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Displaying items by tag: Bay of Biscay

Five crew were evacuated from an Irish cargo vessel yesterday (Tuesday 10 December) after encountering rough seas in the Bay of Biscay, as Maritime Bulletin reports.

The Arklow Day has previously left Aviles Port in northwest Spain on Monday evening (9 December) after offloading its cargo but sailed into challenging conditions, with waves reportedly nine metres high.

One of these waves struck five of the vessel’s 10 crew, believed to have been on deck in the open at the time, who were left with ‘serious’ injuries.

The wounded seamen were airlifted to hospital by a Spanish rescue helicopter while the remaining five crew took the ship to the nearest port at El Musel on the Cantabrian coast.

The Arklow Day was acquired by Arklow Shipping from the Flinter Group two years ago, as previously reported on Afloat.ie. The 132m vessel, previously known as Flinter Aland, has a 13,008m3 hold capacity and a speed of 12 knots.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#MarineScience - The first underwater TV (UWTV) survey of the Bay of Biscay Nephrops grounds was carried out on the RV Celtic Voyager from 20-29 September.

This survey involved collaboration between the fishing industry and IFREMER, the French equivalent of the Marine Institute. The Celtic Voyager was chartered for this survey by the French fishing industry (CNPMEM).

The team of French scientists from Lorient were trained in the UWTV survey methodology by Jennifer Doyle, an expert from the Marine Institute. A fishing industry observer also participated in the survey.

This was the furthest south that the Irish Celtic Voyager research vessel has been to at 45°55′N 2°22′W.


The Bay of Biscay Nephrops grounds, known locally as 'la Grande Vasière', have an area of approximately 11,600 sqkm and support landings of Neprophs (better known as Dublin Bay prawns or langoustines) of around 4,000 tonnes annually.

During the 10-day survey, 160 UWTV stations were successfully completed with an average depth of 100 metres. At each station a sled-mounted camera system is towed at 1 knot. This allows for the detailed examination of the sea bed. The Nephrops burrows on the video footage collected are identified and counted by trained and experienced scientists.

Weather conditions throughout were perfect for TV operations with light winds, little or no swell and sea surface temperature around 20 degrees C. The visibility at the seabed was also excellent. The results from this survey will be analysed by IFREMER scientists to determine stock abundance.

The Marine Institute have been developing UWTV survey methods and technology since 2002. Since then, survey coverage has been expanded: in 2014 the main Nephrops stocks fished in Irish waters are have all been fully surveyed – Aran Grounds, Porcupine Bank, Western Irish Sea, Eastern Irish Sea, South Coast, Smalls, Labadie, Jones and Cockburn Banks.

These UWTV surveys form the cornerstone of the ICES assessments and management advice. The results of the TV surveys directly form the basis of the catch options.

All UWTV Marine Institute surveys reports are available online in the Marine Institute's open access repository.

Published in Marine Science

#PORTS & SHIPPING - Seven-crew have been saved from Florece (PHOTO) an Irish managed general cargoship which sank off the UK, following a collision with a Greek owned chemical tanker on Friday, according to www.tradewinds.no

The accident took place in the Bay of Biscay, approximately 250 miles from Land's End, the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency said. The Dominican flagged Florece (1990/1,960grt) which is managed by Greystones based Berg Maritime Management, sank after the 88m vessel was in collision with the 53,081-dwt tanker Afrodite, operated by Tsakos.

The crew of the Florece abandoned ship, taking to two life rafts, before being rescued by the 8,040 containership capacity Ocean Titan, operated by Pacific-Gulf Marine of the US.

Afrodite had attempted to deploy a rescue craft but was unsuccessful because of the sea swell. Falmouth Coastguard helped co-ordinate the rescue operation with Spanish counterparts to rescue the crew of Florece, a mix of Russians, Polish and Ukrainians. The 187m Afrodite was not reported as taking on water.

Published in Ports & Shipping
The saga of Thor Gitta's prolonged stay in Galway to load two former Aran Islands ferries bound for Mauritius, culminated with the cargoship's departure this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Due to a series of incidents, mishaps and delays the Thor Gitta has been at the centre of attention. Crowds of Galwegians witnessed the loading of both ferries during the past week.

First to be loaded was the Clann na nOileáin on Wednesday in an operation than took four-hours while on Friday her sister Clann Eagle I took six-hours to be winched safely onto the cargo-deck during freshening winds.

It is ironic that since Thor Gitta 's arrival to the port's Dún Aengus Dock on 5 April that it would also nearly be the same time taken for the estimated 25-day delivery voyage of the ferries to the Indian Ocean island.

During the 8,300 mile journey Thor Gitta will make several port of calls with the first call to La Rochelle. The Bay of Biscay port is the next largest port south of Les Sables d'Olonnes, where the fast-ferries where built at the OCEA boatyard for her original owners Bád Arann Teoranta which traded as Aran Direct on routes from Rossaveal to the islands.

Thor Gitta was built in 1996 and is also designed to carry 364 TEU (twenty-foot equivilant unit) containers and belongs to an-eight strong fleet operated by the Danish company, Thor Rederi A/S of Svendborg.

One of the reasons why the heavylift vessel was delayed in loading was to ensure the correct positioning of the ferries so not to further disrupt other port call cargo allocation while on the long repositioning voyage to Mauritius.

The 4,078 tonnes cargsoship is also scheduled to make en-route calls to Pointe Noir in the Congo, Cape Town and Pemba in Mozambique before finally reaching the southern Indian Ocean destination.

When the ferries were completed in 2005 and 2006 they were valued between €5-6m but they only served up to September 2008 when the 243 passenger aluminium built craft were laid-up at the Connemara harbour due to financial difficulities.

This led to the company going into receivership and the vessels were put up for auction in Galway last February. Despite bids reaching €950,000, they were withdrawn at the auction hosted by the Cork based auctioneer, Dominic J. Daly.

In the following month the fast-ferries were sold to the French owner for a new career based from the island state which is in the Mascarene Islands. Mauritius is neighboured by the smaller islands of Agalega, Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the French island of Réunion some 200km to the southwest.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Writing in the Irish Independent on Saturday, WM Nixon welcomes the introduction of Sail Training Ireland as a big step towards getting Ireland back into tall ship sailing.
Nixon also pays tribute to Ireland's previous square-rigger, Asgard II, which held its own among taller competitors for almost three decades before its sinking in the Bay of Biscay in 2008.
That ship was also remarkable for being "one of the very few government owned and run sail training ships in the world".
In the wake of Asgard II, a new approach is being taken with Sail Training Ireland - which is an officially recognised voluntary trust, actively supported by the Irish Sailing Association, that is open to anyone and free to accept donations and corporate endowments.
irishsailtraining.ie
"The sailing community and all those interested in promoting maritime affairs now have an opportunity for self-reliance," writes Nixon, who notes that while we get back on the road to having our own tall ship, Sail Training Ireland will be able to place Irish trainees on other ships already sailing for invaluable experience.

Writing in the Irish Independent on Saturday, WM Nixon welcomes the introduction of Sail Training Ireland as a big step towards getting Ireland back into tall ship sailing.

Nixon also pays tribute to Ireland's previous square-rigger, Asgard II, which held its own among taller competitors for almost three decades before its sinking in the Bay of Biscay in 2008.

That ship was also remarkable for being "one of the very few government owned and run sail training ships in the world".

In the wake of Asgard II, a new approach is being taken with Sail Training Ireland - which is an officially recognised voluntary trust, actively supported by the Irish Sailing Association, that is open to anyone and free to accept donations and corporate endowments.

"The sailing community and all those interested in promoting maritime affairs now have an opportunity for self-reliance," writes Nixon, who notes that while we get back on the road to having our own tall ship, Sail Training Ireland will be able to place Irish trainees on other ships already sailing for invaluable experience.

Published in Tall Ships
A former Irish Sea freight ferry which was originally named with an equine-theme, returned to the Dublin-Liverpool port route yesterday and coincides with this Saturday's Aintree Grand National, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The entry of the chartered Norman Trader onto P&O (Irish Sea's) Dublin-Liverpool route retraces her career as the 1998 built ro-pax vessel Dawn Merchant which was used on the same route to start a rival service in 1999. She was soon joined by sistership Brave Merchant to operate the route run by Merchant Ferries which named the vessels after the well known racing thoroughbreds 'Dawn Run' and 'Dancing Brave'.

Dawn Merchant and Brave Merchant represented the first pair of the 'Racehorse' class quartet of ro-pax sisters commissioned for the Cenargo Group. The quartet were built by Spainish shipbuilders Astilleros Espanoles SA in Seville, noting the first pair at 22,046grt where slightly smaller in tonnage terms compared to their 22,215grt counterparts Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant. Upon delivery in 2000 the second pair were chartered to Norfolkline's Dover-Dunkerque route.

With a 130 truck capacity the Norman Trader can handle a marginally higher number of freight vehicles compared to the Norcape which handled 127 trucks. The Norcape, a 32-year-old freight-only vessel,was stood down in February and remains laid-up at Liverpool's Huskisson Dock. Incidentally, Norman Trader has joined one of her Racehorse class sisters, European Endeavour (formerly Midnight Merchant) which had directly replaced the Norcape on the central corridor route.

Likewise the European Endeavour is no stranger to the Irish route as for the last two years she has acted as winter relief vessel to cover the refits of the routes Dutch built ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank. The latter vessel is now undergoing a refit by Cammell Laird Shiprepairers in Birkenhead, now that the Norman Trader is in service to maintain the three-ship operated 8-hour route.

The Norman Trader had arrived into Dublin Bay last Friday from London's Tilbury Docks, on the next day she entered Dublin Port. In recent years she has operated on English Channel routes for the French shipping giant Louis-Dreyfus Armateurs through their ferry division LD Lines.

Norman Trader's (Dawn Merchant) sister Brave Merchant now renamed Norman Bridge also runs for LD Lines 'Motorways of the Seas' (MOS) route across the Bay of Biscay between Nantes /St. Nazaire to Gijón in northern Spain. The 14-hour route which started last year, which was run iniatially as a joint venture between Grimaldi Lines and Louis-Dreyfus and traded as GLD Atlantique.

Published in Ferry
A ferry service to Spain is to start today, which had been previously served by the Irish Continental Group (ICG) owned cruiseferry Pride of Bilbao, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Brittany Ferries 32,728 tonnes Cap Finistere will re-open the Portsmouth-Bilbao route following P&O Ferries closure last September. Since the route opened in 1993 the 37,583 tonnes Pride of Bilbao has been on charter to P&O, initially from her owners Viking Line. In the following year she was sold to the ICG group, a parent company of Irish Ferries.

The Cap Finistere has a 790 passenger / 500 vehicle capacity and the vessel will operate two round trips weekly with each crossing taking 24 hours. Interestingly an additional en-route call to Roscoff is scheduled on Sunday sailings bound for Bilbao which will take 33-hours. This is to facilitate a crew change, as the Cap Finistere does not operate on any of the company routes from France.

In 2009 the P&O service carried 180,000 passengers and 193,000 in 2008 but closed due to "unsustainable losses". There were 800 redundancies but some 150 staff jobs were secured through transfer. Click here for a previous posting. The company were in direct competition with Brittany Ferries existing two routes between Plymouth and Poole to Santander.

The Bilbao route brings the Brittany Ferries operations to five sailings weekly between the UK to Spain, two from Portsmouth to Santander and a single round-trip to Plymouth.

The Pride of Bilbao was sold late last year by ICG to the Baltic Sea based St. Peter Line at a profit of €9.4m. The vessel underwent refurbishment and was renamed Princess Anastasia and next month starts a new St. Petersburg-Stockholm service, with Russian bound sailings calling en route to
the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Click here for more details.

Pride of Bilbao's return to the Baltic is nearly full-circle as the 2,553 passenger / 600 vehicles vessel, built in 1986 as Olympia for Viking Line's also operated out of Stockholm to Helsinki, and at the time was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world.

Published in Ferry
St. Peter Line has agreed to purchase the Pride of Bilbao for €37.7m from Irish Continental Group (ICG) which has been on charter to P&O's UK-Spain route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
ICG will charter the 37,583 gross tonnes cruiseferry to St. Peter Line on a hire-purchase basis with instalments to be paid over six years, with the final payment and transfer of vessel ownership in 2016. The vessel is to undergo refurbishment and renamed Princess Anastasia before opening a new second route for St.Peter Line between St. Petersburg and Stockholm  in April 2011. The new twice weekly service will call via Tallinn, Estonia and will for the first time provide visa-free cruises from Sweden to the Russian Federation.

For the last 17 years the Pride of Bilbao has operated between Portsmouth and Bilbao under charter to P&O. Built in 1986, she was launched as Olympia for Viking Line between Stockholm and Helsinki, then the Baltic Sea ferry was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world. At 177 metres long the vessel can accommodate 2552-passengers, 600-vehicles and space for 77-trucks. She has a sister, the Mariella, which currently operates on Viking Line's Stockholm-Mariehamn–Helsinki service.

In 1993 the vessel was renamed Pride of Bilbao and launched a new service on the Bay of Biscay, under charter from her Scandinavian owners. The following year ICG purchased the Pride of Bilbao from Viking Line and she was re-registered to the Bahamas. The vessel was subsequently entered into a British bare-boat charter arrangement between P&O Ferries and ICG. Due to unsustainable losses the route closed on 28 September this year but rivals Brittany Ferries soon shortly announced they would reopen the route in Spring 2011.

Throughout the Pride of Bilbao's career under ICG (parent company of Irish Ferries), the cruiseferry has only once visited Ireland. In between Spanish sailings, she was sub-chartered for a three-day Christmas mini-cruise from Portsmouth to Dublin in 2004, where the Pride of Bilbao berthed at the ferryport close to the ICG headquarters.

Published in Ports & Shipping

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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