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More than 1,000 fishing and aquaculture businesses in England will receive direct cash grants through a fisheries support scheme announced today (Friday 17 April).

The plans will see up to £9 million available for grants to eligible fishing (with vessels of under 24 metres) and aquaculture businesses.

A further £1 million will be made available to support projects to assist fishermen to sell their catch — including mainly export stocks such as hake, scallops and crab — in their local communities while traditional markets abroad and in the hospitality sector are restricted.

The support scheme, which will run for up to three months, intends to meet the immediate needs of the industry by helping English fishing and aquaculture businesses with their fixed costs such as such as insurance, equipment hire and port costs.

Details of the eligibility criteria and how funds will be administered will be revealed shortly by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

“This £10 million scheme will provide a lifeline for more than 1,000 fishing businesses so they can continue to maintain and operate their boats during this challenging time, which has seen falling prices and lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry,” said UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay MP, added: “Fishing is at the heart of many of England’s coastal communities — providing local jobs as well as valued produce to their communities and through exports around the world.

“Given the loss of trade particularly to restaurants as a result of Covid-19, this support will help fishing businesses weather the current challenges they face, and facilitate new growth in retail markets through innovative local distribution.”

MMO chief executive Tom McCormack said the organisation will “continue to engage with an listen to industry to ensure we’re supporting our fishing industry in the right ways”.

He also encouraged the seafood and fisheries sectors to apply for the existing support available for businesses, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.

Meanwhile, the UK Government is in talks with national fisheries authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exploring methods to reduce the regulatory burden on the fishing fleet. These measures will be agreed jointly by the fisheries administrations and announced in due course.

Published in Fishing
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Sailing clubs and centres in England are already beginning to benefit from the £22 billion grant and business rates package recently announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the RYA says.

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, such as RYA-affiliated sailing clubs and recognised training centres, will be eligible for a one-off grant payment dependant on their rateable value.

Those with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive £10,000 and those clubs with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a grant of £25,000.

Business rates in England have also been suspended for the next 12 months — though devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland set their own rates, and their measures if any may involve a reduction rather than a suspension.

It is understood that local authorities may be contacting businesses either via letter or by email this week. As the clubhouse is usually the registered business address for sailing clubs, this may cause a delay in receiving notification due to the current travel restrictions.

The RYA suggests that sailing clubs and training centres should contact their local authority and ask for any communication to be sent via email instead, or for any essential letters to be temporarily re-directed to a more convenient address.

Published in Scottish Waters

#COASTAL NOTES - BBC News reports that construction has begun on a new observation tower on the Lancashire coastline with views over the Irish Sea.

The new tower at Rossall Point, which will reach 14 metres (46ft) upon completion, will act as a base for the UK's National Coastwatch Institution.

A platform at the top will be open to the public providing ample vistas of the Irish Sea's marine wildlife for birdwatchers and more, while the view from the top will also be projected on a screen in the education centre to be located in the tower's ground floor.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The UK's Wildlife Trusts have launched a new website in an effort to redress the idea that the Irish Sea is "a dirty, lifeless" place.

As BBC News reports, the trusts' Cheryl Nicholson put down the Irish Sea's poor image, saying "nothing could be further from the truth".

"Our sea is home to so many amazing species and habitats," she added, "but sadly, after centuries of neglect, it is not in a good state. We must act now to protect the Irish Sea from the depths through to the coastal shallows."

The new website is part of a campaign by wildlife trusts throughout northwest England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man to establish 15 Marine Conservation Zones recommended for the area.

The zones, if officially designated, would provide "a haven for wildlife to recover and thrive", said Nicholson.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans to establish such zones in the Irish Sea have been shelved till 2013 at the earliest after pressure from fishermen, boaters and other groups.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#SURFING - Irish surfer Conor Maguire is one of the four new waveriders from the UK and Ireland to become part of the Northcore stable. In the vid below Maguire is mentioned at 2 minutes 11 seconds.

The Bundoran resident joins Sandy Kerr of Tynemouth, England, Craig Burrows of south Wales and Jersey's Charlotte Bayliss on the team heading into 2012.

The young surfer is already making a name for himself on the heavy waves of Ireland's northwest coast like the Peak, and regularly paddling into the meanest of Ireland's slabs such as Rileys.

Maguire is also starting to charge in the big swells, learning the tow-in craft from some of Ireland's most experienced big wave crews, including Northcore ambassador Richie Fitzgerald.

A Northcore spokesperson said of the recent additions: "Between them there's a huge amount of experience, style and skill. All of the riders are representing the very best of surfing talent from their respective home locations and all have achieved respect and recognition on a national scale."

Published in Surfing

#FISHING - Seafood lovers of Cumbria in north-west England have been urged to broaden their tastes to save depleted stocks of their favourite fish in the Irish Sea.

According to the News & Star, some 80% of Britons "insist upon eating just five types of fish – cod, tuna, salmon, prawn and haddock."

But the Cumbria Wildlife Trust says that with coastal waters facing the serious threat of overfishing, a rethink is needed among both consumers and suppliers alike.

“The Irish Sea has a wide range of edible fish species but you wouldn’t know it judging by the fish counters in supermarkets across the county," says Lindsay Sullivan of the trust's Wild Oceans project, an 18-month scheme that hopes to "turn the tide for seafood".

A big part of this is encouraging consumers to skip the usual white fish and try different species such as flounder, monkfish and red mulllet, creating demand for cheaper and more sustainable fishing.

The News & Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
The union representing coastguard staff in the UK has expressed its fears over the loss of air rescue services when a number of helicopters are transferred to Ireland next year.
Under CHC's €500m contract to provide search and rescue services for the Irish Coast Guard, four helicopters will be withdrawn from England and Scotland for redeployment in Ireland.
However, HeraldScotland reports that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has are no plans to replace these helicopters, which currently service Scotland's Isle of Lewis and Shetland Islands, as well as the Solent and Portland in England.
The recent collapse of the privatisation deal for UK search and rescue services has meant there is no new operator lined up to replace CHC.
Jeremy Gautrey of the PCS union said that the situation "has now potentially left the coastguard service stranded without the guarantee that it will have sufficient helicopters to carry out search-and-rescue operations when the current helicopters retire."
HeraldScotland has more on the story HERE.

The union representing coastguard staff in the UK has expressed its fears over the loss of air rescue services when a number of helicopters are transferred to Ireland next year.

Under CHC's €500m contract to provide search and rescue services for the Irish Coast Guard, four helicopters will be withdrawn from England and Scotland for redeployment in Ireland.

However, HeraldScotland reports that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has no plans to replace these helicopters, which separately service Scotland's Isle of Lewis and Shetland Islands as well as the Solent and Portland in England.

The recent collapse of the privatisation deal for UK search and rescue services has meant there is no new operator lined up to replace CHC.

Jeremy Gautrey of the PCS union said that the situation "has now potentially left the coastguard service stranded without the guarantee that it will have sufficient helicopters to carry out search-and-rescue operations when the current helicopters retire."

HeraldScotland has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
Proposals for ten potential conservation zones in the Irish Sea are earmarked in a second report released from the Irish Sea Conservation Zones project.

The area include the inshore waters of Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria and offshore waters of the Isle of Man, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. One of the zones is a 187 square km stretch of deep water between Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

In order to gain a greater understanding of the proposed zones, the report commissioned a Regional Stakeholder Group which drew from a diverse range of interests in the Irish Sea. Among the stakeholders included were the Royal Yachting Association, the fishing community and ports authorities. The review identified the size, shape and locations of the proposed 10 ten new Marine Conservation Zones. For the first time, the zones included inshore water of the Irish Sea project area as well as offshore.

"This is a real milestone for the project, with potential Marine Conservation Zones identified in both inshore and offshore waters", said Greg Whitfield, project manager at Irish Sea Conservation Zones.

"It is now really important that people take a look at the potential zones and give us their feedback on them. The better the information we have, the better the Marine Conservation Zones that are recommended by the regional stakeholder group will be."

Each of the marine conservation zones are designed to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats and geology. In addition they are designed to have the least impact possible on people's activities, but some restrictions will apply as the zones must meet guidelines for protecting species and habitats.

Members of the public are being invited to participate and will be considered as the second project continues to refine its proposals. The report is only a snapshot of the work so far. It does not contain concrete recommendations for the locations of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in the Irish Sea, and the potential zones shown in the report are described as tentative and liable to change.

The Irish Sea Conservation Zone project will be releasing a third report before the Regional Stakeholder Group finalises its recommendations. The reports are delivered to the Science Advisory Panel. The independent body is comprised of expert scientists whose main role is to evaluate the potential of MCZs against ecological criteria.

The third progress report will be made available in February 2011. Its final recommendations will then be presented to the UK government in June. Following that a formal public consultation on the proposed MCZs are to take place in late 2011 and early 2012.

For information on the Second Progress Report including feedback forms can be downloaded from HERE or by calling 00 44 (0)1925 813 200

Published in Marine Science

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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