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Displaying items by tag: Razor Clams

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed has signed a statutory instrument to increase the minimum conservation reference size for razor clam in the North Irish Sea.

This new measure, which was initiated by local fishermen, comes into effect on 1 July 2018 and means that the minimum landing size for razor clam in the North Irish Sea will be 125mm.

Razor clams are typically fished in the area extending from Howth to Dundalk Bay.

“I welcome the introduction of this measure, particularly as it was proposed and developed by inshore fishermen seeking to protect the sustainability of this important fishery,” Minister Creed said.

“I am pleased the Inshore Fisheries Forums are engaging with conservation issues in the inshore sector, and I would like to thank the forum members for their support in bringing this proposal forward.”

The new conservation measure follows an extensive consultation process involving the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and a public consultation earlier this year.

It also goes beyond the mandatory standards set by European regulations, and is being touted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as another step towards sustainability for the stock.

Industry members see the conservation size increase as a way of protecting smaller razor clams, which may help the razor clam stock to become more sustainable in the long term while also increasing its value.

In 2016, the value of razor clams fished in Irish waters was over €5.7 million. While they do not feature highly on Irish menus, razor clams are in favour in China and Spain.

Published in Fishing
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Investigations have concluded and no prosecution will be directed by the DPP over the death of a fisherman off Skerries last summer, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Garda divers recovered the body of Jamie McAllister (28) on 27 May 2017, close to where the razor clam boat he had been working on with his uncle sank the previous day.

The inquest into the incident is now adjourned for full hearing on Thursday 1 November.

Published in News Update

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed has announced that following proposals made by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, two public consultations will be held on conservation measures for razor clams in the North Irish Sea and brown crab in Irish waters.

Regarding razor clams, it is proposed to increase the minimum conservation reference size for razor clams in the North Irish Sea.

The change, if implemented would require that only razor clams with a minimum size of 125mm could be landed. Currently any razor clams over 100mm may be landed. This proposal was put forward by the North Irish Sea Razor Fishermen’s Association through the North East Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum.

Regarding brown crab, the proposal is to increase the minimum conservation reference size from 130mm to 140mm for brown crab that may be landed. This proposal was put forward by the members of the fishing industry through the South East Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum.

Interested parties and stakeholders are invited to view and complete the consultations available on the FishingNET website HERE. Submissions may be made via post, e-mail or online through the web portal.

Published in Fishing

#MCIB - The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) will this week begin its inquiry into the sinking of a fishing vessel off Skerries last Friday (26 May) that claimed the life of a local fisherman, according to The Irish Times.

Garda divers recovered the body of 28-year-old Jamie McAllister on Saturday morning, not far from where the fishing trawler went down off the North Dublin coast as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

His crew mate and uncle Keith McAllister was rescued at the scene — and it’s expected that the MCIB will seek an interview this week regarding the circumstances of how their vessel sank while the pair were fishing for razor clams in Force 4 winds.

Earlier this year the five-strong crew of a razor clam vessel fishing in similar conditions were rescued off the nearby Balbriggan coast after their trawler ran aground.

The MCIB previously concluded that dredge fishing for razor clams carries a “high risk” of fouling gear or snagging heavy objects, in its report on the capsize of a fishing boat in Rosslare Harbour in 2015.

Published in MCIB

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

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

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

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

The new national measures include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

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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