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Irish inshore fishermen have said that a High Court ruling which overturns a Government ban on trawling by larger fishing vessels within the Irish six nautical mile limit is “likely to be more severe” on them than a “no-deal Brexit".

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) said that the judgment published last week was “deeply disappointing” and “extremely worrying”.

It has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue to reinstate “without delay” the directive imposing the ban on trawlers over 18 metres in length from working inside the six nautical mile limit.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) has welcomed the outcome of the judicial review taken by fishermen Tom Kennedy and Neil Minihane.

Former marine minister Michael Creed had signed the ban into law from January 1st of this year.

Mr Creed conceded to a phased system for vessels over 18 metres in length fishing for sprat during 2020 and 2021, however.

Sprat - there are calls for a 'robust scientific study' of this vital species to the ocean food chainSprat - there are calls for a 'robust scientific study' of this vital species to the ocean food chain in the wake of the High Court ruling Photo: illustration BIM

Mr Creed had said the “new protection of inshore waters” would “both support our small scale and island fishermen” and sea angling sectors, and would “provide wider ecosystem benefits, including for nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks”.

The NIFA says that the policy directive created a “huge opportunity for the inshore sector".

If “that opportunity is to be denied” as a result of the High Court ruling, then the inshore sector “faces a very uncertain future and possibly a complete collapse”, it said.

“The potential medium to long term negative impacts of the High court ruling on the inshore sector are likely to be far more severe than that of any “No Deal Brexit”, particularly when looked at in terms of equitable access to fisheries resources,” it said.

“The majority of Ireland’s fishing industry, the inshore sector, which accounts for over 80% of vessels in the fleet and is responsible for over 50% of direct employment in the industry is almost exclusively dependent on the resources inside the six nautical mile zone and does not depend on access to UK waters,” NIFA said.

“Despite that dependency, the majority of the resources inside that zone are harvested by a very small number of larger trawlers,” it said, and many smaller vessels said they could not compete with them.

“Over previous decades, the inshore sector has lost much opportunity and entitlement to access to fishery resources previously available to it,” NIFA said.

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has also voiced concern and has called on Mr McConalogue and Minister of State for Biodiversity Pippa Hackett to “act swiftly” and take steps to reinstate the ban.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has called for a scientific study of sprat stocks in inshore waters.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said that while he did not want to comment directly on the judgment, it was time for a “proper, robust scientific study” on sprat stocks.

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The Government has allocated €13 million in increased funding to promote the” environmentally sustainable development” of the seafood industry.

Budget 2021 has approved total funding for the Irish sea fisheries Programme at €151 million.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue welcomed the allocation, and said the fisheries, aquaculture and wider seafood sector “supports some 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in the coastal communities”.

Mr McConalogue also said the 2021 budgetary provision would allow the Marine Institute to progress the construction of a new €25 million modern research vessel.

The new 50-metre research ship – to replace the existing 31-metre Celtic Voyager which is over 21 years old – is being built in Spain, and will complement the existing 65 metre-long Celtic Explorer when it arrives around 2021.

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe has also approved additional funding for the development of fisheries harbours.

Coastguard funding

As Afloat reported earlier, some €108 million of funding will be invested in maritime transport and safety to ensure that the Irish Coast Guard can operate safely and effectively.

The building programme for the Irish Coast Guard is to be “ramped up”, with increased investment in safety-related training, equipment and systems.

Offshore islands

Some €2 million in additional funding for Irish islands has also been welcomed by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys.

The allocation for the offshore islands forms part of a 23 million euro “additional” investment in rural communities, she said.

The €3.4 billion recovery fund for an economy threatened by Covid-19 and Brexit includes up to €5,000 a week for businesses forced to close by Covid restrictions.

Payments will be made to businesses based on 10% of their first €1 million of turnover and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum €5,000 for businesses which can demonstrate that their businesses have been impacted.

Mr Donohoe said this measure aimed to try and keep businesses afloat over the coming months.

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The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called on Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Biodiversity Pippa Hackett to “act swiftly” over a High Court decision that overturns a ban on fishing by vessels over 18 metres long inside the six nautical mile limit.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has also called for a scientific study of species including sprat stocks in inshore waters.

A High Court judgment published last week found that the ban on trawling or fishing within seine nets by vessels over 18 metres in length inside the six-mile nautical limit has “no legal effect”.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath issued his judgment on foot of a judicial review of the ban which was introduced by former marine minister Michael Creed in March 2019.

The judicial review of the policy directive was taken by fishermen Tom Kennedy and Neil Minihane.

IWT campaign officer Pádraic Fogarty said that the original ban was initiated “after a public consultation in 2018 which was roundly supported by low-impact fishers in smaller boats, anglers, environmental groups and members of the public”.

“It was heralded at the time as the single most important move to protect fisheries and marine biodiversity that we have seen. There is consequently widespread anger and dismay that this has now been undone,” Mr Fogarty said in a statement.

“We’re urging ministers Hackett and McConalogue to act swiftly on this High Court decision and to tell us how the trawling ban can be reinstated on a permanent basis,” he said.

“ Until then we need to see all inshore trawling shut down so that any recovery in marine life which may have been underway is not completely undone,” Mr Fogarty said.

The IWT says that trawling for small fish such as sprat “removes the principle food source for sea life, whether its whales, dolphins or larger fish”.

“Bottom trawling, which scrapes a net across the seafloor, obliterates important habitats for fish spawning and should be phased out across our seas,” it says.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said that while he did not want to comment directly on the judgment, it was time for a “proper, robust scientific study” on sprat stocks.

“We know so little about sprat,” Dr Berrow told RTÉ Radio 1’s Seascapes on Friday night, pointing out how important the species is for whales.

The six-mile ban for larger vessels was introduced by Minister Michael Creed on 5th March 2019, and came into force on January 1st of this year.

The directive did give a derogation for fishing sprat within six nautical miles up to December 2021, “subject to any catch limits as may be determined by the minister from time to time”.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) has welcomed the judgment. Its chief executive Patrick Murphy said that “once again, we see flawed legislation being overturned in our High Court “.

“The view of IS&WFPO members remains that only a small proportion of fishing boats in our tiny Irish fishing fleet of 165 vessels of over 18 meters in length actually fish inside of the six-mile limit,” he said.

Mr Murphy concurred with the IWDG in calling for a scientific evaluation to calculate the biomass of all commercial stocks within the six-mile zone.

“Until this assessment is complete, we submit that no total allowable quota figure should be set for this important fishery,” he said.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The High Court has found that a ban on trawling or fishing within seine nets by vessels over 18 metres in length inside the six-mile nautical limit has “no legal effect”.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath issued his judgment on foot of legal action over the ban which had been initiated by former Marine Minister Michael Creed.

The judicial review of the policy directive was taken by fishermen Tom Kennedy and Neil Minihane.

The directive was introduced by Mr Creed on March 5th, 2019, and came into force on January 1st of this year.

The directive did permit a derogation for fishing sprat within six nautical miles up to December 2021, “subject to any catch limits as may be determined by the minister from time to time”.

Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said that “once again, we see flawed legislation being overturned in our High Court “.

“The view of IS&WFPO members remains that only a small proportion of fishing boats in our tiny Irish fishing fleet of 165 vessels of over 18 metres in length actually fish inside of the six-mile limit,” he said, welcoming the judgment.

Mr Murphy called for a scientific evaluation to calculate the biomass of all commercial stocks within the six-mile zone.

“Until this assessment is complete, we submit that no total allowable quota figure should be set for this important fishery,” he said.

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The Taoiseach and Minister for the Marine have been described as "dismissive, contemptuous and glib" in their treatment of the fishing industry in moving "dastardly legislation," against fishermen by the country's four fish producer organisations.

The Irish South and West FPO; the Irish South and East FPO, the Irish Fish Producer Organisation and the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, in a joint statement reacted to the Government's defeat of a Sinn Fein motion in the Dáil which sought to annul the Taoiseach's signing of a Statutory Instrument to reintroduce Penalty Points for fisheries offences.

"As the Irish fishing industry teeters on the brink facing its biggest ever crisis in the form of Brexit, our Government has incredulously decided to heap further misery on fishermen. The Taoiseach and Minister McConologue voted against the same legislation just over two years ago when Mr.McConologue said the then Government should listen to the industry.

"The response of both Minister Charlie McConalogue and the Taoiseach who signed the Statutory Instrument (SI), has been at best dismissive, at worst contemptuous and glib. At a time when our industry, which is worth more than €1.2 billion per annum to our economy, stands on the precipice facing its biggest threat since the foundation of the State with Brexit, it is simply appalling". 

"While we have received a huge level of political support for our plight, including from many Government backbenchers which was heartening, ultimately they voted against rescinding the dastardly legislation thus rendering useless, their verbal commitment.

"We have always said that we are in favour of a penalty points system it must be a system which is fair and in accordance with our own legal system. The turgid history of this legislation make grim reading, it has been repealed in the Supreme Court in 2017, tabled by the last Government in May 2018, stridently opposed by then opposition spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue as well as his Fianna Fáil colleagues and now out of the blue, foisted on us by Fianna Fáil more than two years later with no communication nor consultation."

"The industry is simply apoplectic and won't give up the fight."

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The Government has opted not to pursue an incident where a British navy ship instructed an Irish fishing vessel to leave grounds where it was working some 60 miles off the Donegal coast.

The 32-metre fishing vessel Marlíona, registered in Greencastle, Co Donegal, was hailed by the British navy ship HMS Lancaster on July 21st last and asked to leave the area, even though it is well within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was investigating the incident, which had been referred to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO).

However, the department has subsequently said the location was “not within Ireland’s territorial sea and did not, therefore, infringe our sovereignty”.

“In general, it is not unusual for naval ships to ask other vessels in the vicinity to move away from an exercise location for safety reasons,” the department said.

A British navy spokesperson said that “courteous and professional exchanges between the fishing vessel and frigate operating within the designated exercise area enabled this lawful exercise to continue and conclude safely”.

“The safety of all mariners is taken extremely seriously by the Royal Navy. At no time was there a risk to safety to either the fishing vessel or submarine,” the British navy spokesperson said.

The British Directorate of Defence Communications said the ship “operated throughout in accordance with the UN Convention of the Law of Sea, having due regard for other vessels operating in the area”.

However, KFO chief executive Sean O’Donoghue has said there is now a case for the Government to state that the Irish EEZ should be protected from military training exercises by submarines on environmental grounds.

The Celtic League non-governmental organisation based in the Isle of Man has written to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the issue.

It says that the dangers posed to fishing vessels by the activity of submarines “of all powers” were “highlighted graphically” when the Irish MFV Sharelga (italics) was sunk by HMS Porpoise” off the Co Louth coast in April, 1982.

“No lives were lost on that occasion however, unfortunately, that was not the case sometime later when the Scottish MFV Antares was sunk - all crewmen died,” the letter by league assistant general secretary Bernard Moffatt states.

He refers to the recent towing of Co Down MFV Karen by a British submarine, and says an inquest in Cornwall has “still to determine the fate of the crew members of the Breton trawler Bugaled Breizh lost of the Lizard during a NATO exercise”.

Mr Moffatt reminds Mr Martin that a campaign via an Irish government initiative led to the adoption of two International Maritime Organisation (IMO) resolutions.

Mr Moffatt says one of these two resolutions, A709 (17), places an onus on the British navy to move the exercise or cease it, rather than request the fishing vessel to give way.

Asked to comment on the issue, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said that the issue was “not relevant” to it and referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the issue was one for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

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The Dáil heard a Sinn Fein motion this week in an attempt to reject the new penalty points system the Government wants to introduce for the fishing industry.

A Statutory Instrument to introduce the system was signed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin when he was acting as Marine Minster after the sacking of Deputy Dara Calleary over the 'Galway Golfgate' affair.

The last attempt to introduce Penalty Points was defeated in a legal challenge by the fishing industry in the Supreme Court and in the Dáil where it was opposed by Fianna Fáil. The Dáil defeat was the first time in the history of the State that a Statutory Instrument was rejected by the Dáil.

Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Fein spokesman on the Marine, said there was no alternative to taking the issue back to the Dail because the Government was "refusing to listen to the voice of the fishing community."

"The same people who fought against the last Penalty Points introduction and led to its defeat in the Dáil are now the ones introducing it and who won't listen to the fishing industry. Fishers all around our coast were shocked and outraged when they learned that the Taoiseach had signed off on the statutory instrument introducing regulations containing this penalty point system. This unfair and unjust system must be annulled. The Government must listen to the voice of fishers. We need to stand up for our fishing communities and ensure they are treated in a fair and proportionate manner. Common sense must prevail. Fishing organisations have already advised that they will bring the Government through the courts again as soon as the first prosecution occurs. This happened back in 2016 when the Supreme Court ruled that scheme as being unconstitutional."

The Department of the Marine has said the system is needed under EU requirements and without it Ireland would face fines and the denial of EU grants.

The four national fish producer organisations, representing the industry, have offered discussions and an alternative system which would remove what they claim are "guilty even if proved innocent" provisions in the system that would penalise fishermen in a manner in which other citizens are not treated.

More on this in MacSweeney Podcast here

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"The Killala Coast Guard Unit is operational and available in the event of a call-out, but is 'off-the-board' for boat search-and-rescue."

That statement was made by the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, whose Department is responsible for the Coast Guard, in answer to a Parliamentary Question by former Marine Minister, Mayo TD Dara Calleary.

Coastguard resignations

It means that the Unit cannot engage in search-and-rescue on the water, but can undertake training. It has been reduced in volunteer numbers because of personnel problems. The Unit was involved ashore but not afloat in the recent when kayakers got into difficulties near Enniscrone, within the Unit's operational area. Two were rescued by the Coast Guard helicopter from Sligo. One made his own way ashore.

The involvement of an independent company in an attempt to resolve the issues has not been successful. There have been other dismissals and resignations in Coast Guard Units around the coast because of personnel issues.

This is one of a number of several marine sector issues at present.

Fishing industry fighting penalty points

The fishing industry is fighting the reintroduction of penalty points by the Taoiseach and the Marine Minister, though both politicians opposed the system and led to its defeat in the Dáil previously. It was also defeated in a legal challenge by the industry in the Supreme Court.

Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Fein Spokesman on the MarinePadraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Fein Spokesman on the Marine

Sinn Fein has claimed that the reintroduction is because Marine Department officials are deciding policy, not the Government and has called for a "root-and-branch" review of the Department: Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Fein Spokesman on the Marine says that "the potential of the seas around this island nation is not being fully recognised by the Department which is not engaged in development."

Teresa Morrissey, Aquaculture Executive of the IFATeresa Morrissey, Aquaculture Executive of the IFA

The powerful Irish Farmers' Association has joined in on behalf of aquaculture farmers who it represents. Teresa Morrissey, Aquaculture Executive said there is "a failure at Government level to realise the importance of the aquaculture sector as a food source and as an economic asset of the nation. There is a big contrast by what they say when they talk about its potential and what they actually do."

Covid restrictions on sailing

Fortunately, Irish Sailing has managed to chart a path through the difficulty of pandemic restrictions to keep the sport going, though the impact of the latest in Dublin has cleared the Bay of competitive sailing at present. In Cork, there are worries about the possibility of more restrictions.

In Cork, there are worries about the possibility of more restrictions and how they might affect the rest of the sailing season.

Listen to the Podcast below

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The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) says it intends to initiate a constitutional challenge to the penalty points system for fishing offences introduced by the new government.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin signed the system of administrative sanctions into law late last month, even though his party had opposed it.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) chief executive Sean O’Donoghue criticised Mr Martin’s move, made during an “interregnum” when he was holding the agriculture, food and marine brief temporarily.

Mr O’Donoghue said that the system signed in by Mr Martin on August 28th by statutory instrument does not allow for the right of appeal, except through a court of law, and penalties can still remain on a licence if the case is thrown out, he said.

A Fianna Fáil motion annulling a statutory instrument (SI) on penalty points, and calling for a fairer system was carried by 80 votes to 54 on May 29th, 2018.

Twelve days before, a letter of formal notice of infringement proceedings had been issued by the European Commission, due to Ireland’s failure to introduce the EU-wide system under the Common Fisheries Policy.

The IS&WFPO said it was “not just an attack on fishermen and women”, but “an attack on everything we as a society hold dear, on our independence and on our sovereignty”.

“Even under the European Charter of Fundamental Rights that form part of the Treaties of the European Union, the articles below do not comply with what we believe to be Taoiseach Michael Martin’s unconstitutional law,” it said, referring to the legislation’s failure to allow for adequate appeal.

“It is an objective of the Treaties of the EU that a fisherman’s standard of living should be improved,” it said in a statement yesterday.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine did not respond to a request for comment.

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Skippers and crew working on the 2,022 registered fishing vessels in Ireland can now access an interactive digital fisheries chart which provides guidance on a vast number of conservation and fisheries management regulations designed to help fishermen understand the rules that apply and support sustainability in sea fisheries.

The chart, developed by BIM in partnership with the Marine Institute and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) and funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund provides guidance on European and national regulations concerning closed areas, mesh size and restrictions on the use of certain fishing gears.

The online version of the fisheries management chart can be accessed at www.fisheriesmanagementchart.ie. The print format of the Fisheries Management Chart produced annually, will continue to be distributed and is available to download from www.bim.ie

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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with the capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructures such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

Dublin Port FAQ

Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities, so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City, so it is fair to say the origins of the Port go back over one thousand years. As a result, the modern organisation Dublin Port has a long and remarkable history, dating back over 300 years from 1707.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from its current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The Port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

510 acres. The modern Dublin Port is located either side of the River Liffey, out to its mouth. On the north side of the river, the central part (205 hectares or 510 acres) of the Port lies at the end of East Wall and North Wall, from Alexandra Quay.

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for operating and developing Dublin Port.

Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, and profitable private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland's premier Port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the Port.

Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny of the Bounty fame) was a visitor to Dublin in 1800, and his visit to the capital had a lasting effect on the Port. Bligh's study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of Bull Island to its present size.

Yes. Dublin Port is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland. It handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland.

All cargo handling activities being carried out by private sector companies operating in intensely competitive markets within the Port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

Eamonn O'Reilly is the Dublin Port Chief Executive.

Capt. Michael McKenna is the Dublin Port Harbour Master

In 2019, 1,949,229 people came through the Port.

In 2019, there were 158 cruise liner visits.

In 2019, 9.4 million gross tonnes of exports were handled by Dublin Port.

In 2019, there were 7,898 ship arrivals.

In 2019, there was a gross tonnage of 38.1 million.

In 2019, there were 559,506 tourist vehicles.

There were 98,897 lorries in 2019

Boats can navigate the River Liffey into Dublin by using the navigational guidelines. Find the guidelines on this page here.

VHF channel 12. Commercial vessels using Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire Port typically have a qualified pilot or certified master with proven local knowledge on board. They "listen out" on VHF channel 12 when in Dublin Port's jurisdiction.

A Dublin Bay webcam showing the south of the Bay at Dun Laoghaire and a distant view of Dublin Port Shipping is here
Dublin Port is creating a distributed museum on its lands in Dublin City.
 A Liffey Tolka Project cycle and pedestrian way is the key to link the elements of this distributed museum together.  The distributed museum starts at the Diving Bell and, over the course of 6.3km, will give Dubliners a real sense of the City, the Port and the Bay.  For visitors, it will be a unique eye-opening stroll and vista through and alongside one of Europe’s busiest ports:  Diving Bell along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, past the Scherzer Bridge and down the North Wall Quay campshire to Berth 18 - 1.2 km.   Liffey Tolka Project - Tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route between the River Liffey and the Tolka Estuary - 1.4 km with a 300-metre spur along Alexandra Road to The Pumphouse (to be completed by Q1 2021) and another 200 metres to The Flour Mill.   Tolka Estuary Greenway - Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) starts in December 2020 and will be completed by Spring 2022.  Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be delivered within the following five years.  The Pumphouse is a heritage zone being created as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.  The first phase of 1.6 acres will be completed in early 2021 and will include historical port equipment and buildings and a large open space for exhibitions and performances.  It will be expanded in a subsequent phase to incorporate the Victorian Graving Dock No. 1 which will be excavated and revealed. 
 The largest component of the distributed museum will be The Flour Mill.  This involves the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road based on a masterplan completed by Grafton Architects to provide a mix of port operational uses, a National Maritime Archive, two 300 seat performance venues, working and studio spaces for artists and exhibition spaces.   The Flour Mill will be developed in stages over the remaining twenty years of Masterplan 2040 alongside major port infrastructure projects.

Source: Dublin Port Company ©Afloat 2020. 

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