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Displaying items by tag: NIFF

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed hosted the 13th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) yesterday, Thursday 22 February.

The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore fishing sector.

Minister Creed announced that he expects to publish a consultation paper to review the options for more restricted access for large fishing vessels fishing by means of trawls inside Ireland’s six-nautical-mile zone.

This issue has been the subject of scientific and economic reports by the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and some preliminary engagement with fisheries representative groups, including the NIFF.

“I recognise that this issue has been raised by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum since its inception and that there are concerns about the relatively open access for large trawlers to our inshore areas,” said the minister. “The inshore fisheries sector, including coastal and island fisherman, is dependent on inshore fish stocks.

“I am open to looking at the benefits, from an economic perspective for the inshore fleet of introducing some restrictions on large vessels. This could also have a positive biological impact on fish stocks and biodiversity.

“I am awaiting a paper from the department setting out the issues, possible benefits and options to inform my consideration of the issues and possible impacts, both positive and negative. I am planning to undertake a public consultation on the options and to hear and understand the diverse interests of stakeholders to ensure that any new measures introduced are fair and balanced.”

Minister Creed and the NIFF also discussed feedback on recent public consultations on conservation measures for brown crab and razor clams.

The consultations were held following recommendations from the NIFF and the measures are under consideration for their potential benefits to protect fish stocks in the long term. The minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector.

In addition, the NIFF updated the minister on its progress in preparing a sector-specific strategy for the first time.

Supported by BIM and a steering group including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Marine Institute; and the SFPA, consultants are facilitating the preparation of an Inshore Fisheries Strategy on behalf of the NIFF.

Steps taken to date include preliminary consultation, a workshop with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and feedback sessions with the Steering Group.

Minister Creed welcomed the news that the next expected output is a draft strategy document for public consultation.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed signed into law conservation measures concerning Irish velvet crab stocks as he hosted the 12th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) today, Wednesday 27 September.

The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include the NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore fishing sector.

As well as moved to protect Irish velvet crab, the minister also introduced measures to regulate fishing activities affecting Natura 2000 sites at Hook Head and the Saltee Islands.

Regulations signed by Minister Creed today will introduce a Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) of 65mm for velvet crab that will apply to Irish sea fishing boats from 1 January 2018.

This measure was initially developed by the West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum (RIFF) with advice from the Marine Institute. The proposal was brought to the minister last year by the NIFF, and a public consultation on the measure was held at the end of 2016.

Velvet crab are fished all year, but mainly in the March to October period, and they are predominantly a by-catch in the lobster fishery. Landings of velvet crab into Ireland were 406 tonnes in 2015, higher than any year since 2004, and were valued at just under €808,000. Over 80% of velvet crabs are landed by vessels less than 10 metres in length.

Additionally, a Fisheries Natura Declaration signed by Minister Creed today will restrict fishing using dredge and trawling gear for scallop fishing to protect certain sensitive habitats in Natura 2000 conservation sites off the southeast coast of Wexford from 30 November.

The Natura 2000 sites include the Hook Head and Saltee Islands SACs (Special Areas of Conservation). The declaration also sets down monitoring and notification requirements for boats fishing using dredge and trawling gear within these habitats.

These gear and monitoring measures were developed through industry members working with the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to address risks to sensitive habitats in the Hook Head and Saltee Islands SACs. The risks were identified by the Marine Institute in a 2014 risk assessment report of sea-fishing activities in Natura 2000 sites in the Irish Sea.

Industry members – including individual scallop fishermen, members of the Southeast RIFF and representatives of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation (ISEFPO) – met with the Marine Institute and BIM through 2015 and 2016 to develop risk mitigation proposals for the fishery. A public consultation on the resulting Mitigation Response Plan was carried out in 2016.

These measures are being introduced following full consultation with the Inshore Fisheries Forum structures.

“Heading into their third year, the forums have taken a lead in tackling conservation issues and changing practices with a view to long-term sustainability,” said Minister Creed. “I welcome the support these measures have received from the Forums which reflects the mature approach this sector is taking in dealing with its own challenges.”

Minister Creed and the NIFF discussed the implementation of the new measures and the status of other measures under review for important stocks such as lobster, brown crab and razor clams.

The minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector and the UK’s intention to withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention, which governs access to waters inside the 12-mile limit.

Commenting on issues arising for the sector from Brexit, Minister Creed noted: “While the implications of Brexit are far from clear at this point in time, I will continue to highlight Irish fisheries concerns on the EU agenda and work with other impacted EU member states and the Barnier team to ensure that fisheries are not isolated in the overall negotiations on a new EU/UK relationship.”

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - A new website for the National Inshore Fisheries Forums (NIFF) was launched by Marine Minister Michael Creed yesterday (Tuesday 25 October).

“Getting inshore fishing communities involved in decision-making is the key aim of the forum initiative,” said the minister, who added that the website “is a vital tool both to make information available and also to foster interaction and discussion.

“I hope that it will become a regular port of call for all interested in developing a sustainable future for this sector.”

Minister Creed also thanked Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the forum delegates for their contributions to the website at www.inshoreforums.ie, launched at the eighth meeting of the NIFF since it was established in 2014.

Budget 2017’s introduction of the Fisher’s Tax Credit (based on the seafarer’s allowance model) and changes to the Fish Assist Scheme were highlighted as important income support mechanisms for inshore fishing communities.

The inshore sector — comprising fishing boats of less than 12 metres in overall length — makes up more than 80% of the fishing fleet, and is predominately active within six nautical miles of the Irish shore.

Minister Creed acknowledged the role of the NIFF and others in the fishing industry in advocating for income support.

“Maintaining jobs and attracting new entrants have been identified by our stakeholders as a key challenge for our fishing industry, including the inshore sector,” he said.

“This annual tax credit specifically for fishermen of €1,270, which mirrors the value of the Seafarer’s allowance, is important recognition for their contribution to Ireland’s Blue Economy.”

Yesterday’s NIFF meeting also tabled proposals to revise the conservation measures for lobster, and to introduce technical conservation measures for the velvet crab fishery.

Published in Fishing
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#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has announced the establishment of the second National Inland Fisheries Forum (NIFF).

Angling federations, groups and individuals are requested to nominate candidates for membership on the forum, established under the Inland Fisheries Act 2010 to provide a mechanism to recognise the important contribution of a wide range of stakeholders to the policies of IFI and their inputs into the sector generally.

During its first term, a specific objective of the NIFF was also to ensure that this contribution was not lost when the Regional Fisheries Boards were abolished as part of the process of establishing IFI.

The initial cycle of the NIFF was launched in October 2011 and concluded its three-year term in 2014. Following a comprehensive review of its first cycle, its structure and function has been modified to enable more effective operations.

In accordance with the provision in the 2010 Act, the minister has had an input into this review process and has signed off on the revised structure.

To recognise the special role of angling stakeholders, each of the main angling organisations has been requested to nominate two of their members to represent their interests for the duration of the second cycle of the NIFF. It is anticipated that these nominees will then be appointed to the forum by the minister.

The process of selecting the remaining members of the new forum will be managed by the Public Appointment Service (PAS) with the support of IFI. The forum shall consist of not more than 60 members.

Commenting on the revised process for the appointment of members to the Forum, IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne said: “The restructured forum provides an important opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute to the development of policies in respect of the Irish inland fisheries resource.

"The combined forum membership is expected to comprise people with knowledge in the areas of recreational fisheries, environmental organisations, business, fishery owners, tourism and marketing, agriculture, aquaculture, commercial fisheries [and] heritage.

"I am confident that membership will span all appropriate sectors and regions and will lead to improved input to inland fisheries policy and future development.”

The PAS has compiled an information booklet providing additional information on the recruitment process and the next cycle of the NIFF.

Published in Angling

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney announced on Tuesday (26 May) the introduction of national management measures for razor clams.

The minister brought forward the proposals at the third National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) meeting, where he announced the introduction of an outtake limit for fishing razor clams in the North Irish Sea of 700kg per vessel per week to take effect from Monday 1 June 2015.

Speaking about the new measures, Minister Coveney said: “At the second NIFF meeting in April, I stated that I would take steps to secure the sustainability of the razor clam fishery, and the new interim measures for the North Irish Sea are a first step in that process. 

"I am also conscious that certainty about safe, high quality Irish seafood is important for consumers and for the marketplace. Accordingly, I have decided to introduce national measures to ensure Ireland can demonstrate its commitment to safe seafood.”

The new national measures include:

  • Obligations to weigh and report all razor clam landings,
  • A requirement to ensure fishing takes place only in shellfish production areas which have been classified for razor clams
  • A requirement to fish in only one class of shellfish production area, from a seafood safety perspective, per day, and
  • An obligation for vessels in Irish waters to carry GPS tracking equipment from 20 July.

The protection of Natura 2000 sites also featured on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, and the minister welcomed support from the NIFF to facilitate stakeholder engagement in preparing mitigation plans for sites with features at risk from certain fishing activities.

“There are features in a number of Natura 2000 sites which are particularly sensitive to certain fishing activities, and we must ensure that the integrity of these Special Areas of Conservation is protected," the minister said.

"Protecting the ecosystems of marine conservation sites preserves the quality of our marine environment and is another step towards harnessing our ocean wealth in a sustainable way.”

The NIFF has been set up to encourage inshore fishing communities to discuss their fishing issues and generate commonly-supported initiatives. Ciaran Quinn of the North West region is the first industry-led chair of the forum, and Eddie Moore of the South West region is the vice chair.

Lobster conservation measures and proposals to manage recreational pot fishing were among the other inshore policy issues discussed by the NIFF members at this week’s meeting.  

Published in Fishing
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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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