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Public consultation on a new report on expanding Ireland’s marine protected areas will begin “later this year”, according to Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.

A report exploring the need to expand Ireland’s marine protected areas (MPAs) to meet a target of ten per cent of the State’s entire maritime area has been given to Mr O’Brien and his junior minister Malcolm Noonan.

Ireland is aiming for 30% of its maritime area to be designated MPAs by 2030, and the report by an expert group examines the benefits and costs of doing so, and how Ireland should go about doing it.

The report has not yet been published, but Mr O’Brien said that a significant finding is that many threatened and important marine habitats, species and ecosystems that aren’t covered by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives cannot be afforded the protection necessary to meet Ireland’s international commitments and legal obligations under current legislation.

It also identifies the possibility to “greatly improve the level of stakeholder engagement and participation in the site selection and management process”, Mr O’Brien’s department said.

The advisory group on MPAs has been chaired by Prof Tasman Crowe of the UCD Earth Institute, working with 20 experts in life and ocean sciences, marine socio-economics, maritime culture, governance and legislation.

The advisory group was tasked with “providing important technical advice and recommendations on the processes required and the challenges to be addressed in the future expansion of Ireland’s network of MPAs, based on the group’s own work and on the views of a wide range of stakeholders”.

MPAs are geographically defined maritime areas that provide levels of protection to achieve conservation objectives. They support economic activity associated with the sea by ensuring that activity is kept at a level that ensures the seas and oceans continue to support life and human health. They also help reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

“Never before have we, as a nation, faced the twin global crises of climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss on land and at sea,”Mr O’Brien said.

Collective Action

“ This comprehensive report represents a “Call for Collective Action” on behalf of our people and our natural marine environment, to ensure that we can sustain clean, healthy, diverse and productive oceans and seas around Ireland, both now and in the future. Minister Noonan and I sincerely thank Prof Crowe and his colleagues for providing this valuable and timely report today,” he said.

“Not only can MPAs provide us with answers to the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, but they also hold a key to our future - as a maritime nation that’s home to a bountiful and sustainable source of food, green energy and tourism activity for example. In this context, later this year we will be welcoming the views of the public and all stakeholders on this report and the process that lies before us,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This is our ongoing vision for Ireland’s marine environment - one that can not only sustain nature and people and support livelihoods, but also one that brings us together to solve some very real crises of our time,” Mr Noonan added.

MPAs can take a variety of forms ranging from exclusive marine reserves to areas allowing sustainable use or restricting specific activities, the two men said.

Special Protection Areas

Ireland's future network of MPAs may include the incorporation of existing Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and/or Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the Birds and Habitats Directives. It may also incorporate protection measures established under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for example, and other area-based conservation and protection measures.

Mr O’Brien said he intends to publish the Marine Protected Area advisory group’s report for an extensive period of public consultation in late 2020 and early 2021.

Further details are available at here

Published in Coastal Notes
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#Rowing: Rushbrooke Rowing Club from Cobh will host the Irish Coastal Rowing Championships next August. It is the first such coastal event to be held under the auspices of Rowing Ireland.

 The decision to choose Rushbrooke was made at the inaugural annual delegate meeting of the new Rowing Ireland Coastal Rowing Division in Portlaoise.

 Rushbrooke submitted a detailed proposal to hold the championships at the National Rowing Centre in Cork and were given unanimous support. Delegates opted for the weekend of August 18th and 19th for the event.

 Ted McSweeney, the chairperson of Rushbrooke Rowing Club said: “This is the greatest honour to be bestowed upon our club. Our club has been in existence since the early 1900s, and although the original club ceased in the late 1960s when the original wooden clubhouse and boats were engulfed by a fire, in 1989, local residents decided to restart the club and agreed on using the Yawl class racing boat. Over the last 28 years, we have gone from strength to strength and have established ourselves as one of the top coastal rowing clubs in Cork.  

 “As a club, we are delighted at the opportunity to host the inaugural Irish Coastal Rowing Championship and will endeavour to deliver an event that will meet the superb standards that have been set over the past few years.  Even at this early stage, we have received immense support, both from the Coastal Rowing community and local organisations. We would like especially to thank the management team at the National Rowing Centre in Farran Woods, who have been exceptionally helpful and forthcoming in assisting us with our bid.  A new chapter in coastal rowing has begun and Rushbrooke Rowing Club will strive to maintain the high standard of regattas that we have been accustomed to. We look forward to welcoming all Coastal Rowers to Cork in 2018 and we can assure you of a Ceád Míle Fáilte.’

 Kieran Kerr, chairperson of the Rowing Ireland Coastal Division, said:  “On behalf of Rowing Ireland, I would like to congratulate Rushbrooke Rowing Club on a very professional bid. We look forward to an exciting inaugural Irish Coastal Rowing Championships.”

Published in Coastal Rowing

Ballynamona Strand on the East Cork coastline is internationally renowned for a long list of bird life including Shrikes, Larks, Citrine Wagtails, Sandpipers, Pipits, American Coot and Red-necked Stint. There is a new sight to be seen there, writes Tom MacSweeney and it is ensuring that the strand remains a welcoming place for wildlife, seabirds, marine life and for the general public. Regrettably, visitors of the human kind leave litter behind, disregarding the marine environment and despoiling the area.

The local community has responded leading to the new sight on the beach - a quad bike and trailer - showing community dedication to the preservation of a clean maritime environment. It’s the work of the group known as ‘Clean Coasts Ballynamona.’ “Truly an excellent example of what can be achieved when business and community work together,” said Proinsias Ó Tuama, one of the leaders of ‘Clean Coasts’ ‘and a teacher at St.Colman’s Community College, Midleton, where students are also involved in the protection of local beaches. Business and community interests raised €16,000 for a quad bike and trailer to remove beach litter. “It shows how local people are concerned for their maritime environment.”

The Ballynamona group has twice been An Taisce ‘Ocean Hero’ national award winners and has been using the equipment to maintain over 30kms. of coastline by removing marine litter from Ballybranagan to Ballymacoda in East Cork. Five tonnes of rubbish was taken from Ballybranagan beach with the help of the Transition Year students.

Published in Coastal Notes
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#Rowing: There is to be a new Coastal Division of Rowing Ireland. At a meeting of the RI board on Saturday, October 21st, the board unanimously acceded to a request from 20 of its affiliated clubs that it form a coastal division. Rowing Ireland has traditionally offered river (Olympic) rowing, and since May of this year has also offered offshore rowing. 

 Hamish Adams, Rowing Ireland CEO, said: “Having seen how successfully offshore rowing has been integrated into Rowing Ireland we believe that adding coastal rowing is a very positive step to expand our product offering and will permit Rowing Ireland to recruit members and develop rowing where river rowing is not possible.” 

 Rowing Ireland will run an Irish Coastal Rowing Championship in 2018, the venue and date of which will be agreed by the clubs at a later date. Kieran Kerr, the chair of the new Coastal Rowing Committee, said that the new coastal division will be club driven and will endeavour to raise the standard of coastal rowing through the provision of coach education and all the other services which Rowing Ireland provides.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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#Lecture - Glenua & Friends presents the lecture: The Road to Rio Paralympic Sailing

The talk by Dr. Austin O’Carroll takes place next Thursday 3 November at 20:00 in Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club Ringsend, Dublin. Entry €5 (in aid of Safetynet)

In 2013 Austin was offered the chance of a place with John Twomey and Ian Costelloe on the Irish Sailing Sonar team which was seeking to qualify for the Rio Paralympics.

In his illustrated talk, Austin will focus on how they forged a team together, followed by a hectic qualifying campaign and finally their experiences of the Paralympic Finals. While involved in this campaign, there was a huge influx of people into homelessness. This meant the medical charity Safetynet, founded by Austin, had to rapidly expand the range of services for homeless people. He will describe how they dealt with this crisis, while running the Paralympic campaign.

Austin’s journey to Rio began in Bere Island in 1982 with a Glenans sailing course. Undaunted by the physical challenges, he was a dinghy instructor by 1984. He is now a GP in Inner City Dublin with a deep interest in Health Inequalities.

In recognition of his work with marginalized groups, he was presented with the Irish Healthcare Person of the year 2015 award and granted an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He started eight specialized primary care services for homeless people and founded Safetynet, the umbrella organization for specialized-services for homeless people in Dublin and Cork.

Safetynet has been innovative in the delivery of healthcare to homeless people including rough sleepers; provision of substance misuse treatment to homeless people. He is also involved in a variety of educational programmes dealing in health inequality and disability.

Published in Coastal Notes

#OnTV - The first episode of Bobby Kerr-fronted UTV Ireland series Along Home Shores comes this Thursday 27 October at 7.30pm and explores Dublin’s waterways, with a visit to the famous wallabies of Lambay Island.

Afloat.ie reported last month on filming for the new eight-part-TV series, in which the Insomnia café entrepreneur and avid sailor will discover the hidden treasures of the coastlines and waterways of Ireland.

In each episode, Bobby will examine how people are using the natural resources of our waterways to create employment, while also showcasing the beauty of Ireland along the way. Over eight weeks, he will embrace the heart of maritime communities all over Ireland.

The first episode sees Bobby beginning his journey on his own doorstep of Dublin, where he goes for an early morning swim at the Forty Foot with members of the Sandycove Bathers Association.

At Grand Canal Dock, he meets a local leisure business and tries paddle boarding for the first time, and Bobby's fitness is put to the test when cancer support group, the Plurabelle Paddlers, bring him dragon boat training.

Eugene Garrihy, the owner of Dublin Bay Cruises, invites Bobby on board his boat to talk business, and he also gets an exclusive invite to the hidden gem of Lambay Island by businessman Michael Bermingham, who is the only supplier of Lambay meat in Ireland.

"I have been truly amazed by the scenic beauty of Ireland's coastline and inland waterways during my filming of Along Home Shores,” said Bobby of his experience making the series.

“The fascinating characters I met along the way were an absolute inspiration to me. Through the prisms of heritage, business and culture, I have now gained a unique insight into Ireland. The sheer magnificence of our coastal and inland waterways, and their people, cannot be overstated."

Beginning his voyage in the capital, Bobby will bring the personality of coastal towns, villages and inland waterways to life as he travels anticlockwise around Ireland before ending his journey back in Dublin.

Future weeks will see him visiting Rathlin Island's seabird colony, kayaking the Causeway Coast, angling on Lough Erne, sailing on Lough Derg, attending the homecoming of Skibbereen's Olympic heroes, cycling the Deise Greenway, going oyster farming, staying overnight in a lighthouse and lots more.

The first episode of Along Home Shores airs this Thursday 27 October at 7.30pm on UTV Ireland. ​

Published in Maritime TV

#Surfing - A black rubber roof is one of the unusual features of the winning design for a new maritime centre in Strandhill, as the Sligo Champion reports.

The vision for the new surfing and coastal community centre by London architects Manalo & White also includes large concrete panels around the perimeter with Celtic seascapes and surfing scenes by Barry Britton, whose known as much for his art as for his waveriding legacy – not least being father of women's surfing pioneer Easkey Britton.

A planning application is expected to be completed by the end of April with a view to having the €500,000 facility, which would replace the existing centre used by the local surf club and other groups, ready in time for next year's tourism season.

The Sligo Champion has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

Clean Coasts’ Big Beach Clean is taking place this weekend 18th-20th of September all along the Irish coastline. Clean Coasts is teaming up with the International Ocean Conservancy once again for the International Coastal Cleanup event. Last year 560,000 volunteer in 91 countries removed 7,257 tonnes of marine litter from the world's oceans. This year thousands of volunteers will be participating in beach cleans nationwide and you can search for a clean up near you on our website www.cleancoast.org

Michael John O Mahony Director of An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said, “Each year millions of tonnes of litter enter our seas and oceans, resulting in environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges. The Clean Coasts programme is inviting volunteers to join this global coastal clean-up helping remove marine litter from our beautiful coastline and aid in the protection of our coastal habitats and marine life”.

During the Big Beach Clean, Clean Coasts’ volunteers are asked to carry out marine litter surveys to quantify the amount and types of litter on Irish beaches. These surveys are aimed at heightening awareness about the issue of marine litter and serve as an indicator of the magnitude of the problem.

Published in Coastal Notes
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#COASTAL ROWING: The third annual Dublin Currach Regatta will take place on Saturday, the 4th of July, between the iconic bridges and in the heart of the city on the river Liffey.
 
Sponsored by Dublin Port Company and Dublin City Council, this is the third year that the east coast has the privilege of hosting a currach regatta included in the national currach racing league.  This year the annual  Dublin currach regatta will take place for the first time ever on the river Liffey in the heart of Dublin city centre.
 
Following many years of forging contacts between east coast currach rowers and teams on the west coast of Ireland, this is the first year that the western teams will come to Dublin to compete in a championship fixture.
 
Currach racing teams from Donegal, Kerry, West Clare, The Aran Islands, Connemara and  Galway will attend. Both women’s and men’s crews will be competing as well as the traditional mixed crew race, Fear agus Ban.  The races will feature qualifying heats following on to senior men’s and women’s finals as well as mixed crew racing.
 
All races will take place between 11:00 a.m. and 16:30  and the heats and competition can be viewed all along the Liffey quays right up to the Jeanie Johnston for the duration of the regatta.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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#clarebeaches – A newly published report by the EPA on Bathing Water Quality around Ireland has found that County Clare's 11 designated bathing areas were adjudged to have "Excellent Water Quality" during 2014.

The marine environment news has been described as "hugely significant and positive news" by Clare County Council in light of the newly introduced EU standards for bathing areas, deemed by the EPA to be almost twice as strict as those applied in previous years.

Bathing waters were classified into four categories, namely 'Poor', 'Sufficient', 'Good' and the newly introduced 'Excellent' category. The classification system is based on the levels of E. Coli and intestinal enterococci detected in the bathing water during the 2014 bathing season.

Clare is one of five Local Authority areas to receive "Excellent" classifications for each of its bathing areas, the others being Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Kerry, Leitrim and Louth.

Clare's 11 bathing areas are Ballyalla Lake (Ennis), White Strand (Milltown Malbay), Ballycuggeran (Lough Derg), Cappa Pier (Kilrush), Bishopsquarter, White Strand (Doonbeg), Kilkee, Spanish Point, Lahinch, Fanore and Mountshannon (Lough Derg).

"This is a magnificent achievement for County Clare and those who work throughout the year to safeguard our bathing areas from environmental pollution and to ensure that the public can enjoy these locations in the knowledge that they are bathing in clean waters," stated Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

He added: "This clean sweep for Clare is something that all tourism interests in the County should be aware of as we must now promote our quality beaches and other bathing locations, particularly in light of the growing numbers of visitors arriving in Clare during their journey along the Wild Atlantic Way."

"I wish to pay tribute to the Environment Section of Clare County Council and those living and working in the vicinity of Clare's 11 bathing locations for their due diligence and hard work in delivering this result. It's one that benefits our County's reputation and of course, the environment," said Councillor Crowe.

"The Council is delighted that each of the 11 designated bathing areas that it monitors achieved 'Excellent' status. This achievement is notable in light of the considerable disruption caused to many locations during the storms of early 2014, as well as the newly introduced standards for assessing bathing areas which are almost twice as strict as those previously applied. Our goal now is to maintain these high standards throughout 2015," explained Paul Moroney Senior Engineer, Clare County Council:

Commenting on the bathing water quality results, Dr Matthew Crowe, Director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Assessment, said: "Overall, the quality of Ireland's bathing waters continues to be very good and new standards introduced in 2014 provide a much higher level of protection for bathers."

"Disappointingly, seven identified bathing waters have been assessed as being of poor quality. The relevant local authorities and Irish Water have put management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches. The test will be whether or not we see the necessary improvements in water quality at these beaches," added Dr. Crowe.

The summary report 'Bathing Water Quality in Ireland – A Report for the Year 2014' is available to download from www.epa.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes
Page 1 of 5

Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

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

FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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