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Displaying items by tag: Inland Fisheries Ireland

2nd September 2011

Welcome Boon for the River Moy

The New York Times recently paid a visit to the River Moy in Co Sligo, where angling has experienced a resurgance in recent years.
Since the ban on drift netting off Irish shores in 2007, salmon numbers in the Moy have risen to 75,000 annually, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland.
It's a welcome boon for the River Moy, which also suffered the effects of dregding for agricultural purposes in the 1960s which "cripped much of the integrity of the river’s substrata away, creating the equivalent of a featureless canal through much of its course."
Weirs and spawning gravel in tributary streams have helped the Moy to recover some of its former glory, and the river now welcomes thousands of anglers each year - especially to the top spots in Ballina town centre.
The New York Times has more on the story HERE.

The New York Times recently paid a visit to the River Moy in Co Sligo, where angling has experienced a resurgance in recent years.

Since the ban on drift netting off Irish shores in 2007, salmon numbers in the Moy have risen to 75,000 annually, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland.

It's a welcome boon for the River Moy, which also suffered the effects of dregding for agricultural purposes in the 1960s which "cripped much of the integrity of the river’s substrata away, creating the equivalent of a featureless canal through much of its course."

Weirs and spawning gravel in tributary streams have helped the Moy to recover some of its former glory, and the river now welcomes thousands of anglers each year - especially to the top spots in Ballina town centre.

The New York Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Some 17 projects have been approved for funding under the Salmon Conservation Fund, The Irish Times reports.
The pilot scheme by Inland Fisheries Ireland is designed to help angling clubs and fishery owners restore salmon stocks in Ireland's rivers.
The successful applicants across 11 counties will receive a share from more than €120,000 derived from salmon licence-holder contributions.
Accepted projects include spawning enhancement, bank protection, fish passage and habitat improvement. Priority was given to rivers below conservation limits.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Some 17 projects have been approved for funding under the Salmon Conservation Fund, The Irish Times reports.

The pilot scheme by Inland Fisheries Ireland is designed to help angling clubs and fishery owners restore salmon stocks in Ireland's rivers.

The successful applicants across 11 counties will receive a share from more than €120,000 derived from salmon licence-holder contributions.

Accepted projects include spawning enhancement, bank protection, fish passage and habitat improvement. Priority was given to rivers below conservation limits. 

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Pupils at Donard National School fended off competition from across Ireland to win a coveted prize in the Inland Fisheries Ireland 'Something Fishy' competition for 2011, the New Ross Standard reports.
Wexford footballer Brian Malone presented fifth and sixth class pupils at Donard NS with goodie bags and an award for their entry 'Something Fishy - The Musical', which features songs and dances about the ecosystem of their local River Boro.
Dr Ciaran Byrne, IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne, who was on hand at the prizegiving ceremony at the Wexford Education Centre in Enniscorthy, commented on all entrants: “You guys are the caretakers of this environment and if you take this message with you today we will have a much better environment in 20 years’ time.”
More than 160 schools and 7,000 children took part this year in the 'Something Fishy' initiative, which is now in its sixth year of encouraging primary schoolchildren to explore different aspects of fish life.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Pupils at Donard National School fended off competition from across Ireland to win a coveted prize in the Inland Fisheries Ireland 'Something Fishy' competition for 2011, the New Ross Standard reports.

Wexford footballer Brian Malone presented fifth and sixth class pupils at Donard NS with goodie bags and an award for their entry 'Something Fishy - The Musical', which features songs and dances about the ecosystem of their local River Boro.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne, who was on hand at the prizegiving ceremony at the Wexford Education Centre in Enniscorthy, commented on all entrants: “You guys are the caretakers of this environment and if you take this message with you today we will have a much better environment in 20 years’ time.”

More than 160 schools and 7,000 children took part this year in the 'Something Fishy' initiative, which is now in its sixth year of encouraging primary schoolchildren to explore different aspects of fish life. 

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Minister for Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has announced plans to reopen licensed commercial fishing in Castlemaine Harbour in Co Kerry, following the results of last year's pilot fishery.
“I am satisfied, based on scientific and fishery management advice... that it is safe to reopen this fishery under closely controlled conditions," said Minister Rabbitte. "The trial fishing conducted in the harbour last year establishes that this can be done without impinging on threatened stocks."
A statutory 30-day public consultation has now commenced on the required amendment to the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme 2011 to provide for the fishery's reopening.
"The consultation period will give those who disagree with that conclusion to put forward their views and I will pay close attention to what they say before reaching a final conclusion on the matter," the minister added.
Minister Rabbitte has also tasked Inland Fisheries Ireland with ensuring full enforcement of relevant quotas and conservation by-laws.

Minister for Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has announced plans to reopen licensed commercial fishing in Castlemaine Harbour in Co Kerry, following the results of last year's pilot fishery.   

“I am satisfied, based on scientific and fishery management advice... that it is safe to reopen this fishery under closely controlled conditions," said Minister Rabbitte. "The trial fishing conducted in the harbour last year establishes that this can be done without impinging on threatened stocks."

A statutory 30-day public consultation has now commenced on the required amendment to the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme 2011 to provide for the fishery's reopening.  

"The consultation period will give those who disagree with that conclusion to put forward their views and I will pay close attention to what they say before reaching a final conclusion on the matter," the minister added.

Minister Rabbitte has also tasked Inland Fisheries Ireland with ensuring full enforcement of relevant quotas and conservation by-laws.

Published in Fishing
Inland Fisheries Ireland has implemented 'no dip no draw' policy to prevent the spread of invasive species in Ireland's inland waters.
The policy, developed by the Irish Angling Development Alliance and endorsed by all affiliated clubs, aims to prevent Irish rivers and lakes coming in to contact with "a wide range of aquatic species of pathigens that could prove harmful to our game, coarse and pike fisheries" and which could "easily and inadvertently be introduced to Irish watercourses through contamination of angling equipment and associated gear".
As a result, disinfection prior to events for any and all angling equipment or tackle that comes into direct contact with fish or water is mandatory.
The IFI provides details for anglers and competition organisers regarding best procedure for implementing the policy in its Code of Practice, currently available online HERE.

Inland Fisheries Ireland has implemented 'no dip no draw' policy for competitive angling to prevent the spread of invasive species in Ireland's inland waters.

The policy, developed by the Irish Angling Development Alliance and endorsed by all affiliated clubs, aims to prevent Irish rivers and lakes coming in to contact with "a wide range of aquatic species of pathigens that could prove harmful to our game, coarse and pike fisheries" and which could "easily and inadvertently be introduced to Irish watercourses through contamination of angling equipment and associated gear".

As a result, disinfection prior to events for any and all angling equipment or tackle that comes into direct contact with fish or water is mandatory.

The IFI provides details for anglers and competition organisers regarding best procedure for implementing the policy in its Code of Practice, currently available online HERE.

Published in Angling
Scientists have expressed disappointment after the publication of a report into strategies for improved pest control in Ireland's salmon farms.
According to The Irish Times, experts from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) said the findings of the National Implementation Group were "insufficient to protect wild salmon and sea trout".
The report highlighted failures among a number of sites in the west of Ireland in controlling sea lice during the crucial spring period.
IFI says it is "a matter of priority" to review the location of salmon farms to ensure the protection of wild salmon and sea trout "while also meeting the needs of the commercial fish farm sector".

Scientists have expressed disappointment after the publication of a report into strategies for improved pest control in Ireland's salmon farms.

According to The Irish Times, experts from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) said the findings of the National Implementation Group were "insufficient to protect wild salmon and sea trout".

The report highlighted failures among a number of sites in the west of Ireland in controlling sea lice during the crucial spring period.

IFI says it is "a matter of priority" to review the location of salmon farms to ensure the protection of wild salmon and sea trout "while also meeting the needs of the commercial fish farm sector".

Published in Fishing

The Minister for Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan T.D., has approved a suite of regulations and bye-laws that will govern the wild salmon fishery in 2011. These will come into effect from Friday, 1 January 2011.

On receipt of management and scientific advice on the current status of Irish salmon stocks from Inland Fisheries Ireland and having considered submissions received through the public consultation exercise, the Minister of State introduced conservation measures for the management of the wild salmon and sea trout fishery in 2011.

Having signed the regulations and bye-laws the Minister remarked:
"I am cautiously optimistic about our native salmon stocks given the performance of stocks over recent years. The 2011 season will see 20 rivers which were closed in 2010 being opened because of an improvement in salmon stocks. 5 rivers which were previously closed for fishing, the Castletown, Suir, Glenamoy, Kerry Blackwater and Eske, will open with an identified surplus number of fish for harvest. 18 additional rivers will be open to angling on a "catch & release" basis."

"My caution is founded on the knowledge that 3 rivers which previously had been open will be closed on conservation grounds in 2011 (the Sheen, Screebe and Srahmore)", added the Natural Resources Minister.

In all the Standing Scientific Committee assessed 141 rivers and have advised that:-
·         52 rivers are open as a surplus of fish has been identified in these rivers (i.e. 2 more than in 2010);
·         29 rivers have been classified as open for "Catch and Release" only (i.e. 18 more than 2010 (see list below); and
·         60 rivers are closed as they have no surplus of fish available for harvest in them (i.e. 20 less than 2010).

The Minister also announced that in 2011 the cost of a one-day salmon angling licence (often used by tourist anglers) will be reduced by €12 (37.5%) on the recommendation of Inland Fisheries Ireland. "The purpose of the initiative is to give as much encouragement as possible to visiting tourist anglers to come to Ireland and experience the excellent game angling product being developed around our improving stocks" said Minister Lenihan.

With the exception of a proposed change to the number of blue (angling) tags applicable to a one-day salmon licence holder, the Wild Salmon and Sea trout Tagging Scheme Regulations for 2011 are in essence unchanged from the Regulations which were introduced following the establishment of Inland Fisheries Ireland in July, 2010. A number of minor amendments to the Regulations, recommended by Inland Fisheries Ireland, will provide for more effective administration of the tagging scheme regulations in 2011.

Summary of main changes to the management of the wild salmon fishery in 2011

 

19 Rivers which were closed in 2010 will open for angling on a "catch & release" basis in 2011:-
Ø      Glyde (Dundalk fishery district)
Ø      Slaney (Wexford fishery district) (note; river is closed until 12 May 2011)
Ø      Bride (Lismore fishery district)
Ø      Glengariff, Adrigole (Cork fishery district)
Ø      Kealincha, Lough Fada, Behy, Owenascaul, Milltown, Feohanagh (Kerry fishery district)
Ø      Grange (Sligo fishery district)
Ø      Oily, Owenwee (Yellow River) (Ballyshannon fishery district)
Ø      Bracky, Glenna, Tullaghobegley, Ray, Glenagannon (Letterkenny fishery district).

5 Rivers which were "catch & release" in 2010 and will open for harvest in 2011
Castletown (Dundalk fishery district)
Suir (Waterford fishery district)
Kerry Blackwater (Kerry fishery district)
Glenamoy (Bangor fishery district)
Eske (Ballyshannon fishery district)

3 Rivers which were open in 2010 will be limited to "catch & release" in 2011
Sheen (Kerry fishery district)
Screebe (Connemara fishery district)
Srahmore (Bangor fishery district).

8 Statutory instruments/Bye-Laws give effect to the decisions made by the Minister of State for management of the salmon fishery in 2011:

Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (No. 2) Regulations, 2010 provide for, among other things, the total allowable catch of fish that can be harvested by commercial fishing engines and rod and line from identified rivers.

Salmon Rod Ordinary Licences (Alteration of Licence Duties) Order 2010 and Special Tidal Waters (Special Local Licences) (Alteration of Duties) Order 2010: prescribe the licence fees payable from 1 January 2011.
Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Catch and Release) Bye-law No. 873, 2010:  specifies the rivers in which angling is permitted on a catch and release basis and associated conditions.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Bag Limits) Bye-law No. 874, 2010: provides for the annual, season and daily bag limits for the 2011 season and also provides for fishing methods.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Closed Rivers) Bye-law No. C.S. 306, 2010: prohibits angling for salmon and sea trout over 40cm in specified rivers.

The following bye-laws make provisions in relation to specific rivers:

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Newport River) Bye-law No. 875, 2010.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Bandon) Bye-Law No. 876, 2010.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Garvogue River) Bye-Law No. 877, 2010

 

Published in Angling
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has launched a new online atlas of freshwater fish in Irish lakes.
Produced in collaboration with Inland Fisheries Ireland, the website features has a species search tool that gives access to detailed data and images for 23 freshwater fish species found in Irish lakes.
The lake browser tool also allows users to see what species were recorded where in 956 lakes across the country.
Not only a useful educational tool, the site could prove particularly useful for anglers looking for the perfect catch.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has launched a new online atlas of freshwater fish in Irish lakes.

Produced in collaboration with Inland waterways Fisheries Ireland, the website features has a species search tool that gives access to detailed data and images for 23 freshwater fish species found in Irish lakes. 

The lake browser tool also allows users to see what species were recorded where in 956 lakes across the country.

Not only a useful educational tool, the site could prove particularly useful for anglers looking for the perfect catch.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Minister for Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan, has announced the start of a 30 day public consultation process on the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme Regulations for the 2011 season.

Regulations are made each year, after public consultation, for the management of the wild salmon and sea trout fishery, based on the scientific and management advice provided to the Minister by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

In launching the public consultation process the Minister remarked,

"The 2011 season will see 20 rivers which were closed in 2010 being opened because of an improvement in salmon stocks. Nineteen rivers will be open to angling on a 'catch & release' basis and 4 rivers which were previously closed, Castletown, Suir, Glenamoy and Eske will open with an identified surplus number of fish for harvest."

In all the Salmon Standing Scientific Committee assessed 141 rivers and have advised that:-
· 51 rivers are open (a surplus of fish has been identified in these rivers) i.e. 1 more than in 2010
· 30 rivers have been classified as open for "Catch and Release" only i.e. 19 more than 2010 (see list below) and
· 60 rivers are closed (no surplus of fish available for harvest) i.e. 20 less than 2010.

With the exception of a proposed change to the number of blue (angling) tags applicable to a one day salmon licence holder, the draft Tagging Scheme Regulations for 2011 are in essence unchanged from the Regulations which were introduced following the establishment of Inland Fisheries Ireland in July, 2010.

A number of minor amendments to the Regulations have also been recommended by Inland Fisheries Ireland, which will provide for more effective administration of the tagging scheme regulations in 2011.

Summary of main changes to the management of the wild salmon fishery in 2011

20 Rivers which were closed in 2010 will open for angling on a "catch & release" basis in 2011:-

Glyde (Dundalk fishery district)
Slaney (Wexford fishery district) (note; river is closed until 12 May 2011)
Bride (Lismore fishery district)
Glengariff, Adrigole (Cork fishery district)
Kealincha, Lough Fada, Blackwater, Behy, Owenascaul, Milltown, Feohanagh
(Kerry fishery district)
Grange (Sligo fishery district)
Oily, Owenwee (yellow river) (Ballyshannon fishery district|)
Bracky, Glenna, Tullaghobegley, Ray, Glenagannon (Letterkenny fishery district).

4 Rivers which were "catch & release" in 2010 and will open for harvest in 2011 Castletown (Dundalk fishery district)
Suir (Waterford fishery district)
Glenamoy (Bangor fishery district)
Eske (Ballyshannon fishery district).

3 Rivers which were open in 2010 will be limited to "catch & release" in 2011
Sheen (Kerry fishery district)
Screebe (Connemara fishery district)
Srahmore (Bangor fishery district).

The Minister is giving statutory notice of his intention to make the Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (No. 2) Regulations, 2010 to provide for the management of the wild salmon and sea trout fishery by Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2011 following the 30 day public consultation.

Any person may submit objections to the draft regulations at any time during the period of 30 days commencing on 20 November 2010 either in writing to the Department or by e-mail to [email protected]

Details of the conservation proposals for 2011 and the draft regulations are available on the Department's website http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Natural/Inland+Fisheries+Division/Consultation+Process+Wild+Salmon+and+Sea+Trout+Tagging+Scheme+Regulations+for+2011+fishing+season.htm

Published in Angling

Minister for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan heralded the establishment of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) today as an “historic development in the way we protect, conserve and develop our nationally important inland fisheries resource”. The IFI replaces 17 bodies formerly involved in the management of the resource and is fully operational as of today. 

 

The establishment of IFI is an important milestone in delivering a new approach in the management of the inland fisheries sector. The Minister stressed his determination as Minister to effect change where this is needed. He said “We need a structure and organisation fit for purpose in the 21st Century. IFI will build on the achievements of the past, but with the strategic focus and organisation necessary to deal with the challenges facing the sector in the future in the context of the reform of the public sector as a whole”

 

The replacement of the Central and seven Regional Fisheries Boards, the National Salmon Commission and the eight Fisheries Co-operative Societies with IFI is in keeping with the Government programme for the rationalisation of State bodies.

The Minister observed “By contrast with the previous situation, where there were over 150 board members overseeing the management of the sector, in establishing IFI, I have put in place a small focused nine member board, which will be better able to adopt a much needed high level approach to strategic issues. It will also provide effective and efficient stewardship of IFI.” 

Minister Lenihan emphasised “There are no additional Exchequer costs associated with the establishment of IFI. On the contrary, I am eliminating multiple agencies, creating a tight focused board, and in line with the McCarthy report recommendation, IFI will be charged with delivering its tasks with an already reduced budget.”

With in excess of 70,000 km of rivers and streams and 144,480 hectares of lakes, over 400 staff are currently employed by the fisheries boards in managing and protecting this resource. The staffing needs of the new structure will be met through existing resources and, in keeping with the Government’s commitment to optimise the use of resources, there will be no increase in the overall staff numbers in the inland fisheries service.

The Minister said “From the outset IFI will have a clear focus on efficiency and value for money and an obligation to identify areas where there is potential for additional savings. This will be achieved though the better use of existing resources and opportunities to eliminate duplication by reason of the replacement of the 8 Boards previously involved in the management of our fisheries resource with a single national authority.”

The Minister stated that it would be difficult to quantify at this early juncture the anticipated savings for the establishment of the national authority at present as they will occur over time but it is expected that costs will be reduced and savings will be delivered. The budget for the sector for 2010 has already been reduced by over €2 million. 

There has been a significant change in the approach in which the national fisheries resource is managed. This recognises the complex interplay of habitats and species, and ecological biodiversity and the further changes that are expected. The establishment of IFI will enhance the State’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to these challenges. 

The Minister stated “I am determined that every opportunity must be availed of to effect economies and attain efficiencies from within the system to deliver further value for money against the significant Exchequer investment in this resource. That said I am also equally determined to safeguard the inland fisheries resource in the face of the very significant challenges it faces.” 

The Minister again expressed his appreciation for the dedication and commitment to our inland fisheries resources shown by all of those who served on the former Fisheries Boards and said he was confident that they will continue to contribute to the management and development of the sector in the future in the national interest.


Published in Angling
Page 25 of 25

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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