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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#MarineWildlife - The RSPB has welcomed the announcement of new marine protected areas for Northern Ireland this week.

“The formal designation of four new marine protected areas will help protect a range of vulnerable species and habitats - ranging from black guillemots to ocean quahog and seagrass meadows,” the wildlife charity said in a statement.

Among the new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) announced by Storming is an area near Rathlin Island off Co Antrim that’s the first in the UK to be set aside for a seabird species, the amber-listed black guillemot.

The other new zones announced include seagrass meadows in Waterfoot, also in Co Antrim, and the fragile ecosystem for sea pens in Carlingford Lough.

Also included among the new MCZs is the territory of ocean quahogs in outer Belfast Lough.

According to The Irish News, these clams are thought to have been thriving in the waters near the city for over 200 years - and individual clams could live for hundreds more.

The Stormont announcement comes a year after the new zones were first proposed for public consultation, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Angling - Northern Ireland’s new online fishing permit application system has “transformed” the industry, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The new NI government web portal, designed by Belfast firm Kainos with BT, enables anglers and commercial fishermen to apply for a range of permits and licences with the Inland Fisheries Group via a single channel.

Underpinning the service is a “shared management information system” that means less paperwork and increased efficiency for users and local permit providers alike.

Earlier this year, all paper-based angling permits in Northern Ireland were replaced by electronic records, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Pollution and poaching are a growing concern for anglers in the Carlingford and Lough Foyle areas, as Derek Evans reports in his latest Angling Notes for The Irish Times.

New figures from the Loughs Agency reveal a significant raise in pollution, the worst incident of which occurred this past August when hundreds of salmon fry were lost in a fish kill on the River Faughan, according to the Derry Journal.

In addition, the Loughs Agency report informed NI Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen of almost double the number of fishing gear seizures this year compared to 2015, as well as a sharp rise in court actions.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#BanríonUladh - A Northern Irish minister has sailed into stormy waters after rechristening a fisheries protection vessel from its Irish name to its English translation, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Banrion Uladh — which patrols the Irish Sea between Lough Foyle and Anglesey in North Wales — is now Queen of Ulster after the change by Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen, whose DUP expressed upset over the original naming of the vessel by then minister Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Féin in 2010.

The renaming, which was carried out during scheduled repairs, is cited as part of a move by Minister McIlveen’s department to a single-language policy in the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#Trident - Trident won't be coming to Northern Ireland - as there are no waters deep enough to host the nuclear deterrent submarines, according to one MLA.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken says that from his own experience, the region has no suitable deepwater ports or inlets necessary for the 150m-long Vanguard-class submarines in the Trident programme, which are currently stationed off western Scotland.

"It's not deep enough, we can't do it," he said. "I tried to bring my submarine, HMS Sovereign, to Belfast towards the end of its time.

"Because you need deep water at all states of the tide, even though entrance to Belfast Lough is dredged to 10 metres, it's not deep enough.

"You can't bring it into Larne because there is a rock sill coming into Larne Lough which you would have to blast out; same for Carlingford Lough, and Lough Foyle is too shallow."

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#Lifeguards - RNLI lifeguards will commence full-time summer patrol on 10 beaches in Northern Ireland from next Saturday 25 June.

Following a busy period of intensive training in preparation for the new season, the lifeguards will be keeping visitors safe on seven beaches along the Causeway Coast and three in Co Down.

The beaches include Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

From next weekend, the RNLI will take up full-time daily duty on all beaches continuing to Sunday 4 September, when weekend duty will then resume on selected beaches throughout September.

Lifeguards will be on the beach daily between 11am and 7pm on the Causeway Coast and between 10am and 6pm in Co Down.

Speaking ahead of the new season, RNLI lifeguard manager Mike Grocott is encouraging those planning a visit to the beach this summer to bear in mind some key water safety messages.

"The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags," he says.

"Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 909 or 112 and ask for the coastguard."

The RNLI is running its annual national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water throughout the summer months with the charity this year warning the public to watch out for key dangers that can catch people out in or near water.

Central to the campaign are the dangers that can lead to accidental drowning: cold water, unexpected entry into the water, and rip currents and waves.

Published in Water Safety

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI brought two people to safety on Wednesday evening (1 June) after they got into difficulty off the Dundrum coast in Co Down.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was alerted shortly before 8pm following a request by Belfast Coastguard that a vessel with two onboard had broken down in Dundrum Bay.

The inshore lifeboat, helmed by Niall McMurray with crew members Declan Barry and Karl Rooney onboard, launched within minutes to the incident. Weather conditions at the time were described as good with a flat, calm sea.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that the 17ft leisure craft had experienced engine failure. The crew checked that the two on board were safe and well before establishing a tow line and proceeding to bring the vessel safely back to Dundrum.

Speaking following the callout, McMurray said: "Thankfully both people were not injured and we were able to help bring them safely back to shore.

"We would encourage anyone planning to go in or near water especially during this hot weather spell to enjoy themselves but to always respect the water.

"Check your boat and equipment before every trip, carry a means of communication should you get into any difficulty and always wear a lifejacket."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Coastguard - Northern Ireland coastguard teams have taken part in a major rescue exercise The Gobbins in Co Antrim ahead of the cliff path's reopening this May Day weekend, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

As many as 50 volunteers from Kilkeel, Newcastle, Ballycastle, Coleraine and Portmuck carried out various cliff rescue exercises, including a mock evacuation of multiple casualties.

The path has undergone a number repairs after significant storm damage forced its closure in December, just months after the 'white-knuckle' attraction welcomed its first visitors since the 1950s.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#JamesEspey - Olympic Laser hopeful James Espey made time in his busy Rio 2016 training schedule for to help launch a new campaiign aimed at getting people involved in watersports, according to the News Letter.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Flow campaign is a partnership between SportNI and various sporting bodies that's encouraging water-based activities in the run up to September's European Week of Sport.

Watersports clubs around Northern Ireland will be offering taster events on the weekend of 14-15 May to get things running, and Espey is fully behind the initiative.

"This new Flow campaign is absolutely ideal for those with no background in watersports whatsoever," said the Olympian who still trains where he first learned to sail at Ballyholme.

“It will be a fantastic introduction for anyone wanting to get into water based activities across Northern Ireland.”

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#Surfing - Surfers from across the North West paired up to take part in a unique event to raise money for mental health charity Aware NI last week.

The money raised at the tandem surfing competition, run by Portrush-based surfing school Troggs, will help Award NI provide vital services for people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.

Teams of surfers took to Portrush East Strand on Sunday 20 March to perform tricks and manoeuvres in pairs in an attempt to impress the experienced judges.

The tandem surfing competition, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, raised over £300 (€372) for Aware NI.

The event was the brainchild of Carl Russell, owner of Troggs Surf School, after some of his own clients recommended the benefits of surfers in overcoming the own depression.

“The idea came about from my brother Jamie Russell and I realising that we could experience surfing together on the same board when surf conditions weren’t favourable for our shortboards,” he said.

“We ended up having as much fun if not more tandem surfing as we did surfing normally. Then the link for the competition was made to show that the proven research that surfing helps depression is a real tool that can be used."

Russell explained that surfing "has had positive effect on people and clients of ours with mental health issues which is why we have chosen this charity, plus this professional organisation really helps people.

"We run custom surf programmes for groups affected by the issues mentioned. Our event is due to run again September-October 2016 and will be even bigger.

“Thanks to all our sponsors gregwallace.co.uk, garymccall.co.uk, couconoutdoor.com, Brew Note Portrush & AC Electronics Coleraine.

Only last year the French seaside town of Biarritz become the first in the world to prescribe surfing lessons as a way to treat depression to heart disease.

Some 20 doctors are taking part in a pilot scheme in Europe’s surf capital to encourage the notoriously pill-popping French to cut back on medication and take to the waves.

“Aware fully endorse the message that physical exercise cannot only improve your physical health but also your mental health,” said Kieran Hughes, fundraising officer at Aware NI.

“The benefits of physical exercise for mental health are widely recognised and surfing is one of the best examples of that. Participants are getting excellent exercise but also getting out in the open and close to nature which can only be a positive thing.

“We would like to sincerely thank Carl and everyone at Troggs Surf School for raising money for Aware. All the money raised will go towards Aware’s Support Services and education programmes to help people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.”

Published in Surfing
Page 4 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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