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Displaying items by tag: Offshore Wind Energy

The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) is to host its second annual seafarers’ conference on the theme of offshore wind and the fishing industry in Limerick next February.

The hybrid event is sponsored by Simply Blue Group, the offshore wind energy developer, on the theme “Thriving Fishing, Thriving Offshore Wind, Thriving Ports”, and will run during the Skipper Expo.

Speakers at the event on February 23rd, 2023 in the Castletroy Park Hotel will include BIM interim chief executive officer Caroline Bocquel, Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe, State Chief Surveyor Brian Hogan at the Marine Survey Office, and Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) project co-ordinator Norah Parke.

Topics for discussion will include exploring what the fishing industry needs to thrive; the policy regime for renewable energy; implementation of the Government’s future skills needs report; the ecosystem impacts of offshore wind farms; and the future for Ireland’s fishing ports.

Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue said he was “enthused to see the conference appended to The Skipper Expo as it provides an ideal forum within which seafarers and offshore wind developers can meet and discuss a coexistent future”.

“To ensure a sustainable seafood industry in parallel with Ireland meeting its climate action targets, the protection of biodiversity and the building of the necessary skills to achieve all of this, I encourage delegates to co-create solutions towards a sustainable, safe, and secure future for all,”he said.

Simply Blue Group director of external affairs and stakeholder liaison Captain Brian Fitzgerald said that “if ever Ireland needed its mariners and coastal communities to work together to co-create a sustainable future, it is now”.

“Let this Conference be a place to have an open and frank discussion on the challenges ahead, while enabling our ability to plot our own course and navigate towards a sustainable future for the next generation,”Fitzgerald said.

NMCI head of college Cormac Gebruers said the college was delighted to “get on the road” and host the 2023 Seafarer Conference in Limerick in association with The Skipper Expo.

“Preparing for Ireland’s future maritime skills needs most especially in the offshore wind sector is a central consideration for the NMCI. We very much look forward to discussing this with Ireland’s seafarers,”he said.

Published in Power From the Sea

An environmental group has expressed fears that the Government is prioritising industry-funded offshore wind and wave energy projects over its international commitments on marine protected areas.

As The Times reports, the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has questioned why legislation is already advanced on designating marine areas for renewable energy, but has omitted provision for marine protected areas (MPAs) as originally promised.

Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, 70% of Ireland’s electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030 and it says least 3,500 MW (megawatts) of this will come from offshore wind.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney welcomed Shell’s return to the Irish energy market through offshore energy.

The multinational, which developed the controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo, has acquired a 51% share in Irish company Simply Blue Energy’s floating wind farm in the Celtic Sea.

Offshore renewable projects will be regulated by a Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, currently before the Oireachtas.

The IWT says this Bill was meant to provide also for MPAs to protect sensitive habitats beyond the 12 nautical mile limit, but says this was omitted and separate legislation will now be required.

An advisory group report published this week by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien confirms there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law and this is a “gap which needs to be addressed”.

The current Programme for Government (2020) includes a commitment to expand Ireland’s network of MPAs to 10% of its maritime area as soon as is practical - and to meet a higher target of MPAs constituting 30% of its maritime area by 2030.

“Our fear is that wind farms will be approved offshore, and MPAs then “fitted in-between”, IWT project officer Regina Classen says.

The provisions of the Wildlife Acts, as amended, are limited in terms of their geographic scope, applying only to the foreshore, the advisory report says.

It says that while it is “at one” with the aim of protecting biodiversity in crisis, creating a sustainable future, and meeting climate change challenges, implementation will be “contentious”, there could be trouble ahead if it is not correctly handled.

The approach has to be “in a manner respectful of the needs of people and communities, as well as to the environment of which they are a part”, it warns.

The report doesn’t recommend locations of proposed MPAs, but summarises relevant thinking about designating these sea areas in an Irish context - and recommends how the existing small network in Irish waters could be expanded..

The group was chaired by Prof Tasman Crowe of the UCD Earth Institute and involved 20 experts in life and ocean sciences, marine socio-economics, maritime culture, governance and legislation.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said that in line with Programme for Government commitments, it “ intends to begin developing legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs this year”.

This would be “ informed by the extensive public consultation to come and the resulting information”, the spokesman said, adding that five months would allow for extensive consultation.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Power From the Sea
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The photomontage published in Afloat a week ago of 60 'supersize' wind turbines planned for Dublin Bay should raise substantial debate about the impact of offshore wind farms on Irish waters and the activities in them – sailing, leisure marine, fishing and commercial.

There are so many proposals now being forward, with billions of Euros involved, in response to the Government's stated intention to drive forward wind energy, that it becomes challenging to keep track of them all. "Public consultation" is promised, but what does that exactly mean and how effective is this process?

The proposal for the Kish and Bray Banks is about six nautical miles offshore, so for many leisure mariners that might not seem to be considered as a major issue, or problem. However, the 60 turbines would be 310 metres in height - over a thousand feet - pretty substantial on the seascape.

Dublin Array: Likely view from Dún Laoghaire towards Sandycove and out towards the Kish Bank.Dublin Array: Likely view from Dún Laoghaire towards Sandycove and out towards the Kish Bank.

The Arklow Bank Wind Park, as it's called, is also six miles offshore. Phase 2, for 76 turbines, is under public consultation and there is a lease area 27 km long and 2.5 km wide.

The developers of these and other projects have initiated public consultation. Projects are promoted as essential for energy and environmental purposes, but there is less, if any, reference in publicity to the profits.

So what does "consultation" mean?

Too often, as a journalist, it seems to me that "consultation" is seen by developers as a necessary process to be gone through, indicating that the public has been consulted. But with what effect? Is debate sufficiently focused on the effects on leisure, sailing, fishing, commercial, marine life, species? Is there not a need, in response to the proliferation of proposals, for more widespread debate and more intensive focus, practical discussion and a wider, co-operative approach and not only through the State process administered and controlled by officialdom >

In this regard, I have been talking to the man who has bought Crosshaven Boatyard in Cork Harbour to set up a business "to service the future needs of offshore wind farms." Pearse Flynn of Green Rebel Marine has set up a "strategic partnership" with Fisheries Liaisons Ltd., to develop communication "with the wider marine and fishing community as development of offshore wind farms picks up pace." It seems an interesting approach to "consultation."

Listen to him on the Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Cork harbour could become central to Ireland’s development as an international centre for hydrogen energy technology, a new offshore wind blueprint by the Eirwind consortium forecasts.

As The Irish Examiner reports today, Ireland could be exporting bulk hydrogen as part of an offshore renewable expansion.

The Eirwind strategy to 2050 identifies a number of challenges, and calls for Government commitment to specific incentives, marine planning legislation and “transparent” decision-making.

Eirwind is an industry-led, collaborative research project involving University College Cork (UCC) which has been working on a 30-year strategy for harnessing offshore wind energy.

It describes floating offshore wind technology as a “game changer,” and the period 2020 to 2030 as a “defining decade” for investing in green hydrogen and grid reinforcement.

The new Programme for Government has raised a target of 3.5 gigawatt (GW) energy production from offshore wind to five GW by 2030, and specifies the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea for development. It also signals that 30 GW could be derived from the Atlantic coast.

The Eirwind blueprint identifies three “production zones” - the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and Atlantic Coast- and is expected to recommend master plans for ports from Rosslare, Co Wexford round to Killybegs, Co Donegal,to support offshore wind and wave development.

The report identifies the fishing industry as “the primary stakeholder”,and is expected to recommend that a joint forum between the fishing and offshore wind sectors be established .

It says the recently completed Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, along with the related Maritime Jurisdiction Bill, need to be prioritised.

Eirwind, based at the MaREI centre in UCC is supported by Science Foundation Ireland, and companies include Brookfield, DP Energy, ESB, Equinor, Engie, EDPR, Enerco, Simply Blue, SSE and Statkraft.

More from the Examiner here

Published in Power From the Sea

Coastal communities have been given just three weeks to respond to a consultation on developing a network of offshore wind farms to meet Ireland’s climate targets.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has given a closing date of July 1st for views on how to scale up renewable energy output through offshore wind.

Under the Government’s Climate Action Plan, 70% of Ireland’s electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030.

At least 3,500 MW (megawatts)of this will come from offshore wind, Mr Bruton has said, which is “enough to power over three million homes”.

“It is crucial that we put in place a model that allows us to scale up and realise the changes required,” Mr Bruton said.

A consultancy report, published by Mr Bruton, outlines four options - ranging from a “developer-led” scenario, where each project would design its own connection to a more centralised “plan-led” offshore transmission development with more State involvement.

There has been some surprise within the renewables sector at the report’s release and short timeline for consultation while Government formation talks are still in train – talks which could affect the climate targets.

The selected model will be aligned with Ireland’s new National Marine Planning Framework, and the development consent regime for the maritime area as set out in the Maritime Planning and Development Management legislation, he said.

The report by Navigant consultants, based in the Netherlands, examines how other European countries approach offshore grid planning and outlines four variants of “developer-led” and “plan-led” approaches that might suit Ireland.

Under the “developer-led” model, applied in Britain, developers would prepare requirements for consents, select and pre-develop wind farm sites, plan and build farms and transmission assets.

Under the “plan-led” model, a State body would select wind farm sites and undertake pre-development and offshore grid connections – a model applied in the Netherlands, and one which would give more responsibility to Eirgrid and ESB Networks.

Under three of the four options outlined, the offshore wind transmission assets are owned and operated by the developer, who manages and bears the risk of outages to its transmission assets.

The Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) chairman Peter Coyle said he welcomed the report’s publication as another example of Government commitment to renewable energy.

“This is going to set the rules for the game for the next 50 to 100 years, so the MRIA will be making a strong input to this consultation,” he said.

He noted that the Government had recently designated seven offshore renewable energy projects in the Irish Sea and outer Galway Bay “transition” projects.

Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr David Connolly said that “identifying how offshore wind farms will connect to the grid is critical to ensuring we can build the 3,500 MW of projects needed to deliver the Climate Action Plan and to cut Ireland’s CO2 emissions”.

“It is essential that an effective model for the grid is partnered with a robust planning system,” he said.

“Passing the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, which will put in place a planning system for offshore wind energy, and giving An Bord Pleanála the resources to administer it, must be top priorities for the next Government if we are to build these projects in time,” Dr Connolly added.

Published in Power From the Sea
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SEFtec NMCI Offshore Ltd (SNO), a public / private joint venture between SEFtec Global Training Ltd and The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), will be launched tomorrow at the National Maritime College, Co. Cork, by the Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Batt O'Keeffe.

This venture is a shining example of how to bring together state of the art public infrastructure, in the form of one of the world's most advanced maritime colleges, with private enterprise's expertise in not only offshore training, but in the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and service of training simulators for the global maritime industry.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe TD, who launched the public-private joint venture, said it would support jobs and the growth of the Irish offshore exploration and wind energy sectors.  'The future is bright for the partnership we are announcing here this afternoon. The maritime sector is a diverse and developing global industry that requires huge levels of skill and technical capability,' said Minister O'Keeffe.

Focused on supporting the successful and sustainable growth of the Irish offshore exploration sector, SNO has successfully secured the approval of the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO) for its programme of courses. In a sector that is completely focused on safety,OPITO has become the global industries focal point for skills, training and workforce development.

"SNO is very proud to have achieved its OPITO approval this year, the approval came about in a phenomenal time frame and this wouldn't have been possible without the combined efforts of both public and private joint venture partners. This will mean that we can service not only the growing needs of Ireland's offshore sector, but train for the global industry as well"  Conor Mowlds, Managing Director SNO Ltd.

SEFtec, an Irish SME with a global focus, commenced trading in 2004 and has quickly become one of the world's leaders in the provision of offshore simulation equipment. Based in a state-of-the-art facility in Cork it has diversified its activities from the design and fabrication of offshore training simulation equipment to training and already operates an OPITO centre in Kazakhstan.

The NMCI, a public private partnership between the Cork Institute of Technology, Vita Lend Lease and the Irish Naval Service was opened in 2004, represents a €60 million investment by the state in maritime training, and is one of the world's most advanced maritime colleges.

The future aim of SNO is to break into the offshore renewable energy sector, with the development of their Offshore Wind Energy Safety Training course (OWEST) ear marked for further development.  The OWEST course currently involves Helicopter Winching Techniques, Life Saving Appliances and Vessel Abandonment which is key training for anyone working on or near Offshore Wind Energy Sites.

See below for photos taken this morning at the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy of delegates on the OPITO approved BOSIET - Offshore Training Course, using the Helicopter Underwater Training Simulator

Published in Rescue

Irish Fishing industry 

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