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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, has appointed Caroline Bocquel as its interim CEO.

Caroline Bocquel currently holds the role of BIM, Director of Corporate Services, having joined the organisation in 2021. She previously held the role of Chief Financial Officer at Goal and Director of Corporate Services at the Marine Institute.

BIM Chair, Aidan Cotter, who made the announcement, referenced the drive and experience that Caroline Bocquel would bring to this key role.

“On behalf of the BIM board, I would like to congratulate Caroline on her appointment as interim CEO at BIM. Caroline brings a wealth of experience to this role, including significant experience working within the marine sector.”

Caroline takes up her role on 1 November, 2022 when the current BIM CEO, Jim O’Toole takes up his new position as CEO at Bord Bia. Jim has held the role of BIM CEO for the last five years. A competitive process to appoint a permanent new BIM CEO is already underway.

To date in her role at BIM, Caroline has been heavily involved in the development of the organisation’s new corporate strategy. She has also led the development of an innovative new grants process to provide a high-quality service to clients within the Irish seafood industry and other BIM stakeholders.

Caroline has been integral to the development of new streamlined processes at BIM, further enhancing the seafood state agency’s ability to be an effective support for industry at a critical time. These include leading new digital initiatives, the development of internal capability and a strong focus on governance.

Following the announcement, Caroline Bocquel said she was looking forward to working with colleagues in BIM and with industry in her new role over the coming months.

“I am delighted to accept this interim appointment and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the senior leadership team, across the wider BIM team, and in industry for the coming months, as we work to support and develop the seafood sector during this critical period.”

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara has confirmed the serious economic situation for the Irish fishing industry. In its annual report, the State fisheries board says there will be a decrease in landings, revenue and profitability.

It says, "In the long-term, decommissioning will help bring fleet capacity back in balance with available quotas and improve the profitability for vessels remaining in the Irish fleet.”

This, however, is disputed by the fishing industry representative organisations, which contradicts the BIM conclusion. They say that hundreds of jobs will be lost, damaging the industry, making it unattractive to new entrants and ultimately creating serious economic and social problems in the country’s coastal communities.

Acknowledging the problems for the fishing fleet due to fuel prices, where the Marine Minister has refused requests for a subsidy, which would be similar to other EU countries, BIM says: “Based on feedback from industry, the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine on inflation and rising fuel costs was the main driving force influencing the economic performance of the Irish fleet in 2022. In 2020, average fuel costs per litre were €0.42 whereas average fuels costs per litre in mid-2022 stood at €0.90, representing a 114% increase in cost and the current reported costs of €1.20 per litre represents a 18% increase since 2020.”

An illustration from the 2022 BIM Annual Fisheries Report 2022An illustration from the 2022 BIM Annual Fisheries Report 2022

The report, for 2021, says that the data indicates an increase in landings by weight from 2020 (+6%) and a decrease in value of landings (-7.5%) due to decreasing fish prices and changes in quota allocation. Gross profit for 2021 is projected to decrease significantly (-58%) to €27.6 million combined with a decreasing net profit (-75%) to €8.1 million.

“In terms of the outlook for economic performance for 2021-2022, preliminary data point to a decrease in revenue and profitability for the Irish fleet. It also records less time spent at sea by the country’s fishing boats: “The Irish fishing fleet spent 77,460 days at sea, of which 84% were fishing days representing a decrease of 16% and 17% respectively from 2019.

“For 2021, the data indicates an increase in landings by weight from 2020 (+6%) and a decrease in value of landings (-7.5%) due to decreasing fish prices and changes in quota allocation. Gross profit for 2021 is projected to decrease significantly (-58%) to €27.6 million combined with a decreasing net profit (-75%) to €8.1 million.

“Profitability of the Irish fleet has increased since 2019, however, it says. Revenue increased by 2%, amounting to €312 million; gross value added (GVA) €161 million (+6%), gross profit €65 million (+24%) and net profit decreased to €32 million (-20%) due in part to Covid-19. The fleet landed over 218,600 tonnes valued at €312 million, an increase of 5% from 2019 in live weight and an increase of 2% in landed value (€306.5 million). In 2021, the fleet landed 233,000 tonnes, an increase of 7% from 2020.

Overall, the cost structure of the fleet has remained stable with a slight increase in all costs except non-variable costs (e.g., insurance, loan interest). Operating costs totalled €255 million, a slight increase of 1% from 2019 with energy costs increased by approximately 10%. When capital costs are included, the total cost of operating the national fleet rose by 4% since 2019 to €278.5 million.

Direct employment generated by the sector was estimated at 2,928 jobs corresponding to 2,684 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Published in Fishing

BIM’s National Seafood Survey provides insights into the status of Ireland’s catching sector on an annual basis. It is an integral part of fisheries’ performance data reporting to the EU. Based on the most recent survey returns the Annual Fisheries Report 2022: A Snapshot of Ireland’s Fisheries Sector examines the economic performance of the national fleet and its multiple segments. It also details the social demographics of people employed in the sector and the current challenges impacting the industry.

The report provides insights and trends for the financial and operational performance of the Irish fishing fleet based on the economic data of 2020 operations. It also provides an overview of key forces impacting the economic performance of the Irish fleet from 2020- 2022 based on industry feedback. Some of the impacts referenced in the report include Covid-19, Brexit, inflation, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Future projections for economic performance are included in the closing section.

Creating an accurate picture of the industry relies on a strong response rate and consistent support and goodwill from skippers and vessel owners to provide economic and operational data on an annual basis. The survey results help industry and policymakers understand the challenges and opportunities they face and the impact of fisheries management measures such as Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and quota allocation.

Map illustrating the main fishing grounds of the Irish fleet (Source: Marine Institute)Map illustrating the main fishing grounds of the Irish fleet (Source: Marine Institute)

The survey returns also form the basis for the justification of national and EU grant aid programmes focused on supporting the industry and coastal communities. The next survey for 2021 will open in October 2022 and end on 31 January 2023.

The report is available here.

BIM will be hosting National Seafood Survey information meetings with vessel owners at various ports from October onwards to discuss the finding of the Annual Fisheries report 2022, the importance of returning the annual survey and how to register and complete the online National Seafood Survey for 2022.

If you would like to register to attend one of the meetings listed below, please email Dr. Sarah Perry, National Seafood Survey Coordinator, for further details: [email protected]

Additional meetings are scheduled with the NIFF and RIFFs and further meetings may be organised at more locations at a later date.

  • Killybegs
  • KFO Board Room, October 11th, 2022, at 2 pm
    Greencastle
  • BIM National Fisheries College, October 12th, 2022, at 6.30 pm
    Castletownbere
  • BIM National Fisheries College, October 18th, 2022, at 6.00 pm
    Dingle
  • Harbour Masters Office, October 19th, 2022, at 2.30 pm

The Annual Fisheries report has the following key findings for 2020:

Profitability of the Irish fleet has increased since 2019. Revenue increased by 2%, amounting to €312 million; gross value added (GVA) €161 million (+6%), gross profit €65 million (+24%) and net profit decreased to €32 million (-20%) due in part to Covid-19.

The Irish fishing fleet spent 77,460 days at sea, of which 84% were fishing days representing a decrease of 16% and 17%, respectively from 2019.

Energy consumption decreased by 35% over the same period reflecting this decrease in effort.

The fleet landed over 218,600 tonnes valued at €312 million, an increase of 5% from 2019 in live weight and an increase of 2% in landed value (€306.5 million). In 2021, the fleet landed 233,000 tonnes, an increase of 7% from 2020.

Overall, the cost structure of the fleet has remained stable, with a slight increase in all costs except non-variable costs (e.g., insurance, loan interest). Operating costs totalled €255 million, a slight increase of 1% from 2019 with energy costs increased by approximately 10%. When capital costs are included, the total cost of operating the national fleet rose by 4% since 2019 to €278.5 million.

Direct employment generated by the sector was estimated at 2,928 jobs corresponding to 2,684 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Based on feedback from industry, the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine on inflation and rising fuel costs was the main driving force influencing the economic performance of the Irish fleet in 2022. In 2020, average fuel costs per litre were €0.42 whereas average fuels costs per litre in mid-2022 stood at €0.90, representing a 114% increase in cost and the current reported costs of €1.20 per litre represents an 18% increase since 2020.

Future Projections

In terms of the outlook for economic performance for 2021-2022, preliminary data point to a decrease in revenue and profitability for the Irish fleet. For 2021, the data indicates an increase in landings by weight from 2020 (+6%) and a decrease in value of landings (-7.5%) due to decreasing fish prices and changes in quota allocation. Gross profit for 2021 is projected to decrease significantly (-58%) to €27.6 million combined with a decreasing net profit (-75%) to €8.1 million.
Preliminary data for 2022 compared to 2021 indicate a decrease in landings by weight (-17%), an increase in value of landings (+5%) and a decrease in gross profit (-12%) to €24.5 million. It is anticipated that the Brexit tie-up schemes will mitigate these projected outcomes and allow the industry to absorb the impacts of rising fuel costs for some segments of the fleet and the reduced access to fishing quota as a result of Brexit. In the long-term, decommissioning will help to bring fleet capacity back in balance with available quotas and improve the profitability for vessels remaining in the Irish fleet.

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BIM has announced the Brexit Voluntary Permanent Cessation (“decommissioning”) Scheme is open for applications.

The purpose of the scheme is to restore balance between the fishing fleet capacity and available quotas following quota reductions arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK. The scheme follows from a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force, established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, in 2021,

The scheme will support vessels in the polyvalent and beam trawl segments to permanently cease all fishing activity, increasing the quota available for remaining vessels, and thereby ensuring the sustainable profitability of the Irish fishing fleet.

The target of the voluntary scheme, as recommended by the Task Force, is to remove up to 60 vessels of 8,000 GT and 21,000 KW at a cost of €60million. The aid amount will be calculated on the basis of the capacity of the scrapped vessel along with a catch sum payment. The catch sum payment is based on the dependence of the vessel on quotas that were reduced under the TCA Agreement.

The total aid amount for any applicant will not exceed €12,000 per GT and part of the aid should be passed to crew members. To incentivise participation in the scheme, vessel owners and crew members will also benefit from specific tax treatment as set out in the Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act

Licence holders of fishing vessels registered on the Irish sea-fishing boat register in the polyvalent or beam trawl segments and holding a valid sea-fishing boat license issued by the Licensing Authority for Sea-Fishing boats are being invited to apply.

The deadline for submission of applications is 10am, Monday 24 October, 2022.

More information, including details on eligibility and on how to apply can be found by visiting www.bim.ie

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency is hosting a series of information meetings about the National Seafood Survey with vessel owners at various ports from October onwards. These events will include discussions about the importance of returning the annual survey and will include demonstrations on how to register for and complete the 2022 online survey.

Earlier this year, BIM appointed Dr Sarah Perry as its National Seafood Survey Coordinator for fisheries and aquaculture. Sarah has worked in the marine sector for the past 15 years providing technical policy guidance and stakeholder engagement expertise to governments in Ireland, north-west Europe, and Africa. As part of her new role at BIM, she also coordinates Ireland’s socio-economic data collection framework under EU MAP (Multi-Annual Programme) legislation.

Doctor Sarah Perry

Sarah has a PhD in Marine Resource Management with a focus on fisheries and aquaculture and a Masters in Applied Coastal and Marine Management with GIS. Prior to joining BIM, she worked in the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, University College Cork, and the Marine Institute.

What is the National Seafood Survey for fisheries?

The annual survey asks a series of questions about the financial and operational performance of fishing vessels and the demographics of the crew. It is also an opportunity for industry to report how they have navigated challenges and changes such as the impacts of Brexit, COVID-19 and increasing fuel costs. All data and information shared with BIM as part of the survey returns are treated in the strictest confidence and stored in a protected and secure database with limited access. Data is anonymised and no figures relating to any individual or specific vessel are revealed in any outputs reported as a national or European level.

Why is it important to return your survey on an annual basis?

Data collected as part of the National Seafood Survey provides insights into the economic performance status of Ireland’s catching sector. It also provides insights into the social demographics of people employed in the sector on an annual basis. It is a legal requirement to complete and return the survey (S.I. No. 132 of 2010) and a condition of grant aid payment. It is also an integral part of fisheries performance data that Ireland is obligated to report to the EU. Creating an accurate picture of the industry relies on consistent support and goodwill from skippers and vessel owners to provide economic and operational data on an annual basis.

The results of the survey help both industry and policy makers to examine the current challenges impacting the industry, understand the challenges and opportunities they face, as well as the impact of fisheries management measures. The survey returns also form the basis for the justification of national and EU grant aid programmes, focused on supporting the industry and coastal communities, under the Common Fisheries Policy.”

Data collected from last year’s survey will be published in September in BIM’s Annual Fisheries Report. This report provides insights and trends for the financial and operational performance of the Irish fishing fleet and the potential drivers behind them based on the economic data for 2020 operations along with projections on the performance of the industry in 2022.

Why has the survey moved online?

While traditionally, the National Seafood Survey for fisheries was conducted by a postal survey, in 2021 BIM moved the survey online to help make the process of providing data easier and more secure.

When is the next survey taking place?

The next online survey will open in October 2022 and end on 31 January 2023. All active vessels are requested to submit economic, employment and operational details for their 2021 operations.

When is BIM hosting the National Seafood Survey events this autumn and how can I find out more?

Specific dates have yet to be confirmed but if you would like to register your interest in attending, please email [email protected]

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara chief executive Jim O’Toole is to move to Bord Bia where he will head up the organisation from November 1st.

Mr O’Toole is the second BIM chief executive to move to Bord Bia.

His predecessor, Tara McCarthy, was just over a year with BIM when she was appointed to succeed Aidan Cotter as Bord Bia head in January 2017.

Ms McCarthy moved to Alltech in June of this year, and Michael Murphy took over as interim Bord Bia chief executive.

Bord Bia chairman s Dan MacSweeney said “on behalf of the board, I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Jim O'Toole as CEO of Bord Bia”.

“We welcome Jim to Bord Bia and the knowledge, experience and insight he brings to the role and to the organisation,” he said.

“ His considerable experience in the agri-food sector, depth of international experience and strong corporate, strategic and operational expertise makes him an ideal leader to deliver strategic transformation, building on the great work of his predecessors and the rest of the Bord Bia team,” McSweeney said.

“ We look forward to working with Jim, and are confident his leadership will ensure Bord Bia continues to deliver on its strategic mission to promote sustainably-produced Irish produce to customers around the world,” he said.

He also paid tribute to interim chief executive Michael Murphy.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue said that O’Toole “brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and strategic understanding of our agri-food sector”.

“I have worked closely with Jim in his current role as CEO of BIM, and he will be an excellent CEO for Bord Bia. This is a very exciting time for our agri-food industry and Jim will lead a very talented team during one of the most defining periods for our sector,” he said.

“I particularly thank Michael Murphy, who will continue to lead Bord Bia as Interim CEO until November. Along with Minister of State Martin Heydon T.D., I look forward to leading a major agri-food trade mission to key Asian markets (Japan, Singapore and Vietnam) with Bord Bia and my Department, starting at the end of August,” McConalogue said.

The appointment was also welcomed by junior ministers Martin Heydon and Pippa Hackett.

O’Toole said he is “deeply honoured to be appointed as Bord Bia’s CEO and I look forward to working with the Board and the talented team in Bord Bia to implement the recently published strategy”.

“ I have been most fortunate to have previously spent over twenty years in Bord Bia and more recently have had the privilege of being the CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara for over five years. I sincerely wish my BIM colleagues the best for the future and look forward to continuing the close collaboration between the two agencies,” he said.

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Engineering, scientific and aquaculture entrepreneurs gathered for the annual Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Aquatech Community Day at Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s CHQ Building on Tuesday, July 26.

The event, now in its fifth year, is the culmination of a month-long Innovation Studio where ten business start-ups from different disciplines took part in an intensive programme to help fast-track their business ideas for commercial viability in the Irish and global aquaculture industry.

To date, 46 start-ups have participated from BIM’s Innovation Studio, supported by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and run in partnership with global aquaculture accelerator Hatch.

The initiative has seen more than €13 million invested and g130+ new jobs generated in aquatech in Ireland.

Sound technology that monitors oyster welfare 

Lee Hunter, a young Donegal oyster farmer was among the start-ups taking part in this year’s programme. His business, The Oyster Pitch, uses sound technology to monitor oyster welfare and to reduce mortality.

Another 2022 Innovation Studio participant included Aquamontrix, a continuous real-time sensor technology to monitor nitrate and nitrite levels in sea water.

Pictured from left to right, Lee Hunter, Founder and CEO, The Oyster Pitch, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM and Tanja Hoel, Director at Hatch Innovation ServicesPictured from left to right, Lee Hunter, Founder and CEO, The Oyster Pitch, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM and Tanja Hoel, Director at Hatch Innovation Services

Fostering aquaculture discipline

Giving the opening address at the event, BIM CEO Jim O’Toole spoke about food security and the long-term strategy to develop and foster local aquaculture talent. This involves attracting other crucial disciplines like engineering, analytics and finance to help them develop Irish aquaculture businesses with a global reach.

“Investing in aquatech is specifically targeted in the Government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy and is something BIM is intent on delivering. Our ambition is to position Ireland as a global centre for aquaculture innovation and to support companies to grow and develop in this sector in collaboration with other agencies.”

Wayne Murphy, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Hatch, referred to the risk-taking intrinsic to entrepreneurship and central to the continued innovation and growth within aquatech in Ireland and globally. He referred to the initial approach Hatch made some 5 years earlier with BIM and how the State seafood development agency had been supportive from the outset.

“Aquatech has entrepreneurship at its core - and entrepreneurship is about risk-taking. BIM were enthusiastic partners when Hatch first approached the agency. 5 years on and 46 start-up businesses from a wide range of disciplines have taken the risk, creating more than 130 jobs.”

During a panel discussion with Teresa Morrissey, Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Aquaculture, Carsten Krome, Founder & Partner, Hatch, Martin Dempsey, Founder and CEO, Sealac Ltd. and Richard Donnelly, Shellfish and Salmon Manager, BIM, Richard Donnelly drew parallels with the IFSC’s ability to spur investment and innovation following its established three decades earlier.

“It is just 35 years since the IFSC was established. It is remarkable to consider how its establishment was truly visionary at the time, and how many other sectors followed in its path. The aquatech sector in Ireland has the potential to achieve this same effect.”

The global aquaculture industry is the fastest-growing food sector today. Its value exceeds €280 billion. The Irish aquaculture industry is currently valued at €175 million with primary production (fin-fish and shellfish farming) at its core.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has today (Monday 25 July) announced approval for a scheme which will provide €20 million in funding for capital investments to accelerate the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scheme is based on a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force which was established by the minister to assess the impacts of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the fishing sector and coastal communities.

The Seafood Task Force recommended the aquaculture sector be provided with support for its development in order to mitigate against the collective negative impacts across sectors of the seafood industry. This scheme is proposed for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

This scheme aims to mitigate the adverse economic and social consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on seafood processors adversely affected by loss of raw material supply arising from the TCA quota reductions, aquaculture enterprises directly impacted by the UK withdrawal, and coastal communities adversely affected by a broad range of impacts arising from the TCA quota reductions and wider Brexit impacts.

It aims to achieve these objectives by developing alternative sources of suitable employment in the coastal communities affected, by developing an alternative source of native raw material supply for seafood processors and by enhancing the viability of aquaculture enterprises.

The three scheme objectives will be pursued by accelerating the sustainable growth of aquaculture enterprises, thus aiding enhanced local employment in coastal communities, producing more farmed fish to supply the processing sector and directly enhancing the viability of the aquaculture enterprises concerned. This scheme will support aquaculture enterprises to undertake capital investment projects.

The minister’s department says these investments will enable aquaculture enterprises to sustainably grow production, value and employment, will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture enterprises and will support the evolution of SME enterprises through scaling up.

While investment will generally be supported at a maximum of 40% of eligible costs, a higher incentive rate of 50% will apply to certain climate change investments, to investment in seaweed aquaculture and to investment in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) projects.

Funding will be prioritised for projects that contribute most to the objectives of the scheme, to climate change objectives and to prioritisation of SMEs generally.

Announcing the approval of the scheme, Minister McConalogue said: “Our aquaculture sector employs 2,000 people directly and supports thousands more in the local economies. There is even greater potential for growth. The supports for these producers will help create jobs and increase Ireland’s supply of high-quality seafood to local markets and for export.”

Based on the recommendation by the task force, the scheme will support investments in modernisation and capacity building, increasing added-value in products, improving energy supply and efficiency, and reducing environmental impact. Importantly, the scheme will also support new entrants into the aquaculture industry. Grants of 30% to 50% of eligible costs will be available.

“This scheme will be a significant boost for the aquaculture sector and will allow for expansion which focuses on sustainability and which is sensitive to our natural environment,” the minister said. “It will assist Ireland to maintain and grow its reputation as a producer of high-quality seafood, both at home and abroad, and help aquaculture producers achieve their ambitions for sustainable expansion.”

The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the minister has requested that BIM open its call for applications as soon as possible. Due to the time limitations placed on BAR funding, investment projects must be completed by October 2023 to qualify for funding.

The minister added: “This is the latest in a series of schemes that I have announced to support the seafood sector and coastal communities which are most dependent on the sea for their livelihoods. The scheme will assist the aquaculture industry in sustainably growing production, value and employment.

“These investments will ensure that Ireland maintains its reputation as a source of premium quality seafood, protect food supply chains in times of uncertainty, grow coastal economies and sustain the natural environment.

“I am acutely aware that the past few years have presented a challenging operating environment for these sectors and I am pleased that we have been able to be responsive in offering considerable amounts of support to help stakeholders overcome this challenges and engage in growth initiatives.”

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The fast-changing and evolving landscape of Ireland’s post-Brexit blue economy mean the skills needed for these types of jobs in coastal communities are also changing and evolving.

Individuals already working in the blue economy who want to develop their career or those who would like start to work in the blue economy are being urged to apply for training grants of up to €10,000 available under the €25 million Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme, which is being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The blue economy covers a wide range of economic activities within coastal communities. In Ireland, about 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast and many communities along the Irish coast depend on blue economy industries such as tourism, fishing and aquaculture.

As well as providing funding of up to €200,000 for capital projects, the recently launched Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme also provides funding of up to €10,000 per applicant for skills development and training.

Given that many courses begin term in the autumn, BIM is calling on all interested parties to visit its website to learn more about the grants that are available for skills and development.

Brenda O’Riordan, regional officer at BIM said having the right skills and training can help businesses manage change and the growing need to be more flexible and adaptable within today’s blue economy. 

“One of the certainties for anyone working today is the need to be able to adapt to change,” she said. “For example, having digital skills is increasingly important for many seafood and other blue economy businesses, as more transactions move online. This is just one example of where an individual could really enhance their skills for the benefit of themselves and the wider coastal community.”

The Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Scheme is an initiative of the Government of Ireland and is being administered by BIM. The aim of this new scheme is to help address economic and social impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union for businesses operating in the blue economy and located in communities within 10km of the coastline.

The scheme has a €25 million budget available in 2022 and 2023, funded under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve. For more details visit bim.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has today (Tuesday 21 June) announced an extension of the 2022 Brexit Voluntary Temporary Fishing Vessel Tie-up Scheme for the polyvalent and beam trawl fleets to include the month of November 2022.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scheme is an extension of the 2021 Tie-up Scheme, with some modifications, and aims to help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts for 2022 arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The scheme delivers on a recommendation of the Report of the Seafood Task Force – ‘Navigating Change’ (October 2021) and is proposed for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

In light of the quota cuts taking effect in 2022, Minister McConalogue modified the scheme so that vessel owners can, if they wish, choose to tie-up for up to two calendar months — thereby freeing up additional quota for those vessels continuing to fish, supporting viability in the wider fleet.

However, vessels choosing to tie up for two months must maintain a two-month gap between tie-up months, for example June and September or July and October

Payment rates will be the same as the 2021 scheme. Vessel owners participating in the 2022 scheme will again be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew.

As previously reported, the minister made a formal request to the European Commission to amend the approval of the scheme to encompass November so as to provide for an additional August/November tie-up option.

An official response was received today with no objections to the scheme as amended, on the grounds that it is compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

“I am pleased to have secured this extension of the time frame allowable for the 2022 Brexit Voluntary Tie-up Scheme,” Minister McConalogue said. “The third option of an August/November tie-up is key to the industry’s ability to manage and maintain the supply of fish to all its customers throughout the six month period of the tie-up scheme.

“This extension has been sought by industry and I welcome their responsiveness to learnings from the experiences of the 2021 scheme.”

The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and further details will be published by BIM shortly.

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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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