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Displaying items by tag: Marine Insitute

Building on the success of last year’s Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) pilot programme, a bluefin tuna research catch-and-release fishery for Ireland will operate in 2020.

A maximum of 25 authorisations may be granted to qualifying angling charter vessel skippers around the Irish coast for this fishery which will open on Wednesday 1 July and close on Thursday 12 November, without exception.

And depending on the successful operation and review of this year’s fishery, it is intended that a scientific catch and release fishery may also operate in 2021 and 2022.

Atlantic bluefin tuna, the largest tuna in the world, frequent Irish coastal waters to feed during its annual migration through North Atlantic waters. The bluefin tuna is prized by sea anglers for its power and fighting ability and is a very valuable commercial species.

The Tuna CHART programme is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).

In 2019, the Tuna CHART pilot programme authorised 15 charter skippers to operate a scientific fishery, in which anglers participated fully, to catch, tag and release bluefin tuna.

These professional skippers were trained to tag, measure and record bluefin data and over the course of the 2019 three month season, 219 bluefin tuna were caught, tagged and released. As many as eight bluefin were tagged on one fishing trip.

All tuna were carefully handled subject to strict guidelines set by the Tuna CHART programme and all were released alive. Data from the tagging programme are being collated by the partnership for reporting to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

As with the pilot programme, this year’s authorised skippers will be required to have high specification rods, reels and line in advance of the open season in order to bring the fish alongside in a timely manner. Skippers will be required to collect data on every bluefin trip undertaken and each bluefin tuna they catch, tag and release.

A call for applications for the 2020 fishing season will be announced next Tuesday 18 February and the last date for the receipt of a completed application will be 1pm on Friday 6 March.

Published in Angling

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has paid tribute to outgoing Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan for the “phenomenal impact” he has had on Irish and international scientific research writes Lorna Siggins.

Dr Heffernan has been a “trailblazer, demanding political attention”, ensuring Ireland’s reputation as a global leader in the “international marine space”, Mr Coveney said.

Dr Heffernan, who is retiring after almost 27 years in the post, says that Ireland can play a key role in international monitoring of ocean health and impacts of climate change.

Speaking by video at an event in the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Galway on Wednesday, Mr Coveney said that he shared Dr Heffernan’s “passion for the sea and all things marine”.

“As minister for marine, planning and now foreign affairs, I can say that without Peter we wouldn’t have a Marine Institute,” Mr Coveney said.

He recalled how his father, the late Hugh Coveney, had spoken about Peter Heffernan during his own time as marine minister, and how he had also then experienced the scientist’s “extraordinary energy, drive and ambition”.

"Without Peter, we wouldn’t have a Marine Institute”

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting chief scientist Craig McLean and Minister for Marine Michael Creed also paid tribute to Dr Heffernan, while European Commission senior official John Bell highlighted his role in creating the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

Initiated in 2013, the alliance commits North America, Canada and the EU to a shared vision of the Atlantic as “healthy, resilient, safe, productive, understood and treasured”.

Under Dr Heffernan’s tenure, the Marine Institute established a headquarters in Galway and developed a marine research fleet – with plans to purchase a new 50m ship to replace the 31m Celtic Voyager.

Dr Heffernan said the changing climate’s impact on the oceans is now the “greatest global challenge”, which Ireland is well placed to monitor – with significant investment in monitoring technology, including the weather buoy network and gliders,

Dr Paul Connolly, who succeeds Dr Peter Heffernan, is a former president of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Up until recently, he was the director of the Marine Institute’s Fisheries and Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) team, providing scientific advice on the sustainable exploitation of Ireland’s fisheries resource and marine ecosystems.

Marine Institute chairman Dr John Killeen said that Dr Connolly “brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, and will be dedicated to positioning the institute as a global leader in ocean knowledge, and empowering Ireland to harness our marine resource”.

Dr Killeen said that Dr Heffernan had “played a fundamental role in developing Ireland’s ocean research capacity”, and “driving collaboration in marine research and innovation in Europe and internationally”.

Dr Heffernan has been selected as a member of the European Commission’s mission board for Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters.

The board is one of five major research missions of Horizon Europe, the EU Research and Innovation programme (2021 – 2027), and Dr Heffernan is one of two Irish appointees.

Published in Marine Science

Dr Paul Connolly has been announced as the Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Institute, Ireland’s state agency for marine research, technology development and innovation. The appointment follows the upcoming retirement of Dr Peter Heffernan after 27 years as CEO of the institute.

Dr Connolly is the current Director of Fisheries and Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) at the Marine Institute, leading a team of more than 80 scientists and staff to provide scientific advice on the sustainable exploitation of Ireland’s fisheries resource and marine ecosystems.

On the announcement Minister Creed said, “Our marine resource offers significant opportunities for Ireland in areas of research and innovation, the sustainable development of our blue economy, and ocean observation to prepare for the impacts of climate change. With Dr Connolly’s extensive experience in sustainable fisheries management, leading innovative and integrated research programmes and driving strategic collaborations nationally and internationally, the Marine Institute will continue to deliver excellent science, advice and technical support to government and industry.”

Dr Connolly said, “Over the next five years, I will be deeply committed to supporting a culture of high performance driven by our people, whose skills, experiences and passion for the marine are central to the work of the Marine Institute. These are very exciting times for ocean science, with the UN Decade of the Ocean beginning in 2021, the anticipated delivery of a new research vessel in 2022 and the need to address the challenges posed by a changing climate.”

Dr Connolly is a former president of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES); a network of 20 countries, which aims to advance scientific understanding of marine ecosystems and provides impartial scientific advice for meeting conservation, management, and sustainability goals.

He has chaired the quarterly meetings of the Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership (IFSRP) since it was established by the Minister in 2008. Dr Connolly led the development of the ICES Strategic Plan (2014-2018) which was adopted by 20 member countries, and worked closely with government, agencies and the Marine Institute team to develop Ireland’s integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. He also led the executive in developing the Marine Institute’s Strategic Plan, Building Ocean Knowledge Delivering Ocean Services (2018 - 2022).

Dr Connolly has a PhD from UCD (1986), an MBA from NUI Galway (2006) and completed the Timoney Advanced Leadership programme in 2016.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Seven successful applicants will be awarded funding under the Marine Institute’s SmartBay National Infrastructure Access Programme (NIAP) following the 2018/2019 funding call.

The awardees will receive support of around €25,000 per project to trial and validate their technology and/or gain access to data feeds to carry out scientific research at the SmartBay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site in Galway Bay.

The call was open to both academia and industry, and other relevant organisations, on the island of Ireland to access the SmartBay test site and subsea observatory.

The chosen organisations may deploy equipment on the test site, connect to and access the underwater observatory, and analyse the many data feeds which are collected on site every day.

Over the past seven years, more than 50 projects have been awarded funding, facilitating a wide range of multi-disciplinary marine research, development and innovation at this national facility, the Marine Institute says.

Welcoming the announcement, the institute’s outgoing chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said the funding awards “are aligned with the goals of the national Marine Research and Innovation Strategy 2017–2021”.

This year the following projects were awarded funding:

  • Dublin City University — Demystifying the ocean through underwater video analysis: marine life activity detection, classification and indexing for the SmartBay ocean observation platform
  • Sligo Institute of Technology — A small waterplane area twin hulled (SWATH) tide buoy with real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning for accurate (centimetre level) tide gauge calibration
  • Queen’s University Belfast — Can introduced marine infrastructure enhance the conservation of vulnerable species?
  • Dundalk Institute of Technology — Wave parameter estimation from oscillating water column pressure signal - Phase 2 electronic optimisation of the WASP
  • Galway Mayo Institute of Technology — Environmental DNA/RNA metabarcoding for monitoring marine biodiversity in Galway Bay, with particular attention to marine invasive alien species
  • Danalto Ltd — LoRaC2.4: a geolocation technology for the marine environment
  • NUI Galway — Wave resource characterisation at the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site

The first projects are preparing for deployment and testing over the coming month.

SmartBay is Ireland’s national marine test and demonstration facility for the development of innovative products and services for the global maritime sector. The National Infrastructure Access Programme is funded by the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme with the support of the Irish Government.

Published in Marine Science
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Overseas visitors holidaying in Ireland’s coastal areas spent €1.94 billion in 2018, while marine tourism generated €650 million in the same period.

That’s according to new research from NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU), which also identified activities such as coastal sightseeing, beach and island visits and walking, running and cycling along the coast as most popular among overseas visitors.

SEMRU’s Survey of Marine and Coastal Overseas Tourism Activity in Ireland was funded by the Marine Institute through the National Marine Research Programme as part of a larger project aimed at valuing and understanding the dynamics of Ireland’s ocean economy.

The survey found that while tourism and leisure comprise a key contribution to Ireland’s ocean and coastal economies, there is a gap nationally and internationally in trying to assess its value specific to marine and coastal areas.

SEMRU’s survey suggests that more than three-quarters (76%) of Ireland’s 7.9 million overseas visitors in 2018 are estimated to have visited a coastal area, while 61% are thought to have participated in a marine-related leisure activity.

The average total expenditure per travelling party in the survey sample was €1,630, with the average trip lasting seven days. Of this, an estimated €699 was spent in coastal areas.

The results also indicated that overseas visitors participate in coastal and marine tourism activities largely on the West Coast of Ireland, with Co Kerry leading over Co Galway and Co Clare.

Dr Niall McDonough of the Marine Institute said: “This report by SEMRU provides useful information to stakeholders and policy makers on the value and growth potential of this activity, which is so reliant on our rich coastal and marine resource.

“An analysis of research maturity, completed as part of developing the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy, showed a gap in research capability in the area of tourism and leisure.

“These findings by SEMRU increase our knowledge in this area. As research in higher education institutions in Ireland is limited, however, the Marine Institute has also included a potential fellowship in its recent Post-Doctoral Fellowship Call.”

Applications under this call are being accepted until next Wednesday 18 September for proposals of three to five years in duration.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
Tagged under
EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki will visit Ireland this week to discuss reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Commissioner Damanaki will speak tomorrow at the Institute of International and European Affairs where she will address Irish stakeholders on the new policy, which aims at preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way.
She will also meet with Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Simon Coveney.
On Friday she will travel to Galway with EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, to visit the Marine Institute and participate in a roundtable on maritime policy with representatives of the Irish administration and the Irish maritime sector.
Commissioner Damanaki will also gauge the views of Irish stakeholders on the upcoming Atlantic Strategy under the Integrated Maritime Policy, which the European Commission is currently drawing up.

EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki will visit Ireland this week to discuss reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Commissioner Damanaki will speak tomorrow at the Institute of International and European Affairs where she will address Irish stakeholders on the new policy, which aims at preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way.

She will also later meet with Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Simon Coveney.

On Friday she will travel to Galway with EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, to visit the Marine Institute and participate in a roundtable on maritime policy with representatives of the Irish administration and the Irish maritime sector.

Commissioner Damanaki will also gauge the views of Irish stakeholders on the upcoming Atlantic Strategy under the Integrated Maritime Policy, which the European Commission is currently drawing up.

Published in Fishing

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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