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Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that six of the seven main Irish ports handled 12.1 million tonnes of goods in the first quarter of this year - a decrease of 5.2% compared with the same time last year.

Goods forwarded from these ports amounted to 4 million tonnes, while a total of 8.1 million tonnes of goods were received.

The ports covered in these figures include Dublin, Bantry, Cork, Drogheda, Shannon and Waterford. Rosslare is not included in the figures.

The CSO said the total number of vessels arriving in the six Irish ports included in today's figures decreased by 147 (5.7%) in the first three months of the year, while the gross tonnage of all vessels arring fell by 3.1% to 50,992 tonnes.

To read more from RTE News and statistical data in detail click the CSO website here

Published in Irish Ports

Across the country's supermarkets have seen certain shelves completely emptied over the last week, as consumers stock up on tinned goods, hand soap and disinfectant products following confirmation of coronavirus cases in Ireland.

According to research by iReach, one in four people in Ireland have begun stockpiling food with a further 7% stocking up on fuel.

Sales of hand wash products (including hand sanitisers) alone were up 15% in February, Kantar said today.

Charlotte Scott, consumer insight director at Kantar said experts are expecting to see more of an impact towards the end of February and into March as an increased awareness of the virus will lead to an uplift in the sale f healthcare products.

“This coupled with the impact of Storm Jorge in late February may well lead to growing sales of goods typically associated with stockpiling like pasta and tinned or frozen food,” she said.

This increased activity should not be a cause for anxiety, however, according to Aidan Flynn, general manager of Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTA), who said there is no problem with the food supply chain.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie (which reported this story), Flynn of the FTA, said there are no barriers to transporting the kinds of products like tinned goods, pasta and hand soap that people are bulk buying and while supermarkets may sell-out of some products in a day, they will be able to very quickly restock their shelves.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Cargo handling capacity has been boosted by a Waterford based shipping agency by investing in a new mobile harbour crane with an innovative design that reduces its carbon footprint.

South East Port Services provide stevedoring, warehousing and ships agency services to shipping and client companies at the Port of Waterford in Belview.

The Liebherr LHM 280 was purpose-built for the port services company by Liebherr in Rostock, Germany, over a six-month period with Irish company closely involved throughout.

For more WaterfordLive reports. 

Published in Irish Ports

Goods in terms of volumes going through Ireland's ports between April and June this year fell in comparison with the same period last year, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The seven main Irish ports - Dublin, Cork, Rosslare, Drogheda, Shannon Foynes, Waterford and Bantry Bay - handled 12.3 million tonnes of goods in the three months.

This is a decrease of 7.5% compared with the same three months of 2018.

Exports from these ports amounted to 4.3 million tonnes, an almost 9% fall on the same period last year, while there were 8 million tonnes of imports, a 6.7% decrease on the three months in 2018.

For more BreakingNews has a report. 

Published in Irish Ports

In an announcement Belfast Harbour is to invest £40m to upgrade its container terminal, writes the News Letter. 

Victoria Terminal 3 (VT3), where the upgrade will take place, connects Northern Ireland to global markets through European hub ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Recently, Belfast Harbour launched its 2035 Strategic Outlook with plans to be the ‘Best Regional Port in the World’ and a ‘Smart Port’ by investing in new technology and enhancing capacity.

It is expected that this upgrade will improve productivity and help customers grow and target new trade opportunities.

More here from this story to take place at VT3. 

Published in Belfast Lough

It was another record performance achieved at Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) as the western port revealed its annual report for 2018.

According to SFPC, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were €6.8million. As for operating profits in the period they remained exceptionally strong at €4.8million, €1.2million or 34% higher than five years ago, 2014. Revenue increased by 4.9%.

The company’s main ports on the Shannon Estuary, Foynes and Limerick, again achieved record tonnage levels, with an 11.7% increase in throughput. However, overall tonnage throughput was down by 5.5% to 10.7million due to a reduction of activity at privately managed terminals on the estuary.

This is the sixth year in succession that general cargo terminals have increased year on year.

Tonnages at Foynes and Limerick terminals for 2018 are some 50% higher at end 2018 than at end 2013 and exceed previous historically high tonnage levels experienced during 2006 by 11.2%.

To read more click the download here. 

Published in Shannon Estuary

A brand new Chinese built Dutch flagged tanker ordered by a Swedish lake based shipping group arrived into Dublin Port from Wales this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The L-class leadship Thun Lidkoping is the first of five 18,650 deadweight chemical product tankers which was completed by Avic Dingheng Shipbuilding Ltd in China.

The name chosen for the leadship operated by Thun Tankers (Erik Thun Group), derived from the shipowner group's inland homeport of Lidköping located on the southern shores of Lake Vänern. This is the third largest lake in Europe which is connected to the sea by shipping canals.

The L-class each with a cubic capacity of (98%) 20,665 m3, have a design developed in-house using Erik Thun AB's long experience of building sustainable, high quality vessels that operate as a major player in northern Europe.

In terms of environmental care, a concerted focus has been made with new regulations and customers’ needs taken into the key design and building process of this new class type.

The 148m tanker along with second sister, Thun London which too was delivered recently, operate in the Gothia Tanker Alliance network while crewing and technical management is conducted through MF Shipping Group.

This morning's arrival in Dublin Bay of Thun Lidkoping from Milford Haven, Wales, also involved Afloat to track a passing fleetmate, Thun Gemini which had departed Dublin Port having docked at Oil Berth No.1. It was at the adjacent berth that Thun Lidkoping berthed, though the maiden call of the newbuild tanker took place at the Irish port only last month.

As for Thun Gemini, the smaller G -Class tanker is returning to the same south Wales port which saw a passage offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour where Afloat reported of the tanker's once-off call to enable maintenance carried out at the south Dublin Bay port.

Such a call by the 2003 built 4,100dwt tanker was notably a rare occurance for such a vessel type which as previously reported took place three decades ago.

Published in Dublin Port

The Port of Galway is where Afloat.ie takes an impromtu look in at the city's dock where the focus on shipping movements concentrates on cargoships involved up to the end of this month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In port this afternoon is Arklow Shipping's Dutch flagged short-sea trader, Arklow Valley which arrived yesterday from Belfast Harbour to engage in scrap steel. The 5,158dwat vessel was launched in 2016 as the fourth of 10 Royal Bodewes Eco-Traders commissioned by ASL.

It is somewhat unusual to see an ASL in the Port though what is a common sight is the Bláth na Mara, a domestic cargoship serving all three of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. The operator Lasta Mara Teoranta is based at The Docks but at the pier beyond the enclosed single basin of the Dun Aengus Dock that forms the main  port.

Typical cargoes carried on board Bláth na Mara range from food stuffs chilled and frozen, household goods, furniture, coal, cars, transit vans, tractors, horses in addition to various types of lifestock.

Recently, Islands Ferries announced plans to restore a direct passeger service from next year. The last such service which included freight was operated by O'Brien Ferries using the custom built Oileáin Árann. 

At sea today is Bithav (6,834dwat) which is off the south Cork coast having departed with bitumen from Port Jerome, (Rouen) France. Likewise of Arklow Valley, this Dutch flag vessel will too remain in port until tomorrow when both vessels set sail in the morning.

On Sunday, Corrib Fisher is to make another arrival having loaded oil products from Cork Harbour at the Whitegate Refinery. The 6,090dwt tanker of UK firm, Jas Fisher Everard has in recent months taken over the routine duties of a fleetmate the aptly named Galway Fisher.

The 10 year-old replacement vessel is also on standby as an emergency oil spill response vessel for the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Published in Galway Harbour

The Irish Continental Group (ICG) has said it is totally prepared to meet the challenges posed by Brexit, whatever way those challenges emerge.

At the group’s annual general meeting, John McGuckian, ICG chairman, said, “we’re confident that whatever happens, we will react in an efficient and profitable way”.

Speaking to The Irish Times after the meeting, ICG chief executive Eamonn Rothwell said he’d prefer if sterling wasn’t so weak but he didn’t show concern on the basis that he doesn’t “know what Brexit is yet”. Mr Rothwell added that he doesn’t expect the group to suffer as 40 per cent of travellers on the Irish Sea are travellers originating in Ireland, while the remainder are British.

At the group agm there was no opposition to any of the resolutions, with remuneration practices in the company supported by over 90 per cent of shareholders. The shareholders dividend of 7.76 cent per share was also approved at the meeting. That dividend will be paid in June.

For more including the sale in 2017 of the former Isle of Innisfree (Kaitaki) to a New Zealand operator and results on ICG's ro-ro operations click here. 

Published in Ferry

#WorldMaritimeDay - ‘Connecting Ships, Ports and People’ is the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day on Thursday 28 September.

Discussing the place of the International Maritime Organization (IOM) in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, IOM secretary-general Kitack Lim says ports have a significant role to play in generating “increased employment, prosperity and stability through promoting maritime trade.”

To this end, the IMO will help UN member states “to develop and implement maritime strategies that address a wide range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, and increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security.”

Lim adds that “to be sustainable, human activities have to be balanced with the oceans’ capacity to remain healthy and diverse in the long term.”

A parallel event for this year’s World Maritime Day, similar to last year’s forum, will be held in Panama this October.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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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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