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#FishFarm - As many as 2,000 people attended the protest in Galway against the proposed deep sea fish farm off the Aran Islands at the weekend.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the demonstration was organised by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages on Saturday 2 March in opposition to the 500-hectare organic salmon farm proposed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Among the speakers on the day, as The Irish Times reports, was Icelandic salmon conservationist Orri Vigfusson, who claimed the fish farm could interfere with the migration of salmon smolts from both Ireland and the rest of Europe.

GBASC vice-chairman Tommy Casserly also spoke, referring to the fish farm project as "a toxic cloud containing seven million caged salmon with all those faeces and chemicals and lice, between the Atlantic and 15,000 wild salmon which come through these waters".

Later in the day a delegation attempted to hand a letter of protest to BIM staff attending the Skipper Expo in the city, but said it was refused.

If the Galway Bay fish farm project gets the go-ahead, it would be the largest aquaculture facility of its type in Europe and would double the State's production rate of organic salmon.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#Fishfarm - Galway Bay FM reports that a major protest is set to take place in Galway this weekend against the proposed deep sea fish farm off the Aran Islands.

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages is organising the demonstration from Eyre Square on Saturday 2 March at noon in opposition to the 500-hectare organic salmon farm proposed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The facility, to be located off Inis Oírr in Galway Bay, would be the largest of its kind in Europe and would double the State's production rate of organic salmon, cited by BIM as Ireland's leading organic food export.

However, the scheme has been facing strong opposition from fisheries groups and local anglers citing the potential environmental impact on wild salmon numbers and the threat to tourism in the area.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is among those bodies that have expressed concern over the fish farm plans, citing research on the effect of sea lice emanating from aquaculture facilities on the mortality rate of wild Atlantic salmon.

BIM responded to news of the protest by stating such action may be unnecessary due to the appeal mechanism available in the State's decision process.

Published in Galway Harbour

#FishFarm - RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland reports on last night's public meeting in Galway on the proposed deep sea fish farm in Galway Bay.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 500-hectare organic salmon farm proposed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) would be located off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands, and would be the largest of its kind in Europe, set to double the State's production rate of organic salmon.

BIM's aquaculture development manager Donal McGuire moved to reassure concerned locals that the agency was "not about to damage [its] reputation" by "doing something foolish or doing something that will cause serious environmental damage".

McGuire added that organic salmon is Ireland's leading organic food export but is in "very very short supply", and that business would be lost to producers in Scotland and Norway.

However, the scheme has faced strong opposition from fisheries groups and local anglers citing the potential environmental impact on wild salmon numbers and the threat to tourism in the area.

At last night's meeting, RTE's western correspondent Pat McGrath says just two of the more than 100 in attendance spoke in support of the fish farm plans.

Another public meeting on the proposals is scheduled for tonight in Rossaveal.

BIM is expected to hold a public tender process for the proposed salmon farm project pending approval by Marine Minister Simon Coveney.

Published in Fishing

#Angling - Anglers on the River Feale in Kerry and Limerick have been assured by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that it supports their concerns over the proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay, as the Limerick Leader reports.

Local anglers are among those throughout the region who have rallied in opposition to plans for the Aran Islands fish farm project, over fears that it would lead to “an explosion” in parasitic sea lice which would prey on wild inland salmon from Irish rivers feeding in the North Atlantic.

IFI reiterated its statement issued last month in which its board said it does not believe "that the corpus of peer reviewed international scientific literature which recognises the negative impacts of sea lice on salmonids have been adequately dealt with" in the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) as part of the public consultation process.

A spokesperson for IFI told the Limerick Leader that the authority has "major concerns about the location and scale [of the farm], as well as its potential impact on sea life. [IFI] is not supporting it in its current form.”

Earlier this month the National Inland Fisheries Forum also criticised as "flawed" the consent process regarding the 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm planned off Inis Oirr, which would be the largest of its kind in Europe.

If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current production rate of farmed salmon.

The Limerick Leader has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#FISHFARM - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is set to hold a public tender process for the development of the proposed deep sea fish farm in Galway Bay, according to The Irish Times.

Financiers around the world have expressed interest in the 500-hectare organic salmon farm to be located off Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands, though BIM said it was not at liberty to disclose who they are.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the proposed fish farm would be the largest of its kind in Europe, set to double the State's production of organic salmon.

BIM says it is already receiving inquiries for jobs from emigrants wishing to return home.

However the scheme has faced opposition from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and local anglers, who cite the potential threat to wild salmon numbers in the area.

IFI recently issued a statement regarding its submission on the project's Environmental Impact Statement, raising concerns about the scale of the development and the impact of sea lice - infestations of which are often concentrated by aquaculture.

The public consultation that began in mid-October is scheduled to conclude next Wednesday 12 December.

Published in Fishing

#GALWAY FISH FARM - In his latest angling column for The Irish Times, Derek Evans writes of his 'deep concern' over the proposed deep sea salmon farm off the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

Making reference to new research that shows infestations of sea lice - which often concentrate in fish farms - pose a significant threat to the survival of wild salmon fisheries, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, Evans writes that the "untold damage" from such infestations would be "nothing short of catastrophic".

He adds: "While this latest proposal is a step in the right direction in terms of its 'off-shore' location, nevertheless, it will bring a plethora of problems, beginning with the size of its annual output and the 'baggage' that entails if and when it moves into unchartered waters."

Evans also points to the submission on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), which includes "an additional checklist for consideration including the location and dimension of this proposed farm; site characteristics; production process; potential impacts; monitoring; and organic farming", as well as suggesting an assessment of all wild salmon fisheries in the affected area, plus a full monitoring system and baseline study.

Evan's comments come in the wake of IFI's dispute with Bord Iascaigh Mhara over the exclusion from the statutory consultation of a report critical of the proposed salmon farm off Inis Óirr, which has faced opposition from local salmon anglers.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - The board of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has issued a statement on the proposed Aran Islands deep sea salmon farm in Galway Bay, which has been the source of some controversy in recent weeks.

The board said it agrees with the recent statement by Minister Fergus O’Dowd on offshore salmon farming, and that it welcomes the development of Ireland’s aquaculture sector "once any development complies with Ireland’s obligations under relevant EU environmental legislation, particularly the Habitats Directive, and does not adversely affect salmon and sea trout stocks."

In addition, the IFI board said it has made a submission on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for the proposed offshore salmon farm as part of the public consultation process, which is available on the IFI website.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the public consultation period began last month for the 500-hectare organic fish farm to be located off Inis Oirr. BIM has applied for a deep sea salmon farming licence at the site, which would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe. If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current farmed salmon production rate.

The IFI board's statement notes: "In the submission, concerns were raised in relation to the location and scale of the proposed salmon farm and how its development and operation could impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks and their habitat.

"These concerns are based on scientific reports by respected authors and knowledge of the impact of existing fish farms on salmon and sea trout populations off the west coast of Ireland."

The submission also highlights "recent peer reviewed international scientific literature on the impacts of sea lice on salmonids" which poses a significant threat to wild salmon in Irish waters, as reported on Afloat.ie.

The board said it does not believe "that the corpus of peer reviewed international scientific literature which recognises the negative impacts of sea lice on salmonids have been adequately dealt with in the EIS".

While welcoming "any sustainable initiative which will provide jobs in rural coastal communities", the IFI board said it questions the figure of 500 jobs it's been reported the 15,000-tonne fish farm project would create, making comparison to a new 2,000-tonne aquaculture scheme in Scotland that's expected to create just four full-time positions.

The board members say they "have serious concerns that whatever the number of jobs created by the current proposal, they will be more than offset by the associated loss of jobs in the recreational angling and tourism sectors" if the scheme results in any negative effects on those areas.

"Ireland's reputation as a pristine wild fishery destination must be safeguarded," they added, noting that proposals for two further offshore salmon farms in Mayo and Donegal "are premature given that significant issues over the current proposal have not yet been resolved.

"No further applications should be progressed until all stakeholders are satisfied that the current proposal is sustainable and has no adverse impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks."

Inland Fisheries Ireland is the State agency charged with the conservation, protection, development management and promotion of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resource.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Galway Bay FM reports that a series of direct public consultations on the proposed Aran Islands fish farm in Galway Bay will begin this week.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is organising the meetings on the islands and in nearby Galway City to allow the public to view its proposals for what would be one of the largest aquaculture operations in Europe.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the public consultation period began last month for the 500-hectare organic fish farm to be located off Inis Oirr. BIM has applied for a deep sea salmon farming licence at the site some 6km off the island.

If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current farmed salmon production rate.

The scheme has faced opposition from local anglers and from Inland Fisheries Ireland, who claim it poses a risk to wild salmon stocks.

But BIM has condemned IFI's "stop everything" attitude regarding the fish farm proposals, while accusing environmental campaigners of being "deliberately alarmist", according to the Galway Independent.

Lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment entered a dispute with the sea fisheries board over the exclusion of an IFI report critical of the salmon farm from the statutory consultation.

“In the current climate, with jobs being as scarce as they are and economic development being the way it is, I think really that sort of attitude, that sort of museum curator ‘stop everything’ attitude is not good enough,” said BIM aquaculture development manager Donal Maguire.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Environmental campaigners have retracted their accusation that Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) suppressed a report critical of the proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay.

The Galway Independent reports on a statement released by lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment, which claimed that BIM tried to hide the study by not posting it on its website along with other materials made available for the public consultation period.

The report in question was commissioned by Inland Fisheries Ireland and is critical of the Environmental Impact Statements carried out on the proposed location for the 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm off the Aran Islands.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the salmon farm would be located on a 500-hectare site off Inis Oírr, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy. The scheme has faced opposition from local anglers who fear it could have a negative impact on wild salmon numbers.

BIM strongly denied any wrongdoing, and the lobby group subsequently retracted its allegations upon learning that the IFI report had missed the deadline for submissions for the consultation.

“BIM certainly did not suppress or ignore or gloss over anything from IFI, because we never received anything," said a BIM spokesperson.

However, Friends of the Irish Environment now alleges that the IFI report was late due to a delay in their receipt of the Environmental Impact Statement from BIM.

The Galway Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#GALWAY FISH FARM - Galway Bay FM reports that a full public consultation on proposals for what's set to be Europe's largest fish farm off the Aran Islands is scheduled to begin next week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 15,000-tonne deep-sea organic salmon farm would be located on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay off Inis Oírr, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.

The statutory consultation period ended earlier this month after delays over the summer in publishing the licence application. And from next Monday 15 October, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) will make the plan and all statutory feedback available to the public via its website at www.bim.ie.

Advertisements announcing the consultation will appear in local and national newspapers, and packs will also be available to view for locals at Kilronan and Salthill Garda stations, including copies of the environmental impact statements and information on the statutory consultation process.

BIM aquaculture development manager Donal Maguire told Galway Bay FM that transparency is key to ensuring the public had all the information they need regarding the scheme - which has faced opposition from local anglers who fear the fish farm could have a negative impact on wild salmon numbers.

Published in Galway Harbour
Page 4 of 5

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

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