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Displaying items by tag: Minister for the Marine

#FISHING - Marine Minister Simon Coveney has been accused of "hypocrisy" by supporting subsidies for modernising Europe's fishing fleets despite his previous opposition to overfishing.

The Sunday Times reports that Minister Coveney signalled his backing for new subsidies that would allow European fishermen to modernise their trawlers at a meeting to discuss reform of the Common Fisheries Policy recently.

However, environmental groups argue that such subsidies would be used by bigger fishing countries like France and Spain to exploit already dwindling fish stocks in Irish waters.

"Coveney and his advisers made a number of strategic mistakes in supporting the continued payments of subsidies to Europe's fishermen," said Markus Knigge, a consultant with environmental lobby group Ocean 2012.

"The Spanish are the main beneficiaries and they will use part of this money to improve their fleet, which will enter Irish waters and catch even more fish and deplete Irish stocks. Ireland really voted to allow Spain to overfish its waters."

Knigge said Minister Coveney's position on the matter was a U-turn on his previous commitment to end the practice of discarding fish at sea.

An agreement reached by Europe's fisheries ministers this summer was criticised as "vague" by environmental groups and 'fish fight' campaigners.

Meanwhile, Ebbie Sheehan of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation said that what Irish fishermen really needed was not subsidies but permission to land the fish they catch, instead of being forced to discard fish when they go over quota.

Published in Fishing

#IRISH HARBOURS - "Draconian" new charges for harbour users could bring an end to boat trips to see Dingle's most famous resident, according to The Irish Times.

Fungie the dolphin has been a mainstay of Dingle harbour for almost 30 years, but boat trips to visit him could cease to operate "with immediate effect" if charges of up to €9,000 are imposed "in advance" of the season.

Currently operators in the Dingle Boatmen's Association pay around €2,500 to use the harbour at the end of each season.

Association chairman Jimmy Flannery called on anyone working in tourism in Ireland to make submissions to the public consultation before the deadline next Friday 20 April.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, yacht owners are also up in arms over the new charges proposed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney that could see their rates hiked by an incredible 800 per cent.

And the news comes not long after fellow Kerry harbour users protested proposed new bylaws to regulate their activities and impose new charges.

Published in Irish Harbours

#IRISH HARBOURS - Yachts berthing at Ireland's main fishing harbours could see their charges hiked by an incredible 800 per cent.

According to The Irish Times, Marine Minister Simon Coveney has announced a mere 21 days for comment and consultation on the draft Fishery Harbour Centres (Rates and Charges) Order 2012. The consultation document is attached to the bottom of this post and available to download as a pdf.

The proposed new charges include an annual fee of €250 per metre for yachts, which could see a 10-metre yacht currently paying €312 a year for a berth shell out as much as €2,500 annually for the same space.

Additional water and electricity costs could even see this bill rise to €3,100 - for berths that come "without proper marina facilities in most cases".

The proposals apply to the State's six fishery centres at Killybegs, Rossaveal, Dingle, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth, only two of which have pontoons suitable for leisure boats.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Harbours

#NEWS UPDATE - A Donegal TD is encouraging the county's marine stakeholders to submit suggestions for the Government's upcoming Integrated Marine Plan, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The plan, which will be published in the summer, "will be a national agenda for developing our country’s marine potential, across tourism, shipping, leisure, fisheries and other sectors," said Joe McHugh TD.

The Dáil deputy noted "it is significant" that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney are "dealing with this personally" as "previous Governments did not give this type of prioritisation to the industry".

He added: “I encourage Donegal marine stakeholders who see potential for national development in the fisheries industry, sea tourism, marine leisure, oil production, renewable energy production, deep sea fisheries and in various other areas to make submissions to the Integrated Marine Plan."

More information on the Integrated Marine Plan can be found at www.oceanwealth.ie.

Published in News Update

#COASTAL NOTES - Bantry Bay has reached its capacity for salmon farming, says the committee formed to oppose a proposed new facility at Shot Head.

Save Bantry Bay has called a public meeting for supporters tonight (24 March) at Eccles Hotel in Glengarrif, Co Cork, starting at 8.15pm - where chairman Kieran O'Shea will give a presentation on the group's "wide-ranging objections", as The Fish Site reports.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney is currently considering the licence application for Marine Harvet's proposed salmon farm at Shot Head in Adrigole.

Concerns among the committee's members include the potential spoiling of the area's natural beauty having a knock-on effect on tourism, and the environmental consequences of algae blooms from nitrogen and phosphorous waste.

Local fisherman fear that a fish farm of more than 100 acres would see the closing off of part of an "important ground for shrimp and prawn".

Possible infection of wild salmon in local river systems by sea lice from farmed salmon is also an issue, with the Environmental Impact Statement for Shot Head highlighting an outbreak of lice at Marine Harvest's facility in Roancarrig two years ago.

The Fish Site has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#FISHING - The Guardian reports that an alliance of EU member states plans to "hijack" a council meeting of the union's fisheries ministers today to prevent a ban on fish discards.

EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki has stated her commitment to ending the practice, describing it as “unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort.”

Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy. The practice was recently highlighted by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has called on EU states to support Ireland's effort to deal with fish discards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But some member states, led by France and Spain, have dismissed the proposed ban as "unrealistic" and "too prescriptive", and will attempt to pass a declaration to allow the practice to continue indefinitely.

According to the Guardian, the charge is being led by industrial-scale fishing enterprises who want to retain the permission to discard lower value fish in order to maximise profits.

Brussels insiders say that if the declaration were to pass it would "kill the reform".

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - The 2012 Irish Skipper Expo has been hailed by organisers as the most successful to date, as World Fishing reports.

Over 100 companies displayed their products and services to more than 4,500 visitors from the fishing industry and retail and catering sectors at the Skipper Expo International 2012, held at the Galway Bay Hotel on 24-25 February.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Marine Minister Simon Coveney was on hand to launch a new initiative promoting the use of selective fishing nets, and he was full of praise for the weekend-long exposition.

“I am very impressed by the scale and expanse of this event which showcases a wide range of products and services for the fishing industry," he said. "While visiting the stands, I was able to meet and discuss with fishermen current issues and also get a good understanding of the latest developments and innovations in their industry.”

Sharon Boyle, event manager at organisers Mara Media Ltd, added: "The support from the industry continues to be very strong for this show and the number of visitors during the two-day event once more exceeded expectations in what was a very busy weekend.

"Dates for next year’s show are 1-2 March, being held once more at the Galway Bay Hotel.”

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney briefed the Irish Skipper Expo in Galway last weekend on a new initiative promoting the use of selective conservation fishing nets, which allow young fish to escape.

Under the initiative in the Celtic Sea, additional quotas of up to 25% will be made available by the minister to skippers of Irish fishing boats which use an escape panel in their nets, allowing young whiting and haddock to escape.

The escape panel, developed by the Irish industry, has been endorsed at EU level and is expected to be a mandatory requirement later in the year.

Minister Coveney said on Saturday: “The use of this panel will significantly reduce discards of juvenile whiting and haddock in the Celtic Sea, allowing juvenile fish to grow and mature and contribute to increased stock size and returns for fishermen in future years.

"I believe that this offers an example of a practical approach to dealing effectively with the discards problem and retention of a flexible quota allocation system that we should take forward in the context of the Common Fisheries Policy Review."

In other news, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) announced €1.5 million in grant aid for the Irish fishing industry at the expo.

A spokesperson for BIM confirmed to the Galway Independent that the funding will be available to industry through a variety of schemes including fleet safety, seafood environmental management, lobster V-notching and coastal action groups.

Over 100 companies displayed their products and services to fishermen at the Irish Skipper Expo International 2012, held at the Galway Bay Hotel on 24-25 February.

Published in Fishing

#NEWS UPDATE - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has launched a public consultation process on harnessing the potential of Ireland's vast marine resources.

Our Ocean Wealth is calling for input into how Ireland can best capitalise on the trillion-euro global market for marine products and services, from seafood and tourism to shipping, oil and gas, renewable ocean energy and marine science.

Launching the consultation, Minister Coveney said: "We need to change the way we in Ireland think about the sea and look for new opportunities to harness the potential of our 220-million-acre marine resource.

"This government is determined to generate the momentum to drive forward a new era of sustainable economic development across the maritime sectors - we must avail of these opportunities to assist in our recovery. We want your help to shape our plan, to shape our future and to assist in our drive towards our nation's economic recovery."

The consultation process is a step towards developing an Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland intended to grow the percentage of GDP generated by the country's marine resource, which covers an area 10 times the size of Ireland's land mass.

The minister added: "We need an Integrated Marine Plan to harness our ocean wealth, get the environment right for investment and use the potential of our marine economy to create jobs in a sustainable manner."

The consultation phase will be open until 31 March with an aim to publish the Integrated Marine Plan during the summer. For more details visit www.ouroceanwealth.ie.

Published in News Update

#CORK HARBOUR - The Government has finally set a deadline for the clean-up of the toxic waste site on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, under threat of massive fines from the European Commission.

RTÉ News reports that a two-and-a-half year deadline has been set to complete the sanitation of the illegal dump on the island at the site of the former Irish Steel/Ispat plant.

Some 500,000 tonnes of waste, including toxic heavy metals and cancer-causing materials, have been blamed for the area's notoriety in having one of the highest cancer rates in Ireland.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, in October last the Government signed off on a €40m package to begin clean-up of the toxic waste site on the island.

In an editorial yesterday, the Irish Examiner welcomed the Government's decision, but emphasised it was long overdue.

"[It] cannot dispel the great frustration that it has taken so very long to do what should have been done years ago," the paper said.

"To this day nobody has explained how an illegal dump of this scale was allowed to develop on a site that is not exactly secluded, remote or out of the public eye - it is, after all, just next door to the country’s main naval base."

The Irish Examiner also reports on worries that the toxic waste may never be fully removed from the island, but rather sealed off and made impermeable.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney was quoted as saying: "This whole clean-up plan will be peer reviewed so it’s best practice but it could be better to contain the material onsite rather than remove it.

"We will be doing all that is reasonable to ensure the site is safe."

Published in Cork Harbour
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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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