Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Marine Safety Packages Unveiled for Fishermen in Cross Agency Initiative

8th July 2013
Marine Safety Packages Unveiled for Fishermen in Cross Agency Initiative

#fishing – A key aspect of new state safety packages for fishermen unveiled today is the use of EPIRBS which are to be made mandatory overtime and included in revised Fishing Vessel Code of Practice.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, TD, with responsibility for maritime safety regulation and emergency response, and Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, with responsibility for the fishing industry, jointly launched a multi-faceted, cross Departmental, Cross Agency safety initiative for the Irish Fishing Industry in Union Hall today.

Grant aid is being made available for float-free, automatically activated EPIRBs (electronic position indicating radio beacons) for fishing vessels of less than 15 metres. The scheme will be operated by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and cover 60% of the cost of equipment for smaller vessels under 12 metres, and 40% of the cost for larger vessels. This is the single most significant safety enhancement of the scheme announced today. The grants can be used to purchase new units or to retrofit or replace old, manually operated beacons.

Grants will also be provided for Personal Locator Beacons which will be made mandatory for vessels of 15 metres or less, and included in the Fishing Vessel Code of Practice.

The initiative is supported by both Departments and their respective agencies and features the following:-

– Provision of Vessel & personal locator beacons.

– A new enhanced Safety Equipment Grant Aid Scheme operated by BIM for the purchase of:

– Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

– Personal Locator Beacons integrated into Personal Flotation Devices (PFD/PLB's)

– Float Free – self activating Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS)

– Auto Pilot Alarms

– Wireless engine cut offs

Revised Fishing vessel Code of practice to be tougher and amended to take account of lessons learnt from recent tragedies.

A New Marine Notice being drafted on use of lifejackets.

· The establishment of a high level working group on safety in the Irish fishing industry.

· A new National Maritime Safety and Emergency Response Strategy to be launched.

· An new enhanced Safety Training Course run by BIM on a five year cycle

Minister Coveney said; "This cross Departmental initiative launched here today is testament to this Governments commitment to improving safety in our fishing fleet. It is about learning from past tragedies, and saving lives in the future."

Minister Varadkar said: "It is appropriate that the launch of this important maritime safety initiative targeted at the fishing sector is taking place here in Union Hall. Those tragic events of January 2012 left a huge impact on the nation as a whole, and reminded the nation of the dangers of the sea. The first ever national maritime safety strategy announced today is about closing any gaps in services, preventing accidents at sea, and through consultation with stakeholders and the general public, striving to reach a situation where we have no fatalities at sea. The launch of BIM's scheme backed up with the changes to the Code of Practice and a continued commitment to regulation and compliance with safety standards will help to engrain a culture of 'safety-first' on the water."

Minister Coveney explained " I am making €800,000 available over the next three years to fund this scheme and aligned with the new excellent enhanced safety training course being rolled out by BIM will focus primarily though not exclusively on operators of small vessels."

Minister Coveney went on to say "I am also establishing a new high level working group on safety in the fishing industry, to look at all aspects of safety on fishing vessels and to report to Minister Varadkar and myself with recommendations before the end of the year. The new working group will be chaired by Mr John Leech current CEO of Irish Water Safety. Because a common thread of comment in recent times has been the need to pay particular attention on issues surrounding the number of small inshore boats that get into difficulty, I have charged the group with focussing to a large degree on this aspect."

Minister Varadkar said: "I firmly believe we can and must do more to prevent tragedies such as those we have seen in the recent past. The bottom line is that we can pass any law we like, but if it is not enforced and we do not have a culture of zero tolerance in regard to non-compliance, we will continue to lose loved ones at sea in the coming years."

To conclude Minister Coveney said: "I am confident that the combined effect of this multi-faceted approach with the full support of both Departments is a major step in the right direction and will achieve results. I know this issue is painful for those who have lost friends and loved ones at sea, however, I hope that they can gain some comfort from the knowledge that something concrete is now being done. The aim is to save lives, we have to see a culture change in our attitudes to safety, and we all have responsibilities in seeing this common held desire become a reality."

A third round of grants will be provided for auto-pilot alarm systems, and consideration is being given to making their use mandatory.

An ongoing safety and equipment training initiative will also be launched and kept under constant review. The new enhanced safety training course run by BIM will be a one day course to be taken by every fisherman every five years throughout their career, it will be a cornerstone of the ongoing safety initiative not only in the use of new equipment but also on bespoke safety procedures.

The first implementation of the new course will feature instruction on the grant aided Personal Locator Beacons, Integrated Personal Floatation devices with Personal Locator Beacons (PFD-PLBs) and auto-pilot alarms. Future courses will bring fishermen up to date on the latest developments in safety techniques, skills and processes.

Published in Fishing
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

quantum sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating