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Green Rebel Marine in Crosshaven is set to undertake a geophysical survey operation in the Celtic Sea from next week.

The survey from next Wednesday 26 May to 23 June, weather permitting, will be conducted by the Roman Rebel (callsign 2ICA5) using hull-mounted multibeam and sub-bottom profiling systems.

In addition, the vessel will be towing side-scan sonars and magnetometers using dedicated winches at cable lengths dictated by the water depth. Typically, the cable lengths will be about four times the water depth while acquiring data.

The Roman Rebel will display appropriate lights and signals and all survey operations will be conducted 24 hours a day, continuous over day and night.

Full details of coordinates of the survey areas are included in Marine Notice No 32 of 2021, which can be downloaded below.

Published in Coastal Notes

A seabed debris clearance, environmental baseline and habitat assessment site survey will take place in licence SEL 1/11 (Barryroe) from later this month.

Barryroe is located in the North Celtic Sea, some 50 kilometres south of the Port of Cork.

The project is scheduled to commence in mid-August 2019 with the survey vessel Kommandor (callsign MCJO2) anticipated to be working on location for 16 days, excluding transit and any weather delays

Survey operations will be conducted on a 24-hour basis in different phases to include towed and non-towed operations. A fisheries liaison Officer will be on board for the duration of the survey.

Throughout the survey operations, the vessel will be displaying appropriate shapes and lights to indicate that the survey vessel is restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

All vessels are requested to give this operation a wide berth. A listening watch will be maintained on VHF Channel 16, and the vessel will actively transmit an AIS signal.

Full details of the site survey co-ordinates are included in Marine Notice No 27 of 2019, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Offshore

A shark species previously unrecorded in Irish waters has been sighted in the Celtic Sea.

A smooth hammerhead shark was reported on the edge of the continental shelf, south-west of Ireland, during a recent fisheries survey on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer.

The sighting was made by experienced marine mammal observer John Power and bird observer Paul Connaughton during the Marine Institute’s Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS).

“While scanning the ocean surface, we sighted a dorsal fin unlike anything we had encountered before,” said Power.

“It was quite different to the fins seen on basking sharks and blue sharks. After consulting available ID keys, we agreed that the shark must be a smooth hammerhead.”

The large, tall and slender dorsal fin of the smooth hammerhead shark distinguishes it from other shark species. The smooth hammerhead also has a single-notch in the centre of its rounded head and is up to four metres in length.

The species gives birth to live young and the pups are usually found in the shallow sandy waters near Florida, the Caribbean and West Africa. However, the species has been recorded as far north as England and Wales.

The smooth hammerhead was sighted during the WESPAS survey, which surveys the waters from France to Scotland and the West of Ireland each year.

Marine scientists collect acoustic and biological data on herring, boarfish and horse mackerel, which is used to provide an independent measure of these fish stocks in Irish waters. Scientists also monitor plankton, sea birds and marine mammals during this survey.

This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery was discovered by Irish scientists last year

Dr Paul Connolly, director of fisheries and ecosystems services at the Marine Institute, said: “Our Irish waters support a range of marine life and diverse ecosystems, including 35 known species of sharks.

“This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery, 200 miles west of Ireland, was discovered by Irish scientists last year using the Marine Institute's Remotely Operated Vehicle [ROV Holland 1].”

He added: “This sighting of a new shark species shows the importance of our fishery surveys to monitor our marine environment, and to observe changes in our oceans and marine ecosystems.

“Observing and understanding a changing ocean, is essential for protecting and managing our marine ecosystems for the future.”

The hammerhead shark poses little risk to humans, and there have been no known fatalities from hammerhead sharks anywhere in the world to date.

The species is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and is being increasingly targeted for the shark fin trade as its large fins are highly valued.

Thirty-five species of sharks have been recorded in Irish waters, including the blue shark, porbeagle shark, lesser spotted dogfish and the second-largest shark in the world, the basking shark — a regular visitor inshore during the summer months.

Published in Sharks

#MarineWildlife - Naval Service personnel on patrol with the LÉ Samuel Beckett encountered the carcass of a large whale some 50 nautical miles south-east of Ballycotton Lighthouse in the days after Christmas.

The “mystery whale” is neither a sighting (which only counts or living cetaceans) nor a stranding. But as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says, the encounter “serves to remind us that the animals that wash up on our shoreline may represent only a small percentage of the total number of cetaceans that expire at sea of presumably natural causes.”

IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley said the location of these whale remains was “interesting as this area of the Celtic Sea has produced the most consistent large-whale sightings in recent months, with fairly regular sightings of fin whales from land-based sites between Ram Head, Ardmore extending east towards the Hook Head lighthouse.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineScience - Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer departed Galway yesterday for the first deepwater INFOMAR survey of 2018 to map the seabed in the region of the Labadie and Cockburn Banks, south of the Celtic Sea.

These areas are of ecological and economic value to the Irish fishing fleet and the data collected will allow better fisheries management decisions.

INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme, is a joint programme between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute. INFOMAR creates bathymetric charts and products for Ireland's coastal and deeper offshore waters using acoustic sonars called multi-beams. The survey team will be led by Vera Quinlan, and include four INFOMAR surveyors / scientists and four marine science students.

Three multi-beam echo sounders on the marine research vessel will transmit beams of sound towards the sea floor. These 'beams of sound' are reflected off the sea floor and both the time it takes to receive the returned signal and the intensity are captured by the on-board systems. This process provides a very clear picture of the shape and texture of the seafloor, such as the bathymetry, and the geological characteristics of the area.

Further studies include the analysis of the radiation patterns of the sonars resulting in increased precision and improved data. This is part of a long-running collaboration between INFOMAR and Professor John Hughes Clarke at the Centre for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of NewINFOMAR survey to map the Celtic Sea seabed Hampshire.

The survey team includes two students from the United States of America, Alexandra Dawson and Treyson Gillespie, from the BEAMS (BEnthic Acoustic Mapping and Survey) Program. BEAMS is an undergraduate-focused training and research program from the College of Charleston's Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, and aims to develop a strong and qualified workforce of ocean surveyors in support of the academic, research and operational marine communities.

INFOMAR also welcomes Becky Cronin and Rachel O' Mahoney from the Training Through Research Surveys (TTRS), a collaboration with the Marine Institute. The programme aims to increase national capacity in offshore marine research by offering seagoing placements for students of marine related sciences and technologies on the national research vessels, RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

Follow INFOMAR on Facebook and Twitter for updates from the INFOMAR survey team. Also follow [email protected] blog for some blogs during the survey.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has been advised that a hydrographic and geophysical survey operation will be undertaken by INFOMAR for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) off the Mayo coast, in the Celtic Sea and also in the Irish Sea between 21 March and 30 October 2016.

The RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN), the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB), the RV Keary (Callsign EIGO9), the RV Geo (Callsign EIDK6) and the RV Tonn (Callsign: EIPT7) are expected to carry out survey operations and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Details of co-ordinates for the survey operations are included in Marine Notice No 11 of 2016, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that Osiris Projects were last week scheduled to begin marine survey operations off the south coast in the Celtic Sea.

The marine surveys will extend from the shoreline at two locations in Co Cork across the sea to the shoreline at two locations in northern France.

The survey was set to start on Monday 1 June 2015 to last for approximately three weeks, weather permitting. The survey will be conducted by the MV Proteus (Callsign 2HBL7).

The marine surveys will extend from the shoreline at Ballinwilling Strand (main route) and Ballycroneen Beach (alternative route), across the Celtic Sea, passing the Isles of Scilly, to the French coast west of Roscoff at Moguériec (main route) and Pontusval (alternative route).

The corridor width for each landing will be 250 metres from the high water mark to the 10-metre contour, then the corridor will widen to 500m as the route moves to France.

The survey vessel may be found running both along the corridor, and in the general vicinity of the survey corridor. The survey areas are small boxes which are shown in the detail plan HERE.

Survey operations will involve towing survey equipment on and below the water surface, up to 300m behind the vessel. All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the MV Proteus and her towed equipment a wide berth and keep a sharp lookout in the relevant areas.

Full co-ordinates for the relevant work areas are detailed in Marine Notice No 25 of 2015, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#Oil&Gas - Kinsale Energy will take an 80% stake in Landsdowne Oil and Gas's Midleton/East Kinsale gas prospect in the Celtic Sea, as The Irish Times reports.

The deal will see the Petronas subsidiary assume 100% of costs for drilling on the prospect and will fund Lansdowne's costs of testing for up to $2.5 million.

Kinsale Energy, which was formerly Marathon Oil, already holds an interest in the Deep Kinsale Prospect beneath the Kinsale Head Gas Field, thanks to its option agreement with Fastnet Oil & Gas last year.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney yesterday (10 November) held a bilateral meeting with the new French Fisheries Minister Alain Vidalies in Brussels.

The meeting was organised to prepare for negotiations on the 2015 fish quotas which will be decided at the Fisheries Council on 15 and 16 December.

This was the first meeting between Minister Coveney and Minister Vidalies.

“France and Ireland have important shared fisheries in the Celtic Sea," said Minister Coveney. "I met Minister Vidalies to discuss with him the issues of importance relating to the management of these fisheries.

"I pointed out that the Irish and French fishing industries have a strong working relationship and that I wanted to ensure that this relationship is fully reflected at political level.”

The minister added: “There are particular issues arising in the Celtic Sea and our industries have worked together to bring forward measures to increase selectivity and reduce discarding of young fish. The EU Commission has proposed very severe quota cuts to the key cod and haddock fisheries.

"I agreed with Minister Vidalies that we will work closely over the coming weeks to secure agreement to a package of measures involving improved selectivity measures and set quota levels that  take into account the most up to date scientific advice.“

The EU Commission has published its proposals for Total Allowable Catches and quotas for 2015. The commission has proposed a 64% quota cut for Celtic Sea cod for 2015 and a 41% cut for haddock in the Celtic Sea. The EU Commission has yet to make its proposal for the Celtic Sea whiting and prawn quotas for 2015.

Submissions from all stakeholders have been sought by 21 November to inform a Sustainability Impact Assessment which will be presented to the Oireachtas by Minister Coveney on 2 December. 

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport advises that Osiris Projects will be carrying out two survey operations along the proposed interconnector route between Ireland and France.

The surveys will extend from the Shoreline at two locations in Co Cork (Ballinwilling Strand main route and Ballycroneen Beach alternative route) across the Celtic Sea to the shoreline at two locations in Northern France (Roscoff main route and Pontusval alternative route).

The first survey operation started on 17 August and is expected to run until 30 September, weather permitting. Survey works will be undertaken on the survey vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton (Callsign ZDLSI).

The vessel will operate on a 24-hour basis, will display appropriate day shapes and lights during survey operations and will actively transmit an AIS signal.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton will be towing survey equipment below the surface up to 600m behind the vessel. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

The second survey operation was expected to start on the Irish side yesterday (10 September) and will run until 20 September, weather permitting. Survey works will be undertaken on the survey vessel MV Proteus (Callsign 2HBL7).

The vessel will operate on a 12-hour basis, will display appropriate day shapes and lights during survey operations and will actively transmit an AIS signal.

The corridor width for each landing will be 250 metres from the high water mark to the 10-metre contour, then the corridor will widen to 500 metres as the route moves to France.

The survey vessel may be found running both along the corridor and in the general vicinity of the survey corridor. The vessel will be working between high water and 20 metre contour and in daylight hours only.

The MV Proteus will be towing survey equipment on and below the water surface up to 300m behind the vessel. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

Both vessels will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the works. Full details of co-ordinates of the work areas are included in Marine Notice No 55 of 2014, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Meanwhile, a hydrographic and geophysical survey operation is presently being undertaken by INFOMAR on the RV Celtic Voyager off the southwest coast of Ireland, continuing till 17 September.

The vessel is towing a magnetometer sensor with a single cable of up to 100m in length. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

The vessel will display appropriate lights and markers, and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Co-ordinates for the bounding box of the survey area are detailed in Marine Notice No 54 of 2014, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning
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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

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