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A fisheries science partnership previously touted as a ‘game changer’ in the field of marine food is developing new health supplement based on fish protein from blue whiting.

Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland (BII) is preparing to begin clinical trials of its soluble protein hydrolysate power, which it’s hoped could improve muscular health among the elderly.

“We are one of the first companies globally to take under-utilised raw fish materials and transform them into powders suited to applications for human nutrition,” said Dr Snehal Gite, senior research and development technologist.

“At BII, we are processing a low-value blue whiting fish into a high value nutritional ingredient which could offer enormous benefits for skeletal health in older people.

“The outcome of this research project could see BII enter a valuable global market, which will ultimately benefit Irish fishermen, industry and the associated supply chain.”

Research on this potentially health-boosting supplement is featured in this week’s Oceans of Learning series from the Marine Institute, which looks at the ocean and its connection to human health and wellbeing.

The work of the National Marine Biodiscovery Laboratory of Ireland (NMBLI) is also in focus, as a number of new natural products with potentially powerful properties have been found in Ireland’s waters in recent years.

“Our ocean could offer a treasure trove of cures,” said Joe Silke, director of marine environment food and safety Services at the Marine Institute.

“With so much of our marine habitats yet to be explored, and an ever-changing marine environment … Ireland’s ocean wealth is still to be uncovered.”

Videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources are available from the Our Ocean: Our Health and Wellbeing portal on the Marine Institute website.

Published in Fishing

The International J/24 Class Association has agreed with the Italian Federation of Sailing to cancel the 2020 J/24 European Championship, which had been scheduled for 29 April to 5 May 2020 at Porto San Rocco near Trieste in Italy.

“After consulting the members of the organising committee and the J/24 class, cancelling the European Championship is the responsible and wise decision to make at this time,” said Roberto Sponza, 2020 J/24 European Championship event chairperson.

As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, all sailing events in Italy have been suspended until Friday 3 April as the country enforces strict measures to control the spread of the virus.

“At this time, we must confront the possibility that these restrictions within Italy could be extended or ended,” said Sponza. “Other European governments may impose similar restrictions on travel in the near future.

“All these restrictions have impact on the competitors who have registered for this year’s European Championship.”

The cancellation will also apply to the 2020 Italian Open National Championship scheduled for May 28-June 2 at Porto San Rocco.

All eyes are now on the World Cup Series event in Genoa, which is expected to begin on Sunday 12 April and represents the final opportunity for Irish sailors and others to grab a spot at Tokyo 2020.

Irish citizens are among the hundreds of passengers quarantined on a cruise liner in Japan amid the coronavirus epidemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.

According to RTÉ News, 454 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the Diamond Princess, with a further 99 testing positive for the virus.

The British ship had 3,700 passengers and crew on board when it was initially detained by Japanese authorities in Yokohama on 4 February.

The United States has already evacuated more than 300 citizens and their family from the ocean liner, with 14 positive readings for the virus among them. RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, here the HSE has instituted a new reporting protocol for ships entering Irish ports over the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,700 people in China and a small number abroad.

A postgraduate researcher is investigating the biotoxin production potential of Azadinium and related species in Irish waters, particularly in estuaries used for shellfish aquaculture such as Killary Harbour and Bantry Bay.

Stephen McGirr — a PhD candidate at the Institute of Technology Sligo and a Cullen Fellow at the Marine Institute — is studying Azadinium, a planktonic single-celled plant that lives in marine waters around Ireland.

Under certain conditions, Azadinium produces biotoxins which can build up in shellfish that feed on them. If eaten by humans, this can lead to shellfish poisoning.

Understanding more about the biology of this species would help both the shellfish aquaculture industry and protect human health.

“The genus Azadinium was first linked to incidents of shellfish poisoning in the 1990s and both toxic and non-toxic forms of the Azadinium species have since been identified in Irish waters,” McGirr says.

“More knowledge of the biology of the species is needed to support monitoring efforts currently underway to assist the aquaculture industry.”

Ireland’s aquaculture industry employed 1,925 people on 288 aquaculture production units, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s Business of Seafood Report 2018. In 2018 it is estimated that Ireland produced 24,200 tonnes of farmed shellfish valued at €56 million.

“Aquaculture is a valuable industry to our national economy as well as for many of Ireland's coastal communities,” McGirr adds.

“The closure of aquaculture production sites due to biotoxins produced by organisms such as Azadinium impacts the industry and can also be detrimental to local economies.”

Stephen’s research supports the Marine Institute's National Phytoplanton Monitoring Programme, which monitors phytoplankton populations and dynamics around the Irish coastline.

‘Aquaculture is a valuable industry to our national economy as well as for many of Ireland's coastal communities’

McGirr says the Marine Institute’s Cullen Fellowship Programme is giving him the opportunity to learn and develop his skillset, working alongside scientists who are experts in their field, as well as gaining hands-on experience using state-of-the art equipment in the Institute's laboratories.

“I have joined two surveys on the RV Celtic Voyager along the south and western coastline of Ireland to collect both water column and sediment samples for our analyses.

“I have also presented my research at international conferences, including the International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety held in Galway and the International Conference on Harmful Algae, held in Nantes, France.”

McGirr is currently focusing his efforts on translating the product of his research into articles for peer-reviewed scientific journals. His research supervisors are Joe Silke, Marine Institute and Dr Nicolas Touzet, IT Sligo.

The Cullen Fellowship Programme builds marine research capacity and capability by equipping graduates with the skills and expertise in raising awareness about our ocean, as well as Ireland's rich marine biodiversity and ecosystems.

The programme has provided grant aid to the value of €2.06 million supporting 24 PhD and three MSc students over the last five years. The research addresses a number of the 15 research themes identified in the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021.

This project (Grant-Aid Agreement No CF/15/01) is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.

Published in Marine Science

More than 90 shellfish producers and processors, scientists, agencies and stakeholders attended the 11th Shellfish Safety Workshop earlier this month to discuss the latest advances in the field in Ireland.

The workshop, which took place on Tuesday 8 October in the Radisson Blu Hotel Athlone, was hosted by the Marine Institute and co-sponsors Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

The event offered an opportunity to exchange information on the latest research and information on the cause and control of shellfish products harvested and farmed around Ireland's coast.

Speakers included Dr Conor Graham, of GMIT Marine and the Freshwater Research Centre, on the development of the world’s first scientific-based shellfish traceability tool, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Other speakers included Dr Monika Dhanji Rapkova, of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, on the learnings on regulated and emerging biotoxins in British shellfish.

Dr Eileen Bresnan (Marine Scotland Science) presented a talk on the regional distribution of harmful algal events in North Atlantic Area. Dave Clarke of the Marine Institute also talked about the insights and perspectives on monitoring algal and biotoxin events in Irish coastal waters from the past 20 years.

Micheál O'Mahony of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority presented on the recently published European baseline survey of norovirus in oysters, while Dr Sinéad Keaveney (Marine Institute) discussed the survey in the Irish context.

There were also a series of flash presentations from representatives of the Marine Institute, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin City University, Sligo Institute of Technology and Health Services Executive.

The proceedings of the workshop are currently being compiled for publication and in the coming weeks will be available for download from the Marine Institute’s Open Access Repository.

Published in Marine Science

Waterways Ireland have been notified by the HSE of a number of cases of Leptospirosis reported recently following exposure to the water on the Royal Canal in North Dublin.

Individuals are instructed not to engage in swimming, diving or immersive activity such as deliberate capsizing in the waterway pending further advisory.

Any facilities/activity providers are also requested to ensure, to the best of their ability, that clients do not engage in the same activities.

The HSE further advises all individuals partaking in watersport (and in turn for activity providers to advise their clients) of the risk, which is small but real, of acquiring Leptospirosis from water-based activities.

Persons with symptoms (a flu-like illness) within a three-week period after engaging in a water-based activity should seek medical attention immediately, mentioning any watercourse exposure.

Further information on Leptospirosis is available from the HSE website. Other enquiries can be directed to [email protected] or by contacting the Waterways Ireland Communications Office on 071-9650787.

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection frequently found both in domestic and wild animals, which can spread to humans. Leptospirosis in Ireland is usually picked up from rats. The infection is spread through contact with rats, or rat urine generally.

Leptospirosis is a recreational hazard for those who participate in outdoor sports in contaminated areas and has been associated with water sports.

Occupations at risk would include veterinary surgeons, farmers, meat inspectors, butchers, abattoir and sewer workers.

High-risk water includes stagnant, dirty-looking or obviously polluted fresh water found in ditches, drains, ponds, lakes or rivers. Sea water poses less risk.

What precautions should I take?

  • Do not go swimming or boating in water which is known to be or obviously polluted.
  • Cover any cuts or abrasions with a waterproof dressing while swimming or canoeing.
  • Shower thoroughly as soon as possible following water activities.
  • Make sure the sporting clothing you wear minimises your contact with water.
  • Wash your hands after water activity, handling any animal or contaminated clothing and always before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Clean any cuts acquired during swimming, fishing or other near-water activities. Apply first aid as soon as possible.
    Rinsing dogs who have been swimming in high risk water reduces the risk of infection.
  • High-risk workers should always wear their personal protective equipment and clothing at all times when in high risk situations.
  • If you get a flu-like illness within a three-week period after engaging in any of these activities you should visit your doctor immediately, and tell her or him of your concerns and possible exposure to dirty or stagnant water.
Published in Inland Waterways

A woman is appealing for help to bring her fiancé back home to Canada after he was paralysed following a diving incident at the Lusitania wreck last month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a man was airlifted to hospital and later transferred to University Hospital Galway’s specialist decompression unit after he took ill during a diving expedition at the wreck site off the Old Head of Kinsale.

It’s since emerged that the casualty, James (Kim) Martin, was left with near total paralysis in the aftermath of the incident on Thursday 8 August.

According to The Irish Times, the experienced diver had been due to marry Kristin Chadwick the week after his trip to Ireland. Chadwick first learned of what happened to her fiancé via an online news search.

Within days she was at his bedside and remained in Galway while Martin recovered from a number of serious complications. He is now able to communicate and has “limited use of his upper body” but needs a respirator to breathe.

Now Chadwick is trying to raise $100,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to being her partner back to Canada by air ambulance for long-term rehab.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
Tagged under

There was some disappointment for kitesurfer Eoghan Quinn as his attempt to ride the waves from France to Ireland yesterday (Sunday 30 June) ended prematurely when the wind dropped off Cornwall, just short of the halfway point.

But the 31-year-old, who has Type 1 diabetes and was taking on the challenge to raise funds for and awareness of Diabetes Ireland, arrived in Ballycotton on his support boat yesterday evening to a hero’s welcome.

“A lot of planning went into this but mother nature is the one thing we cannot control, but we achieved what we set out to do which was to raise awareness,” he told RTÉ News.

The route from France to Ireland through the Celtic Sea — dubbed the ‘Kitesurf Road’ — has never before been completed by kite and board.

Quinn had hoped to beat the Cherbourg-Rosslare ferry by crossing in under 16 hours.

Published in Kitesurfing

A Waterford man with Type 1 diabetes is currently kitesurfing over 275 miles of open water from France to Ireland today (Sunday 30 June) in aid of a charity supporting people with the disease.

Eoghan Quinn is attempting to race the Cherbourg-Rosslare ferry and cross the waves of the Celtic Sea in under 16 hours to raise funds for of Diabetes Ireland. (See his EverydayHero fundraising page HERE.)

It’s a route that’s never before been completed by a kitesurfer — and Eoghan will have the added complication of managing his blood glucose and insulin levels along the way.

But such challenges are nothing new to the 31-year-old kitesurfing champion, who has previously completed a 6,000km cycle to Gaza and a 1,000km ride from Melbourne to Sydney.

Diabetes Ireland has more on the story, and you can track Eoghan’s progress HERE.

Published in Kitesurfing

Big wave surfer Al Mennie talks to the Belfast Telegraph about how he keeps fit and healthy between his challenging surfing experiences.

In a candid Q&A, the Portrush surfer — who features in BBC Two NI show Tide this Sunday 16 June at 9.45pm — reveals the extent of the punishment he’s put his body through to ride the biggest swells.

“[From] surfing I have had broken ribs, have split my head open several times and have been concussed. I often think I’ve been very lucky.”

The “extreme” of this sportsman’s chosen field even extends to his diet — or rather, two diets.

“I eat very well and see myself as an athlete and need to fuel my body, but you will see me in a well-known fast food chain the odd time,” he says.

Perhaps understandably for someone who undertakes such a high-stakes endeavour, Mennie confesses he is “full on all the time”.

“Because I am a surfer, people think I must be chilled out — I am actually really far from being chilled out. At night I'm writing books or working on some sort of plan.”

Mennie’s book Overcome or Succumb was published last year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie. And the Belfast Telegraph has more on his story HERE.

In other surfing news, Dublin Gaelic football forward Ciaran Kilkenny tells the Irish Examiner how riding the waves had become a part of his fitness regimen.

“I generally try to go the day after a game, because you get a bit of a recovery in, too,” he says.

“Even for the head, it’s great to go to a place like Bundoran, or Strandhill or Lahinch, the sea breeze, it’s great to go down and get in the water and up on the board.”

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing
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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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