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Commercial Fishing News from Ireland
A photo montage of Castletownbere Quay Extension showing what the site will look like when works are completed
Taking time out from his visit to Castletownbere and Union Hall, as part of a nationwide tour of fishery harbours, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, presided at the signing by his Department of…
Marine Minister McConalogue and Dept officials inspected the Smooth Point Pier works during a tour of Killybegs fishing port
The Marine Minister and Donegal T.D., Charlie McConalogue, visited Killybegs for a day of engagements with the fishing industry on Friday 23rd July. The Minister started the day visiting the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master, lead officials on…
The Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD
The Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has undertaken a series of visits to some of Ireland’s main fishing ports. The Minister has met with fishers, processors fishing organisations and other stakeholders, as he visited Howth, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East…
The hour-long event includes a panel of aquaculture entrepreneurs who all began their careers in different sectors and are now applying their skills to aqua-tech to help revolutionise the sector in Ireland and internationally.
Ireland’s fast emergence as an innovation and new technology hub for a pioneering generation of aquaculture entrepreneurs is the focus of an event being held by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, on Tuesday, 27 July at 13:00…
Oyster trestles in South East Galway Bay at Kelly Oysters
Shellfish growers have welcomed a new research project which will measure the benefits to the coastal environment of their activity. The ShellAqua project led by researchers at the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway (NUIG) aims to quantify the "benefits to…
The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands by CJ Gaffney of Arklow, Co Wicklow and his father in 2007
Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has rejected a plea for help from an Irish skipper who bought a beam trawler in the Netherlands which proved to be dangerously unstable. As The Sunday Independent reports, skipper CJ Gaffney (49) of a…
File image of pots used in lobster fishing
The Department of Transport has issued an updated advisory over the risk of vessels becoming entangled in ropes used in pot fishing. Marine Notice No 43 of 2021 supersedes No 10 of 2019 and reminds all vessel owners, agents, shipmasters,…
Five up and coming young chefs successfully appointed to the Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Taste the Atlantic Ambassador Programme, an exciting initiative created by BIM in partnership with Chef Network to drive awareness of the provenance of Irish seafood among young and aspiring chefs. Pictured l-r: Lucas Serpa Maciel Lisboa, Junior Chef de Partie, Bunnyconnellan Coastal Restaurant, Myrtleville, Co. Cork, Jake Kennedy, Chef de Partie (Fish Section), Glovers Alley, Dublin, Sarah Jane Browne, Chef/Manager, Time & Tide Café, Annagry, Co. Donegal, Andrew Zeppa, Chef de Partie, The Yacht Pub & Upper Deck Restaurant, Co. Dublin and Kevin King, Senior Sous Chef, Connemara Sands Beach Hotel, Co. Galway
Five up and coming young chefs, aged between 21 and 24, have been successfully awarded places on BIM’s Taste the Atlantic Ambassador Programme, an exciting initiative created by Bord Iascaigh Mhara in partnership with Chef Network to drive awareness of…
An inshore fishing vessel at Dalkey Island on Dublin Bay
‘Stories from the sea - cultural value of Ireland’s coastal communities’ is the title of a free webinar hosted by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) next Wednesday 14 July. Ireland has a rich maritime history with coastal communities that have been…
Senior instructor Joe Maloney demonstrates safety training to NFCI students Ciaran Ivers(on left) and Ross Conneely (2nd from right) while Minister McConalogue and Jim O’Toole, CEO, Bord Iascaigh Mhara look on
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has accepted a business case from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) for the development of a new Sea Survival Training Unit at BIM’s National Fisheries Training College in Greencastle, Co Donegal.…
Salmon farm in north Co Donegal
TheJournal.ie reports that Ireland’s largest operator of salmon farms has been granted a licence for an 18-pen facility in Bantry Bay. Nine years ago Afloat.ie noted proposals for the salmon farm at Shot Head, with local campaigners arguing then that…
Sýimi O'Donnell of Porturlin, Co Mayo with boxes of line-caught mackerel on board his father Jonathan's boat
Inshore fishers have expressed shock at the sudden closure of the hook and line fishery for mackerel due to an exhausted quota. As the Times Ireland reports, the hook and line method used to catch the fish inshore has low…
File image of a wild Atlantic salmon
The latest investigation from TheJournal.ie’s Noteworthy platform looks at the impact of salmon farming on marine biodiversity — and the findings make for sober reading. Concerns over the impact on wild Atlantic salmon from sea lice and disease in salmon…
Port of a fleet of 55 Irish fishing vessels that staged a national protest in Dublin
Steaming up the river Liffey before sunrise, a fleet of 55 Irish fishing vessels staged a national protest in Dublin over the impact of several key issues including Brexit. The second large-scale protest called on the government to seek a…
Dublin City Quays: Organisers of today's demonstration say they are protesting the "lack of a level playing field under the EU Common Fisheries Policy". AFLOAT adds in addition to the fishing flotilla arriving from yesterday evening and overnight, the Naval Service OPV LE Roisin made an appearance where the fishery (etc) patrol vessel remains this morning at anchor in Dublin Bay.
Fishermen formed a flotilla of 55 trawlers from all around the Irish coast to gather at the entrance to Dublin Port before dawn prior to travelling up the River Liffey through the East Link Toll Bridge to Sir John Rodgerson's…
Drakes Pool in Cork Harbour - The government aims to expand a network of MPAs to cover 30% of Ireland’s total maritime area of 488, 762 square kilometres by 2030
Government officials seeking public views on an expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs) have expressed concern at the low level of feedback so far from the fishing and fish farming sectors. Officials at the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local…

Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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