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Marine survival of salmon in the eastern North Atlantic has substantially declined in recent decades, yet little was known about the migratory behaviour and distribution of populations. A new genetic tagging study, just published in the international journal Fish & Fisheries, shows where young salmon gather and begin to migrate during their first summer at sea; migrating along the the continental shelves off Ireland, Scotland and Norway and subsequently aggregating to feed in the Norwegian Sea west of the Vøring Plateau in international waters (those waters outside national jurisdiction). Here they are exposed to potential mortality from major commercial fisheries for other pelagic species. 

The genetic analysis of fish caught at sea demonstrates that the salmon stocks that make up this feeding aggregation are unexpectedly not from neighbouring Norwegian rivers, but are predominantly from southern rivers such as those in Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.

This points to fundamental differences in migration behaviours (routes) and likely explains variation in how stocks from Northern and Southern European rivers have been responding to environmental change and critically to recent climate change, and may account for the differences that have been observed among stock groups in marine survival.

Experimental salmon trawl net being hauled aboard the Celtic Explorer Research Ship, May 2008Experimental salmon trawl net being hauled aboard the Celtic Explorer Research Ship, May 2008

Joint senior author of the paper, Prof. Philip McGinnity of UCC and the Marine Institute said, “This report is the culmination of a major logistical and technical effort to synthesise the data from 385 marine cruises, 10,202 individual trawls, 9,269 captured post smolts, spanning three decades and approximately 4.75 million Km2 of ocean and 3,423 individuals assigned to their region of origin.” 

Further adding, “A post smolt salmon at 25cm is a very small and rare fish in a very large ocean and so to firstly catch and then assign a couple of thousand fish back to their region and even, potentially, their river of origin is a considerable feat.”

The sampling was largely carried out by research vessels, such as the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer (pictured), from several European countries and the laboratory analysis by many European labs.

In addition to the large team of international researchers from the UK, Norway, Faroes, Denmark, Russia, France, Spain, Finland, Irish scientists from University College Cork, the Marine Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the Loughs Agency and the Agri-Food and the Biosciences Institute for Northern Ireland were centrally involved. 

Marine Institute's RV Celtic ExplorerMarine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer

Professor Tom Quinn of the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, a leading world authority on salmon has welcomed the study, saying “This paper is the result of sampling efforts that were vast in space and time, and equally impressive collaboration including research agencies and universities from many nations. The scope of this study alone is most impressive, and the results are of great importance. These scientists have revealed rich variation in the early marine migrations of Atlantic salmon from different regions, and are entirely consistent with a growing body of research using similar genetic methods being conducted on Pacific salmon. It is clear that salmon migrate to distant, stock-specific locations at sea, despite never having been to these regions before, and having no older members of their cohort to lead them. The environmental conditions that they encounter in their respective locations will affect their access to food, hence growth, but also their exposure to predators and intercepting fisheries. Thus migratory routes are of great consequence for the persistence and recovery of salmon stocks, in addition to the marvel of animal orientation that they reflect.”

According to Dr Niall Ó Maoiléidigh of the Marine Institute and a co-author on the paper, “Precise information on migration routes and timing are crucial for research into highly migratory marine species especially as the main factors causing population declines may be unknown.”

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries and Ecosystem Services at the Marine Institute said, "The Marine Institute is pleased to see the contribution of its scientists and infrastructure to this project come to fruition. The findings of this study are very important for the management and conservation of salmon in the pelagic marine ecosystem." 

Link to full paper here

Published in Marine Wildlife

A flotilla is steaming up the river Liffey today in the next stage of a marine wildlife campaign to secure legal protection for basking sharks in these waters.

Over 7,000 people have already voiced support for the Save Our Sharks campaign, which aims to deliver a letter personally to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan.

The letter highlights the need for legal protection of the world’s second-largest shark and fish – known as Liabhán chor gréine, or the “great fish of the sun” – within Irish territorial waters.

In May of this year, Social Democrat TD and former marine biologist Jennifer Whitmore proposed amending the Wildlife Act (1976) to include the basking shark.

This would provide legal protection to the shark in Irish territorial waters.

Scientists signed an open letter to Government last month, explaining that Irish coastal waters are “one of the few places globally” where basking sharks “regularly and predictably occur on the surface close to shore”.

“This surface swimming behaviour is the root of its deep cultural connections with western Irish coastal and island communities,” the scientists said.

The number of breeding individuals has been estimated at approximately 8,000-10,000 worldwide, the majority of which are in the northeast Atlantic.

The scientists believe section 23 of the Wildlife Act should be amended to protect the endangered species.

Celebrating Irish sharks of all shapes and sizes for Shark Awareness Day

Today, 14th July, the Marine Institute is recognising sharks of all shapes and sizes for Shark Awareness Day. Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A HABscope, a microscope with an attached iPod using artificially intelligent software is currently being tested by scientists from the Marine Institute and the National University of Ireland, Galway to detect harmful algal bloom species (HABs) in Irish waters. The pilot study is part of an international collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA in the USA.

The HABscope was recently used on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Voyager as part of a dedicated harmful phytoplankton survey (DINO21) in the Celtic Sea led by Dr Robin Raine of NUI, Galway. Data collected from this pilot study will contribute to the PhD research being conducted by Catherine Jordan from NUI, Galway as part of the Marine Institute’s Cullen Scholarship Programme.

Ocean colour satellite imagery, combined with the HABscope system, provides scientists with a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the ocean and may provide early detection and monitoring of phytoplankton blooms. Daily imagery is used to track the bloom’s movement using specifically designed algorithms that calculate the reflectance of light off the ocean surface.

Sheena Fennell of NUI Galway using the HABscope on the RV Celtic Voyager research shipSheena Fennell of NUI Galway using the HABscope on the RV Celtic Voyager research ship

The HABscope, developed by NOAA with funding from NASA, consists of a microscope with an iPod attached, embedded with artificially intelligent software to identify the swimming pattern of the phytoplankton Karenia. Results are returned instantly on whether the genre of phytoplankton is present in the water sample.

Ms Catherine Jordan said, “When phytoplankton appears in high numbers, and depending on the type of phytoplankton, they can produce green and dark red hues in the water known as 'algal blooms'. As these blooms can sometimes be visible from space, satellites provide a useful tool in monitoring the location and extent of these blooms. In most cases, phytoplankton blooms are of benefit to the ecosystem, but a small proportion of phytoplankton species produce toxins which may affect other marine life.”

“This is the first time that the HABscope has been tested outside of the United States,” Ms Jordan added. “Using the HABscope alongside satellite technology may help to provide early wide-scale warnings of the presence of harmful algal blooms. HABS can have an impact on industries such as aquaculture, fisheries and tourism, so it is important to be able to detect, monitor, track and forecast the development and movement of HABs in real-time.”

Karenia mikimotoi is a naturally occurring phytoplankton species that occasionally can form dense blooms off the Irish coast. These “Red-Tides” can sometimes cause the seawater to discolour and can even result in localised mortality of a range of marine animals. The Marine Institute monitors our coastal waters for this species as part of the National Phytoplankton Monitoring Programme. It is thought Karenia overwinter in low numbers as motile cells and when favourable conditions arrive in early to late summer they can form these blooms.

As part of the recent survey on board the RV Celtic Voyager, Karenia was detected offshore in one area at a cell density of 250,000 cells per litre in a thin sub-surface layer, analogous to an underwater cloud. The HABscope was used successfully with samples from this layer and its performance is currently being evaluated.

Despite causing occasional impacts on marine animals, Karenia has no impact on human health and is a common species in Irish coastal waters at this time of the year. The Marine Institute programme analyses water samples from around the coast of Ireland to identify any harmful or nuisance phytoplankton, and to monitor their impact on shellfish and finfish in particular.

Published in Marine Science
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“Subterranean estuaries” may be critical in managing sustainable fishing and aquaculture, according to new research.

Subterranean estuaries may be invisible to the naked eye, but may be very important in the ecology of coastal systems, the research by Trinity College Dublin and the Marine Research Institute of the Spanish Research Council in Vigo, Galicia, Spain has found.

They may also filter pollutants – some of which have been slowly travelling to sea for decades having leached from agricultural soils.

The researchers uncovered subterranean estuaries in the Ria de Vigo in Galicia -one of the most productive coastal ecosystems in Europe and leader in bivalve production for human consumption.

They assessed their importance to the coastal environment, and estimated that almost 25% of the continental freshwater discharged to the Ria de Vigo comes from these subterranean sources.

“Bivalve aquaculture is a strategic, expanding sector in Irish sustainable development and features highly in the national plans to diversify food production”, Carlos Rocha, professor in environmental change at Trinity College, Dublin’s school of natural sciences said.

“While our work was conducted in the Ria de Vigo, this area was carefully selected because of its capability to support aquaculture and its biogeographic similarity to parts of the Irish coastline,” Prof Rocha said.

“These subterranean estuaries have a high capability to filter out pollutants, like fertilisers, from freshwater. Given the extent to which they supply large ecosystems with incoming freshwater, they have a much more important role to play than many would have believed,” he added.

NUI Galway has previously conducted research on subterranean streams in the limestone-rich Burren area of Co Clare and their influence on Galway Bay.

The new research has just been published in open access in Frontiers in Marine Science (https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.626813) and Limnology and Oceanography (https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11733).

Published in Marine Science
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Most plastic and microplastic in the marine environment comes from the agriculture sector, shipping and the fishing industry, a report by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) researchers says.

Plastic seed coatings; spreading of sludges from wastewater treatment plants and the use of plastic mulching are key pollutants, while the study recorded 1816 containers from ships lost at sea in 2020, along with abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear.

Some of the plastic pollution is also a contributor to greenhouse gases, as in low density polyethylene in plastic milk bottles and shopping bags when exposed to solar radiation.

Microplastics - mainly fibres from clothing - threaten the food chain from its plankton base to the largest marine mammals.

GMIT microplastic researchers Dr João FriasGMIT microplastic researcher Dr João Frias

Unless addressed, 99% of all seabirds will have plastic in their digestive systems by 2050, the study says. All marine turtle species are impacted by plastic pollution through ingestion and/or entanglement.

The report compiled by members of the marine microplastic research team in the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre (MFRC) at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), and Mal Deegan Productions in Dublin makes a number of recommendations.

Dr Róisín NashDr Róisín Nash GMIT microplastic researcher

It points out that the plastic pollution problem is a "complex multi-stakeholder process with many cross-sector linkages which cannot be successfully addressed in isolation".

The study commissioned by European network of marine NGOs Seas at Risk VzW was compiled by GMIT microplastic researchers Dr João Frias, Dr Róisín Nash, Dr Elena Pagter, Sindhura Stothra Bhashyam, and Malcolm Deegani MalDeegan Productions.

It has been published today on GMIT’s repository here

Published in Marine Science

The Irish public believes more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean, according to results from Ireland’s first Ocean Citizen Survey.

More than 1,000 people across the island of Ireland completed the Ocean Citizen Survey in 2020 and shared their views on current marine issues and priorities for the protection of the marine environment. The online survey was developed by the Marine Institute and the European Commission to encourage the people of Ireland to contribute to the EU Mission for Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters.

92% of survey respondents strongly agreed that more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean. The respondents strongly agreed (85%) that human actions are damaging the ocean and that the health of the ocean and their own health is connected (67%).

"89% thought the establishment of a European Ocean Agency was a good idea"

“The Irish public care strongly about the ocean and are important stakeholders in planning for its future,” said Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Support at the Marine Institute. “It is valuable to have a current understanding of the Irish public’s perceptions and concerns which can be used to inform future research activities associated with these initiatives and policy developments in Ireland, and in Europe.”

The survey also asked the public which 15 marine environmental issues they were most concerned about, and ‘pollution at the coast or in the sea’ was the issue that was most frequently selected amongst the top three. From 14 suggested climate change and marine policy issues, the policy area that was selected the most frequently by the respondents amongst their top three for prioritisation by the European Union was ‘regulating the production, use and disposal of plastic to reduce marine plastic pollution’.

Survey results also indicate that 67% of respondents strongly agreed that economic growth and job generation can be supported by the ocean, seas and inland waters.

Outputs from the Ocean Citizen Survey will be used to inform the preparation of the next National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy, which will commence later this year. Citizen participation is also an important component of the forthcoming Horizon Europe Framework Programme, spanning 2021 to 2027. The information from this survey will feed into the further planning of the Mission on Healthy Oceans, Seas, Inland and Coastal Waters.

Dr McDonough added, “Citizens are crucial to the design and accomplishment of the EU Mission in helping to set objectives and targets and ensuring that missions like this one, make a real difference in everybody’s lives.”

The full report from Ireland’s Ocean Citizen Survey can be viewed online here

Key Findings from Ireland’s Ocean Citizen Survey:

  • 85% strongly agreed that human actions are damaging the ocean.
  • 92% strongly agreed that more action needs to be taken to improve the health of the ocean.
  • 67% strongly agreed that the health of the ocean and their own health is connected.
  • 67% strongly agreed that the ocean can support economic growth and job creation.
  • 61% said marine pollution was one of their biggest concerns.
  • 42% said ‘regulating the production, use and disposal of plastic to reduce marine plastic pollution’ is an issue to be prioritised by the European Union.
  • 88% strongly agreed that marine environmental data collection is important.
  • 46% consider that a high-resolution map of the ocean seabed is very important to society.
  • 89% thought the establishment of a European Ocean Agency was a good idea.
Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Is Ireland “ocean literate”? Tireless campaigners for better awareness of our impact on our marine environment may not be so sure, but Galway-based scientist Dr Noirín Burke is ever optimistic.

Dr Burke is director of education at Galway Atlantaquaria in Salthill, and her infectious enthusiasm for life on the shoreline has inspired several generations of young visitors since she took up that post.

However, Dr Burke is also co-secretariat of the Irish Ocean Literacy Network which is preparing for a number of events next month as part of European Maritime Day.

European Maritime Day

The programme ranges from an EU blue schools workshop on May 17th to an ocean literacy communications event hosted by Sea Search Ireland and Galway Atlantaquaria, to the first ocean literacy festival.

Dr Noirin Burke and her daughter Roisín on Grattan Beach, GalwayDr Noirin Burke and her daughter Roisín on Grattan Beach, Galway

On May 20th, the Irish Ocean Literacy Network will also host a workshop with speakers including Patrícia Conceição, Directorate-General for Maritime Policy, Portuguese Blue Schools (Escola Azul); Easkey Britton, world-renowned surfer, marine social scientist and writer; Nicola Bridge, President, European Marine Science Educators Association and Nathalie Van Isacker, EMODnet Secretariat, European Atlas of the Seas

Wavelengths interviewed Dr Burke (below)to hear details about the network, about her own work, about European Maritime Day, and about one of her favourite coastal locations – Galway’s Grattan beach.

Published in Wavelength Podcast

An Irish marine biologist has been appointed head of the EU’s monitoring body for the Common Fisheries Policy.

Dr Susan Steele, who grew up on West Cork’s Beara peninsula, has been appointed executive director of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

She is currently chair and chief executive of the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

The EFCA’s primary role is to organise coordination and cooperation between national control and inspection activities, ensuring the rules of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy are “respected and applied effectively”.

Based in Vigo, Spain, it cooperates with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Maritime Safety Agency to support national authorities.

The EFCA confirmed Dr Steele’s appointment on Thursday (Apr 22), stating that she has a “solid background in fisheries management and control!.

Dr Steele had been head of the SPFA since 2013, and was previously head of the innovation at the national Seafood Development Centre from 2009.

She also worked with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) as head of aquaculture and business from 2006 to 2009.

She holds a PhD from the National University of Ireland, an MBA, a Masters in Education (M.Ed) and a bachelor degree in marine biology.

She is expected to take up her new European post on September 1st, 2021.

Ireland’s SFPA was recently directed by the EU to withdraw its control plan for weighing fish landed by Irish vessels, following an EU audit in 2018 conducted in Killybegs, Co Donegal.

Last year, the EFCA recorded 38,452 inspections at sea and ashore, leading to 1787 suspected infringements in EU member states.

Published in Fishing

The Loughs Agency has announced the deployment of Europe's largest fish counter as part of the SeaMonitor project.

Listening stations from Malin Head, Ireland's most northerly point, to the island of Islay in Scotland will record transmissions from a variety of mobile marine species tagged by the project's scientists. The data collected using acoustic telemetry will be used to support the conservation of vulnerable species such as salmon, basking sharks, skate, dolphins, whales and seals.

A Basking Shark in Irish waters Photo: Nigel MotyerA Basking Shark in Irish waters Photo: Nigel Motyer

The unique marine research project is underway to study the seas around Ireland and Western Scotland with the deployment of 'Europe's largest fish counter'.

The location of the arrayThe location of the SeaMonitor project array

The SeaMonitor project - which is supported by eight leading marine research institutions located in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, the US and Canada - will use innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Listening stations from Malin Head - Ireland's most northerly point - to the island of Islay in Scotland will record transmissions from a variety of mobile marine species tagged by the project's scientists.
The data collected using acoustic telemetry will be used to support the conservation of vulnerable species such as salmon, basking sharks, skate, dolphins, whales and seals.

Receiver DeploymentReceiver Deployment on the SeaMonitor project 

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO, said the deployment of the fish countermarked a major achievement for the SeaMonitor project. She added: "Loughs Agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues to deliver such amazing marine research infrastructure that will ultimately help protect some of our most important species."

The Seamonitor Deployment TeamThe Seamonitor Deployment Team

Funding for the €4.6m project has been provided by the EU's INTERREG VA Programme (Environment Theme), which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding comes from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.

Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, welcomed the announcement. She said: "I'm delighted to see such a significant achievement for the SeaMonitor project, made possible through the EU's INTERREG VA Programme and the efforts of all its partners in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland working together collectively."

"This is a much-needed step forward for the conservation of a number of vulnerable species within our shared oceans. It only serves to highlight the benefits that are created through strong, mutually beneficial cross-border partnerships in the management of marine protected areas and species. Well done to all involved for advancing our understanding of our seas," she added.

Dr. Fred Whoriskey, Executive Director of the Ocean Tracking Network explained: "This project is important in so many ways. It will unite and empower scientists from Europe and abroad to tackle pressing management issues, provide global networking for scientists to efficiently use resources, and engage the public in project outcomes. We are pleased to provide technical support and counsel, as well as tracking infrastructure to SeaMonitor which is contributing to the conservation of Europe's valued marine animals."

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystems and Advisory Services at the Marine Institute added: "We are delighted to collaborate with partners on the SeaMonitor project and provide technical support and ship-time on the Marine Institute's research vessel, the RV Celtic Voyager. Tracking the migration of species and identifying environmental signals influencing their movement is essential to effectively protect and manage our marine ecosystems.

Published in Sharks
Tagged under

The Marine Institute has announced funding of €0.24 million for the first two Eoin Sweeney PhD Scholarships to run over the next four years.

This Scholarship Programme has been established by the Marine Institute and Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias (PLOCAN) in memory of Eoin Sweeney (1947-2017), who made a significant contribution to developing Irish marine industry, particularly the ocean energy sector, including the establishment of test-bed sites off the west coast of Ireland that provides sea-state testing opportunities for researchers and technology developers.

This Scholarship Programme provides a unique training opportunity for the students using the state-of-the-art scientific facilities at the Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias (PLOCAN) in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Dr José Joaquín Hernández-Brito, CEO said, “PLOCAN are delighted to collaborate with colleagues in Ireland on this Scholarship Programme. We are looking forward to hosting the students in due course, and wish to strengthen our existing research networks between Spain and Ireland together with exploring opportunities for future co-operation in ocean observation.”

The students will also benefit from access to the Marine Institute historical datasets, equipment and infrastructures including access to the national marine research vessels such as the new RV Tom Crean.

Congratulating the award recipients, Mick Gillooly, Director of Ocean Climate and Information Services in the Marine Institute said, “This is an exciting collaboration between the two Universities, PLOCAN and the Marine Institute that enables international collaboration and testing of novel technology, gliders and data buoys, to better understand our ocean ecosystems through long-term observations. Forecasting Ocean and Climate Change is a strategic focus area in the Marine Institute’s Strategic Plan and these scholarships will provide research data from a variety of locations and sea conditions, which will contribute to scientific advice to stakeholders backed up by high-quality peer-reviewed research.”

The awards funded are as follows:

PhD Project Title

Lead Organisation

Grant-Aid Funding Awarded  (for 4 years)             

Application of AUVs to studies on Diel cycles of ocean plankton and biogeochemistry in the Northeast Atlantic

NUI Galway

€120,000           

Wave-powered data buoy

Maynooth University

€120,000  


The students are expected to have commenced by July 2021, with their first visit to PLOCAN expected to take place in 2022 (dependent on government restrictions).

Funding for the Eoin Sweeney Scholarship Programme is provided by the Marine Institute and the Irish Government, funded under the Marine Research Programme. PLOCAN will provide support and host the scholars for two to three months per annum.

Published in Marine Science
Page 1 of 30

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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