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Displaying items by tag: Simon Coveney

#fishing – Minister Simon Coveney was guest speaker today at the 9th North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen, Norway. The Minister was invited to speak to open the plenary session of the forum on the importance of seafood for global food security. The Minister was also invited to address the Global Fisheries Policy & Management seminar at the Forum on the new reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy and its impact on the seafood industry. The new Common Fisheries Policy was negotiated to conclusion by the Irish Presidency in 2013. Minister Coveney was the only EU Fisheries Minister to be invited to speak at this prestigious event.

Minster Coveney, along with BIM and representatives of the Irish seafood industry also took the opportunity to meet with a number of major Norwegian seafood companies with a view to broadening and deepening cooperation to the mutual benefit of the Norwegian and Irish seafood sectors. The Minister also had a fruitful bilateral meeting with his Norwegian counterpart where they discussed issues of common interest, including the ongoing negotiations on North East Atlantic Mackerel which is of such importance to both countries.

Minister Coveney said "I have a passionate interest in how we manage the oceans and coastal areas for the benefit of future generations and that's why I was delighted to accept the invitation to speak here today. The importance of the opportunities afforded by sustainable aquaculture and sustainable sea fisheries in contributing to global food security cannot be underestimated. Those opportunities are indeed vast and provide a huge opportunity for delivering economic growth and jobs in the seafood sector."

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Mackerel quotas will be the focus of discussions among European fisheries ministers in Brussels today as Ireland seeks a reduction of Iceland's share.

As RTÉ News reports, Marine Minister Simon Coveney will seek "strong and decisive action" against Iceland and the Faroe Islands unless the European Commission reports progress in talks over the realignment of mackerel catch limits.

Iceland's quota for mackerel increased from 2,000 tonnes in 2009 to a whopping 146,000 tonnes just two years later as stocks of the staple fish soared - partly due to migration from more southerly European waters.

But Minister Coveney has blasted Iceland's move as "irresponsible and unacceptable fishing".

The talks come in the wake of fruitful reform of the Common Fisheries Policy led by the minister as president of the EU Fisheries Council during Ireland's EU Presidency in the first half of this year.

Published in Fishing

#CFP - RTÉ News reports that the "final battle" before reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comes up today as a European Parliament committee votes on the changes led by the Irish Presidency of the EU in the first half of this year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Europe's fisheries ministers agreed in May to a new policy that sets quotas based on scientific advice, with the aim of achieving healthy fish stocks and ultimately higher quotas as stocks are managed sustainably.

The reforms were pushed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney during his presidency of the EU Fisheries Council. The minister also made as his priority the ending of the practice of fish discards, a subject of much public outcry following revelations that as much as 50% of the catch in the North Sea is thrown back dead in the water.

Meanwhile, Ireland's additional quotas under the Hague Preferences have also been retained, a move that comes as some relief to the Irish fishing industry - which will also benefit from CFP amendments that would support the renewal of older fishing fleets.

However, conservation groups fear that these proposals would see the EU's fishing fleets grow to a size that far exceeds the available fisheries resource in European waters.

Published in Fishing

#fisheries – This morning the Irish Presidency delivered on one of its highest priorities as it secured agreement on the EU's new Common Fisheries Policy. Minister Coveney, in welcoming the agreement stated that "At the very beginning of Ireland's Presidency I set out an ambitious and demanding work programme, as I believed it was imperative that reform of our fisheries had to happen now. Having led months of intensive negotiations, I am delighted that we have now agreed on a policy which is practical, implementable and one which places sustainability firmly at its core. It is a policy which will provide for a vital, vibrant industry and healthy fishing stock long into the future".

The main achievements under the new Common Fisheries Policy will be as follows:
With the new policy we have to set quotas that fully respect scientific advice. This will lead to healthy fish stocks and higher quotas as fish stocks are managed at maximum sustainable yield levels. From an Irish perspective the so called "Hague Preferences" have been protected which give additional quotas to Ireland each year for critical traditional stocks around our coast such as cod, haddock and whiting.
Discarding of fish stocks will no longer be allowed. This ends the old policy which forced fishermen to waste food by discarding fish at sea. The new policy will result in higher quotas for our fishermen.
The new policy puts fishermen at the core of developing technical and conservation measures to protect juvenile fish and vulnerable fish species with a completely new regionalised decision making approach. This is a big change as up to now decision making was centralised in Brussels.
A commitment to develop and strengthen biologically sensitive areas, with spawning grounds and high populations of juvenile fish. This will protect and allow for

additional protections for the sensitive fishing grounds off the south and west coast of Ireland known as the "Irish Box".
Retains ownership of fish quotas as a public asset and removes the threat of privatisation of quotas and their concentration in large foreign companies. This will protect the family owned fishing vessels around our coast.

On ending discarding, Minister Coveney said "this complex element has been one of the most contentious and difficult to agree given the many different perspectives on how such a ban would work in practice. What we have agreed this morning is to deliver a new fishing policy which strives to help restore our fish stocks and protect the fishermen and communities which depend on fishing for their livelihoods."

The reform, when taken as a whole, delivers on not just a discards ban but also provides the means for new ways of sustainable fishing, a more transparent and competitive market, as well as empowering fishermen by giving them a central role in decision making for their fisheries.

The agreement was reached between the Irish Presidency, European Parliament and the European Commission and will now go to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for final approval.

Published in Fishing
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#FishFarm - The Galway Bay fish farm debate rolls on as Ireland's Marine Minister says there will be no damage to the environment or wild fish stocks.

Simon Coveney was speaking to Galway Bay FM last week on Bord Iascaigh Mhara's (BIM) proposals for a deep sea salmon farm off the Aran Islands.

The 500-hectare scheme would be the largest of its kind in Europe and has the potential to create hundreds of jobs in the region. A decision on BIM's licence application for the development is set to be made in the coming months.

But the plans have been opposed by conservationists, local anglers and the even the State fisheries body.

Last Wednesday 22 May, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) published an FAQ on its concerns regarding the Galway Bay fish farm proposal, its own submission regarding the environmental impact statements attached to the licence application, and its reasons for avoiding a public debate on the issue.

"IFI is satisfied that its submission, which is supported by international scientific studies, clearly sets out its concerns and recommended measures for mitigation," it says.

Published in Fishing

#CFP - The deal reached between EU fisheries ministers this morning on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) should bring an end to the practice of fish discards within the next six years, according to Ireland's Marine Minister.

As reported earlier today on Afloat.ie, Minister Simon Coveney emerged from 36 hours of talks in Brussels confident that a far-reaching reform on fisheries policy had been reached.

RTÉ News reports that the compromise deal will see a 93% ban on discards take immediate effect, phasing towards a full ban by 2019, with special allowances made in certain cases where sustainability of fish stocks allows.

Minister Coveney, as president of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers during Ireland's EU presidency, will submit the agreed reforms to the European Parliament - which has previously been steadfast in its demands for a complete ban on fish discards to halt the depletion of fish stocks in European waters.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this week's discussions on fisheries reform in Brussels have been described as a "once-in-a-decade opportunity" to end the wasteful practice of fish discards, which has seen as much as 50% of the catch in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney will present a revised comprehensive compromise Irish EU presidency text to the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers on Monday 13 May seeking a new mandate to re-enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Minister Coveney said that these decisive negotiations for agreeing a comprehensive reform of the CFP in Brussels on 13-14 May are likely to be very difficult given the significance for the next decade of what may be decided at the meeting.

“An enormous amount of work has gone into progressing the reform with council, commission and parliament during the Irish presidency," he said. "We now have an Irish presidency substantially revised set of compromise proposals which I believe give us a sound basis for positive engagement at council.

"Agreement at council on this presidency compromise package would support an ambitious reformed CFP which would secure a better future for our fish stocks and for the fishermen and coastal communities who depend on them."

The minister emphasised that there is a "very short window of opportunity for council and parliament to agree and deliver an effective reform of our fisheries policy and the Irish presidency is doing all it can to bring the institutions together to take this historic opportunity.

"I believe that if all parties focus on the critical elements of a reformed CFP, we can by working together reach realistic and substantial agreement through the co-decision process during the Irish presidency.”

Formal negotiations with the European Parliament have resulted in the Irish presidency drawing up a revised compromise 200-page legal text, which Minister Coveney, as president of the council, will use as the basis of negotiations with EU fisheries ministers.

The objective is to get political agreement on a final compromise package to enable conclusion of negotiations with the parliament and the commission on CFP reform during the Irish presidency, which concludes at the end of June.

Minister Coveney will also update EU ministerial colleagues on progress made to date by the Irish presidency during the ‘trilogue’ process where EU presidency (council), commission and parliament have been engaged in complex discussions on refining proposals for CFP reform.

Published in Fishing

#CFPreform - RTÉ News reports that up to 200 conservation groups in Ireland and abroad have written to Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his EU counterparts urging his support for an end to overfishing in European waters by 2015.

The groups claim that mismanagement of EU fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy has resulted in significant overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean where as much as 80% of fish stocks are fished far beyond sustainable levels.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney - who is President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers - welcomed a vote in February on a reform agenda for the CFP, which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency before the six-month term concludes at the end of June.

Published in Fishing

#Marine - 'Foods of marine origin' are covered by the new call for research proposals under the Government's funding programmes, as announced by Marine Minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday.

In addition, the minister announced his intention to co-fund projects related to the marine sector with the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney said that "co-funding arrangements between research funders, where appropriate, are logical in the context of the National Research Prioritisation process and, in this instance, it makes perfect sense for my department and the Marine Institute to come together to fund research relating to marine origin foods”.

The new call for research proposals, in general, aims to build and maintain research capability in the Irish public research system, which contributes to underpinning the sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food, forestry and fisheries sectors and the achievement of growth targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 plan.

Apart from the marine food sector, areas covered by the call include animal and crop production, food and health, forestry, the wider bio-economy as well as the safety, quality, integrity and sustainability of the supply chain.

Minister Coveney added: “I have no doubt that the research community will take full advantage of this opportunity by submitting excellent proposals and I look forward to following the process over the coming months.”

The deadline for proposal applications is Tuesday 7 May at 1pm. All documentation in relation to the call for proposals is available on the Research Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine website.

Published in News Update

#FishFarm - The Government 'will follow procedure to the letter' regarding the proposed €100-million deep sea fish farm for Galway Bay.

That was the message from Marine Minister Simon Coveney in the Dáil last week, as reported by Galway Bay FM, after it emerged that more than 400 submissions on plans for the State's largest ever aquaculture scheme were made to the his department.

The Dáil discussions came just days after a public protest against the fish farm plans in Galway - and some months after the National Inland Fisheries Forum lambasted as "flawed" the consent process regarding the proposed development.

Some 2,000 people amassed in opposition to the 500-hectare organic salmon farm off the Aran Islands proposed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), which if it gets the go-ahead would be the largest facility of its type in Europe and would double the State's production rate of organic salmon - one of Ireland's most profitable export foodstuffs.

BIM has previously accused environmental campaigners of being "deliberately alarmist" about the fish farm, despite concerns raised my Inland Fisheries Ireland over the potential impact of sea lice infestations on wild salmon in the bay.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Galway Advertiser last week, Attymon resident Gabe Cronolly criticises a BIM leaflet informing the public of its proposals.

"The leaflet states that sea lice can only be held responsible for one per cent of salmon losses at sea, but fail to report that 39 per cent of mortalities in fish farms are attributed to sea lice," he writes.

Published in Galway 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.

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