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After 50 years, there is a major change in sailmaking at Crosshaven, Cork Harbour’s dominant sailing centre.
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Outside the village, the loft associated with the legendary Des McWilliams and family is no longer a sailmaking centre.

Barry Hayes and his wife, Claire Morgan, who took over the business seven years ago, have moved sailmaking to a new loft at Carrigaline, a few kilometres away. In addition, they have opened the first sailing shop in the village of Crosshaven itself, an impressive premises looking out onto Cork Harbour, the marinas and the RCYC sailing grounds.

The new McWilliam Sailing Shop in Crosshaven in Cork Harbour was opened on Friday, November 17, 2023The new McWilliam Sailing Shop in Crosshaven was opened on Friday, November 17, 2023. The impressive premises looks out onto Cork Harbour

For this week’s Podcast, I discussed these changes at Sailmakers at The Square, Crosshaven, with Barry Hayes, who did not start his working life as a sailmaker - he was making chocolate when Des McWilliam convinced him to switch careers.

Sailmakers at The Square, Crosshaven

We discuss the modern changes in designing and manufacturing sails. He describes making canvas sails in Hong Kong, the long-lasting effect that had on his hands and how today, sails made from many different fabrics are also made to last longer.

Sailmakers at The Square, Crosshaven

Listen to the podcast and check out the photo gallery of the Sailmakers at The Square launch in Crosshaven below. 

 

Photo Gallery: Sailmakers at The Square Launch in Crosshaven

Published in Tom MacSweeney

RTÉ News reports on a multi-agency search and rescue operation for a child missing in the water off Fountainstown Beach near Crosshaven in Co Cork.

It’s understood that an eight-year-old child was swept out to sea on Tuesday afternoon (5 September).

The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 is on the scene along with local coastguard and RNLI units, gardaí, ambulance crews and divers, according to Cork Beo which has more HERE.

Elsewhere, a surfer was prounounded dead after he was pulled from the water near Portrush on Sunday evening (3 September). The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour

The volunteer crew of Crosshaven RNLI were kept busy on Monday evening with two back-to-back callouts in Cork Harbour. The first callout came at 7.45 pm when the crew was alerted to a 19-foot motor boat with two people on board that had mechanical issues and an anchor that was dragging at Roches Point, near the mouth of the harbour. The crew quickly arrived on the scene and established a tow to Monkstown Marina.

As the lifeboat was berthing the casualty at Monkstown, Valentia Coast Guard diverted the crew to take part in a medical evacuation at Rushbrook Hotel. The National Ambulance Service requested assistance in extracting a patient with a lower leg injury from the shoreline. Cobh Fire Service was also in attendance. 

The patient was placed on the lifeboat by stretcher and taken to the ferry slipway before being handed back into the care of the paramedics. The lifeboat returned to the station at 10.50 pm, where it was washed down, refuelled, and declared ready for service once more at 11.30 pm. 

The RNLI crew involved in the operation included Alan Venner, Kline Pennefather, Molly Murphy, Conor Barry, Gary Heslin, Jeff Lasarda, Darryl Hughes, and Ian Venner. Michael McCann was DLA. 

This successful operation highlights the dedication and commitment of the Crosshaven RNLI to provide assistance to those in need.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A member of the public alerted the Coast Guard to a stranded vessel with one person onboard near Spike Island and Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour on Saturday afternoon (July 29th).

The Crosshaven lifeboat volunteers were called to action and launched at 5.40 pm. The crew, consisting of Alan Venner, Susanne Deane, and David Venner, located the 20-foot motor vessel at anchor near the Haulbowline bridges.

The skipper explained that he had experienced engine failure after leaving the slipway at Paddy's Point. The weather conditions at the scene were challenging, with a westerly Force 5 and choppy sea.

After establishing a tow, the crew returned the vessel to Paddy's Point and helped the skipper retrieve it to his trailer before heading back to the station. Helm, Alan Venner, commented, "all water users should carry a means of calling for help and to call for help in a timely manner." He also praised the member of the public who reported the incident.

The crew members involved in the operation were Alan Venner, Susanne Deane, and David Venner, while Gary Heslin, Jon Meany, Michael Livingstone, Kline Pennefather, and deputy launching authority Hugh Mockler participated in the launch and recovery.

In case of an emergency on or near the water, contact the Coast Guard by calling 999 or 112, or by using VHF channel 16.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A number of derelict coastguard cottages in Crosshaven are to be converted into social housing, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Plans for 24 social housing units at the central location overlooking Cork Harbour echo those for Dun Laoghaire’s own former coastguard cottages approved last year.

A total 12 one-bed and 12 three-bed units will be developed at what had become an eyesore at the gateway to Crosshaven village.

The Crosshaven Coastguard cottages are facing the Royal Cork Yacht Club and its marina at the top of the photo. Crossahven Garda station is the white cottage on left. The new builds will be in the green area behind the cottages. The Crosshaven Coastguard Building is pictured in the foreground behind the cottages. Photo: Bob BatemanThe Crosshaven Coastguard cottages are facing the Royal Cork Yacht Club and its marina at the top of the above photo and pictured at the bottoon of the drawing below. Crosshaven Garda station is the white cottage on left. The proposed new builds will be in the green area behind the cottages. The Crosshaven Coastguard Building is pictured in the foreground behind the cottages. Photo: Bob Bateman

crosshaven plans

In addition, seven existing residences on the site will be turned into two-bed units by Cork County Council, who voted to approve the project recently.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour

On Saturday, 28 January, Valentia Marine Rescue Sub Centre activated the pagers of Crosshaven RNLI Lifeboat volunteers in Cork Harbour to assist with a medical evacuation.

A fisherman became ill on board the Portuguese crewed 12M fishing vessel and required immediate evacuation to hospital.

The pagers were activated at 10.22 pm, and the lifeboat with James Fegan in command and with the crew, Susanne Deane, Jon Bermingham and Alan Venner were quickly underway to intercept the casualty vessel as it headed for Cork Harbour.

In slight seas, the lifeboat achieved 28 knots towards the vessel and met with the boat about 4 miles south of Roches Point.

James Fegan transferred command of the lifeboat to Alan Venner before going onboard the fishing vessel to assess the casualty and moving him to the lifeboat for a speedy return to Crosshaven. The lifeboat arrived back in Crosshaven at 11.30 pm and was met by the National Ambulance Service, who conveyed the patient to Cork University Hospital.

As the crew were Portuguese speakers with little English, the Valentia MRSC controller interpreted via radio relay with the lifeboat crew. Fortunately, the RNLI also had a Portuguese-speaking crewman, Jeff Lacerda, at Crosshaven, who could interpret for the Paramedics when the casualty was handed over to NAS.

The RNLI shore crew were Dave Venner, Ian Venner, Conor Barry, Jeff Lacerda and DLA Hugh Tully.

Commenting on the service, James Fegan said the evacuation went like clockwork, in no small measure due to the Valentia MRSC controller and Jeff Lacerda being able to communicate with the casualty vessel and casualty.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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On Sunday afternoon (15 January) Crosshaven RNLI volunteers were requested to launch and assist the National Ambulance Service and Cobh Fire Brigade to extract a casualty at Cobh.

It emerged that a young man had fallen on cliffs east of the pilot station at Cobh in Cork Harbour and suffered a serious leg injury.

NAS paramedics and fire service personnel were able to access and treat the casualty, but were unable to extract the patient.

Shortly after pagers sounded at 3.35pm, the inshore lifeboat was beached at the cliff base and its volunteers took on board the stretchered patient along with two paramedics for continuation of care.

They were subsequently transferred to Kennedy Quay, where the fire service assisted in extracting the casualty to the awaiting ambulance.

Commenting later, Crosshaven RNLU hailed the “good inter-agency cooperation by NAS, fire service and the pilot launch.”

The lifeboat crew on this callout were Ian Venner, Alan Venner, James Fegan and Caoimhe Foster. Launch crew were Kline Penefather, Conor Barry, Jeff Lacerda, Jennifer Grey, Jonny Bermingham and Kevin McCarthy.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It’s a family affair across RNLI lifeboat crews on call in Cork and Kerry for the Christmas holiday period.

In Crosshaven and Ballycotton respectively, a father and daughter and a husband and wife are among the RNLI families in Cork who will be on call together for the first time this Christmas.

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal, asking for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, Crosshaven RNLI’s Holly Fegan and Ballycotton RNLI’s married couple Brian and Ann Daly will be among the new lifeboat crew preparing to drop their festive plans this year and go to the aid of someone in need over the Christmas period.

Nineteen-year-old Holly Fegan joined the crew at Crosshaven RNLI three months ago. Her father James has been on the crew for 18 years while her cousin Molly is also a crew member, and her uncle and godfather Patsy Fegan is the lifeboat operations manager.

The family ties don’t end there as her aunt Tina Bushe was the first female helm at Crosshaven while supporting the work of the station’s fundraising branch are her aunt Annamarie Fegan and before her, Holly’s late grandmother Marie Fegan.

“Since I was a child, I have been going to the lifeboat station with my dad or helping out at open days with my grandmother,” Holly says. “I have always loved the atmosphere and the way everybody helps each other, and it is a small community in Crosshaven and I like giving back. As well as my own family connections, it is really an extended family at Crosshaven RNLI.”

Meanwhile, in Co Kerry, 18-year-old social science student Eimer McMorrow Moriarty will be one of four family members on call for Fenit RNLI throughout the festive period.

From left, Fenit RNLI family members John Moriarty, Eimer McMorrow Moriarty, Kevin Moriarty and Billy Moriarty | Credit: James McCarthy/Digimack Photography FenitFrom left, Fenit RNLI family members John Moriarty, Eimer McMorrow Moriarty, Kevin Moriarty and Billy Moriarty | Credit: James McCarthy/Digimack Photography Fenit

Eimer joined the lifeboat crew last year and received her pager in October 2021. Her father Kevin and uncle John are both coxswains at the station while her uncle Billy is also on the crew. Her great grandfather on her mother’s side of the family, Tony Browne, was also on the crew in the past. Not only is she third generation, but she is also the first woman in her family to become a crew member.

“I joined as soon as I was eligible at 17,” Eimer says. “My father has been on the crew for more than 25 years so ever since I was little, growing up as children, my younger sister and I would play lifeboat games and shout ‘lifeboat callout’ when Dad’s pager would go off.

“Along with my dad, I have my own watersport hobbies so joining was also a personal decision as I know it works both ways. On the lifeboat I can contribute to helping someone in need and when on the water myself, I know if I do get into trouble, the lifeboat will come to me.”

A third motivation for Eimer has been a fellow female crew member: “Denise Lynch has been another inspiration for me on the lifeboat. Denise is an incredibly knowledgeable woman who became the first female volunteer coxswain in Ireland back in 2020 which is such a fantastic achievement. I hope that I can follow in her footsteps and become a coxswain one day too and I am very grateful that I have talented people to learn from.“”

A keen windsurfer and sailor, Eimer has been on three callouts since becoming a crew member. “My first callout was quite a serious one as the casualty had fallen off the marina steps and we were unsure of her injuries initially.

“Thankfully, while in shock and showing signs of hypothermia, she was otherwise okay, but I remember as a callout, the experience was intense. There is an adrenalin rush when the pager goes off and when you are trying to get to the station and into your gear as quickly as you can. You always try to prepare for the worst and for the potential that you could be responding to a life and death situation.”

Last Christmas was Eimer’s first Christmas on call and on Christmas Day, she was part of the lifeboat crew who provided safety cover with various other agencies for the annual swim. “It was really satisfying to see how things on Christmas Day remain the same, all the emergency services are all still on call, the pager isn’t turned off and everyone is ready.”

File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/FenitFile image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Fenit

Eimer says this Christmas will be no different for the Fenit and Valentia lifeboat crews: “Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather is at its worst and lives are on the line. We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case.

“There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. As lifeboat crew we couldn’t rescue people without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our families.“”

Like hundreds of volunteers around Ireland, Holly and Emer have signed up to save every one from drowning — it has been the charity’s mission since 1824. Indeed, this Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned.

During the festive period from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day over the last five years from 2017-2021, RNLI lifeboats in the Irish region launched 55 times and brought 43 people to safety.

Last year, across the RNLI, lifeboats launched 1,078 times, with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved. Lifeboats at Youghal, Ballycotton, Crosshaven and Kinsale launched 97 times bringing 137 people to safety. In Kerry, lifeboats at Fenit and Valentia launched 38 times bringing 35 people to safety.

But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

To make a donation, visit the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal website.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Crosshaven Coastguard has installed a new drive-up pontoon for its RIB rescue boat in Cork Harbour

The floating pontoon, that has been installed at the Royal Cork Yacht Club marina gives the local Coastguard unit a much safer and quicker response time.

The Coastguard says on social media that the pontoon will save launch time and the dangers of crossing a busy main road because 'the boat is already on the water but not in the water!" 

Crosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIBCrosshaven Coastguard's new new drive-up pontoon berth for its rescue RIB Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard has shared video of a drone-assisted rescue in Cork Harbour which it says illustrates the increasing importance of new technology in emergency responses.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Crosshaven RNLI rescued a woman who was cut off by the tide at White Bay on Tuesday evening (11 October).

The lifeboat crew were able to quickly reach the casualty as they were guided by the drone launched by Guillen Coast Guard Unit, the IRCG says.

Lights on the drone were also used to illuminate the area as the volunteers recovered the casualty, Guillen Coast Guard adds.

The IRCG says this was one of two rescues in recent days — the other in Clogherhead, Co Louth — where unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “successfully and quickly located casualties in dangerous and inaccessible locations requiring extraction by either boat or helicopter”.

Published in Coastguard
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Aquaculture Information

Aquaculture is the farming of animals in the water and has been practised for centuries, with the monks farming fish in the middle ages. More recently the technology has progressed and the aquaculture sector is now producing in the region of 50 thousand tonnes annually and provides a valuable food product as well as much needed employment in many rural areas of Ireland.

A typical fish farm involves keeping fish in pens in the water column, caring for them and supplying them with food so they grow to market size. Or for shellfish, containing them in a specialised unit and allowing them to feed on natural plants and materials in the water column until they reach harvestable size. While farming fish has a lower carbon and water footprint to those of land animals, and a very efficient food fed to weight gain ratio compared to beef, pork or chicken, farming does require protein food sources and produces organic waste which is released into the surrounding waters. Finding sustainable food sources, and reducing the environmental impacts are key challenges facing the sector as it continues to grow.

Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.

Aquaculture in Ireland

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties.
  • Irish SMEs and families grow salmon, oysters, mussels and other seafood
  • The sector is worth €150m at the farm gate – 80% in export earnings.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming
  • Aquaculture is a strong, sustainable and popular strategic asset for development and job creation (Foodwise 2025, National Strategic Plan, Seafood
  • Operational Programme 2020, FAO, European Commission, European Investment Bank, Harvesting Our Ocean Wealth, Silicon Republic, CEDRA)
    Ireland has led the world in organically certified farmed fish for over 30 years
  • Fish farm workers include people who have spent over two decades in the business to school-leavers intent on becoming third-generation farmers on their family sites.

Irish Aquaculture FAQs

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants, and involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions- in contrast to commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish. Mariculture refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments and in underwater habitats. Particular kinds of aquaculture include fish farming, shrimp farming, oyster farming, mariculture, algaculture (such as seaweed farming), and the cultivation of ornamental fish. Particular methods include aquaponics and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, both of which integrate fish farming and plant farming.

About 580 aquatic species are currently farmed all over the world, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which says it is "practised by both some of the poorest farmers in developing countries and by multinational companies".

Increasing global demand for protein through seafood is driving increasing demand for aquaculture, particularly given the pressures on certain commercially caught wild stocks of fish. The FAO says that "eating fish is part of the cultural tradition of many people and in terms of health benefits, it has an excellent nutritional profile, and "is a good source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and essential micronutrients".

Aquaculture now accounts for 50 per cent of the world's fish consumed for food, and is the fastest-growing good sector.

China provides over 60 per cent of the world's farmed fish. In Europe, Norway and Scotland are leading producers of finfish, principally farmed salmon.

For farmed salmon, the feed conversion ratio, which is the measurement of how much feed it takes to produce the protein, is 1.1, as in one pound of feed producing one pound of protein, compared to rates of between 2.2 and 10 for beef, pork and chicken. However, scientists have also pointed out that certain farmed fish and shrimp requiring higher levels of protein and calories in feed compared to chickens, pigs, and cattle.

Tilapia farming which originated in the Middle East and Africa has now become the most profitable business in most countries. Tilapia has become the second most popular seafood after crab, due to which its farming is flourishing. It has entered the list of best selling species like shrimp and salmon.

There are 278 aquaculture production units in Ireland, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) *, producing 38,000 tonnes of finfish and shellfish in 2019 and with a total value of €172 million

There are currently almost 2,000 people directly employed in Irish aquaculture in the Republic, according to BIM.

BIM figures for 2019 recorded farmed salmon at almost 12,000 tonnes, valued at €110 million; rock oysters reached 10,300 tonnes at a value of €44 million; rope mussels at 10,600 tonnes were valued at €7 million; seabed cultured mussels at 4,600 tonnes were valued at €7 million; "other" finfish reached 600 tonnes, valued at €2 million and "other" shellfish reached 300 tonnes, valued at €2 million

Irish aquaculture products are exported to Europe, US and Asia, with salmon exported to France, Germany, Belgium and the US. Oysters are exported to France, with developing sales to markets in Hong Kong and China. France is Ireland's largest export for mussels, while there have been increased sales in the domestic and British markets.

The value of the Irish farmed finfish sector fell by five per cent in volume and seven per cent in value in 2019, mainly due to a fall on salmon production, but this was partially offset by a seven per cent increased in farmed shellfish to a value of 60 million euro. Delays in issuing State licenses have hampered further growth of the sector, according to industry representatives.

Fish and shellfish farmers must be licensed, and must comply with regulations and inspections conducted by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Marine Institute. Food labelling is a function of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. There is a long backlog of license approvals in the finfish sector, while the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine says it is working to reduce the backlog in the shellfish sector.

The department says it is working through the backlog, but notes that an application for a marine finfish aquaculture licence must be accompanied by either an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). As of October 2020, over two-thirds of applications on hand had an EIS outstanding, it said.

The EU requires member states to have marine spatial plans by 2021, and Ireland has assigned responsibility to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF). Legislation has been drawn up to underpin this, and to provide a "one stop shop" for marine planning, ranging from fish farms to offshore energy – as in Marine Planning and Development Management Bill. However, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine confirmed last year that it intends to retain responsibility for aquaculture and sea-fisheries related development – meaning fish and shellfish farmers won't be able to avail of the "one stop shop" for marine planning.

Fish and shellfish health is a challenge, with naturally occurring blooms, jellyfish and the risk of disease. There are also issues with a perception that the sector causes environmental problems.

The industry has been on a steep learning curve, particularly in finfish farming, since it was hailed as a new future for Irish coastal communities from the 1970s – with the State's Electricity Supply Board being an early pioneer, and tobacco company Carrolls also becoming involved for a time. Nutrient build up, which occurs when there is a high density of fish in one area, waste production and its impact on depleting oxygen in water, creating algal blooms and "dead zones", and farmers' use of antibiotics to prevent disease have all been concerns, and anglers have also been worried about the impact of escaped farmed salmon on wild fish populations. Sea lice from salmon farmers were also blamed for declines in sea trout and wild salmon in Irish estuaries and rivers.

BIM says over 95% of all salmon farmed in Ireland are certified organic. Organically grown salmon are only fed a diet of sustainable organic feed. They are also raised in more spacious pens than traditional farmed salmon. The need to site locations for fish farms further out to sea, using more robust cages for weather, has been recognised by regulatory agencies. There is a move towards land-based aquaculture in Norway to reduce impact on local ecosystems. The industry says that antibiotic use is declining, and it says that "safe and effective vaccinations have since been developed for farmed fish and are now widely used". Many countries are now adopting a more sustainable approach to removing sea lice from salmon, using feeder fish such as wrasse and lumpsucker fish. Ireland's first lumpsucker hatchery was opened in 2015.

BIM says over 95% of all salmon farmed in Ireland are certified organic. Organically grown salmon are only fed a diet of sustainable organic feed. They are also raised in more spacious pens than traditional farmed salmon. The need to site locations for fish farms further out to sea, using more robust cages for weather, has been recognised by regulatory agencies. There is a move towards land-based aquaculture in Norway to reduce impact on local ecosystems. The industry says that antibiotic use is declining, and it says that "safe and effective vaccinations have since been developed for farmed fish and are now widely used". Many countries are now adopting a more sustainable approach to removing sea lice from salmon, using feeder fish such as wrasse and lumpsucker fish. Ireland's first lumpsucker hatchery was opened in 2015.

Yes, as it is considered to have better potential for controlling environmental impacts, but it is expensive. As of October 2020, the department was handling over 20 land-based aquaculture applications.

The Irish Farmers' Association has represented fish and shellfish farmers for many years, with its chief executive Richie Flynn, who died in 2018, tirelessly championing the sector. His successor, Teresa Morrissey, is an equally forceful advocate, having worked previously in the Marine Institute in providing regulatory advice on fish health matters, scientific research on emerging aquatic diseases and management of the National Reference Laboratory for crustacean diseases.

BIM provides training in the national vocational certificate in aquaculture at its National Fisheries College, Castletownbere, Co Cork. It also trains divers to work in the industry. The Institute of Technology Carlow has also developed a higher diploma in aqua business at its campus in Wexford, in collaboration with BIM and IFA Aquaculture, the representative association for fish and shellfish farming.

© Afloat 2020

At A Glance - Irish Aquaculture

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties
  • Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. 
  • In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming

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