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Displaying items by tag: Bluefin Tuna

A seafood industry leader has expressed anger at the “complete inaction” by Ireland’s marine minister, Charlie McConalogue, to secure a quota for bluefin tuna.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) chief executive Patrick Murphy, who is standing as a candidate in the European Parliament elections, said that it was “obvious that McConalogue had no interest in living up to a promise he made to fight for a bluefin tuna quota”.

He made his comments as applications opened earlier this month for experienced Irish sea angling skippers to participate in a catch-and-release Atlantic bluefin tuna programme as part of a collaborative scientific survey.

The initiative targets Atlantic bluefin tuna – the world’s largest tuna species - to collect information on their sizes, and where and when they occur in Irish waters.

The programme has recorded changes in the size of the fish encountered - providing useful and positive data, according to State agency Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI ) which runs it.

IFI said last year’s programme recorded two recaptures of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna for the first time, while a total of 381 bluefin were tagged.

It said a total of 239 bluefin tuna angling trips were undertaken, and an average of 4.5 bluefin were caught per trip in the most successful week.

Since the data collection programme on Atlantic bluefin tuna began in Irish waters in 2019, almost 1,900 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released, IFI says.

Recreational angling for Atlantic bluefin tuna is technically prohibited in Ireland, and commercial fishing vessels have no quota for bluefin tuna -even though skippers have said they have seen large shoals of the fish migrating up the Irish coast in recent years.

The tuna shoals have attracted Japanese and Korean vessels to the Irish coast outside the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain are among EU member states which have quotas.

Britain was also awarded a quota of 63 tonnes of bluefin tuna for 2023-2025. The EU share of global bluefin quota has increased in recent years.

Over a year ago, before the December 2022 EU “agrifish” council, McConalogue said Ireland had made it clear to EU member states and the European Commission at EU internal meetings that Ireland considered it had a case for an allocation of part of the increase in the bluefin tuna quota.

“Given the prevalence of bluefin tuna in Ireland's EEZ, this is a request that we wish to be considered at council,” he said then, and stated that he would be making a formal statement to that effect at the December 2022 “agrifish” council.

There is still no quota for Irish commercial vessels, and Murphy said that the Irish government had “no interest in fighting for a bluefin tuna quota”.

He said Irish officials had “indicated to us whenever we raised the issue that Europe would only be looking for something else in return”.

“The Government doesn’t want to take advantage of an opportunity which would sustain so many coastal communities,” Murphy said.

“If I am elected to Brussels, I will be establishing rights for both Irish fishermen and farmers,” he said.

The Department of Marine said that Minister McConalogue had “made clear to EU member states and the European Commission that there is a case for an allocation of the EU’s bluefin tuna quota to be made available to Ireland” and said this case “is supported by the data collected in the catch-tag-release science-based fishery for authorised recreational angling vessels”.

“The minister has requested the opening of discussions at EU level to progress Ireland’s case and has made formal statements on the matter at the Fisheries Councils in December 2022 and 2023,” the department said, but “opening up this issue is difficult as other member states are resistant to any discussion on amending relative stability for this stock”.

“Any change to relative stability would involve a loss for some other member states and therefore poses particular challenges in a qualified majority voting context,” it said, but the minister “will continue to raise this matter at every available opportunity”.

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Applications have opened for experienced angling skippers to catch and release Atlantic bluefin tuna as part of a collaborative scientific survey.

The initiative targets Atlantic bluefin tuna — the world’s largest tuna species — to collect information on their sizes, and where and when they occur in Irish waters.

The programme saw recaptures for the first time in 2023 as well as changes in the size of the fish encountered, providing useful and positive data on this iconic and tightly managed species.

Recreational angling for Atlantic bluefin tuna is technically prohibited in Ireland.

Unauthorised vessels are not permitted to target or catch bluefin tuna and any unauthorised person found to be targeting bluefin tuna is liable to prosecution.

However, under the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme, authorised charter vessel skippers can catch, tag and release bluefin during the open season, with the help of anglers on board.

Skippers will be required to have high-specification rods, reels and lines to ensure that each bluefin tuna is brought alongside the vessel for tagging in a timely manner, prior to their subsequent release.

In previous years all tuna were carefully managed, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive. In 2023, the programme recorded:

  • Two recaptures of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna for the first time
  • A total of 381 bluefin tagged
  • 239 bluefin tuna angling trips undertaken
  • 4.5 bluefin caught per trip in the most successful week

In 2024, a maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast. This fishery will open on 1 July and close on 12 November.

Experienced charter skippers can apply to join the 2024 Tuna CHART programme until this Wednesday 8 May by completing the online application form.

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has recorded two rare recaptures of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna as the angling season for these fish nears its closure on Sunday 12 November.

The first recaptured bluefin was tagged and released originally by skipper Adrian Molloy on 2 October 2020 in Donegal Bay. Three years later, the same fish was caught again on 11 September this year off the north-east coast of Spain.

The second bluefin was originally tagged and released by skipper Tony Santry on 23 August this year off the Kerry coast and recaptured just 22 days later on 14 September off the west French coast. This Atlantic bluefin tuna had travelled a distance of 750km in three weeks, data showed.

Dr William Roche of IFI said: “Atlantic bluefin tuna are leviathans of the sea, and a bucket list species for many anglers.

“For the first time in the five years of this programme, two recaptures have been recorded — that’s two from over 1,600 fish tagged.

One of the first two Atlantic bluefin tuna caught of the 2023 Tuna CHART season, captured, tagged and released off the Irish coast in late JulyOne of the first two Atlantic bluefin tuna caught of the 2023 Tuna CHART season, captured, tagged and released off the Irish coast in late July

“To date, 1,619 bluefin tuna have been tagged by skippers along the north west, west and south coast of Ireland since the Tuna CHART programme, an inter-agency Government research initiative started in 2019.”

Recreational angling for Atlantic bluefin tuna is technically prohibited in Ireland. However, under the Tuna CHART programme, authorised charter skippers can catch, tag and release bluefin during the open season with the help of anglers as ‘citizen scientists’ on board.

This scientific tuna fishery targets the largest tuna species to collect information on their sizes, and where and when they occur in Irish waters.

The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75m long, and weighed an estimated 372kg.

In 2022, 382 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, and released around the Irish coast by authorised skippers.

Skippers willingly provide their expertise to the programme and can charge anglers for bluefin tuna trips on their vessels.

Measuring, tagging and releasing bluefin tuna is carried out in the water alongside the boat, which progresses slowly at speeds of 2-3 knots, to ensure the fish remains in the best possible condition.

Bluefin are caught in area that extends from approximately 1km from the shore out to a maximum of about 20km.

Published in Angling

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on Monday (23 October) where there were a number of important fisheries items on the agenda.

Among those were an exchange of views on the EU priorities for the upcoming ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) meeting in Cairo.

Minister McConalogue welcomed the positive stock assessment for northern albacore tuna and the significant increase on the current total allowable catch.

He added that Ireland “calls to reopen a discussion within the EU on internal reallocation of the EU’s bluefin tuna quota in light of the new management plan and the recent adjustment to the ICCAT sharing arrangements”.

Another important aspect of the meeting were contributions from member states on the ongoing negotiations in respect of the Baltic Sea 2024 Fishing Opportunities Regulation.

The minister welcomed the progress that had been made by participating member states on the Baltic Sea 2024 Fishing Opportunities Regulation.

Minister McConalogue will attend the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture Food and the Marine later this Wednesday (25 October) to present the Sustainability Impact Assessment in relation to 2024 fishing opportunities for Ireland.

This is an important step in Ireland’s preparation for the annual fisheries negotiations and is an opportunity for the minister to hear the views of the Oireachtas Committee before the negotiations commence later this month.

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A Co Meath angler has been found guilty of two breaches of fisheries legislation for illegal fishing in an area around the Blasket Islands.

Joseph Foley from Trim, Co Meath was observed trolling for protected bluefin tuna off the Kerry coastline using specialist gear including spreader bars, squid lures and game fishing reels.

Fisheries officers boarded his vessel, the Evie Rose, at the mouth of Valentia Harbour on 27 August 2022 and located the equipment stored throughout the boat.

Foley pleaded guilty to two charges: surface trolling from a vessel used for sea angling targeting or catching any species fish under Bye-Law No 981 of 2020 (Control of Sea Angling Method for Certain Species of Fish); and using a boat as an aid to the commission of an offence, contrary to the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 as amended.

He was convicted at Caherciveen District Court on Thursday 8 June and fined €400 for the breach of Bye-Law No 981/2020. The second charge was marked “taken into consideration”.

An order of forfeiture was made of the fishing gear seized and Foley was ordered to pay €200 costs.

The court was informed of the seriousness of the offences and that recreational fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna in Irish waters is prohibited unless licensed as part of a limited and tightly controlled ongoing research project.

The court heard that Foley had no previous convictions and had cooperated with fisheries officers.

Commenting after the case, Sean Long, director of the South-Western River Basin District at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) said: “Recreational fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna in all Irish waters is strictly prohibited.

“This was an intelligence-led operation. It enabled officers to detect and intercept the Evie Rose and ensure that these important species are protected from illegal fishing.

A tightly controlled licensed research project, studying the movements and abundance of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Tuna CHART) has been underway between July and November annually since 2019. Such illegal angling jeopardises the potential for a viable recreational fishery in the future.

“I wish to acknowledge the vigilance and perseverance of IFI local fisheries officers in this instance.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland continues to encourage members of the public and anglers to report illegal fishing, water pollution, fish kills, or fish in distress, to its confidential 24/7 phone number, 0818 34 74 24.”

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Three men have been found guilty of illegally fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna off Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.

Brian Hassett from Monkstown, Co Cork; Barry Keohane from Blackrock, Co Cork; and Conor Jones of Kildinan, Co Cork were found guilty of illegally fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna in waters south of Baltimore Harbour on 10 October 2022.

All three entered guilty pleas at Skibbereen District Court at a hearing on Tuesday 14 March.

The court heard evidence from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) officer David Lordan, who said he observed the men using a spreader-bar lure system for around 70 minutes before their vessel entered Baltimore Harbour.

Despite an application for a return of the seized fishing gear, the court granted Forfeiture Orders in respect of all items seized.

Details were also presented of the importance of protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna and the research programme Tuna CHART, a catch-and-release tagging programme gathering scientific data through licensed recreational charters since 2019.

Hassett was found guilty of a breach of Section 285(a) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 and fined €1,000. He was also found guilty of breaches of Article 4 (a) and 4 (b) of Bye Law 981 of 2020, which were taken into consideration.

Keohane and Jones were found guilty of breaches of Article 4 (a) and 4 (b) of the 2020 Bye Law, and both men received the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act on bonds of €5,000 each for a period of three years.

Commenting after the case, Sean Long, director of the South-Western River Basin District at IFI said: “I want to praise the vigilance of the fisheries officers involved in this operation.

“Illegal fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna jeopardises the potential future for sustainable catch-and-release angling fishery, currently valued at €1 million annually, for professional skippers and for rural coastal communities.

“I continue to encourage members of the public to report incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and fish kills, to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 24-hour confidential hotline number on 0818 34 74 24.”

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Ireland’s Tuna CHART bluefin tuna sea angling survey programme for 2023 has opened for charter skippers to apply.

Anglers in Ireland will once again have the opportunity to catch and release bluefin tuna in 2023 through the continuation of the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme that has been in operation around our coast since 2019.

Experienced charter skippers are now invited to apply to take part in this year’s Atlantic bluefin tuna scientific survey programme of Irish waters.

Building on the successes of the Tuna CHART programmes of 2019-2022, this scientific data collection catch-and-release fishery for Ireland will again operate in 2023.

A maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast for this fishery, which opens on 1 July and closes on 12 November.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

Between 2019 and 2022, some 1,500 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released off the Irish coast by authorised charter skippers. The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75 metres, weighing an estimated 372kg.

All tuna were carefully managed in the water alongside the charter vessel, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive.

Data from the tagging programme have been collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

The core aim of the Tuna CHART programme is to collect data and tag these large fish, which is underpinned by ensuring good fish welfare, leading to successful release of the bluefin tuna.

Authorised skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin tuna they catch, tag and release and their angling and data recording expertise is an important part of the overall survey programme. They will also be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to ensure that the fish is brought alongside the vessel to be measured and tagged in the water in a timely manner.

Anglers will have an opportunity to participate in this fishery and contribute to this important scientific study by chartering and fishing from authorised vessels only.

Unauthorised vessels are not permitted to target or catch Bluefin tuna and any unauthorised person found to be targeting Bluefin tuna is liable to prosecution.

Experienced charter skippers are being invited to apply to join the 2023 Tuna CHART programme between Tuesday 21 March and Tuesday 4 April by filling out an application form online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin.

Published in Angling

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has promised to seek a quota of bluefin tuna for Ireland at the December EU fisheries council.

Large numbers of bluefin tuna have been reported by fishermen off the Irish west coast in recent years, but Ireland has no quota to catch the species- apart from a licensed catch and release programme for deep sea angling.

The tuna shoals have attracted Japanese and Korean vessels to the Irish coast outside the 200-mile EEZ, while Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain are among EU member states which have quotas.

Britain has now been awarded a quota of 63 tonnes of bluefin tuna for 2023-2025

Mr McConalogue noted that an increased total allowable catch of bluefin tuna has been agreed as part of a new management plan adopted at the recent International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting.

“Following discussions on this new management plan, the UK was granted an additional 15 tonne of bluefin quota and now has a quota of 63 tonnes of bluefin tuna for 2023-2025,” he said.

He said that Ireland had made clear to EU member states and the European Commission at EU internal meetings that Ireland considers that there is a case for an allocation of part of the increase in the bluefin tuna quota to be made available to Ireland for a targeted fishery.

“Given the prevalence of bluefin tuna in Ireland's EEZ, this is a request that we wish to be considered at council,” he said.

“I have therefore requested the opening of discussions at EU level to progress our case and I will be making a formal statement to this effect at next week's December Agrifish Council,” he said.

The EU share of global bluefin quota has increased in recent years to almost 20,000 tonnes.

The lack of a quota for Ireland was recently raised at Kerry County Council where Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill said that not having a share of the bluefin quota is "a major missed opportunity for our fishing industry, including deep sea anglers".

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An Atlantic bluefin tuna hooked off the Pembrokeshire coast recently is believed to be the biggest fish ever caught in Welsh waters.

As Wales Online reports, the 900lb (408kg) monster catch was made by Simon Batey and Jason Nott while returning from an angling trip in the Irish Sea.

Keeping the tuna in the water, they recorded a measurement of 111 inches (2.82 metres) from nose to tail before releasing it back into the sea.

The anglers were on a boat from White Water Charters which is licensed to catch, tag and release Atlantic bluefin tuna as part of a Welsh government programme similar to the Tuna CHART scheme in Ireland.

Wales Online has more on the story HERE.

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Experienced charter skippers can now apply for Ireland’s 2022 bluefin tuna scientific survey programme, as scientists confirm that over 1,100 of the largest tuna in the world have been successfully tagged and released through the programme in the last three years.

Building on the successes of the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programmes of 2019-2021, this scientific data collection catch and release fishery for Ireland will operate again this year, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

A maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast for the fishery, which will open on 1 July and close on 12 November.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

Between 2019 and 2021, some 1,136 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released off the Irish coast by authorised charter skippers. The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75 metres, weighing an estimated 372kg.

All tuna were carefully managed in the water alongside the charter vessel, subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme, and all were released alive.

Data from the tagging programme have been collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

The core aspect of the Tuna CHART programme is the welfare and successful release of the bluefin tuna. Authorised skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to ensure that the fish is brought alongside the vessel to be measured and tagged in the water in a timely manner.

Anglers will have an opportunity to participate in this fishery and contribute to this important scientific study by chartering and fishing from authorised vessels only.

Unauthorised vessels are not permitted to target or catch Bluefin tuna and any unauthorised person found to be targeting Bluefin tuna is liable to prosecution.

Experienced charter skippers are being invited to apply to join the 2022 Tuna CHART programme between Monday 14 and Monday 28 February by filling out an application form online at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin

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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