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Displaying items by tag: Porpoises

#MarineWildlife - This weekend Dublin Port is deploying data buoys in Dublin Bay to monitor marine wildlife activity during the controversial dredging works at Alexandra Basin.

According to The Irish Times, the four boys will provide live data on any whales, dolphins or porpoises in the vicinity of the Burford Bank near Howth, where up to a million tonnes of dredge spoil will be dumped over the next few weeks.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners have raised concerns about the safety of Dublin Bay’s harbour porpoises, protected by an SAC since 2013, during the dredging operation.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#marinewildlife - Concerns have been voiced by campaigners about the safety of the Dublin Bay porpoise as Dublin Port commences dredging.

The Journai.ie writes that the Dublin Port Company (DPC) plan to remove up to a million tonnes of material from the port and dump it near Howth in order to keep the port deep enough for large naval vessels.

DPC says that the maintenance dredging process, which starts today, will last for between two to four weeks. Maintenance dredging is the periodic removal of sediments and is vital for many ports.

However, campaigners say that the waste material should not be dumped at DPC’s usual site near Howth. They are also fearful that porpoises could be harmed by the dredging vessel.

For more on the story click here. 

Afloat adds that a dredger from the UK is to arrive to the port tomorrow. 

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Dolphin and porpoise monitoring off the North Coast got a boost this week thanks to a £15,000 NI government grant for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), as Causeway Coastal Community reports.

“This is good news for the IWDG and for those with a passion for marine wildlife," said Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Mark Durkan on funding for the acoustic monitoring project, which will focus on cetacean populations off Portrush and the nearby Giant's Causeway.

The project also includes an outreach programme with local schools and communities to get local people invested in the protection of marine wildlife on their shores. Causeway Coastal Community has more on the story HERE.

Minister Durkan is also the subject of calls to add the waters off Islandmagee to recently recommended Marine Conservation Zones for Northern Ireland over fears that a new gas power station could create a marine 'dead zone' in the area.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - How do whales, dolphins and porpoises hunt for fish? By using 'sound searchlights', according to Danish marine researchers.

As BBC News reports, the team of marine scientists at Aarhus University used underwater microphones to study the hunting behaviour of porpoises.

And they sound that the nimble cetaceans were able to adjust their echolocation abilities – using clicks and buzzes to navigate their surroundings – by switching from a narrow focus to a wide beam of sound as they closed in on their prey.

Scientists believe that other species of dolphins and whales also share this "exceptional" ability – which could provide the key to solutions that would prevent them getting trapped in commercial fishing gear.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Marine scientists think they've found the answer to the mystery of dead porpoises washed up on French and Belgian beaches with dog-like bite marks.

As the Irish Examiner reports, their research points the finger at grey seals - forced into competition with the cetaceans over the fish that make up their diets.

Indeed, it may be overfishing by humans that's prompted the seals to turn on their fellow marine mammals as commercial fishing stocks dwindle in the North Sea.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan announced on Wednesday the proposal of six new marine sites for designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect marine habitats and species listed on the 1992 EU Habitats Directive.



The six sites around the Irish coast represent habitats (sandbanks and reefs) and/or marine wildlife (specifically dolphins and porpoises) identified as insufficiently represented in the list of Irish SACs at the EU Commission's Marine Atlantic Biogeographic Seminar in 2009. These sites are:

  • Blackwater Bank, Co Wexford (Sandbank)
  • West Connacht Coast (Bottlenose dolphin)
  • Hempton’s Turbot Bank, Co Donegal (Sandbank)
  • Rockabill to Dalkey Island, Co Dublin (Reefs and harbour porpoise)
  • Porcupine Bank Canyon, off Kerry (Reefs)
  • South-East Rockall Bank (Reefs)


The designation of marine SACs is scheduled for completion in Europe in 2012, and according to the minister, this list of six additional SACs will constitute Ireland’s contribution to that process. 



In a statement, the department said: "These six SAC sites will protect a range of habitats and species including sandbanks, deep sea coral reefs, dolphins off the Atlantic coast and harbour porpoises found in Dublin Bay.

"These sites are part of a European network of nature conservation sites known as Natura 2000 which was established with the aim of preserving our rich natural heritage for future generations."



Among the new designations are two offshore sites at the Porcupine Bank Canyon and the South East Rockall Bank "contain excellent examples of offshore fauna associated with geogenic reef (ie reef made of rock). Considering the extent of Ireland’s offshore maritime area alongside the value and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity therein, these two sites represent a modest but highly significant contribution to the Irish SAC network."

Two new inshore areas are being proposed in the west of Ireland to protect the bottlenose dolphin. The department is currently co-funding a multi-annual research programme to further understand the ecology of this species in this coastal region.

Meanwhile, the inshore site off Dublin from Rockabill to Dalkey Island is also being proposed both for the harbour porpoise, and for geogenic reef to address a gap in the SAC network for this habitat type in the northern part of the Irish Sea.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the oil exploration company behind the Dalkey Island Prospect has spoken out over the Rockabill to Dalkey Island designation, claiming it had not been given advance information of the decision.

Providence Resources says maps provided by the department appear to show and overlap between the location for a seismic survey and the new SAC area, which would make any development for resource extraction "extremely problematic".

Last week the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) expressed concern over the potential impact of the 2D seismic survey at Dalkey Island on harbour porpoises in Dublin Bay.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Large numbers of dolphins have been filmed in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast by wildlife volunteers, as WalesOnline reports.

The conservationists with the Sea Trust charity, based in Pembrokeshire, recorded the "dolphin-fest" from the deck of the Stena Europe ferry en route from Fishguard to Rosslare.

Sea Trust director Cliff Benson confirmed the sighting of "a pod of eight Risso's dolphins, 40-plus common dolphins [and] four porpoises" among others as soon as the ferry headed west of Tusker Rock.

Altogether in the three-hour passage across the Irish Sea, the volunteer surveyors recorded a total of 99 common dolphins, 10 Risso's dolphins and 26 harbour porpoises. "That's not bad for a winter trip," said Benson.

He added that while there are threats to the Irish Sea's cetaceans from scallop dredging and the like, "to date our surveys show this area is teeming with life.

“This is Wales and Ireland we are talking about not Bermuda so get this amount of dolphin and porpoise activity with whales thrown in as well is incredible."

Stena has welcomed Sea Trust volunteers on board its vessels since 2004 to check on cetaceans and other marine wildlife in the waters between Ireland and the UK on a monthly basis.

And as reported previously on Afloat.ie, Seatruck Ferries has also been providing free passage to UK marine wildlife researchers to discover how many dolphins and seabirds make their home in the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, BBC News reports that a pod of more than 100 bottlenose dolphins was recently spotted off the Isle of Man.

The Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch said it received a number of sightings from the east and west coasts of the island in the northern half of the Irish Sea, reporting a hive of activity.

"The group sizes tend to be relatively ginormous," said Tom Felce of the group. "So if they are here you can't miss them."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#DALKEY ISLAND PROSPECT - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has joined the chorus of opposition to the proposed oil and gas exploration off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Providence Resources has applied for a foreshore licence to search for oil or gas about 6km out to sea on the Kish Bank Basin.

But the prospect has provoked a split in the local community over the potential risks and benefits, with many calling for a public enquiry into the licence before it is granted.

This evening an urgent meeting in Dun Laoghaire will address the public's concerns, which have been echoed by the IWDG.

"The Kish Bank and adjacent waters are important for cetaceans," said the group in a statement. "In addition, sightings of bottlenose dolphins have increased dramatically in the area following the presence of a group of three individuals since August 2010."

The IWDG is concerned about the potential effects on dolphins and porpoises that "could due to noise generated from the drilling process", noting that "there is little published data on the intensity and effects of sound generated by drilling".

Protest group Protect Our Coast has launched a online petition against the Dalkey Island Prospect citing concerns over the proximity of the drilling area to the mainland as well as the Special Protection Area of Dalkey Island, which is a haven for marine wildlife.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINE WILDLIFE - A "feeding frenzy" involving a pod of fin whales was spotted off Hook Head in Co Wexford last week, The Irish Times reports.

And according to Andrew Malcolm of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), two of the whales were in the same location almost exactly a year ago.

Malcolm, who was with a group on board the Rebecca C, used photographs of the whale's dorsal fins to compare records for the confirmation.

The pod of six fin whales was seen feeding some 3km southeast of Hook Head, attracted by the herring spawning grounds in the area.

More than 30 other cetaceans, including common dolphins, porpoises and a minke whale, were sighted on the trip.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Fastnet Line which runs the Cork-Swansea port route on the Celtic Sea, is assisting the charity MarineLife to monitor cetaceans, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The work of MarineLife is to survey the population trends and track the movements of dolphins, whales, porpoises and other wildlife. The research is undertaken onboard Fastnet Line's Julia (1981/21,699grt) and access to the ferry is provided free-of-charge to the wildlife-based charity.

During the months of July and August the ferry's schedule will allow for further opportunities to conduct daylight sightings of marine-life which is to be posted on MarineLife and Fastnet Line websites.

Adrian Shephard, Chairman of MarineLife Trustees, said: "The route from Swansea to Cork crosses a range of marine habitats and we hope it will generate many sightings of cetaceans and seabirds, including two important species we monitor, the white-beaked dolphin and the balearic shearwater".

In addition monitors recently observed fin whales, the second largest whale on the planet. Such sightings provide vital information and this will contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of cetaceans and other marine life in the Celtic Sea. To read more www.marine-life.org.uk

The first of four summertime surveys is to take place on 10 July. Overall the research by MarineLife is part of a larger project which also involves the use of other ferries operating in the Irish Sea and those serving on UK continental routes.

The 1,500 passenger / 325 car-carrying Julia sails year-round six times a week between September to June and from next month and during August the vessel will provide eight sailings per week. For fares and sailings schedules contact www.fastnetline.com

Published in Marine Science

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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