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Displaying items by tag: fisheries

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s latest Annual Review and Outlook for the fisheries sector is a generally positive one — though tempered by the challenges of Brexit and the coronavirus.

Published today, Thursday 8 October, the review cites CSO figures for 2019 which put the value of Irish seafood exports at €577 million with increases in the value of both salmon and mackerel, Ireland’s most valuable export catches.

Mackerel’s 7% value increase was particularly remarkable as it came despite an 8% drop in volume, following a reduction of the quota by one fifth — thanks in part to a bullish market in Asia.

Shellfish exports had a challenging year in 2019, however, with volumes and values down significantly in the oyster sector.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen similar challenges experienced across the fisheries and aquaculture sectors over the course of 2020 thus far.

“Nonetheless, in spite of the difficulties, the fishing industry has continued to keep food in our shops and on our tables during this extraordinary time,” the report says.

“This has highlighted the vital role that the fishing industry plays in the food chain. This, in turn, underscores the importance of ensuring the sustainability of our fish stocks.

“Due to the closure of the food service sector around the world during the pandemic and transportation issues, exports of fish from Ireland were down around 20% in value during the first four months of 2020.”

Meanwhile, Brexit remains a serious concern, with fears that more than 70% of the Irish fishing fleet could lose access to their regular grounds in UK waters in the absence of a deal on fisheries.

The report outlines: “The UK demand is that quota shares are established on the basis of ‘zonal attachment’ and each year access to the UK fishing grounds are ‘purchased’ using the transfer of EU quota to the UK as recompense for this access.

“If the UK zonal attachment demand was applied, it would have huge negative consequences on Irish fisheries because the UK could claim a much higher proportion of the available fishing quotas for each stock each year.”

It continues: “The UK ‘zonal attachment’ claim is based on the level of catches taken from UK waters. If this criterion was used, it would result in Irish fish quotas being cut by 35% in value.

“The displacement of the EU fleet from the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and/or the reduction in EU quota shares, if remedial measures are not taken, is likely to lead to serious over-exploitation of stocks in our own EEZ; deliver substantial cuts to many of our quotas; [and] cause a substantial control challenge for the Irish navy, and potentially conflict at sea.”

The report also comes on the same day that the High Court struck down the ban on larger vessels fishing within Ireland's six-mile nautical limit, as reported earlier on Afloat.ie, which could have significant conseqences for Ireland's inshore fishing fleet.

The department’s 2020 review and outlook for fisheries and aquaculture can be found attached below, and the full review is available from the DAFM website HERE.

Published in Fishing
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The European Commission president has warned the British government not to backtrack on its commitments in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement pertaining to fishing rights, among other issues.

Ursula von der Leyen spoke out on Twitter as a furore has grown over leaked diplomatic cables seen by the Guardian which indicate that the UK intends to hold back on compromise on outstanding issues such as fisheries to provoke a last-minute “trade off”.

As the final round of negotiations gets under way in London today, Tuesday 8 September, Whitehall has also been accused of “introducing” a new “concept” with regards to access for European fishing fleets in British waters — which intersect with Irish waters in a number of key areas.

The UK government position is apparently now that “80% of the common stocks” are designated as “priority stocks” for British fishermen.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, is to host a webinar on Wednesday 9th September 2020 at 2 pm on how the role of cultural values can be integrated more in small-scale fisheries management.

The webinar, which will be chaired and facilitated by BIM and organised by the Cabfishman project, will address the role of cultural values in the management of small-scale fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic and how these values can be more adequately accounted for.

Commenting on the Cabfishman project and webinar, Richard Curtin, Senior Economist with BIM said, “The Cabfishman project is an important international project with partners from Spain, Portugal, France and the UK, addressing common issues facing the small-scale fleets along the Atlantic. A crucial element of the project is the assessment of cultural heritage associated with the sea, fishing and the small-scale fleets and how to value that contribution so it can be accounted for in decision-making and policies and that is something which we are going to explore in this webinar.”

“One of the tasks of the project is to collate examples of cultural heritage and to create an open-access library of these examples that can be added to overtime. From an Irish perspective, we have collated over 400 examples, ranging from artwork by Paul Henry and others, traditional craftsmanship such as currach making, to ancient fishing knowledge such as ‘marcanna na tallamh’.”

This webinar, organised by the Cabfishman project, financed through the INTREREG Atlantic Area Programme, aims to address several questions via the following presentations:

Speakers and topics:

  • Evaluating the cultural services of small-scale fisheries in the Atlantic Area – David Castilla (University of Huelva)
  • Do small-scale fisheries need yet another research project? From output to outcome through stakeholder involvement – Marta Ballesteros (CETMAR Foundation)
  • Do cultural values play a role in Small Scale Fisheries Management? – Norah Parke (Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation)

The webinar is open to the public to attend and fishers, managers, officials, and those with an interest in the future co-management of small-scale fisheries in Ireland are actively encouraged to attend. To register for the free event visit here

Published in Dublin Bay
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Marine Minister Dara Calleary today announced the award of grants worth €1.2 million to 93 local community groups and micro-enterprises by six of the seven Fisheries Local Action Groups established under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme. The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Announcing the first tranche of grant awards for 2020, Minister Calleary said, “The FLAG Scheme under my Department’s EMFF Seafood Development Programme is unique in having representatives of our traditional fishing communities make the funding award decisions so that vital local funding gets to the many community development groups and events in our fishing communities, together with important development funding to micro-enterprises involved in fisheries and aquaculture, marine tourism and marine leisure activities. The one thing that unites all these projects is their contribution to the economic and social development of traditional fishing communities, which is what the FLAG scheme is all about.”

Minister Calleary added, “The FLAG Scheme has been operating for just a few years now and with its €12 million allocation under my Department’s EMFF Programme, it has gone from strength to strength. This is testament not just to the demand for such local development funding but very much to the hard work of the local volunteers to make up the boards of each of our seven FLAGs.

FLAG NORTH

Applicant

Project Title

Support Rate %

Investment

Grant

Arranmore Country Fest

Festival

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Ardara Community Centre

Upgrade roof at Ardara Community Centre

80

€4,900.00

€3,920.00

Ardara Walking Festival

Festival

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Greencastle Golf Club

All Ireland Fisherman Golf Seafood Buffet

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Inishowen Community Media Network (ICMN)

Croi na Farraige/Heart of the Sea - Digital Media Maritime Heritage Project & TV Documentary

80

€12,250.00

€9,800.00

Inishowen Maritime Heritage Co

Exhibition space enhancement

80

€5,670.00

€4,536.00

Awake Tourism

Stage for Heritage Centre

80

€10,251.00

€8,200.80

Hugh Boyle Painter and Decorator

Equipment

40

€4,800.00

€1,920.00

Forest View Lodges

Forest View Lodges

40

€16,500.00

€6,600.00

Malin Head Community Association Ltd

Tourist Map for the Malin Head Area

80

€1,961.85

€1,569.48

Carrigart Development Association

Carrigart Development Association Environmental & Tourism Project

80

€2,089.77

€1,671.82

Scoil Mhuire Buncrana

Scoil Mhuire Sailing Centre

80

€10,416.24

€8,332.99

Malin Head Fishermans Co-operative Society

Equipment Roller Doors

60

€8,142.00

€4,885.20

Inver Community Centre Company Limited by Guarantee

Inver Community Centre - Enhancing an Existing Community Asset

80

€4,995.64

€3,996.51

Comharchumann forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair

Athnuachan ar chóras séarachais ag an Chrannóg

80

€11,200.00

€8,960.00

Comharchumann na nOileán Beag

Féile Ghabhla / Gola Island Festival 2020

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Comharchumann Oileán Árainn Mhór CTR

Tourist Information Booklet

80

€1,992.00

€1,593.60

Kilcar Kayaks

Equipment and Training

80

€19,122.00

€15,297.60

Coiste Halla Paróiste

Energy Renewal Programme

80

€2,814.00

€2,251.20

Forbairt Dhún Lúiche

Ionad Pobail Dhún Lúiche & Féile an Earagail

80

€4,892.93

€3,914.34

Forbairt Dhún Lúiche

Féile an Earagail

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Glenties Cardiac First Responders

Purchase of Training/Life Saving Equipment

80

€18,719.61

€14,975.68

Donegal Dragons

Donegal Dragons Safety Boat

80

€16,500.00

€13,200.00

Cumann Staire agus Seanchais na nOileán

Gola Picnic Area

80

€2,300.01

€1,840.00

JK Engineering

Environmentally Efficient Generator and Plasma

50

€12,960.00

€6,480.00

Oidhreacht Thoraí (Tory Island Festival of Football Organising Committee)

Féile Peile Oileán Thoraí / Tory Island Football Festival

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Donegal Women in Business Network

Core business skills for women in business

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Foresters Community Hall Ltd CLG

Installation of a Kitchen

80

€21,460.00

€17,168.00

Gola Island Outdoor Education

Safety Boat Outboard Engine

50

€10,440.00

€5,220.00

Comharchumann forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair

Plean Gnó do Thogra Turasóireachta ag Teach Mhuiris, Cnoc Fola

80

€18,000.00

€14,400.00

18th Donegal Moville Port Sea Scouts

RYA Level 1 & 2 Power Boat, RYA Foundation Safety Rescue Training, RYA Sail T

80

€4,800.00

€3,840.00

Áislann Chill Chartha

Riverside Cáfe, The Áislann

80

€12,756.00

€10,204.80

Uachtar Reoite Bunglas

Uachtar Reoite Bunglas

40

€22,497.00

€8,998.80

Comharchumann Thoraí Teo

Féile Soilse Thoraí 2020

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Comharchumann Thoraí Teo

Oíche Fhéile Eoin - Tory Island Seafood Festival 2020

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

Teach Bhillie

Féile Ceoil Ghort a Choirce

80

€2,500.00

€2,000.00

         
   

Total

€287,430.05

€203,776.82

 

FLAG WEST

Applicant

Project Title

Rate

Total Cost

Grant Aid

Blue Water Fishing

Replacement Engines for Angling Vessel Blue Water

50

€92,288.00

€46,144.00

Cruzco Adventure Limited trading as West Coast Aqua Park

West Coast Adventures

 

 

FLAG SOUTH

Applicant

Project Title

Rate

Total Cost

Grant Aid

Dursey Ferry Ltd

Boat Trips & Tour

50

€36,334.00

€18,167.00

Kieran O'Sullivan Bait Store

Bait Store & Refrigeration

50

€3,462.00

€1,731.00

Ballycotton Harbour (Port Authority: Cork County Council)

Provision of insulation fish boxes for local fishermen

100

€4,950.00

€4,950.00

Ger Coughlan Fisherman

Online operation

40

€657.00

€262.80

Fish Seafood Deli Ltd t/a The Fresh Fish Deli

Business Expansion

50

€94,497.29

€47,248.65

Bantry Bay Boat Hire Limited

Bantry Bay Boat Hire Limited

50

€991.00

€991.00

The Lobsters Tale

The Lobsters Tale

50

€10,166.15

€5,083.08

Ballycotton Seafood

Retail Store Fit-Out & Development of Artisan Seafood Products

50

€122,156.00

€61,078.00

Myross Rowing Club

Safety Boat and Boat Storage Shed

80

€40,204.19

€32,163.36

Owen Martin O'Sullivan

West Coast Fish and Chips

50

€45,995.00

€22,997.50

Le Jusant Ltd

Freezer Room for storage of frozen at sea prawns ashore

50

€11,585.00

€5,792.50

         
   

Total

€370,997.63

€200,464.89

 

FLAG SOUTH EAST

Applicant

Project Title

Rate

Total Cost

Grant Aid

The Waterford Motor Boat & Yacht Club

The up grading of the toilet facilities for marina users

80

€20,460.09

€16,368.07

Wicklow County Council

Angling Survey of Wreck Fishing East Coast of Ireland

70

€9,000.00

€6,300.00

Blue Mind Dunmore - SUP and Yoga

Blue Mind Dunmore - SUP & Yoga

50

€16,205.59

€8,102.80

Sigginstown Castle

Sigginstown Castle Renovation

40

€115,734.00

€46,293.60

Helen Mason Art

Helen Mason Art Website, Social Media Management & Exhibition

50

€7,792.50

€3,896.25

Bunmahon Surf School

New premises for Bunmahon Surf School

50

€17,342.80

€8,671.40

The Jolly Roger Smokehouse

The Jolly Roger Smokehouse

50

€13,104.76

€6,552.38

Ealga C. Fishing Ltd

Upgrade Business and Equipment

50

€157,389.00

€78,694.50

Hook Rural Tourism

Marine Tourism Promotional Boat Trips

80

€4,725.00

€3,780.00

Hook Rural Tourism Ltd

Hook Rural Tourism Brand Activation

80

€15,660.00

€12,528.00

The Irish Experience

The Irish Experience Tour Expansion Plan

50

€18,422.90

€9,211.45

         
   

Total

€395,836.64

€200,398.45

 

FLAG SOUTH WEST

Applicant

Project Title

Rate

Total Cost

Grant Aid

John Fitzgerald

Seaweed Knife & spoon handle project

50

€1,789.00

€894.50

Mara Beo Teo Dingleworld Aquarium

Marine Educational Outreach programme

50

€20,047.00

€10,023.50

The Boathouse Cromane

Promotion and Equipment

50

€10,564.49

€5,282.25

Dingle Sea Salt Co. / Salann Mara an Daingin

Adding value to fisheries and aquaculture-related products

50

€21,947.76

€10,973.88

Tralee Rowing Club (Cumann Ramhaíochta Thrá Lí)

Tralee Rowing Club

50

€10,000.00

€5,000.00

Skellig Michael Cruises Ltd

Eco Wild Life  boat Tours to see Puffin Island, Kerry Cliffs and Trans Atlantic cable

30

€65,000.00

€19,500.00

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium

Interactive and virtual ocean education

50

€13,444.00

€6,722.00

The Star Marina Ltd t/a Star Outdoors

Safety boat and aqua park

35

€25,220.00

€9,037.50

Tehan Partners

Teleporter Purchase to support a mixed fishery operation

40

€61,500.00

€24,600.00

Coiste Forbartha na Sceilge CLG

Reen Pier Development

80

€60,000.00

€48,000.00

Kenmare Tidy Towns

ECOTELLY – Virtual Aquarium, Kenmare Bay Marine Life - Public Art

80

€7,796.63

€6,237.30

Callinafercy Rowing Club

Seine Boat Restoration

50

€9,792.00

€4,896.00

Maharees Conservation Association CLG

A Placename (Logainm) Study of Maharees

80

€8,235.00

€6,588.00

Irish Elasmobranch Group

Irish Sharks and Rays booklet

80

€840.00

€672.00

         
   

Total

€316,175.88

€158,426.93

Grand Total

€2,317,592.18

 

€1,230,040.13

 

Published in Fishing
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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary T.D, held discussions, by video link, with EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius on Ireland’s fisheries priorities. The Minister focused on the issues for fisheries in the ongoing EU negotiations with the UK on a possible future fisheries agreement.

Minister Calleary explained the serious concerns Ireland has with the possible implications arising from the UK departure from the EU and its potential impact on the Irish Fishing Industry.

Minister Calleary said “I explained to Commissioner Sinkevičius that I had met representatives of Ireland’s fishing sector yesterday and heard at first hand the substantial impacts if there were significant changes to the current quota shares and access to waters arising from the EU/UK negotiations. I made clear to the Commissioner that we are placing our full reliance on Mr Barnier and the Commissioner delivering on the agreed EU negotiation mandate that sets down clearly the EU objective to “uphold existing reciprocal access conditions, quota shares and traditional activity of the Union fleet”.

The Minister emphasized the absolute necessity that fisheries not be negotiated in isolation from the other elements of the Future Relationship. Minister Calleary said “I appreciate that we are facing very challenging negotiations on fisheries. I made clear that we are seeking that the EU leverage the wider EU/ UK Future relationship to secure the interests of the Irish and EU fishing sector. I assured Commissioner Sinkevičius of my full commitment and co-operation in working to deliver a fisheries agreement that protects the interests of the Irish fishing sector now and into the future.”

The discussion also covered other fisheries priorities including the EU funding package for the seafood sector, including COVID related supports; the negotiations on a new EU Control framework and control challenges facing Ireland, which were raised by the Commissioner; and finally the very strong commitment to progressing further our joint EU commitment to sustainable fisheries.

Published in Fishing
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EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has expressed “regret” that EU fisheries ministers failed to adopt her office’s demand for more transparency in dealing out annual catches and quotas in EU waters.

Ms O’Reilly’s comments follow the EU Council’s refusal to accept a recommendation by her office for greater transparency in the lead up to the annual catch and quota negotiations under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Ms O’Reilly has confirmed her finding of “maladministration” against the EU Council and has expressed disappointment that the council had failed to respond positively.

“It suggests the Council has failed fully to grasp the critical link between democracy and the transparency of decision-making regarding matters that have a significant impact on the wider public,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“ This is all the more important when the decision-making relates to the protection of the environment,” she said.

“The Council’s position appears to be that a key democratic standard - legislative transparency - must be sacrificed for what it considers to be the greater good of achieving a consensus on a political issue,” she said.

Late last year, the EU Ombudsman’s office said that the EU Council should “proactively” release documents on annual fishing quota negotiations into the public domain.

The documents should be made public at the same time as they are circulated to member states, or “as soon as possible thereafter” to “promote greater transparency of environmental information”, it noted.

The recommendation followed a complaint by non-profit environmental law organisation ClientEarth, which has offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing.

The EU Ombudsman investigation was opened last May after the lawyers’ organisation raised the issue of “many years of unexplained fishing quotas, set above the scientific advice for the recovery and long-term sustainability of fish populations”.

The finding in favour of the complainant took the view that since the documents in question are “legislative documents” and contain environmental information , “wider and more timely access should be granted”.

The investigation also considered the documents to “contain environmental information within the meaning of the Aarhus Regulation” on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

It noted that complainant ClientEarth was concerned that not only did the EU’s fisheries council fail to “provide timely access to legislative documents”, but also “has in place an incomplete and unsatisfactory register of documents”.

In its defence, the EU Council argued that proactively releasing documentation could “seriously undermine” decision-making by ministers at the annual December negotiations.

It argued that it could “delay the successful outcome of Council deliberations, as member states need to balance different interests at stake for more than a hundred fish stocks in preparing their initial positions”.

It said that it could expose the Council to “external pressure” as “the context in which the negotiations take place is highly politicised and subject to external attention”.

It said it would also “require a comprehensive case-by-case assessment of the individual information ....to verify whether or not exceptions laid down in the EU rules on access to documents prevent such a disclosure” and would require consultation with “relevant participants”.

ClientEarth environmental democracy lawyer Anne Friel welcomed the EU Ombudsman ‘s “stance against the Council’s lack of transparency”.

“But we regret that despite taking crucial decisions for the future of our planet, the Council of the EU still refuses to open its decision-making to public scrutiny, dubiously claiming that it would delay or influence the process,” Ms Friel said.

“Every year, some member states push for fishing catch limits above scientific advice, undermining the sustainability of our ocean and fisheries sector without being held accountable. As a result, the EU has failed to meet the 2020 deadline to end overfishing,” she noted.

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EU ministers have signed off on Brussels' red lines in advance of the forthcoming post-Brexit trade talks with the UK.

The proposals, reports The Irish News, put into writing warnings by Michel Barnier, the European Union's chief negotiator, that Britain must sign up to a "level playing field" in any free trade agreement.

The level playing field stipulation could see Brussels attempt to bounce the UK into following some EU rules and standards after the Brexit transition period ends in 2021, a concession the Prime Minister has already ruled out.

In its negotiation mandate, the EU stated that any future relationship with the UK should be "underpinned by robust commitments to ensure a level playing field for open and fair competition, given the EU and the UK's geographic proximity and economic interdependence".

On fisheries, the EU General Affairs Council, at its meeting yesterday, also agreed to negotiate to "uphold the existing reciprocal access to waters" - a move that is set to flare tensions between the UK and EU.

More on this story here which also reported that Simon Coveney said the EU was making a 'generous and fair' offer to the UK.

Published in Fishing

As EU fisheries ministers gather in Brussels today for their annual catch and quota negotiations, one Irish industry leader has warned that the impact of Brexit is already being felt with a “doubling” of non-Irish vessels fishing in these waters writes Lorna Siggins

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy warned that while “the harsh language of a “no-deal Brexit” may have softened in the run-up to the British general election”, there could be “further twists in the weeks ahead”.

Irish vessels which catch some 34% of landings off Britain will continue to be able to fish in those waters for now.

However, full British withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy would result in loss of Irish access and transfer of effort by other EU vessels into these waters.

The EU has a legally binding commitment under Article 148 of the withdrawal agreement with British prime minister Boris Johnson to discuss fishing access and trade together.

Irish vessels which catch some 34% of landings off Britain will continue to be able to fish in those waters for now

However, British cabinet minister Michael Gove appeared to ignore this recently when he told Scottish fishermen that Britain would be an “independent coastal state” in full control of its waters after Brexit.

Mr Gove said that access to British waters and trade would form “two separate negotiations”, telling reporters that “I know there are some people who are worried that somehow access to our waters and access to the EU’s markets will be mixed up - absolutely not...”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has laid down a clear marker that this will not be tolerated, warning that the issue of fisheries is central to agreeing a trade deal between the EU and Britain.

“What we will be saying is ‘you want your financial passporting into the European Union from the City of London and elsewhere, you want open skies and we want access to your waters’,” Mr Creed said in an interview with The Sunday Business Post.

Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief Sean O'Donoghue warned on RTÉ Radio Morning Ireland this morning (mon 16) that if trade negotiations stretch beyond the end of next year, a "hard Brexit" could follow for the Irish fishing industry.

Britain’s financial services sector relies on financial passporting for access to every EU state, while British airlines require an “open skies” agreement to ensure access to EU airports with minimal bureaucracy.

“That’s the quid pro quo, I mean nothing less can be countenanced for us, otherwise we lose effectively overnight a third of our fishing industry,” Mr Creed told the Sunday newspaper.

He noted that political rhetoric had raised expectations among British fishermen.

The “take back control” rhetoric “kind of resonates more with the fishing industry in terms of pulling the ladder up behind them and kicking all of us out of their waters,” Mr Creed said.

In a statement on the eve of the EU fisheries council, Mr Creed said that while there were “many challenges ahead”, there was also “significant progress” towards ensuring sustainable catches.

Mr Creed said that of 74 stocks of “interest” to Ireland, some 35 of these were now fished at maximum sustainable yield - where total allowable catches and quotas are set at levels that ensure long-term sustainability.

“This figure has been improving, year on year, since 2013,” he said.

He noted that the European Commission’s proposal includes increases to a number of important stocks for the Irish fleet, including mackerel (41% increase), haddock (30% increase), monkfish (7% increase) and megrim (3% increase) in the Celtic Sea.

Mr Creed said Ireland supported the additional measure to improve selectivity and reduce quantities of cod and whiting caught in mixed fisheries in the Celtic Sea.

Mr Creed noted that the ban on discarding fish at sea – known as the landing obligation - had been fully implemented for the first time last year.

“Implementing the landing obligation is not without its difficulties, but we will continue to work with industry and our experts in Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute to make it work,” he said.

Last week, a consortium of environmental non-governmental organisations in “Ocean avenger” costume staged a protest at Brussels, calling on agriculture and fisheries ministers to end overfishing.

Five non-governmental organisations, Our Fish, Seas at Risk, ClientEarth, Fishsec and Sciaena delivered a six-point plan, outlining why EU leaders must act to end overfishing to protect marine biodiversity and strengthen the ocean’s resilience against climate change.

Several months ago, EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly recommended that the EU fisheries council should “proactively” release documents on annual quota negotiations into the public domain.

Ms O’Reilly said that the documents should be made public at the same time as they are circulated to member states, or “as soon as possible thereafter” to “promote greater transparency of environmental information”.

Mr Creed met stakeholders, including industry representatives and environmental NGOs on November 25th, and pledged to meet them again in advance of today’s council opening.

He paid tribute those who had participated, and singled out “the contribution of the men and women of the fishing industry, who are on the front line of these changes”.

In a related development, the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has confirmed it intends to re-introduce weighing pelagic (mackerel/herring/blue whiting) catches at point of landing in ports to comply with EU regulations.

A highly critical audit conducted by the European Commission had recommended restoration of weighing at piers, rather than only in factories, as one of a series of measures to ensure proper controls.

SFPA chairwoman Susan Steele said the requirement would be applied to a “small portion of landings”.

“Co-operation with our officers will ensure that weighing operations are completed efficiently,” she said.

Published in Fishing
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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today hosted the 19th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) at Agriculture House, Dublin.

The Inshore Fisheries Forums, established in 2014, are currently going through a renewal process with some members coming to the end of their terms and new chairs and vice chairs being appointed to represent their region at the National Inshore Fisheries Forum.

The Minister took the opportunity to pay tribute to those who are departing: “I wish to thank all of you who stepped forward to represent your sector. Without your drive and dedication, this initiative would not have emerged as the influential voice for the sector that it has since become.” From having first met on 15 January 2015, the National Inshore Fisheries Forum has now been given seats as the inshore fishing representatives on a number of consultative platforms including the Quota Management Advisory Committee and the EMFF Operational Programme Monitoring Committee.

Noting the record of policy development of the Inshore Fisheries Forums the Minister observed, “Eight conservation measures have been introduced due to the work that started in one of the six regions which was then supported at NIFF. BIM is working with the NIFF to implement the first ever industry-led inshore strategy because the NIFF made that a priority. At times there have been challenging engagements but I sincerely hope that the proactive approach of the NIFF will continue to be felt no matter who is in the seat for their region. Facing challenges like Climate Change and the roll-out of new policies like Marine Spatial Planning it is essential that there is a strong representative voice capable of leading for the Inshore Fisheries Sector.”

Published in Fishing
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A State sea fisheries officer made a protected disclosure over its levels of regulation to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and members of an Oireachtas committee last year.

The whistleblower, an officer with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) was advised to submit a protected disclosure to Mr Creed and to members of the Oireachtas committee on agriculture, food and the marine after he was informed that data breaches were being investigated.

The officer had admitted to alerting an international sustainable fishing certifying body about under-recording of catches of herring when he believed his initial reports to his employer were not being acted upon, as The Sunday Independent reports today here.

The officer first became concerned in 2012, when the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) awarded a sustainable accreditation to the Celtic Sea herring fishery.

The officer believed the MSC was not aware of under-recording in the region of 50 per cent of catch returns in four Irish fishery harbours.

The officer says he notified his superior on October 31st, 2012, but says no enforcement action was taken by the SFPA at that time, and he then contacted the MSC.

The Celtic Sea herring fishery lost its MSC sustainability certification early in 2018.

This year’s autumn herring fishery had to be closed to all vessels just several days after it opened last month when undersized fish were landed.

A spokesman for Mr Creed told The Sunday Independent that “the protected disclosure referred to deals with operational fisheries control matters, responsibility for which rests with the SFPA”.

“ The minister has been copied with the relevant documents and he is aware of the issues and the concerns. As the matter is legally within the remit of the SFPA, it has undertaken actions in relation to the issues raised and has advised the minister of same. The minister has asked the SFPA to keep him informed by of any further developments”, it said.

The SFPA refers to one protected disclosure on its website which states that “the issues are being assessed and investigated as appropriate”

Transparency International Ireland chief executive John Devitt said that weaknesses in the 2014 Protected Disclosures Act meant that the focus was on protecting the person making the disclosure, but not on taking action - with some exceptions where there is an issue of compelling public interest.

Under the terms of a new EU directive due to be transposed into Irish law, State bodies will have to respond within a timeframe, Mr Devitt noted.

EU fishing rules

Separately, the European Commission has already ordered Mr Creed’s department to conduct an administrative inquiry into its ability to apply EU fishing rules.

The Commission said the inquiry must evaluate Ireland’s “capacity to apply the rules” which govern the management of fish catches within EU waters, and said its request arose from “the severe and significant weaknesses” detected in the Irish control system during an audit carried out in March 2018 at Killybegs, Co Donegal.

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