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Anglers in Co Antrim have expressed their anger after more than 1,000 wild brown trout were killed in a pollution incident at the weekend.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, members of the Glenavy Conservation and District Angling Club spotted a number of distressed fish gasping for air in the Glenavy River on Friday (8 May).

An initial count of some 500 dead fish was later doubled to over 1,000, linked to what the angling club suggests was a pollution incident close to the Gobranna Road in Glenavy.

“Hundreds, possibly thousands” of other, smaller fish such as stone loach were also “wiped out” in the fish kill, says club chairman Anthony McCormack.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

In Northern Ireland, the Loughs Agency has been working in partnership with the Woodland Trust, NI Water, angling clubs, landowners and others to plant in excess of 20,000 native trees to help improve fishery habitats.

Native tree planting is a great way of improving land and aquatic habitats as it delivers many benefits, says the agency for the Foyle and Carlingford fishery areas.

Tree root systems stabilise uplands and reduce the risk of landslides into water courses. Rainfall is intercepted by trees which slows river flows and flood damage is reduced. Debris from fallen trees protects against bank erosion and provides cover and food for fish and invertebrates.

Most importantly, riverside planting keeps rivers cool and protects salmon and trout during hot droughts.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive, said: “The threat from climate change to river ecosystems cannot be ignored.

“Trees, shrubs and other vegetation create valuable shade, reducing the temperature of our waterways and deliver a range of other ecological benefits. Loughs Agency are continuing to find innovative ways to mitigate against the effects of climate change to keep our rivers cool for freshwater wildlife.”

In recent years, the Loughs Agency has conducted several large-scale, native tree planting projects. Thousands of saplings have been planted at the Reelan and Cronamuck rivers in the Finn catchment, the Glenedra and Burntollet Rivers in the Faughan catchment and the along the River Roe.

And the Loughs Agency says it is always eager to develop collaborative projects with local partners. If you belong to an organisation which is interested in protecting and improving local aquatic habitats, contact [email protected]

All DAERA angling waters in Northern Ireland have been closed with immediate effect in efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, as the Newry Times reports.

The confirmation comes from Edwin Poots, Stormont’s Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who said: “The message is clear to our anglers, many of whom are in the older age group, stay safe – stay home.”

While NI Water supports the minister’s stance for angling waters under its purview, the Loughs Agency has not yet moved to close the Foyle and Carlingford areas to local anglers.

But it said anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners in advised to adhere to UK Government and Public Health Agency advice and new regulations under which no one may leave their home without ‘reasonable excuse’, such as shopping for food and medicine, or travel for key work.

Published in Angling

Sailing and Cruising NI is RYANI’s newest affiliated body, and over the last two years has established what’s been described as a “one stop shop run by sailors for sailors” in Northern Ireland.

In a new interview with RYANI development officer Mary Martin, founder Chris Cardwell sings the praises of the predominantly online club — an impactful, open platform which “provides immediate access to the largest group of sailors in NI”, currently comprising more than 2,000 menders.

These members come from all the sailing clubs in Northern Ireland, keeping everyone in the loop on upcoming meetings and events, crewing opportunities and buy/sell deals.

But many are based further afield, in Ireland and across the UK. And the group is also open to members with various marine-related interests, from kayakers and cruisers to fishermen and emergency crews.

“We encourage members to post their activities on the group to inspire others,” says Cardwell. “This is particularly true over the winter period when many are out of the water.”

RYANI has more on the story HERE.

Co Down woman Danielle Rooney has started her “dream job” as harbour master at Kilkeel, as The Irish News reports.

The 28-year-old is believed to be the first woman to hold such a role within the Northern Ireland Fisheries Harbour Authority.

She succeeds Michael Young, who has moved down the coast to Carlingford Harbour in Co Louth.

Rooney will be sharing her harbour duties with her existing role as station officer for Kilkeel Coastguard.

Safety is a big priority for me so combining that with my great passion for the water hopefully will bring success for the harbour,” she says.

The Irish News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Harbours
Tagged under

A sudden and violent rip current may have been the cause of a tragedy at a Northern Ireland beach in which one woman drowned, an expert has said.

Two women, part of a group of experienced cold water sea swimmers, got into difficulty off Ballycastle on the North Coast in Co Antrim yesterday morning (Monday 9 December).

One of the women died in the incident, and was later named as local community midwife Deirdre McShane. The other was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine with suspected hypothermia.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, physiology expert Professor Mike Tipton of the University of Portsmouth suggested that experienced cold water swimmers are unlikely to put themselves in danger — meaning that a sudden rip current could have taken the two victims by surprise.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Belfast Coastguard in Northern Ireland is appealing for the owner of a kayak found washed ashore at Millisle in Co Down.

The discovery of the green-and-black inflatable kayak yesterday morning (Monday 25 November) prompted a search operation in the area of the Ards Peninsula south of Donaghadee.

Searches by Bangor Coastguard, the Donaghadee lifeboat and a specialist dog search team were stood down yesterday evening, and now Belfast Coastguard is appealing to return the vessel to its owner.

Published in Coastguard

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Science

Patrick McGurgan, a Northern Ireland coroner, has recently called for the introduction of a law to make the wearing of lifejackets compulsory in Northern Ireland, writes Betty Armstrong.

Mr McGurgan had heard two inquests following separate drowning deaths on inland waters which occurred in June and September of last year.

Kenny Andrews (31) of Bangor died in Lower Lough Erne at Muckross Bay, near Kesh, after falling from a jet ski which he and his friend Stephen Kennedy had taken out on the lough on Sunday 9 September 2018.

After turning the craft to return to shore, it capsized and both men were thrown into the water. Neither was wearing a wetsuit or lifejacket. Mr Kennedy survived, and the search continued for the second man.

A multi-agency response got underway involving the Community Rescue Service (CRS), PSNI, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, RNLI and Irish Coast Guard helicopter from Sligo.

Searching continued throughout the evening before being stood down for the night late on Sunday. It resumed the next day.

Volunteers from Strabane CRS assisted in the search for Mr Andrews. The CRS is a charitable organisation operated by volunteers from across the community in Northern Ireland.

They managed, with the use of a multi-beam side scan sonar device, to locate Mr Andrews’ body and, in a joint operation, it was recovered by the PSNI dive team.

Muckross is situated on the north shore of Lower Lough Erne less than a mile from Kesh. It has beaches, picnic areas, a public jetty and a small marina and is said to be very popular with jet skiers.

The other incident was at Portglenone Marina on the banks of the Lower River Bann, when Edelle McGlade from Portstewart fell overboard in the early hours of Thursday 26 June last year.

The marina was in darkness as the lights automatically switch off after 11.30pm and when Ms McGlade stepped off the boat onto the pontoon, she lost her balance, causing the boat to move slightly away, and she fell into the water.

Despite efforts to rescue her she died. The CRS located her body and brought her ashore.

Published in Water Safety

In a major change from the original Northern Ireland backstop to avoid a hard border will require a huge leap into the unknown. It is the area of customs.

In practical terms, The Irish Times reports, this is the most complex part of the proposed Brexit plan to manage, with much of the small print yet to be written.

By dropping the idea of a EU-UK customs territory in the original plan, London and Brussels have agreed to allow Northern Ireland to leave the EU customs union while still applying the bloc’s customs rules there.

In an effort to maintain an open Irish Border, the EU is outsourcing checks on goods coming on to the island – and possibly into the EU market – to the UK authorities, with EU officials entitled to be present for checks at (ferry)ports in the North, Scotland and England.

Beyond a broad line of how it would work, there is little detail on how it will be managed. It is not clear what exactly would happen to a truckload of widgets travelling from Scotland to Northern Ireland through Belfast Port on to Dublin and then further into the EU market. A similar customs proposal from the UK was dismissed last year by Brussels as unworkable.

The newspaper has more here to read. 

Afloat adds today marks the fourth and final day of the British Ports Association's annual conference which for the first time was hosted by Belfast Harbour. More than 300 industry representatives from across the UK and Ireland are attending.

As previously reported on Afloat, in advance of the event the BPA discussed the UK Government's 'new Brexit Border plan'. 

Published in Belfast Lough
Page 2 of 27

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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