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Dublin Bay Old Gaffers’ Association invites all to join their next Zoom session on Shipwrecks Around Dublin Bay, which will be given by Cormac Lowth on Thursday 25th February at 20.00hrs.

Following on from his extremely popular talk on the loss of the Palme and the tragic demise of the Kingstown Lifeboat in 1895, the renowned maritime archaeologist and historian Cormac Lowth will talk on “Shipwrecks Around Dublin Bay.” Based on historical research, hydrographic surveys, underwater photography and data from his own diving expeditions, Cormac will reveal the stories behind many of the shipwrecks hidden under the waves of Dublin Bay and the nearby coast.

Only partially protected by the offshore shoals of the Bennet and Kish Banks, Dublin Bay has proved to be a graveyard for many ships. Closer inshore the Burford and Rosbeg Banks lie in wait for the unwary.

The sinking of the Queen Victoria

Cormac will describe the sinking of the Queen Victoria in 1853, the Tayleur on Lambay in 1854, the Vanguard in 1875, the Palme in 1895 and the Bolivar in 1947 to name but a few. If you are interested in Dublin Bay and marine archaeology you will not want to miss this talk.

Please be early to be sure of getting a good seat!

DBOGA Fundraising for HOWTH RNLI: Pre-Covid, DBOGA listened to talks together at Poolbegwhile passing the Yellow Welly around for your €5 lifeboat donation. In Zoom Land we can’t do that, but the RNLI urgently needs funds. Please click on: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/DBOGAHowthLifeboat. Thank you - we are nearly halfway to our target of €4,000.

The details of this Zoom meeting are:

• Topic: Cormac Lowth Talk
• Time: February 25th 2021, at 20.00hrs

Donate to RNLI here

Zoom Link here

Published in Dublin Bay
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The Irish Coast Guard rescued two swimmers after they ran into difficulty while swimming at the Forty Foot bathing place on Dublin Bay yesterday.

The incident occurred earlier today as the swimmers required help in the choppy sea. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour branch of the Coast Guard confirmed that one of the swimmers also required medical assistance.

Thankfully, all persons are understood to be ok.

Personnel from the National Ambulance Service, Dublin Fire Brigade, RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, and An Garda Síochána were required during the rescue operation.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said: "We have had two callouts this morning involving swimmers. Conditions are unsafe along our coastline and continue to be unsafe for the rest of the week due to strong easterly winds.

Published in Dublin Bay
3rd February 2021

Jimmy Fitzpatrick 1957-2021

One of Dublin Bay's great sailing characters Jimmy Fitzpatrick of the Royal Irish Yacht Club has sadly passed away.

A true corinthian of sailing Jimmy Fitz was very well known both here and abroad. While he sailed out of the Royal Irish, he could be spotted most seasons holding court on the balconies of all the waterfront clubs. He was on first-name terms with everyone. All who met or sailed with Jimmy would agree that a friendlier, considerate or more entertaining companion was hard to find. He had a deep raucous laugh that was not easily missed.

In honour of Jimmy's life, the flags of each of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, the Royal St. George Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club were flown at half-mast on the day of his funeral last Thursday, January 28.

Like many, he was bitten by the bug when introduced to sailing at the age of seven by his brother Richard. Jimmy later became a head instructor with the Royal Irish and the Royal St George and also instructed in the National Yacht Club alongside current Dublin Bay Sailing Club Commodore Ann Kirwan.

He attended the 50th-anniversary dinner of the N.Y.C. junior section organised by Carmel Winkelmann, where many stories of regattas in Mount Shannon and Rosslare were regaled. Jimmy was very much the Rodney Marsh of sailing, moments of brilliance on the water while partying hard onshore. He knew what it was like to cross the line first in a Dragon Gold Cup race. Win a Wednesday night Wag race. In the Fireball Nationals in Sligo in the early 80s, he beat Adrian and Maeve Bell to a race gun.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick at the helm of his Fireball on Dublin Bay in the 1980sJimmy Fitzpatrick at the helm of his Fireball on Dublin Bay (with Michael Blaney on the wire) in the 1980s

At the time the Bells were in the top three in the world, on crossing the line Jimmy jumped overboard to celebrate and later that night the husband and wife duo magnanimously presented Jimmy and crew Mick Blaney with a bottle of Champagne. Years later, Jimmy and Mick nearly divorced when Jimmy simultaneously put the mast through the floor of the boat and his dad's garage roof in a late post regatta parking manoeuvre. Jimmy co-skippered alongside Mark Mansfield, a boat sponsored by his employers AIB in the 1988 Round Ireland Race. In 2004, Jimmy's nephew Rory represented Ireland at the Olympics in Greece. Jimmy worked hard behind the scenes to help Rory gather funds for the campaign to get him qualified.

It was when Jimmy got to UCD that his real passion in sailing developed; it was Team Racing. Jimmy competed in hundreds of team racing events over the years. He won the colours match for U.C.D. three years in a row setting the platform for the Rhinos (Spike, Joe Blaney & Marto Byrne) to go win it for another three years after that. In the '80s Jimmy moved to London and his flat became a focal point for not only Irish team racers but all the UK teams. He guest-helmed for the Nottingham Outlaws at the Illingworth trophy organised by HMRN. At the time the Outlaws were one of the top teams in the UK He set up his own team of sailors based in London and called them the Wild Geese. It was never clear what the criteria for qualification were but an ability to party was essential. Jimmy even managed to get a few West Kirby sailors to sail with the Wild Geese when short on numbers.

While competing at the Wilson Trophy one year, West Kirby had decided to try something different and hired a top sports commentator from Radio Liverpool to do some commentary on the team racing on the lake. They even installed a stand beside the caravan where the commentator was based. After a few hours, not even one man and his dog was watching or listening to what was unfolding and to make matters worse, the poor commentator knew nothing about sailing. Toll Smith a grandee of WKSC saddled up to Jimmy who was holding court in the wet bar and asked if he would mind spending a few minutes with the commentator to give him a few pointers on the sport. After a short conversation, the commentator from Liverpool Radio suggested to Jimmy he has a go at commentating on the next race. He passed the microphone to Jimmy and as they say the rest is history. Four hours later, Jimmy emerged from the caravan to a standing ovation from a full stand and a big crowd all around the lake. Jimmy later went on to commentate on the team racing worlds held in the Royal St.George, on the Sydney Olympics with RTE and was also invited to commentate with Sky Sports on a fledging International 14ft circuit.

Team racing appealed to Jimmy because he loved the camaraderie and people loved being in his company. He was very involved in the hearings on whether Commercial Cruise Ships should be allowed enter Dun Laoghaire Harbour. In the last decade, Jimmy struggled with his mental health, and many in the sailing community did their best to help him through difficult times.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (third from right) sailing on Mick Blaney's (standing) 31.7 in the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: AfloatJimmy Fitzpatrick (third from right) sailing on Mick Blaney's (standing) 31.7 in the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: Afloat

Jimmy still managed to compete with Mick Blaney on his Beneteau 31.7 right up till racing was cancelled last July. Despite the pressures, he was going through his ability to spot a wind shift never left him. Jimmy would have been the first to point out that when we sail, we always take precautions for our own safety and that of our crew. So onshore let's not forget to take care of our mental safety and that of our friends.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick in his role as race officer for the Water Wags on Lough BodergJimmy Fitzpatrick in his role as race officer for the Water Wags on Lough Boderg

Team racing and Dublin Bay will be the poorer for the loss of the unbridled enthusiasm of Jimmy Fitz. He only had one speed, and that was full-on.

Fair winds my friend.

DS

More photo memories of Jimmy have been provided by his friends and family here

Published in Dublin Bay

Saturday's strong northeasterly winds that kicked up such a storm in the south of Dublin Bay (as our photos of the Dun Laoghaire baths site showed) also presented some ideal surf conditions for Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUPs) in the north-west of the Bay at the Shelley Banks at the Irishtown nature reserve.

Afloat reader Colm Boland sent us the images of a paddleboarder enjoying the wind and the waves in the capital's waters at the weekend. 

As Afloat reported in 2018, there can also be some good wave action in the north of the Bay at Dollymount Beach depending on wind direction and the arrival times of the cross channel ferries. 

Published in Surfing
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North Sails Ireland’s Maurice “Prof” O’Connell’s top ten tips talk to RIYC Members and guests pulled in the crowds with a record-breaking 105 attending.

Prof’s insights for racing in Dublin Bay ranged on how to gain maximum advantage through adequate preparation before going afloat, through to the start line to sail trim principles/set-up and key boat handling manoeuvres for rounding marks.

Prof brought the audience through Dublin Bay geography and topography, the DBSC course card design, logic, mark locations and geometry as well as Dublin Bay currents.

He talked through the importance of correct onboard communications and providing clear information fundamental to sailing the correct course.

Prof, who never misses a DBSC race with his customers unless he is out of the country, concluded with “Rules of Thumb” for Dublin Bay racers. The talk was part of the RIYC  “Home Together” series of virtual talks.

Published in North Sails Ireland

2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged. For the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part.

Lasers are proving to be a very versatile boat, especially in these turbulent times. Local active sailors range in age from teenagers as young as 13 right through to adults in their 50s and 60s. The fleet is also very well balanced between female and male sailors with both genders across the ages competing as equals, particularly in the Radial and 4.7 rigs.

"with the constant changes in COVID restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience"

Local class captain Brendan Hughes explained why there is an expectation of even bigger numbers in 2021; “We’ve seen interest in the fleet continue to grow especially amongst adults. Many of these already sail cruisers but with the constant changes in restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience. We’re the only large fleet that has been able to get out on the water in nearly all levels of lockdown.”

As a competitive single-hander, Hughes acknowledges that the Laser can be perceived by some as a challenging boat to sail. “In 20 knots, the Laser can be a challenge for sure! However, there has been a lot of effort put into training across Dun Laoghaire. Right throughout the year, there is coaching taking place for beginners and competitive sailors at both junior and adult level.” The increase in coaching availability over the past number of years is acknowledged by many new sailors as being critical in making this class more accessible.

Dublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan HughesDublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan Hughes

In addition, constant adjustments to racing formats have helped to ensure the Laser fleet remains vibrant. During 2020, the DBSC dinghy race officers introduced Saturday racing in addition to Tuesday evening racing for the Laser fleet. This proved to be extremely popular and the Laser fleet was eager to see this continued in 2021. The club has confirmed that the format will continue for the new season of the AIB DBSC Summer Series with the entry fee covering both Tuesdays and Saturdays for all sailors.

A number of headline events in 2021 taking place in Dublin Bay are expected to drive continued interest from new sailors. The Irish Laser Master Nationals event will be hosted in Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George Yacht Club from 12th -13th June. This event is open to all sailors over the age of 35 and the organisers expect to have 50+ boats from across the country participate.

A recent survey of local Laser sailors revealed that over 120 boats intend to participate in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta One Design Championship taking place 2nd - 4th July. “If even two-thirds of that number participate in this new format, it would be the largest one-design fleet on the water at this year’s event, which is very exciting.” says Hughes.

August sees the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4.7 World Championship coming to Dublin Bay. Local organisers are expecting several hundred youth sailors from across the globe to participate in this event. This event will be one of the biggest sailing events to take place in Ireland this year and is a great opportunity for our younger sailors to participate on the world stage.

Afloat also hears that planning has begun amongst the Masters fleet to send a delegation to Malta in November. EurILCA, the European Laser organisation is holding its Euro Masters Regatta at Royal Malta Yacht Club from 4th - 7th November.

With a mix of local, national and international Laser events taking place in Dublin Bay this summer, it sounds like another big year for the fleet. More information on Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire is available by emailing [email protected]

Published in DBSC
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Howth Lifeboat Station Community Safety Officer John McKenna has been awarded a long service medal by the RNLI.

In 2020, McKenna (73) reached a milestone: 21 years of volunteering for the RNLI and saving lives at sea. 

He has been telling the RNLI’s own magazine about his decision to join the RNLI in the first place, his role and how influencing people’s behaviour can be a skilful and powerful tool in lifesaving.

John works as part of a team of six in the Community Safety Team at Howth, one fo Ireland’s busiest stations.

“We all work together to educate and give free water safety advice to everyone who visits the coast in our local communities, from walkers to sailors. As the Community Safety Officer, I lead and help coordinate the team, he told the magazine.

Every lifeboat station has a Community Lifesaving Plan which identifies the most popular water activities within a community so that volunteers like me can give relevant water safety advice to those most at risk. 

John told the RNLI “ I was at sea in a big cargo ship on the night of 9 December 1981 when the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne and her crew perished. It was one hell of a night. We made a collection from all onboard and sent it to Penlee. The tragedy also inspired me to become an Offshore RNLI member. 

Then 14 years later, on 16 November 1995, I was driving home from Belfast after spending a week on a ferry as senior officer. As I was coming into Howth, I could hear a helicopter. I drove along the harbour and saw the trawler Scarlet Buccaneer being thrown up and down the harbour wall and the lifeboat crew trying to save the fishermen onboard. It was horrendous. There was a full gale blowing. The next day I saw the wreck of the Scarlet Buccaneer in two halves. Thankfully, the lifeboat crew managed to rescue all four fishermen but sadly one died on the way to the hospital. I decided there and then that if I ever got a shore job, I would become an RNLI volunteer.  

More of the interview with John McKenna is here

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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If you think that life is tough under the current pandemic, then the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association has just the thing to put current national and personal problems into perspective, with a comprehensively illustrated Zoom talk by noted maritime historian Cormac Lowth on the tragic Palme Shipwreck and the Dublin Bay Lifeboat Disaster of Christmas 1895.

On Christmas Eve 1895, the sailing ship 'Palme' was wrecked in Dublin Bay. A lifeboat from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour station set to try to rescue the crew of the wrecked ship.

The lifeboat overturned and all fifteen of the crew were lost, with Christmas Eve 2020 being the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy. It is essential that we remember the sacrifice of these heroic men in their attempt to save the lives of their fellow seamen, and to appreciate the efforts of lifeboat-men everywhere, who go out - whenever the call arises - to help those who are in peril on the sea.

Cormac F. Lowth with be giving a profusely illustrated and detailed account of the shipwreck and the tragic events that followed on Thursday, January 14th 2021 at 8.0pm – please check-in at 7.30 pm, clicking on this link to join the meeting.

Lifeboat donations can also be made here

Two of 2021's early-season cruiser-racer sailing fixtures on Dublin Bay are up in the air due to January's lockdown restrictions. 

A new ISORA 'Early Season Series' originally planned for this month was to continue the offshore's body's successful 2020 coastal racing out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. However, the current lockdown has put paid to those plans, leaving ISORA boss Peter Ryan to reschedule.

"We had planned for January but that's not going to happen. So, rather than cancel, we will reschedule those races into a potentially tighter programme as soon as possible", Ryan told Afloat.

The 2020 ISORA Coastal Series attracted a dozen or more entries and typically involved a race using virtual marks along the County Dublin and Wicklow coasts.

Ryan's offshore enterprise won him an end of the year gong. The NYC sailor took an Afloat Sailor of the Month Award in December for his success in staging an ISORA series in lockdown in 2020.

DBSC Spring Chicken

Meanwhile, following the total abandonment of its popular Turkey Shoot pre-Christmas event, the hope is that Dublin Bay Sailing Club will be in a position to run its Spring Chicken Series that starts traditionally in the first week of February. 

The series of six races are held on Sunday mornings and organised by DBSC attracting as many as 40 boats.

However, as COVID lockdown restrictions are set to continue nationally until January 30th, fears are that there is now every chance that restrictions could also impact DBSC's spring fixture too.

The popular Spring Chicken format features short, sharp races typically of around one hour in duration.

In a new year announcement, DBSC was named as 2021 Sailing Club of the Year for its achievements in keeping sailing going on Dublin Bay during the lockdown in 2020.

Published in ISORA
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Boaters in the capital's waters celebrated a bright but cold New Year's Day with several sailing cruisers taking a tack on Dublin Bay yesterday, empty except for three or four Dublin Port bound cargo ships moored in the southern bay anchorages.

There was some small dinghy activity too in and around Dun Laoghaire Harbour with a number of single-handed Laser sailors enjoying the chilly but good sailing breeze of ten to fifteen knots. 

Motorboats, including several RIBs and smaller sized runabouts, also took advantage of the winter sunshine and headed south from Dun Laoghaire Marina to nearby Dalkey Island for a quick spin, passing a steady stream of sea swimmers at the Forty-foot bathing place.

Boating Lockdown 

New Level 5 COVID-19 lockdown measures mean all organised sailing activity nationwide has been stopped.

In Dun Laoghaire, this led to the cancellation of DMYC's Christmas Cracker event and even January's RS Aero training at the National Yacht Club has been scrubbed in line with  Government guidelines.

Elite sport, however, is permitted and in sailing's case this is based at the Irish Sailing's High-Performance HQ but it is unclear how much training there will be at Dun Laoghaire with some of the squad scheduled for a critical winter camp in Portugal.

Live Dublin Bay webcam here

Published in Dublin Bay
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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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