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€1.2m in Grants to 93 EMFF Fisheries Local Action Group Projects

26th July 2020
Kilcar Kayaks in county Donegal have been awarded €15,297.60, in an EMFF Fisheries Local Action Group grant Kilcar Kayaks in county Donegal have been awarded €15,297.60, in an EMFF Fisheries Local Action Group grant Photo: via Instagram

Marine Minister Dara Calleary today announced the award of grants worth €1.2 million to 93 local community groups and micro-enterprises by six of the seven Fisheries Local Action Groups established under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme. The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Announcing the first tranche of grant awards for 2020, Minister Calleary said, “The FLAG Scheme under my Department’s EMFF Seafood Development Programme is unique in having representatives of our traditional fishing communities make the funding award decisions so that vital local funding gets to the many community development groups and events in our fishing communities, together with important development funding to micro-enterprises involved in fisheries and aquaculture, marine tourism and marine leisure activities. The one thing that unites all these projects is their contribution to the economic and social development of traditional fishing communities, which is what the FLAG scheme is all about.”

Minister Calleary added, “The FLAG Scheme has been operating for just a few years now and with its €12 million allocation under my Department’s EMFF Programme, it has gone from strength to strength. This is testament not just to the demand for such local development funding but very much to the hard work of the local volunteers to make up the boards of each of our seven FLAGs.



Project Title

Support Rate %



Arranmore Country Fest





Ardara Community Centre

Upgrade roof at Ardara Community Centre




Ardara Walking Festival





Greencastle Golf Club

All Ireland Fisherman Golf Seafood Buffet




Inishowen Community Media Network (ICMN)

Croi na Farraige/Heart of the Sea - Digital Media Maritime Heritage Project & TV Documentary




Inishowen Maritime Heritage Co

Exhibition space enhancement




Awake Tourism

Stage for Heritage Centre




Hugh Boyle Painter and Decorator





Forest View Lodges

Forest View Lodges




Malin Head Community Association Ltd

Tourist Map for the Malin Head Area




Carrigart Development Association

Carrigart Development Association Environmental & Tourism Project




Scoil Mhuire Buncrana

Scoil Mhuire Sailing Centre




Malin Head Fishermans Co-operative Society

Equipment Roller Doors




Inver Community Centre Company Limited by Guarantee

Inver Community Centre - Enhancing an Existing Community Asset




Comharchumann forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair

Athnuachan ar chóras séarachais ag an Chrannóg




Comharchumann na nOileán Beag

Féile Ghabhla / Gola Island Festival 2020




Comharchumann Oileán Árainn Mhór CTR

Tourist Information Booklet




Kilcar Kayaks

Equipment and Training




Coiste Halla Paróiste

Energy Renewal Programme




Forbairt Dhún Lúiche

Ionad Pobail Dhún Lúiche & Féile an Earagail




Forbairt Dhún Lúiche

Féile an Earagail




Glenties Cardiac First Responders

Purchase of Training/Life Saving Equipment




Donegal Dragons

Donegal Dragons Safety Boat




Cumann Staire agus Seanchais na nOileán

Gola Picnic Area




JK Engineering

Environmentally Efficient Generator and Plasma




Oidhreacht Thoraí (Tory Island Festival of Football Organising Committee)

Féile Peile Oileán Thoraí / Tory Island Football Festival




Donegal Women in Business Network

Core business skills for women in business




Foresters Community Hall Ltd CLG

Installation of a Kitchen




Gola Island Outdoor Education

Safety Boat Outboard Engine




Comharchumann forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair

Plean Gnó do Thogra Turasóireachta ag Teach Mhuiris, Cnoc Fola




18th Donegal Moville Port Sea Scouts

RYA Level 1 & 2 Power Boat, RYA Foundation Safety Rescue Training, RYA Sail T




Áislann Chill Chartha

Riverside Cáfe, The Áislann




Uachtar Reoite Bunglas

Uachtar Reoite Bunglas




Comharchumann Thoraí Teo

Féile Soilse Thoraí 2020




Comharchumann Thoraí Teo

Oíche Fhéile Eoin - Tory Island Seafood Festival 2020




Teach Bhillie

Féile Ceoil Ghort a Choirce











Project Title


Total Cost

Grant Aid

Blue Water Fishing

Replacement Engines for Angling Vessel Blue Water




Cruzco Adventure Limited trading as West Coast Aqua Park

West Coast Adventures





Project Title


Total Cost

Grant Aid

Dursey Ferry Ltd

Boat Trips & Tour




Kieran O'Sullivan Bait Store

Bait Store & Refrigeration




Ballycotton Harbour (Port Authority: Cork County Council)

Provision of insulation fish boxes for local fishermen




Ger Coughlan Fisherman

Online operation




Fish Seafood Deli Ltd t/a The Fresh Fish Deli

Business Expansion




Bantry Bay Boat Hire Limited

Bantry Bay Boat Hire Limited




The Lobsters Tale

The Lobsters Tale




Ballycotton Seafood

Retail Store Fit-Out & Development of Artisan Seafood Products




Myross Rowing Club

Safety Boat and Boat Storage Shed




Owen Martin O'Sullivan

West Coast Fish and Chips




Le Jusant Ltd

Freezer Room for storage of frozen at sea prawns ashore











Project Title


Total Cost

Grant Aid

The Waterford Motor Boat & Yacht Club

The up grading of the toilet facilities for marina users




Wicklow County Council

Angling Survey of Wreck Fishing East Coast of Ireland




Blue Mind Dunmore - SUP and Yoga

Blue Mind Dunmore - SUP & Yoga




Sigginstown Castle

Sigginstown Castle Renovation




Helen Mason Art

Helen Mason Art Website, Social Media Management & Exhibition




Bunmahon Surf School

New premises for Bunmahon Surf School




The Jolly Roger Smokehouse

The Jolly Roger Smokehouse




Ealga C. Fishing Ltd

Upgrade Business and Equipment




Hook Rural Tourism

Marine Tourism Promotional Boat Trips




Hook Rural Tourism Ltd

Hook Rural Tourism Brand Activation




The Irish Experience

The Irish Experience Tour Expansion Plan











Project Title


Total Cost

Grant Aid

John Fitzgerald

Seaweed Knife & spoon handle project




Mara Beo Teo Dingleworld Aquarium

Marine Educational Outreach programme




The Boathouse Cromane

Promotion and Equipment




Dingle Sea Salt Co. / Salann Mara an Daingin

Adding value to fisheries and aquaculture-related products




Tralee Rowing Club (Cumann Ramhaíochta Thrá Lí)

Tralee Rowing Club




Skellig Michael Cruises Ltd

Eco Wild Life  boat Tours to see Puffin Island, Kerry Cliffs and Trans Atlantic cable




Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium

Interactive and virtual ocean education




The Star Marina Ltd t/a Star Outdoors

Safety boat and aqua park




Tehan Partners

Teleporter Purchase to support a mixed fishery operation




Coiste Forbartha na Sceilge CLG

Reen Pier Development




Kenmare Tidy Towns

ECOTELLY – Virtual Aquarium, Kenmare Bay Marine Life - Public Art




Callinafercy Rowing Club

Seine Boat Restoration




Maharees Conservation Association CLG

A Placename (Logainm) Study of Maharees




Irish Elasmobranch Group

Irish Sharks and Rays booklet








Grand Total





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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.


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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