up, unable to go fishing any longer, another blow to the Irish fishing fleet. Their owners and crews will face unemployment.

The total number of jobs lost nationally could be up to 800, according to fishing organisations, when those whose livelihoods ashore depend on the 200 direct fishing jobs are added.

The Department makes the point that it has been known for three years that these new regulations would be imposed and that there has been ample time for owners to upgrade. Fishing organisations asked the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, who also holds the brief of marine safety, to establish a separate category of safety requirements applying specifically to the smaller boats. Dempsey, who has not been a friend of the fishing industry, refused. So around 200 fishermen are out of work, directly due to a Government decision. It has not been explained why different regulations cannot be applied to different sizes of boats.

The sight of more Irish fishing boats tied to the quay wall, stopped by Irish Government regulations from working will not be pleasant.


• This article is reprinted by permission of the CORK EVENING ECHO in which Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
Over 200 fishers and fisheries scientists from all over the world gathered in Galway yesterday (23rd August) for a unique four-day conference to share information on fish stocks.

Dr. Peter Heffernan (Marine Institute) with Martin Pastoors (IMARES, The Netherlands) and Dr. Steve Murawski (NOAA, USA) at the Conference. (Photo: Marine Institute).

The Conference - "Fisheries Independent Information, Galway 2010" – not only explores how information gathered at sea by fishermen can better contribute to fish stock assessments, management and policy but critically, how the vast amount of experience and traditional knowledge accumulated by the fishing industry can be harnessed in sustainable management strategies.

Speaking on the first day of the event Dr. Steve Morawski, former senior advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to President Obama's Ocean Policy Task Force and the current Chief Science Advisor to NOAA Fisheries, USA said that in spite of past concerns regarding the reliability of fishery-dependent data, we are in the midst of a "rebirth" in the use of information from industry to inform stock assessment and the management of catch and by-catch allowances.

"Fortunately, great advances have been made in methods for collection and analysis of fishery-dependent data and we have experienced encouraging success in working with stakeholders to collect this type of data," he said.

Some 30 countries from across the globe are represented at the conference, which features 81 oral presentations and 50 poster displays covering the entire spectrum of fishing, from small scale artisinal fisheries right up to large scale industrial operations engaged across the world's oceans and inland waters.

Opening the conference, Dr. Peter Heffernan of the Marine Institute said that, while Ireland had made significant progress in bringing scientists and fishers together through the formation of the Irish Fisheries Science Partnership, he was keen to learn how such initiatives had worked elsewhere and what we could learn from others. "Innovation is the key element to this conference," he said, "technical innovation in the development of new data collection tools and data integration, but also through innovative thinking and co-operation in how we can marry together traditional and non-traditional information."

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the capture fishing industry employs some 27 million people worldwide (including full-time, part-time and occasional fishers). In Europe, the European Commission estimates that some 141,000 people are employed in the fishing sector which produces over 6.5 million tonnes of fish between the catching and aquaculture industries.

"Fishermen and scientists have an enormous amount that they can contribute to each other," said Lorcan O'Cinneide, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation in his keynote address earlier today (Tuesday 24th August). "It is essential for the future that the integration of such information can be brought to the centre of the scientific and advice process in a manner that has the necessary rigour to be credible and useful to analysis."

Marine and inland fisheries are of particular importance to developing countries where ILO estimates that over 94% of the world's fishers live (Asia 83%, Africa 9% and South America 2.5%). In these countries fish is not only an important source of protein for many communities, but also an important part of global trade. The role that fishers and their knowledge play in ensuring a sustainable "ecosystem approach" to commercial fishing by artisinal and small-scale fishworkers the world over will be discussed during the last day of the Conference (Thursday 26th) by Sebastian Mathew of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF).

The conclusion of his paper will suggest that sustainability in fisheries depends upon seeking common ground between fisheries policy, scientific knowledge and fishers' knowledge and practice. He will also suggest that the key to sustainable fisheries management lies in treating fishers' knowledge with respect and by promoting active communication amongst stakeholders.

Published in Fishing

Minister Séan Connick TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (with special responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry) launched the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority's (SFPA's) "Guide to Compliance for the Irish Inshore Fleet", today, Wednesday 28th July, at an event organised on board the LE Eithne at Galway Docks. The "Guide to Compliance for the Irish Inshore Fleet" is a concise guide that summarises the principal requirements that apply to Irish fishing vessels under 15 meters operating in Irish inshore waters.

The guide was developed through ongoing cooperation between the SFPA and the Irish South and East Fish Producers Association, the Kilmore Quay Harbour Users Group in conjunction with the Ministerial appointed Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Consultative Committee and other industry stakeholders. The intention of the project was to provide a clear concise guide to the various technical regulations that apply to inshore fishing activities in a user-friendly format. The provision of good information to stakeholders is a key element of the SFPA's compliance strategy and this guide supports the SFPA and Industry in their work towards building a culture of compliance.

The guide does not purport to represent a detailed legal interpretation of the legislation however it does consolidate in one user-friendly document the main requirements which apply to Irish vessels fishing in Irish inshore waters. It addresses areas such as quota restrictions, boat markings, gear requirements, authorisations, sales notes, transport documents, marine protected areas, fishing restrictions, hail requirements, effort recording, effort reporting, minimum sizes and food safety. This comprehensive guide will also help fishermen navigate the paperwork that goes with fishing including completion of the fishing logbook and the registration of the fish after landing. The guide is produced on water proof and tear resistant paper suitable for use on board inshore fishing vessels and will be distributed to all inshore fishermen by the SFPA.

Peter Whelan, Chairman of the SFPA, said: "The production of this guide is a very positive development and had been widely supported by the fishing Industry Representatives and the Consultative Committee. This partnership approach benefits both the fishing industry and the SFPA and underpins the day-to-day efforts of fishermen to protect their livelihoods by complying with legislation that conserves fishing stocks for long-term sustainable exploitation. It is consistent with our legal remit to promote compliance with and deter contraventions of sea-fisheries law and food safety law. The SFPA are very pleased with the strong move towards compliance being demonstrated by the Irish Fishing Industry and this guide aims to support that move."

Published in Fishing

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, Sean Connick TD, today launched Bord Iascaigh Mhara's (BIM's) new three year strategy (2010 – 2012) and the Irish Seafood National Programme to 2013. The event, which was hosted by BIM at the decentralised Department and BIM offices in Clonakilty, was attended by a large audience from the wider seafood sector.

In his address, Minister Smith welcomed the opportunity to launch these two significant initiatives acknowledging how appropriate it was that they come on the same week as the launch of Food Harvest 2020, which focused on the contribution to be made by the food sector generally in Ireland's economic recovery.

Minister Smith said that both he and Minister Connick attached "a high level of importance on BIM's transformation agenda for the seafood sector and on the associated seafood development measures contained in the Seafood National Programme".

BIM's new strategy document concentrates on avenues to deliver essential developmental services to a seafood industry undergoing rapid and unparalleled change. The Minister commended BIM for clearly setting out challenging targets for themselves for delivery by 2012, including the creation of 600 jobs, an additional €50m in value added seafood sales, and greater differentiation of 40,000 tonnes of Irish seafood products worth €120m.

Minister Smith went on to say "I have consistently stated that the seafood sector, made up as it is of indigenous operators, will have a significant role to play in Ireland's economic recovery. BIM's new strategy is a welcome addition to the suite of harmonised strategies for the seafood sector including Steering a New Course, Sea Change, as well as Food Harvest 2020. It adds to and fully complements the existing strategies and positions Ireland well to maximise the very large opportunities which are presenting themselves in the international seafood markets".

Focusing on the National Programme for the development of the Seafood Sector, Minister of State Connick said "The measures contained in this Programme are the tools to enable the Government and its agencies deliver on the objectives contained in the suite of Seafood focused strategies, and places Ireland in a promising position to capture some of the undoubted opportunities which are emerging in both the international and domestic seafood markets".

Minister Connick said that the proposed investments in the seafood industry constitute a significant vote of confidence by the Government in the sector. He went on to say "The programme published today envisages a significant state investment into the Irish seafood sector from now until the end of 2013. A dedicated allocation of €6.5m is being made available for the remainder of 2010 for the development of the aquaculture and processing sectors." While the programme also facilitates access to other funding from Bord Bia for marketing, from Enterprise Ireland for processing, and from BIM for added value and innovation and fisheries support".

On the launch of the two initiatives Minister Connick said "The launch of these two complementary initiatives to drive forward the development of a modern, high value added, sustainable and expanding seafood sector is an important event in delivering the real opportunities which exist for income generation and enhanced employment in our coastal communities".

 

Published in Fishing

RTE turns its cameras on Ireland's fishermen in a six-part series starting this Sunday on RTE One. Skippers takes the Irish audience aboard working fishing vessels in the Irish fleet to meet the men who lead these boats; the Skippers.

Crews in pursuit of their lucrative catch, involving long absences from home, 24 hour shifts, huge waves, 80-mile-per-hour gales, and the unpredictability that is the ocean itself are part-and-parcel with this job.

The series was shot by DV Directors who ate, slept, breathed and fished with our Skippers while they were out on the high seas in the world's most dangerous job, creating a sense of immediacy with the audience at home; bringing the action, and turmoil wave by wave, roll by roll. Visually stunning images of the Irish coastline and sea wildlife, along with the roaring ocean will compliment the strong-character presence of our Skippers and their crews, with the illusive lights of home becoming a beacon in the night for the Skippers as they make their way ashore after their gruelling trips.

In the first episode, two former construction workers try to make a go of it at sea, a fisherman's wife tells her story, and a mystery fish causes havoc for a trawler crew and a rookie skipper feels the pressure to make the grade.

THE SKIPPERS

DAVID PRICE:

Howth in North County Dublin is home to the Price fishing family and youngest son David is carrying on the tradition as an energetic skipper on his fathers 60 foot, €2 million trawler "The John B". David is fishing 80 miles off the east coast of Ireland in search of prawns. Times have changed for David as he has to work twice as hard as he did five years ago when he used to sell his prawns for double what he's getting for them today.

David is frustrated with regulations that make little sense. He has to throw away perfectly good fish due to quotas. The pressure of costs versus the price he is receiving for his catch is not adding up and this frustration is sometimes taken out on his crew.

The collapse of the building industry has meant that some Irish are looking at fishing again for work. This trip has brought on board two former construction workers John and Emmet who both want to make a go of it in the fishing business. For John it's a big change from his previous job as a plumber but he's hoping he won't have to be fishing for too long.

This trip will be make or break for the two Irish lads as David has to decide if they are cut out for the hard life at sea.

His training is tough and they won't be getting any special treatment.

ROSS CLASSON:

Portnoo in Donegal is home to 42-year-old skipper Ross Classon. He's been fishing since he was 15. But Ross has no family background in the industry and is the son of a school principal. He went to sea purely because he loved it. This comes with a price to pay as he has less time to spend on shore with his family, when he does come home it is not long before Ross has to leave again.

His wife of 25 years, Anna, remembers the strain of bringing up their sons while Ross was out at sea. Anna has learned to deal with not seeing Ross for weeks at a time, she's learned to cope but she knows other families who haven't found things so easy. Ross's boat is based in Ullapool, Northern Scotland. He has to make the 430 mile journey by road and sea.

 

MICHAEL MEADE:

60 miles off the south coast of Cork is skipper Michael Meade. He's been fishing for the past 25 years and has owned his trawler the Buddy M for the past 10 years. Along side Michael are four regular crew members including Brendan from Cork and Sergey from Warsaw. Michael has seen the fishing industry slowly being eroded and is not too hopeful for the future. He fishes out from the small port of Cross haven in Cork.

 

CATHAL O'SULLIVAN

The old fishing village of Castletownbere in Co. Cork is where the ambitious and determined Cathal O'Sullivan is based. Cathal has no background in fishing and originally comes from Kenmare in Kerry. He started fishing at 16 and now at 24 is one of Ireland's youngest skippers in charge of the 40foot trawler the Tea Rose. This €1 million boat is owned by Paddy O'Sullivan who has recently put his faith in Cathal to go it alone.

Cathal leaves behind a young family, his son gets upset each time Cathal leaves , but Cathal's duration at sea is getting longer due to the rising price of fuel and the decrease in the value of his catch. He often will do three fishing trips in a row leaving his family for up to 20 days at a time. With every trip comes the pressure of finding a good catch for the crew in order for himself and his men to earn a decent wage

Published in Fishing
Page 69 of 70

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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