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Notice of “rolling 24-hour stoppages” by State sea fisheries inspectors was suspended last night as a dispute between staff and management was referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)

As Times.ie reports today, trade union Fórsa confirmed that it has accepted an invitation to participate in a WRC hearing on Friday, and will suspend “proposed action as a result”.

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) staff voted “overwhelmingly” late last month for industrial action in a disagreement over consultation on management changes to the State body.

The first in a series of 24-hour stoppages at the State’s sea fisheries harbours was due to take place from midnight next Monday, March 8th.

Any industrial action could affect inspections of fish landings at the State’s six sea fishery harbours of Killybegs, Co Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl, Co Galway, An Daingean (Dingle), Co Kerry, Castletownbere, Co Cork, Dunmore East, Co Waterford and Howth, Co Dublin.

The SFPA’s remit involves both compliance with and “effective enforcement” of sea-fisheries law and seafood safety law”, and it works with the Naval Service on inspections of fishing vessels under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

The union’s marine branch represents approximately 110 members at the SFPA, which has its headquarters in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

Fórsa confirmed that notice of action was served last week, and said that the dispute “involves the findings of an independent review of the SFPA”.

A Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) review of the SFPA finalised last year found that the authority was “not working effectively” and required “urgent attention”.

The PWC review referred to a European Commission audit of 2018 in Killybegs, which has led to a recent demand from the EU for “payback” of Ireland’s mackerel quota due to issues with weighing and under-reporting of catches.

The EU audit, published in 2019, found Ireland had overfished its quota of mackerel by 28,600 tonnes, its horse mackerel quota by 8,100 tonnes and its blue whiting quota by 5,600 tonnes between 2012 and 2016.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue is currently engaging with the EU on the “payback” sought.

It is understood that SFPA staff believe they are being blamed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the under-reporting.

Fórsa says that SFPA management had agreed to a joint approach with staff on implementing 47 recommendations made by the Pwc in relation to changes in the organisation.

The SFPA said it did not wish to comment.

Read more on Times.ie here

Published in Fishing

The Government’s soft-touch approach on access to Rockall’s fishing waters for Irish boats is “totally unacceptable”, a former state marine scientist has said.

As Times.ie reports today, Dr Peter Tyndall has also called on the government to push for a renationalisation of European waters to allow coastal states greater access to their own fish stocks.

He said the EU could still handle the management of shared and migratory stocks under a “more honest” Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Dr Tyndall, formerly a BIM gear technologist, was commenting after last month’s warning by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue of “increased risk of enforcement action” by Scottish authorities around Rockall while “engagement continues”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon CoveneyMinister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney

Their joint statement was issued four days after Donegal vessel Northern Celt was boarded by a Marine Scotland fisheries patrol while fishing within 12 miles of Rockall.

Ireland has never made any claims to Rockall, located some 230 nautical miles off north-west Donegal, nor has it recognised British sovereignty claims or a 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit.

Ireland is due to bear the brunt of a return of EU quotas to Britain, at a 15 per cent overall reduction in Irish quotas.

Tyndall said that the CFP, which is due for review in 2023, is “clearly a failure”.

He said he Irish government should now “engage the best legal minds” before 2023 to challenge a management system which is “in breach of the Treaties of Europe on the rights of fishing communities to an income”.

“The CFP is rife with injustices and the British Tory party actively worked this emotive subject to influence votes in the Leave campaign,” he said.

“ The effect that the CFP has had in Europe is totally disproportionate to its economic contribution. Norway rejected EU membership on two occasions while Iceland decided not to join. Greenland, a home rule dependency of Denmark, pulled away,” Tyndall recalled.

“ Even with the new agenda of reducing carbon emissions there is a strong argument that those closest to the resource should access them proportionately,” he said.

“Ireland’s leaders should have the courage to initiate this conversation with our European partners in the knowledge that it can lead to a fairer system and healthier stocks which would be more in keeping with the stated aspirations of European partnership,” Tyndall said.

Asked to comment, the Department of Foreign Affairs referred to Mr Coveney’s Dáil response on February 3rd

Read more in Times.ie here

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Wicklow RNLI lifeboat brought two fishermen to safety today after their vessel developed engine trouble six miles east of Greystones harbour.

The all-weather lifeboat under the command of Coxswain Tommy McAulay was tasked by the Coast Guard at 12:15pm and proceeded north to assist the fishermen.

The seven-metre fishing vessel with engine failure was located thirty minutes later, near the East Codling Buoy. Conditions on scene were sea state slight with good visibility. A towline was passed to the fishing vessel and a course was set for Greystones Harbour.

The fishing vessel was brought alongside at Greystones harbour and the two crew were landed safely ashore just before 2pm this afternoon.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Chief Executive of the State agency, Water Safety Ireland, has made an appeal to all fishermen to take a "risk-based approach" to safety throughout the year to reduce tragedies which coastal communities have endured.

John Leech says that the first quarter of the year "normally brings with it some of the worst fishing vessel tragedies of the year."

"I would like," he says, "to see all our fishermen use a risk-based approach throughout the year and that their families support them in their endeavours. This will help reduce these awful tragedies that our coastal communities have endured each year.

Formerly the Naval Officer who led that Service's Diving Unit and took part in many search-and-rescue operations, John Leech delivers a message about the need for "an enhanced maritime safety culture" on this week's Podcast.

As well as being CEO of the State agency responsible for promoting water safety he is also an experienced sailor, crewed aboard Ireland's round-the-world yacht, NCB Ireland and is one of the top Race Officers for sailing events.

His message, to fishermen, in particular, can also be applied to everyone working in the marine sector and to those who go on the water for leisure, sailing, motorboating, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, all the maritime sports.

The fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook HeadThe fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay that disappeared south of Hook Head

"This time last year we all learned of the tragic news that the fishing vessel, Alize, from Kilmore Quay had disappeared approximately south of Hook Head.

"All around our coast we have sacrificed so many lives to the fishing industry with several memorials dotted around our coastline to remember these brave fishermen to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude for keeping our fishmongers supplied with fresh fish and for keeping our fish processors in business," he says,

Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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The search for a missing fishing vessel with three people on board continues off the coast of North Wales.

HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating an extensive search to find the vessel since just after 10 am today (28 January) after it failed to return when it was expected.

Rhyl, Bangor and Llandudno Coastguard Rescue Teams have been sent along with RNLI lifeboats from Rhyl, Llandudno, Conwy and Beaumaris.

The HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Caernarfon and a fixed-wing Coastguard aircraft have also been assisting with the search.

North Wales Police are also involved and broadcasts have been made to alert vessels in the nearby area. Despite the extensive search to find the vessel and its crew, nothing has been found so far.

Duty Controller for HM Coastguard Rob Priestley said: “We are continuing to search a wide area to try and find this vessel with all the assets we have at our disposal. We’re also asking other vessels in the area to keep a look out for anything that might also assist the search.”

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Marine minister Charlie McConalogue says he has expressed Ireland’s “serious concerns” at EU level about a “ disproportionate burden being borne” by it in relation to fish quotas lost under Brexit.

Mr McConalogue said he conveyed this at an informal EU agriculture and fisheries council on January 25th, and Ireland was “awaiting to hear how this matter will be urgently addressed.”

An Oireachtas agriculture and marine committee was told last week that Ireland had taken a disproportionately large hit in the final deal.

Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said that if the total loss to nine coastal states is valued at €182 million, Ireland should have lost some €20 million in quotas.

Instead, Ireland’s loss has been calculated at over €42 million, he noted.

Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’DonoghueKillybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue

The frontloading of cuts over five-and-a-half years to 60 per cent this year was also unexpected, he said.

“We have formally requested our government to go back to Brussels and demand that the eight other EU coastal countries step up to the plate and take a proportionate hit on the Brexit deal,” he said.

Mr McConalogue said this week that he had made it clear that "ministers at council must have a direct engagement in the negotiations between the EU and UK to ensure that the fishing industry and other stakeholders have confidence that their concerns and voices are heard and understood".

The informal EU council meeting focused on the preparation for discussions between the EU Commission and the UK on setting TACs and fish quotas for 2021, he said.

Existing provisional quotas are due to end in March, and full-year TACs must be negotiated with Britain before then.

New procedures for interactions with the UK are being put in place, Mr McConalogue said, and member states’ priorities for the negotiations were discussed at this meeting.

“In relation to setting TACs for 2021, I made clear that Ireland is fully committed to respecting setting quotas in line with fishing at maximum sustainable levels (MSY) where this is known, and for other stocks all available data and information must inform TAC setting,” he said.

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Tributes have been paid to fishing industry leader Hugo Boyle, who died unexpectedly earlier this week.

Mr Boyle, a father of four from Falcarragh, Co Donegal, was chief executive of the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&EFPO).

“A gentleman who was highly respected right around the coast” is how south-east vessel owner Caitlín Uí Aodha of the IS&EFPO described him.

Fellow industry leaders said his loss would be felt both in Ireland and Europe.

Mr Boyle, a former fisherman and vessel owner who was based in Achill Sound, Co Mayo, had been ill for several years.

However, he had remained involved in all aspects of the industry, including monitoring the crucial Brexit negotiations.

He had participated in the fishing industry’s emergency online meeting on December 28th last with Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Cabinet colleagues over the damaging impact of Brexit deal.

“He had an incredible legal mind, was a calming but informed influence, and knew what battles to pick,” Ms Uí Aodha said.

“At the time of our own loss with the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme, he was very supportive to me and my family,” she said.

Her husband Michael and four of his five crew died when the vessel hit rocks at Adam’s island on the mouth of Glandore Harbour, Co Cork, on January 15th, 2012.

Her sentiments were echoed by Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue, who also expressed his condolences to Mr Boyle’s wife Ellen, and daughters, Alison, Denise, Elaine and Aisling and wider family.

“I knew Hugo since the mid-eighties when I was in the Department of Marine, and he was very involved in discussions on Celtic Sea herring,”Mr O’Donoghue said.

“He was both a good friend and a good colleague, and was very calm – always seeking solutions, rather than dwelling on problems,”he said.

“His experience as a vessel owner and a fisherman served him well in his role with the IS&EFPO, and he had the ability to seek compromises – our French counterparts will miss him for his role in seeking solutions to the scallop issue in the English Channel, “Mr O’Donoghue said.

Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) chief executive John Ward said the fishing industry had “lost a good friend”, recalling how he was a member of the IFPO when he was fishing.

Mr Ward said he was experienced and with an “infectious good humour and big smile”.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said that “Hugo's commitment to the industry never faltered”.

It was “evident right up until recently, when he participated, contributed and clearly outlined his organisation’s position in the numerous online meetings we had with officials”, Mr Murphy said.

“Hugo’s practical sensible proposed measures, once implemented would in my view certainly mitigate much of the damage which was decided behind the closed doors in Europe that will hurt the people he worked so hard to protect,” he said.

Mr Murphy recalled one instance of Mr Boyle’s many gestures of kindness, after a late arrival of fishing industry representatives into Dublin Airport.

“Hugo being the gentleman he was insisted on driving me to the hotel where I was staying. Despite our tiredness and the late hour, Hugo insisted upon this detour, taking at least an hour of his time, as it was out of his way on his long journey home,” Mr Murphy said.

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EU coastal states “haven’t taken the same hit” as Ireland in losing access to British fishing grounds and “must burden share”, an industry leader said.

The fishing industry is “not interested” in financial compensation, and wants to ensure it “gets fish back” if coastal communities are to survive, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) chief executive Sean O’Donoghue has said.

Speaking on Newstalk Radio’s Pat Kenny Show today before appearing at an Oireachtas committee, Mr O’Donoghue said that if the total loss to nine coastal states is valued at 182 million euro, Ireland should have lost some 20 million euro in quotas.

Instead, Ireland’s loss has been calculated at over €42 million, he noted.

Dedicated junior fisheries minister

Also speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Donegal priest Fr John Joe Duffy of Burtonport accused the Government of taking a “subservient” approach to Europe on the issue, and called for a dedicated junior fisheries minister.

Ireland’s overall quota loss has been valued in a post-Brexit economic analysis at 43 million euro, which is some 9 million euro more than originally estimated by Government ministers

After the Brexit deal was signed, Irish foreign affairs and marine ministers Simon Coveney and Charlie McConalogue had stated that the loss to Ireland of fishing quotas was €34 Million or 15% of €252 Million.

An economic analysis of fish quotas increases the Irish loss figure to €43 Million - but the landing figure for 2020 has been adjusted upwards to €288 Million to maintain the 15% cut total.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine has not responded to queries about the figure change.

The recently published analysis calculates that the final quota reduction (after the transition period) for key stocks amounts to a 26% reduction in the western mackerel quota share, Ireland’s largest fishery

It calculates a 14 per cent reduction in Ireland’s largest non-pelagic fishery, Nephrops (prawns).

It says that the whitefish fisheries where there are notable reductions are: Hake (Celtic Sea) 3%, Haddock (Celtic Sea) 11%, Haddock (Irish Sea) 16%, Haddock (Rockall) 22.6%.

Other reductions are Megrim (Celtic Sea) 8%, Megrim (West of Scotland (19%), Anglerfish/Monkfish (Celtic Sea) 7%, Anglerfish/Monkfish (West of Scotland) 20%, and Pollack (Celtic Sea) 9%.

It calculates a 96 per cent reduction for herring (Irish Sea).

It also says that several smaller whitefish quotas in the Donegal/West of Scotland area have seen sizeable quota share reductions.

The reductions are graduated over the 5.5 year period of reciprocal access, but the largest part of the reduction, 60%, is between 2020 and 2021.

The analysis notes that the Brexit agreement contains a list of 105 stocks for which the UK has, or will receive, a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) share.

“ For 41 of these stocks, the UK’s share will remain unchanged from its current relative stability share. For eight stocks there is no transition period and the new UK quota shares, it is understood, apply from 2021,” it states.

“For the remaining stocks, 60% of the transition to the new shares occurs in 2021, followed by 70% in 2022, 80% in 2023 and 92% in 2024,” it says, and by 2025 the transition to the new quota share is “complete”.

The Brexit fisheries impact is discussed on The Pat Kenny Show here

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"Someone needs to bang the table and bang heads together. Do State agencies talk to each other?"

That blunt statement caused me to think a lot this week when I am still disappointed at official attitudes towards the marine sector.

I was talking to a man who has forty years' maritime experience and is the 'go-to' marine scientist and biologist often quoted and interviewed in the media about climate change, warming seas and the effects on waters around the coast.

Kevin Flannery of Dingle knows the State system from the inside. He was a fisheries inspector, and he was in an angry mood when we spoke.

There are times when I am astonished by what I am told about State organisations and their attitude towards the maritime sector. What he said was a shocking example, raising the question – Do State agencies talk to each other?

Anchovies & Sardines

Afloat highlighted recently the discovery of a potential new fishery on the South/West Coast, anchovies and sardines, an indication that species not before in Irish waters in big numbers are moving here, as other species may be moving away because of the effects of climate change on water temperatures. Anchovies are a little silver fish mostly found in the Mediterranean, Pacific and Atlantic, noted for their salty flavour and used, amongst other food consumption purposes, on pizzas, salads, sandwiches, sauces, dressings and dips.

Irish fishermen catching Bluefin Tuna

"My worry is that other nations will claim rights to them like they did to stop Irish fishermen catching Bluefin tuna in our own waters and another fishery will be lost because of neglect. This fishery is sustainable, so why are our agencies not organising to ensure it remains ours? There is an urgent need and potential for development and diversification. The fishery is sustainable, so why are our agencies not organising to ensure it remains ours?" Kevin Flannery told me. "There are also stocks of sardines showing, bream, octopus, and we are getting reports of all these. Are the agencies talking to each other at all, or is it 'never the 'twain shall meet between them? Somebody needs to bang heads together and say these resources are ours".

Listen to the Podcast to below how upset Kevin Flannery is about the attitude of State agencies.

Marine tourism projects involving boats

And, following up on my report last week about the Department of Finance refusing pandemic financial assistance to Killary Fjord Boat Company because its boats move, I remain astonished that this attitude persists amongst the officials of that Department. I had a few 'interactions' with the Department when seeking an explanation. Their Press Office told me they were referring my questions to 'the Revenue', then came back with a long statement, the core point of which was that a "qualifying business premises is a building or other similar fixed physical structure in which a business activity is ordinarily carried on.' The statement had a Departmental pun. In preparing the support scheme, "it was necessary to provide appropriate anchor points." Maybe the civil servants responsible think boats are best anchored!

It doesn't show a particularly positive attitude towards marine tourism projects involving boats. "Significant additional resources were allocated by Government in the Budget to provide help to different sectors including tourism," the Department said. But does this include boats which move?

A loss to Irish fishermen

A final point about official attitudes, where I saw the Department of the Marine contradict its own Minster. It issued a "preliminary analysis" of the transfer of fishing quota shares from Ireland/EU to the UK under the Brexit deal where it estimated the loss to Irish fishermen at €43 Million. This contradicted the lower figure of €34 million given by its own boss, Marine Minister Charlie Monologue and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney after the deal was agreed on Christmas Eve.

From the past week, I am left wondering if the reality of Ireland being an island nation is fully understood.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has come to the rescue of Donegal islanders with fishing boats registered in Northern Ireland who were blocked from landing into their nearest port by the Brexit deal.

Northern Irish vessels and boats owned by fishermen in the Republic which are on the British register were informed that they could only land into two designated ports - Killybegs, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork – after January 1st.

The State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) had recently initiated an investigation into “unauthorised” landings into Greencastle, Co Donegal.

However, Mr McConalogue says he has arranged for vessels on the British register to land into five additional ports - Greencastle, Burtonport and Rathmullan in Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl in Galway and Howth in Co Dublin.

He said he was “ working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from Monday, February 1st”.

Under the new designations, Ros a Mhíl and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal (whitefish) catch from vessels under 24 metres, Monday to Friday from 10 am to 10 pm.

Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Friday, he said.

These designated hours are due to the need for oversight by the SFPA, he said.

He described it as “an important decision which will allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods in a safe manner”.

“Following Brexit, it is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods,” Mr McConalgoue said.

He said that any UK Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and more procedural requirements than before Brexit.

The SFPA had confirmed last week in response to queries about its investigations that UK registered fishing vessels, including those vessels which are registered to addresses in Northern Ireland, are subject to new EU fisheries and food safety controls”.

These “reflect the UK’s status now as a third country,” the SFPA said.

It confirmed Killybegs and Castletownbere as the only two ports allowed to continue to receive landings under two separate designations - the Illegal, Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated – Third Country (IUU-TC) designation and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) regulations.

The development prompted calls last week by a Northern Irish fish industry executive for “Dublin to reciprocate” an arrangement where all seven Northern Irish ports are still open to vessels on the Republic’s register.

The west Cork vessel Rachel Jay was first Irish vessel since the Brexit regulations came into force to land into Lisahally in Derry with mackerel caught off the Scottish coast.

Alan McCulla of the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation said that while he welcomed the Rachel Jay and other Irish landings, he questioned why “when Belfast saw this coming, Dublin did not”.

“The Northern Irish authorities were able to take measures to keep our ports open to Irish vessels, “he said, adding that “the EU still rules Ireland’s waves”.

Under legislation which was controversially amended in 2019, Northern Irish vessels can fish within the Republic’s six-mile limit – but the legislation does not provide for landing.

The Sea Fisheries Amendment Act 2019 formalised in law a “voisinage” agreement which had existed between the Republic and Northern Ireland since the 1960s, and which was challenged by Greencastle fisherman Gerard Kelly.

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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

Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2021?
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Featured Sailing School

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Featured Clubs

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Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

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Featured Associations

ICRA
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Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

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Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
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https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

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Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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