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Displaying items by tag: Canary Islands

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it has confirmed its first humpback whale match between Ireland’s waters and the Canary Islands.

Images of a fluke and dorsal fin captured by Alex Brenner at Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera were, with the help of Nick Massett, compared with those of a humpback photographed by IWDG member Simon Duggan at Baltimore in early December 2012.

“On matching the images we can confirm that this is indeed the same individual #HBIRL21, whom we’ve not recorded in Irish waters over the interim nine years,” the IWDG says.

The development marks an important new connection between Ireland and the Spanish island chain off north-west Africa, following earlier links confirmed with key humpback whale breeding grounds off Cape Verde further south.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#nmci – The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), in Cork harbour, is the lead partner in the delivery of the Canary Island's first Offshore Survival Training Centre. A ceremony to mark the partnership will be held in Las Palmas on Friday next, March 27th, hosted by Conor Mowlds, Head of the NMCI, in the presence of the Spanish Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, Jose Manual Soria, and Ireland's Honorary Consul in Gran Canaria, Victor Aúz Castro.

The NMCI and SEFtec, one of the world's leading suppliers of offshore simulation equipment and training support consultancy, are the lead consultants and manufacturers for the design, manufacture, development and operation of the Grupo Stier Training Centre in Las Palmas. Expertise from the NMCI and SEFtec have combined to support the development and operation of this centre and are now recognised as world leaders in the sector.

Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Marine, Agriculture and Defence said, "This is a fantastic example of how Ireland's public and private maritime sectors can work together to deliver manufacturing and consultancy services overseas, creating jobs and revenue for the country and promoting Irish niche-sector expertise on a global platform."

Grupo Stier, who will operate the Offshore Survival Training Centre, have had a presence in the Canary Islands since 1994. Its training arm, Centro de Estudios Marítimos del Atlántico (CEMA) offers practical and innovative training for the next generation of maritime professionals based on the island. For over 20 years CEMA has developed and delivered various programmes, and activities, with an emphasis on maritime studies. The company has trained more than 2,500 alumni from all over the world.

"This project is one of the most exciting we have been involved in, the professionalism and focus of the Group Stier Team is truly impressive and the location of the Training Centre is unequalled. We have committed the full resources and expertise of the NMCI in support of this fantastic initiative and we are proud to be associated with both Group Stier and the Canary Islands" says Conor Mowlds, Head of the NMCI (& MD SEFtec NMCI Offshore Ltd.)

"The NMCI is to the fore in maritime research in Ireland, making it a global leader," said Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"Our goal is to further develop a thriving maritime economy, enabling economic growth and creating jobs in our ocean economy. The work of the NMCI complements that goal. Projects like this in the Canary Islands strengthen international bonds and relationships that will lead to even further advancement in the years to come."

The Centre will be located in the Puerto de Taliarte, on land leased to it through a co-operation agreement with the Cabildo de Gran Canaria: it will be completed by April and fully operational by September 2015 providing approved offshore survival training in support of the Canaries growing offshore industry.

Ida Stier, CEO Grupo Stier said: "After 20 years providing training services in the shipping market, Grupo Stier is very excited to develop this project with the support of NMCI, SEFtec and the Cabildo/City Hall de Gran Canaria, as this will give the opportunity to train local people for the offshore business and will contribute to the Islands in the development of the offshore industry."

"It is always exciting to work with ground breaking companies who are willing to introduce new products and services" said Darren O'Sullivan, Director SEFtec, "It is my strong belief that the Canaries and the Oil gas sector will benefit greatly from Grupo Stiers investment and vision"

Published in Cork Harbour

#CruiseLiners - The Guardian reports that five crew members on a British-operated cruise liner in the Canary Islands have died after a lifeboat fell 17 metres from the side of the ship and overturned during an emergency drill.

The crew - believed to include Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian - are thought to have been on board the lifeboat as it was being lowered from the vessel at the time of the incident.

Lifeboat launch drills are notorious for accidents, according to seafarers' union Nautilus International, who added that "there's been research which suggests that more people are dying in lifeboat drills than are being saved by lifeboats."

The Canary Islands are a popular holiday destination for people from Ireland and all over Europe seeking some winter sunshine. Reports say 2,000 passengers were on the cruise ship at the time but none were involved in the emergency drill.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners

Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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