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#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

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has called on environmental campaigners opposed to changes in the current fish farm licensing system to "get behind Ireland's aquaculture industry".

In a letter to The Irish Times yesterday, the fisheries board wrote in response to Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, whose own letter to the paper on Tuesday lambasted the IFA's claims of an "inexplicable delay" in the State's processing of licence applications for new fish farms off the west coast.

BIM chief executive Jason Whooley said it was "refreshing" to read Lowes "expressing confidence in and support for the current Irish aquaculture licensing system", which is "both rigorous and science-based... involves a high level of public consultation and is fully transparent."

However, Whooley hit out at what he described as Lowes' "scare tactics" and "spurious" attempts "to mislead by comparing the output from a salmon farm with human sewage".

Lowes had written that salmon farming "is a highly polluting industry", and that discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous from aquaculture facilities "can fuel toxic algae blooms, which have cost the shellfish industry dear".

Whooley countered that argument, stating that "the harmful elements from human sewage, such as E.coli, cryptosporidium or viruses, are simply not present in the excretions from cold-blooded creatures, such as the Atlantic salmon."

He also urged Lowes to "get behind Ireland’s aquaculture industry and support it as a sustainable and valuable source", adding that "increasing the output of farmed Irish organic-certified salmon represents a great opportunity to create a large number of sustainable jobs in Ireland’s coastal communities."

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has begun the process of statutory consultation as the next step in its licence application for the controversial proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie at the end of June, Ireland's fisheries board had announced a "significant delay" of four to six weeks before publishing the licence application.

But in a recent statement, BIM announced that it received permission some weeks ago from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the marine to begin the statutory consultation process, in which it is sharing the licence application and Environmental Impact Statement "with a list of State bodies for their appraisal and feedback".

The statutory consultation will continue till Tuesday 2 October 2012, and BIM promises that all feedback will be made available to the public via the BIM website "to further assist them in their assessment of the Environmental Impact Statement when it goes to full public consultation".  

The 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands on a 500-hectare site, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.

BIM intends to franchise the licence, should it be approved, to a third party "who agrees to a legally binding contract to farm the Atlantic salmon to the highest organic and environmental standards". Approval of the project could also see the creation of as many as 500 jobs, some 20% more than previously estimated.

The news comes after the ministerial apprival of salmon farm licence assignments from five separate operators in nearby Connemara, designed to "consolidate and revitalise" aquaculture in the region.

But the Aran Islands scheme has faced opposition from local anglers who fear that the fish farm could have a detrimental effect on wild salmon numbers.

Explaining BIM's plans for the consultation process, the statement added: "Previously, both statutory and public consultation would have been carried out in parallel. However, Ireland has recently (June 2012) ratified the Aarhus Convention. The convention lays down rules to promote citizens involvement and to improve public consultation in the making of decisions with potential environmental impact by the state. 

"Given the recent ratification of the Convention and for a number of other legal and technical reasons, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has signed a new Statutory Instrument (SI No 301 of 2012), bringing into law new periods of public consultation for fish farm licence applications. In this instance the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have instructed BIM to carry out statutory consultation in full before proceeding with public consultation.

"BIM believes that this approach will help to further inform the public during their period of consultation."

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney briefed the Irish Skipper Expo in Galway last weekend on a new initiative promoting the use of selective conservation fishing nets, which allow young fish to escape.

Under the initiative in the Celtic Sea, additional quotas of up to 25% will be made available by the minister to skippers of Irish fishing boats which use an escape panel in their nets, allowing young whiting and haddock to escape.

The escape panel, developed by the Irish industry, has been endorsed at EU level and is expected to be a mandatory requirement later in the year.

Minister Coveney said on Saturday: “The use of this panel will significantly reduce discards of juvenile whiting and haddock in the Celtic Sea, allowing juvenile fish to grow and mature and contribute to increased stock size and returns for fishermen in future years.

"I believe that this offers an example of a practical approach to dealing effectively with the discards problem and retention of a flexible quota allocation system that we should take forward in the context of the Common Fisheries Policy Review."

In other news, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) announced €1.5 million in grant aid for the Irish fishing industry at the expo.

A spokesperson for BIM confirmed to the Galway Independent that the funding will be available to industry through a variety of schemes including fleet safety, seafood environmental management, lobster V-notching and coastal action groups.

Over 100 companies displayed their products and services to fishermen at the Irish Skipper Expo International 2012, held at the Galway Bay Hotel on 24-25 February.

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - The licence application for a proposed new deep-sea fish farm in the Aran Islands is expected to be lodged in January.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Bord Iascaigh Mhara's (BIM) planned 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm off Inis Oírr would be the largest of its kind in Europe, and would create hundreds of jobs in the area.

Commenting on the plans, Galway West Senator Fidelma Healy Eames said it was "a major opportunity for Galway and would represent a very significant economic boost for our coastal communities."

She added: "Deep sea fish farming has proven to be very economically beneficial in countries such as Norway, Chile and Scotland. It is timely that Ireland would capitalise on our fantastic marine resources as these countries have."

According to Healy Eames, the project is expected to "meet all environmental standards and will be barely visible from 2km away and effectively not visible from land.

"It would take up a negligible amount of inshore fisheries ground in the bay (0.22%) and would not interfere with existing fishing routes or Galway Bay ferry routes."

Published in Fishing

#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has begun the consultation process for a proposed new deep-sea fish farm in the Aran Islands, The Irish Times reports.

The 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Approval of the project could see the creation of 350 direct and 150 indirect jobs, says BIM. It will be owned by the body on behalf of the State but leased to operators on a franchise basis.

The scheme has been welcomed by Comhar Caomhán Inis Oírr, but the island co-op said it was important that a promised €8-million pier for the island is constructed first to provide the necessary infrastructure.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited the Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Explorer in Dublin Port today, where he announced the creation of 92 jobs in the marine sector, writes Jehan Ashmore.

"Ireland is now recognised as an emerging power in Marine Research and Innovation," said the Taoiseach. Of the new positions, 64 will be generated in the seafood processing sector. This follows a €3.5m Seafood Processing Business Investment Scheme administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). In the area of marine research, 28 jobs have been created through funding of €2m from an International SmartOcean Graduate Programme.

SmartOcean is a collaboration between IRCSET (Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology), the Marine Institute, five Irish universities and key multinationals and SME Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies to provide funding for 28 research posts.

The Taoiseach said: "This has been achieved through the mapping of the 90% of Irish national territory that lies under the Atlantic, the creation of a quarter of a billion Euros worth of marine research infrastructure, and the fostering of strong linkages between industry and research centres, all of which will support employment opportunities in key areas of potential growth in the marine sector."

During the tour of the RV Celtic Explorer, the Taoiseach who was accompanied by Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney, welcomed the expansion of Ireland's capabilities in the international shipping services sector, which is expected to attract additional jobs to the country.

Ireland's emerging international shipping services sector has continued to grow, underpinned by a number of investments in new and second hand ships over the last twelve months by such companies as Arklow Shipping and the Mainport Group, as well as foreign direct investments by D'Amico and Ardmore shipping.

As reported on Afloat.ie, RV Celtic Explorer had arrived yesterday into Dublin Port, having completed a fisheries demersal survey which started in Galway on 23 September. Initially she had docked at Ocean Pier but she subsequently shifted berths to Sir John Rogersons Quay for today's reception of An Taoiseach. According to her survey schedule she is due to depart tomorrow on a herring acoustic survey which is to take place in the Celtic Sea and off the south-west coast.

Published in Marine Science
Page 5 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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