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Fishing industry organisations have warned Minister for Marine Michael Creed that they will “take him on anywhere and everywhere” if he reintroduces a system of penalty points for commercial fishing breaches without recourse to an appeal writes Lorna Siggins.

Mr Creed outlined the options to Cabinet yesterday on bringing forward new legislation on penalty points, and wording is currently being prepared.

Fianna Fáíl TD and Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher also said he was “very surprised” that Mr Creed planned to table a new statutory instrument on the issue without consulting with the Opposition.

However, a spokesman for Mr Creed said there would be communication with Mr Gallagher, who had put forward his own alternative legislation.

The EU penalty points system applies to serious breaches of EU fisheries legislation, and industry organisations have said they have no issues with the system in principle.

The Government has made three attempts since 2014 to transpose the system into Irish law by way of a statutory instrument (SI), with the latest wording in May 2018 permitting an appeal to the High Court.

However, there was criticism of its failure to allow sufficient time for appeal and the fact that points would remain on a licence even if a fisherman was cleared in court.

It became the first statutory instrument in the State’s history to fall in a vote, and Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Francis O’Donnell said the industry was confident that Fianna Fáíl, Sinn Féin and Independent TDs understood the industry’s continuing concerns.

"We will take the minister on anywhere and everywhere if there is no recourse to appeal, and points remain on a license if a fisherman is exonerated," Mr O'Donnell said. Industry organisations who had been briefed by Mr Creed yesterday were united in their views, he said.

Mr Creed has said Ireland could lose out on up to 37.2 million euro in money from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund if penalty points legislation is not put in place.

However, Mr Gallagher said that if the Government was so concerned about this funding, “where was it for the last 14 months” since he had tabled alternative legislation.

Mr Gallagher said he had not received a response over that 14 months to his alternative wording.

A spokesman for Mr Creed he was “endeavouring to take on board many of the recommendations raised in last year’s Dáil debate on the issue” in putting forward the new SI.

Last year, the Attorney General Seamus Wolfe warned that a new penalty points system aimed at fishermen who engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing could face a Supreme Court challenge, and described the legislation then as "controversial" and "difficult".

"The EU loves these things about sanctions regimes. Instead of just prosecuting people and having the criminal system and the civil system, you've something in between which is a sanctions regime," he was reported to have said, speaking at a lunch in March, 2018 organised by the Association of European Journalists, which was attended by 50 people from journalism, public relations and lobbyists..

Mr Woulfe said many people had queried whether somebody accused of wrongdoing should be entitled to have a jury trial. "The answer is 'no' under the EU system so we're going to have trips to the Supreme Court about all of that."

Published in Fishing
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#FISHING - Conservationists and the fishing industry have joined forces in a new venture to evaulate the state of the Isle of Man's scallop fishery, as the Guardian reports.

Both sides will co-manage the 35-square-mile Ramsey marine nature reserve in the Irish Sea, collecting data to show what progress the scallops have made since fishing in the area was banned in 2009.

It is hoped that the study will lead to a renewing of leases for scallop fishing, which is worth up to £12 million annually to the Isle of Man's economy - though industry leaders have doubts that the new arrangement will serve the island's fishermen.

Some 2.6% of Manx waters are protected, with more than 1% 'highly protected', which is in stark contrast to the rest of the United Kingdom after plans for a national network of conservation zones were shelved till at least next year.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

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

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

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Sean Connick, T.D. has formally launched a new programme of financial support to assist fishermen upgrade critical life-saving, fire-fighting, and other safety equipment on-board their fishing boats.

The delivery of the scheme is projected to provide up to €3 million of funding over the next five years, subject to budgetary provisions.  The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board. In addition to fishing boats, the scheme also provides for the purchase of 'on-board' safety equipment for registered vessels used for sea-angling and other forms of marine tourism.

Speaking at the launch in Wexford, Minister Connick explained the importance of this timely scheme. "I am only too aware of the pain and suffering that is caused to the families and our coastal communities as a result of accidents at sea. We were unfortunately reminded of the dangers of the sea again this weekend with the news of the accident off Helvic Head yesterday. It is imperative that we do all in our power to prevent further accidents and especially casualties and one of these preventative measures includes ensuring our fishing fleet is operating to the best safety standards. This new scheme will enable up to 800 vessels to modernise their onboard safety equipment to further protect fishing crew. However, it is not enough to have a modern vessel, all skippers and crew must complete basic safety training and I would encourage all fishermen, who have not already done so, to contact BIM to complete their safety training without delay".

The Fleet Safety Scheme is an integral part of the 2007-2013 National Development Plan - Sea Fisheries Development Programme and is intended to further improve the overall safety standards onboard Irish fishing vessels. Under the previous Fishing Fleet Development Measure 2000-2006, 1,234 vessels availed of assistance under the Fleet Safety scheme and received grant aid of €2.23 million in support of €5.57 million investment. The current scheme which will run from 2010-2015 will provide grant aid of up to 40% for the purchase and installation of safety items including statutory lifesaving, fire-fighting, navigation and communication equipment.

Rose McHugh, Chair of BIM in welcoming the Minister's announcement said "On behalf of BIM, I would like to thank Minister Connick for his support and approval of this important scheme. Safety is paramount for the Irish fishing industry and this package will help fishermen in these difficult times to modernise their vessels in line with safety standards which will ultimately help to save lives at sea".

Applications and details on the Fleet Safety Scheme and the three other schemes under the Sea Fisheries Development Programme are available from www.bim.ie

Published in Fishing
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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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