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The State agency responsible for the conservation and protection of sea angling resources has developed an important new tool that captures anglers’ knowledge and hands-on experience to help track changes in stocks of marine fish.

According to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the new method — called ‘FLEKSI’ — crucially taps into the local ecological knowledge of Irish sea anglers as a way of complementing scientific knowledge.

Over 650 recreational anglers who fish along the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and West Coast of Ireland have contributed to the development of the tool, which was highlighted in the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) Journal of Marine Science earlier this month.

FLEKSI, which stands for ‘Fishers’ Local Ecological Knowledge Surveillance Indicators’, can track how fisheries change over time. IFI says it could also have a much broader application in helping to conserve or manage fisheries internationally, as all EU member states are obliged to develop data collection programmes for marine recreational fisheries.

William Roche, senior research officer with IFI, said: “Ireland is known throughout the world for its iconic sea angling resources, attracting up to 185,000 anglers annually. A long and proud tradition of sea angling in this country means that many individuals and groups have accumulated hands-on knowledge of sea angling over the years, from catching tope sharks in the Irish Sea to fishing for bass on the beaches of the Dingle Peninsula.

“We wanted to create a standardised framework that could capture these anglers’ observations and perceptions, to help us better understand long-term changes in recreational fisheries and to act as an early warning signal for long-term changes in the future.”

Roche added: “Tools such as FLEKSI can help us meet the challenge of monitoring fisheries. It can also provide important new information that supports science, policy and management in Ireland and potentially throughout the European Union.”

Dr William Roche, senior research officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland | Credit: IFIDr William Roche, senior research officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland | Credit: IFI

A total of 657 sea anglers, some of whom had more than 40 years’ experience, took part in IFI’s study in April this year. They were asked how sea angling ‘now’ compared with how they remember sea angling ‘then’, when they first started.

Based on their perceptions and observations, the results suggest that stocks of cod, whiting and bass have declined around Ireland over the last 40 years. Importantly, this perception matches with stock assessments from ICES, the organisation tasked with determining stock status for all sea fish species in European waters.

“The study results clearly demonstrate that anglers’ knowledge can provide an accurate picture of changing marine fish stocks,” said Samuel Shephard, a senior research officer with IFI.

“Anglers have a leading role to play in conservation. They spend many hours outside, observing nature and the fish they catch. They may recall how different species have come and gone, and how average catches and sizes may have changed. Over an angling career, this experience can become a unique insight into the status of the fisheries.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland’s policy of collaborating, where possible, with angling citizen scientists and of harnessing their experiences can help us better understand long-term changes and how to protect these wonderful resources for the future.”

The FLEKSI tool paper is available to download from the ICES Journal of Marine Science website. The report is authored by Samuel Shephard (lead author), Diarmuid Ryan, Paul O’Reilly and Willie Roche of IFI.

Published in Angling

A new online survey aims to collect changes in sea anglers’ catches in Ireland’s coastal waters over time.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says anglers participating in the survey will contribute towards understanding changes in angling species here.

Ireland’s sea angling resource ranges from tope in the Irish Sea to bass on the surf beaches of the Dingle Peninsula.

These fisheries attract many local anglers along with visitors from around the world. The new survey aims to track and inform possible long-term changes in the coastal fish populations targeted by anglers.

Dr William Roche, senior research officer at IFI, said: “We are looking for sea anglers of all ages and experience to take part in our new survey programme to help us to understand possible trends and changes in catch over the years.

“We know that anglers have expert localised knowledge from spending time outside observing nature and the fish they catch.

“Over a sea-angling career, this experience becomes a unique insight into the state of coastal fisheries and we want to reach out to those who have localised knowledge and care about the future of our fisheries resource to help us to understand how it has changed.”

IFI says the success of the study “relies on the knowledge, experience and observations of citizen scientist anglers. The survey has been carefully formulated to capture this knowledge and allow it to be expressed as indicators of the current state of our important fish populations.”

Each unique respondent will also be entered into a prize draw to win a voucher of up to €200 for their local angling tackle shop.

Published in Angling

A sea angler got more than he bargained for last week when he was thrown from his boat by a whale while fishing off West Cork.

As CorkBeo reports, Cris Lane was angling with friend Dave McCann off Courmacsherry last Monday (3 August) when they noticed a bounty of marine wildlife — both dolphins and small whales — close by, and their vessel was bumped by a passing minke whale.

The hit was enough to send Lane flying overboard — but thanks to his lifejacket keeping him buoyant, he was able to quickly get out of the cold water and back on board.

CorkBeo has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

Irish sea anglers are invited to participate in an Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) online survey which will help to inform how activities relate to stock levels.

The online survey “seeks to collect information on the behaviours, attitudes and catch preferences of all Irish sea anglers”, the State agency says.

The work which is supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be analysed by IFI researchers.

IFI head of research and development Dr Cathal Gallagher said there are approximately 126,000 sea anglers in Ireland and “we hope that they will help us to find out how often people go fishing, what they catch and what they release”.

“Sea angling is an important activity here in Ireland and we want to ensure the future of marine fisheries resource,”he said.

“The data collected will help us to make informed decisions on how to best estimate sea angling catches in Ireland. This catch data will inform management decisions and will prevent the use of worst case scenarios, which can happen when there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding information,”he added.

The survey will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete, IFI says.

Participants will receive an Angling Ireland neck buff and line clipper for taking part, and tackle vouchers valued up to 200 euro are also on offer in a draw.

The survey is here

Published in Angling
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A four-day shark festival with a €250,000 prize fund is set to put Ballycotton on the sea angling map later this year.

In his latest Angling Notes for The Irish Times, Derek Evans says the Ballycotton Big Fish from 12-15 September will be the biggest festival of its kind in Europe.

The event is the brainchild of Ballycotton-born Pearse Flynn, an experienced deep-sea angler who was determined to attract the world’s top competitors to an East Cork town already renowned for its big fish records.

Prizes are set to be awarded for biggest shark landed, as well as for the boat that lands the greater number of sharks ever the course of the tournament.

But only big spending anglers need apply, as the entry fee is a whopping €5,000 per head.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sharks

#Angling - Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for inland fisheries, has welcomed the success of Newport Sea Angling Club in Co Mayo in securing fishing equipment for junior anglers in the community.

Along with many others around Ireland, including the Finglas Youth Resource Centre in north Dublin, the club received funding from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Strategy for Angling Development to help support the recruitment of novices to the pursuit of angling.

Minister Canney said: “Newport Sea Angling Club has a strong junior membership hosting multiple events for young anglers every year. The club provides novice anglers with equipment, tackle, rods and life jackets during junior events.

“This helps in promoting angling to a new generation and also ensures that parents do not have to invest in any equipment until children have tried angling a number of times.

“I am happy to see Inland Fisheries Ireland stand behind the Newport club’s excellent initiative and I am confident their efforts will bring new participants into this healthy outdoor pastime.”

The club’s youth outreach initiatives attract many junior anglers with up to 60 juniors attending their National Junior Competition every year.

This new equipment will assist the club in training novice anglers in sea angling skills. In addition to fishing equipment, the club will also purchase a projector and screen for the club which will be used to assist them in theoretical training sessions.

Declan Moran of Newport Sea Angling Club said: “We hope that we can remove any pressure on parents or guardians to purchase angling equipment at the outset until their child has tried the pursuit and intends to continue with it. We believe this is one of the reasons why the club is so successful in introducing many young novice anglers to sea fishing each year.

“At Newport Sea Angling Club, we are committed to helping the next generation of anglers by passing on the necessary angling skills and introducing them to the pursuit in a safe and friendly environment.”

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: “Newport Sea Angling Club has a long history of supporting junior anglers with a number of popular junior events held in Newport every year. We are delighted to support the club through the National Strategy for Angling Development fund to enable the purchase of more fishing equipment.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their work to date in recruiting new junior members and we look forward to seeing even more growth in sea angling in Newport and the surrounds in years to come! By increasing participating in angling among the next generation, we are securing the future of our precious and valuable natural resource.”

Published in Angling

#Missing - The search continued today (Tuesday 19 September) for a sea angler who was swept into the sea from a popular but treacherous fishing spot near Doonbeg in Co Clare at the weekend.

According to TheJournal.ie, the missing man and a friend, both Russian nationals, had been fishing at Pulleen Bay around 6.30am on Saturday morning (16 September) when he went into the water.

When his friend’s attempt at a rescue was unsuccessful, he is believed to have panicked and driven 60km way to Limerick to raise the alarm.

“This has happened in the past in Clare where non-Irish nationals fishing in very dangerous areas, who have little English or no English … panic and have driven miles upon miles, passed Garda stations and people on the road to raise the alarm,” said local journalist Pat Flynn.

Naval Service divers and local diving clubs have joined a number of Irish Coast Guard units from the area in the search, which has been hampered by poor visibility due to heavy coastal fog.

Meanwhile, as the Clare Herald reports, coastguard search teams expressed their dismay over the weekend as several groups of anglers continued to climb out to the rocky head where the missing man was swept away.

Published in News Update

The Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ has won the Rosslare Small Boats Festival for the fifth year in a row. The boat, from Rosie’s Sea Angling Club in Cork, beat 36 other boats from across Britain and Ireland and caught 29 species of fish at the Festival which took place from 6th to 12th September.

The event, sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland, DAIWA, Lowrance, Sea Angler magazine, Fáilte Ireland, Wexford County Council, IPB Insurance and Mannings, is now in its 30th year and this year attracted more than 115 anglers from Wales, Scotland, Isle of Wight, Ireland and many parts of England including Southport, Liverpool and Cornwall.

Having started in 1985 with only five boats fishing, the standard of the fishing and variety of species available in the rich waters off the south east coast of Ireland, coupled with a very high standard from the competitors, has meant that this competition has since grown every year. With 38 different species of fish recorded during the competition, the quality and standard of fishing in Wexford creates considerable revenue for tourist angling and the local economy, contributing more than €300,000 per annum and making the event the most prestigious small boat fishing festival in Europe.

The competition was fierce with boats recording up to 20 species on the first day and 17 on the days thereafter. This continued right throughout the week with many boats neck and neck, and one third of competitors catching 25 different types of fish species. Weather conditions were very good for the competition with settled conditions and light winds. Boats could be launched from Kilmore Quay every day enabling them to target all species.

The Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ proved their mettle once again taking first place with 29 species for 25.81kgs. This crew consisting of Martyn Rayner (skipper) Seirt Shults and Neville Murphy from Rosie’s Sea Angling Club in Cork have continued to raise the bar of the Rosslare small boats fishing competition. Second place went to the boat ‘Sandstorm’ (Nathan James and Ian Jenkins) from Porthcawl in Wales with 27 species for 21.29 kilos. In third place was ‘Dunlin’ (Andy Beresford, Lewis Radcliffe, Jonathan Roberts) from Southport boat angling club with 27 species for 14.02kgs.

For the first time Inland Fisheries Ireland introduced a marine fish tank for the purpose of displaying some of the fish species that were caught during the competition. This idea proved to be a great success, with anglers and staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland on hand to educate the public about the fish species on offer from Kilmore Quay.

People were able to see for the first time marine fish such as thornback ray, various wrasses, gurnards, bull huss and bass which were kept in the fish tank and released back into the sea alive. The educational benefits of the tank and practising catch and release for marine species are hugely beneficial in terms of conservation and creating public awareness of our sea fisheries resource. Two boats ‘Cod n Bass’ and Seeker’, both from Southport in the UK, won the prize for returning the most fish alive during the competition.

There were 3 specimen smooth-hounds caught, the largest of which was 4.3kg caught by John Belger on board the boat ‘Firefly’ and he was awarded for specimen of the week. The heaviest round fish was a bull huss of 5.62kgs caught by Martyn Rayner aboard the Irish boat ‘Screaming Reels’ and he was also awarded a perpetual trophy sponsored by Inland Fisheries Ireland for the biggest fish caught of the week. The heaviest flat fish was a flounder of 0.92 kilos caught by Seirt Shults from ‘Screaming Reels’. Ryan Andrews aged 17, from Wales aboard the boat ‘Provider’, won the best juvenile of the competition with 16 species for 12.92kgs.

‘Redmond’s The Bay’ in Rosslare Strand hosted the prize giving ceremony and a presentation was made to the Irish Heart Foundation for over €3,500 which was raised by anglers. The RNLI also received a generous donation. The total prize fund for the competition was €20,000 including fishing equipment and substantial monetary prizes and engraved trophies.

Suzanne Campion, Director of Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland presented the prizes and said: “I am delighted to be at the Rosslare Small Boats Festival again and to see so many dedicated anglers here to celebrate the 30th year of this fantastic event.

“I would like to congratulate all anglers for participating in this competition, I know that some have been coming here for many years. The people of Wexford welcome all visitors and we appreciate their continued support of this festival. The Festival generates over €300,000 for the local economy, bringing jobs and employment. I would particularly like to thank John Belger and his committee in the UK and Ireland for their hard work in organising this competition.”

Next year’s event will take place from the 10th to 17th September 2016, and Inland Fisheries Ireland is calling all small boat anglers to take part in next year’s Festival.

Further information is available from Ms. Josie Mahon, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Tel: 01 8842 600

Published in Angling

#Angling - Sea anglers have been warned over the use of head torches for night fishing over reports of several near-misses involving boat skippers dazzled by the blinding light.

As the Irish Mirror reports, dozens of angling enthusiasts wearing the long-range lamps – some of them as strong as 1,000 watts – have become a nuisance to shipping in and out of Shoreham Harbour in West Sussex, with a number of vessels narrowly avoiding collisions.

And harbour master Julian Seaman says its only a matter of time before a more serious accident occurs.

The Irish Mirror has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

#Angling - Connacht hopes to encourage more women sea anglers to compete for the province at All-Ireland level, as the Mayo Advertiser reports.

The Connaught Council of the Irish Federation of Sea Anglers (IFSA) wants to field a full team for the All-Ireland Ladies Interprovincial Shore Angling Championships in February.

To this end, it plans to provide greater support and resources for female anglers in the west, and is open to welcoming women of all levels and experience into the fold.

“If you are not already part of a club, the first step is to become a member, said Connaught Council team manager Brian Reidy. "These clubs are social, fun, and provide great support for novice anglers."

The Mayo Advertiser has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
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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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