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Displaying items by tag: Colm Plunkett

#WaterSafety - Shore angler Colm Plunkett, who survived a near drowning incident last August, assisted the RNLI community safety team at the Ireland Angling 2016 show last weekend (20-21 February).

Plunkett shared his experience with hundreds of fellow anglers and watersports enthusiasts from all over Ireland – and promoted the wearing of lifejackets to help prevent the loss of life along coasts, rivers and lake shores.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Plunkett was swept from rocks when he was angling near Dursey Island in Cork last August. He spent 55 minutes fighting for his life before he was rescued. He was wearing a lifejacket at the time.

“My main message is that I wasn’t lucky - I was prepared but not nearly as much as I needed to be," he said. "A splash hood on my lifejacket would have saved me from an experience somewhat akin to waterboarding. A personal locator beacon (PLB) would have brought the coastguard directly to me should I have continued out to sea. It would also have initiated a distress call if I had been fishing on my own, which I often do.

"The lifejacket saved my life; the prearranged plan with my daughter saved my life; the cell phone saved my life; the emergency services saved my life. And if through telling others of my harrowing experience, on a ‘calm’ sea, I can get other fishermen to wear a life jacket then it was an experience worth having but definitely not worth repeating."

Plunkett also suggested a prearranged plan for anyone heading out on or near the water:

  • Wear a well maintained lifejacket with crotch straps at all times.
  • No one else should enter the water in an emergency.
  • Call 112 or 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

John McKenna, Howth RNLI community safety officer, added: "It was fantastic to have Colm here to share his experience with other anglers. He is a very engaging speaker and he was able to offer targeted, practical suggestions to the visitors at the RNLI stand.

"We hope that it encourages people to think twice and be prepared before they go out fishing on or near the water."

The RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews rescued 240 shore anglers and saved 28 lives between 2010 and 2014.

The charity is aiming to reduce coastal drowning significantly by 2024 by expanding its preventative work and launching the Respect the Water campaign, which engages with water users on how to stay safe and maintain their equipment.

If any angling, sailing or boating clubs would like a member of the RNLI sea safety team to give a sea safety presentation and carry out a free lifejacket clinic, contact John McKenna at [email protected]

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - Shore angler Colm Plunkett, who credits his lifejacket with saving his life after he was swept into the sea earlier this year, is supporting a water safety campaign launched this week by the RNLI throughout Ireland and the UK.

Plunkett and the RNLI are urging all shore anglers to wear a lifejacket, which could buy them vital time should they end up in the water unexpectedly.

Between 2010 and 2014 there were 29 anglers rescued while fishing from rocks or the shoreline in Ireland and the charity’s lifeboats were launched 43 times to shore angling callouts.

According to research conducted by the RNLI, only 10% of shore anglers wear lifejackets. Yet an expert casualty review panel found that 81% of the fatalities reviewed between 2007 and 2013 could have been prevented had the casualties been wearing lifejackets.

The safety campaign advises: ‘Don’t be an amateur – wear a lifejacket.’

Irish angler Colm Plunkett is one of those who chose to wear his lifejacket – a decision which ultimately saved his life after he was swept from rocks while fishing at Dursey Sound on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork in August this year.

Plunkett and his daughter Orlaith are backing the campaign and have shared their story with the RNLI for the campaign.

"I was fishing when a rogue wave washed me into the sea," he recounts. "I spent the next 55 minutes fighting for my life. Fortunately I was with my 16-year-old daughter, who immediately called the coastguard. Upon entering the water my lifejacket automatically inflated and kept me on the surface of the sea.

"For the first 15 to 20 minutes I was swept by the current out to sea. I spent 30 minutes or so fighting to get air into my lungs while spitting sea water out of my mouth; as the waves broke over my head and the water ran down my face.

"Much to my relief, the current then pushed me back towards the land and to calmer waters. My state of exhaustion and oncoming hypothermia prevented me from reaching the shore but my daughter shouted to me that help was on the way and, for the first time my spirits rose."

Ten minutes later, he recalls, the inshore rescue boat from Derrynane, Co Kerry reached him. "I was brought to shore with a life-threatening low temperature and was taken to hospital by helicopter for further assessment and treatment.

"I am here solely because I wear a lifejacket. If you are not wearing a lifejacket, you are as good as dead."

There are some simple steps anglers can follow to keep themselves safe:

  • If fishing from the shoreline, wear a lifejacket.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Carry a means of calling for help.

The campaign forms part of the RNLI’s work to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

Published in Water Safety

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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