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The Government has opted not to pursue an incident where a British navy ship instructed an Irish fishing vessel to leave grounds where it was working some 60 miles off the Donegal coast.

The 32-metre fishing vessel Marlíona, registered in Greencastle, Co Donegal, was hailed by the British navy ship HMS Lancaster on July 21st last and asked to leave the area, even though it is well within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was investigating the incident, which had been referred to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO).

However, the department has subsequently said the location was “not within Ireland’s territorial sea and did not, therefore, infringe our sovereignty”.

“In general, it is not unusual for naval ships to ask other vessels in the vicinity to move away from an exercise location for safety reasons,” the department said.

A British navy spokesperson said that “courteous and professional exchanges between the fishing vessel and frigate operating within the designated exercise area enabled this lawful exercise to continue and conclude safely”.

“The safety of all mariners is taken extremely seriously by the Royal Navy. At no time was there a risk to safety to either the fishing vessel or submarine,” the British navy spokesperson said.

The British Directorate of Defence Communications said the ship “operated throughout in accordance with the UN Convention of the Law of Sea, having due regard for other vessels operating in the area”.

However, KFO chief executive Sean O’Donoghue has said there is now a case for the Government to state that the Irish EEZ should be protected from military training exercises by submarines on environmental grounds.

The Celtic League non-governmental organisation based in the Isle of Man has written to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the issue.

It says that the dangers posed to fishing vessels by the activity of submarines “of all powers” were “highlighted graphically” when the Irish MFV Sharelga (italics) was sunk by HMS Porpoise” off the Co Louth coast in April, 1982.

“No lives were lost on that occasion however, unfortunately, that was not the case sometime later when the Scottish MFV Antares was sunk - all crewmen died,” the letter by league assistant general secretary Bernard Moffatt states.

He refers to the recent towing of Co Down MFV Karen by a British submarine, and says an inquest in Cornwall has “still to determine the fate of the crew members of the Breton trawler Bugaled Breizh lost of the Lizard during a NATO exercise”.

Mr Moffatt reminds Mr Martin that a campaign via an Irish government initiative led to the adoption of two International Maritime Organisation (IMO) resolutions.

Mr Moffatt says one of these two resolutions, A709 (17), places an onus on the British navy to move the exercise or cease it, rather than request the fishing vessel to give way.

Asked to comment on the issue, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said that the issue was “not relevant” to it and referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the issue was one for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Shipyard Harland & Wolff has taken a step closer to survival with confirmation that the consortium to which it belongs has been awarded a £1.25bn contract to build new warships.

As the News Letter reports, East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson described the decision – giving the green light for the Babcock-led consortium to build the Type 31e Royal Navy frigates – as a “boon” for the Belfast shipyard and said it was “hugely encouraging”.

The news come as Belfast Harbour launched a strategic plan to invest £254 million in new infrastructure which will help generate 7,000 new jobs.

The development at Harland & Wolff is a vital lifeline for a company that went into administration just over a month ago.

For more click here on the story

Published in Belfast Lough
Tagged under

Following the Rockall fishery dispute that grabbed the headlines last week, the UK's newest Fishery Patrol Vessel (FPV) completed a delivery voyage from Scotland to its homeport of Portsmouth today, writes Jehan Ashmore.

HMS Medway arrived on Solent waters this morning. The newbuild is the second of five new British Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) currently under construction on the Clyde at BAE Systems Scotstoun yard.

The final Batch 2 river class OPV HMS Spey was on Friday taken out of the shipyard's Block Outfit Hall and positioned onto the hard stand ready to be loaded onto the launch barge.

BAE's shipyard is located upriver of the striking multi-award winning Riverside Museum in Glasgow where Afloat visited the iconic building designed by the Iranian born architect, the late Zaha Hadid.

As for the design of the HMS Medway and its future function, according to the Royal Navy they they will not use the Batch 2 class primarily for safeguarding fishing stocks in home waters but ‘forward deploy’ around the world. In addition to fishery duties, the class are designed to carry out counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling requirements in order to safeguard the UK's borders.

The new class each of 2000 tonnes will according to Naval Technology are to replace the Royal Navy’s current River-class patrol ships, including HMS Clyde, Severn, Tyne and Mersey. See report of Dublin Port call of the Liverpool based OPV and related role in the UK Government's Brexit contingency fund plan.

Leadship of the class is HMS Forth which like the rest of the class could find themselves on patrol in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Pacific rim operating from Singapore.

In December HMS Medway took its first sea trials along the Firth of Clyde and from where Afloat last Friday had traced the OPV back to the Faslane Naval Base on Gare Loch having departed the previous day. Faslane is the homeport of the Royal Navy's Trident class nuclear powered submarines.

The course set by HMS Medway also revealed further sea trails exercises that took place in the southern waters of the Firth of Cyde. This involved an area between Ardrossan in Ayrshire and Ailsa Craig, an impressive rocky islet.

On the following day (Friday) HMS Medway was tracked by Afloat when its reached the centre of the St. Georges Channel. It is in these waters where the temporary Rosslare-Fishguard ferry Stena Nordica (deputing for Stena Europe) had already proceeded beyond mid-channel during a routine morning sailing to the Pembrokeshire port in south-west Wales.

According to AIS system, HMS Medway achieved a speed of 24.9 knots while in relatively close quarters of an Irish flagged dry-cargoship the Arklow Cliff. At just three metres shorter in length compared to the 90m naval newbuild, the 2,999grt cargoship had too set a southerly course.

Arklow Cliff Afloat featured its launch just two years ago and on this occasion as an operational ship was tracked underway while making a more sedate speed of 11.9 knots. By coincidence Arklow Cliff was bound for the River Medway where the town and Port of Rochester is located about 30 miles east of London.

Arklow Cliff likewise of HMS Medway had departed its last port last Thursday, but from Warrenpoint in Co. Down. The short-sea trader arrived in the north Kent port yesterday having sailed along the Thames Estuary from where on the southern shore the cargoship entered the Medway to approach Rochester.

Published in News Update

#Ports&Shipping- Three shipbuilding teams in the UK, according to a Ministry of Defence statement, have been awarded multi-million-pound contracts to push ahead with plans to build five new Type 31e warships for the Royal Navy. 

The announcement from the British Defence Minister Stuart Andrew took place in Portsmouth Naval Base last week on board HMS Diamond, (see sister, Defender's recent Irish visit) which returned from the Mediterranean.

The Minister revealed that teams led by BAE Systems, (see Merseyside yard Cammell Laird) Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK have been shortlisted for the competition to build the five frigates for £1.25 billion.

Each group has been awarded a contract worth up to £5 million to fund the next stage of their plans, with the preferred bidder for the design and manufacture of the ships due to be announced by the end of next year. The MOD want the first ship delivered in 2023.

Speaking in Portsmouth, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “This is the first frigate competition the UK has run in a generation, and we are funding three shipbuilding teams with extremely exciting concepts to continue developing their plans. Next year we will announce the winning bidder, and one of these designs will go on to bolster our future fleet with five new ships, creating UK jobs and ensuring our Royal Navy maintains a truly global presence in an increasingly uncertain world.”

The awarding of the contracts is a key milestone in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which was launched in September 2017. The Strategy met the challenges set by an independent report written by Sir John Parker, a figure with a wealth of leadership and boardroom experience in shipbuilding, and was underpinned by the commitment to build the new Type 31e ships.

The bold Type 31e programme will move through procurement at an unprecedented pace: the vessel will commence production within 3 years of the launch of the programme, far quicker than similar programmes of this type.

The ships will make up the next generation of the Royal Navy fleet, along with eight Type 26 warships which will start being delivered from the mid-2020s. The names of all eight Type 26 frigates have now been announced, and the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has also outlined that they will be homed in Devonport.

The decision on where the Type 31e frigates will be based is still to be made.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#NavalVisits - At this stage of the UK’s Royal Navy University Boat Squadron tour the last visit was to Kinsale Harbour and followed calls to Cork, Waterford and Dublin, where the flotilla is to return for the Easter Weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat has been monitoring movements of the naval flotilla of Archer P2000 class inshore patrol boats that visited Dublin Port last week at the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club Marina. The patrol trio comprise of HMS Biter, Charger and Persuer which are part of the First Patrol Boat Squadron, whose primary role is to support the University Royal Naval Units (URNU).

The White Ensign flagged visitors had berthed in Kinsale Yacht Club Marina where they arrived this week until departing last night. Also in port was and remains today the Musketier, a Manx flagged Peel registered cargoship that is operated from an East Cowes, Isle of Wight based company, Faversham Ships.

Prior to the call to Kinsale Harbour, a courtesy call was paid to the Irish Naval Service base in Cork Harbour where the P2000's berthed within the naval dock basin. Upon arrival, four Naval Service patrol vessels were berthed. A pair of Babcock built OPV’s from their shipyard in Appledore, Devon, flagship HPV LÉ Eithne built locally in Rushbrooke and CPV LÉ Orla, the former RN HMS Swift launched in Aberdeen and which formed part of the Hong Kong Patrol Squadron.

Since Sunday, members of the URNU travelled from Dublin to Waterford and this was followed in Cork Harbour where they met with Commodore Michael Malone Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service. Another recent naval visitor albeit to Cork City quays was the Belgium Navy’s BNS Castor, a patrol vessel where relationships with the city and nation were strengthened.

In total 14 craft from the RN’s Archer P2000 class are assigned to the UNRUs though they also contribute to a wide range of fleet tasking. A RN Lieutenant commands each of the URNUs and is responsible for 51 undergraduates during their time in the Unit. The university squadron is not a recruiting organisation and membership of the URNU carries no obligation to join the Royal Navy on graduation.

Equally to the same number of P2000 craft, 14 units of the URNU are located around the UK offering opportunities to 700 undergraduates from the country’s leading universities in England, Scotland and Wales. An example been HMS Charger which has been the URNU for Liverpool University since 1990. The 54 tonnes craft is based at Brunswick Dock on the site of the new Royal Naval Headquarters on Merseyside.

The URNU aims to broaden a naval understanding and develop undergraduates who show potential through maritime experience and exposure to the values and ethos of the RN.

In addition they have opportunities to take part in sporting events, adventurous training activities and gain a CMI qualification all within a vibrant and friendly social scene.

Published in Naval Visits

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard has airlifted a sailor with leg injuries from a Royal Navy submarine off the West Coast of Ireland, as The Irish Times reports.

Sligo’s Rescue 118 helicopter was dispatched to the scene some 277km west of Achill Island yesterday morning (Tuesday 9 May), with top cover provided by the Shannon-based Rescue 115.

The submarine crewman was flown to Sligo University Hospital for treatment.

An earier version of this story erroneously reported the submarine crewman as Irish but his nationality is uncomfirmed.

Published in Coastguard

#FastPatrols  -A pair of small yet high-speed Royal Navy Inshore Patrol Craft in which one served in Gibraltar are to pay a visit to Dublin Port,writes Jehan Ashmore.

The ‘Archer’ class HMS Blazer along with HMS Ranger are to arrive today. They belong to the 14 strong P2000 Fast Inshore Patrol Craft that form the First Patrol Boat Squadron.

Primary role of the P2000’s is to support the University Royal Naval Units (URNU) but they also contribute to a wide range of Fleet tasking. Among them fishery protection duties and safeguarding the integrity of the UK's territorial waters.

The craft provide training and maritime experience for University Royal Naval Unit students and also provide support to Fleet tasking and exercises.

HMS Blazer (P279) is the URNU at Southampton Solent University, Portsmouth University and Southampton Institute.

As for HMS Ranger, this sister is the URNU at Sussex University, however she served for 13 years in the Gibraltar Squadron before returning to the UK in 2004.

Some characteristics of the Archer P2000 craft are listed below.

Tonne Displacement: 54
Top Speed: 25 knots
Nautical Range: (550 miles)
Weapons: DS3OB 30mm Gun and GAM BO 20mm Gun

The visiting Royal Navy pair are to berth at Ocean Pier from where HMS Portland also called in recent years. The Type 23 Duke class frigate was referred to related naval news regards the recently decommissioned RFA Gold Rover.

Published in Naval Visits

#Westminster - A British Royal Naval Type 23 frigate that docked in Dublin Port is half-way through a three-day courtesy call to the capital, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Duke class HMS Westminster (F237) has returned to recent active service following an extensive upkeep and trails period.

This involved dry-docking the Sea Wolf Guided Missiles equipped frigate in Portsmouth Dockyard. The extensive upgrade took place to the frigates combat and weapon systems. The works were carried out on the 133m frigate by BAE Systems.

The refit also enabled a thorough overhaul of the frigate’s main propulsion systems that delivers a speed of 28 knots.

Also work to hull was subjected to repairs and preventative maintenance. This is to ensure the vessel will be in the best possible condition for years ahead of operational duties.

HMS Westminster follows in the wake of another naval visitor of the Belgium Navy, BNS Castor designated a Ready Duty Ship (RDS). 

At the beginning of this week the UK Ambassador to Belgium was on board the RDS off Zeebrugge. This was to mark the 30th anniversary of a ferry disaster that took place off the North Sea port. 

The Ready Duty Ship departed the port today upon completion of a longer extended four-day shore leave. This saw the RDS occupy a city-centre berth. As for HMS Westminster the vessel berthed downriver along Ocean Pier.

Published in Naval Visits

#RussianSubs - Russian submarines have been tracked through the Irish Sea by the British military in recent days, according to Mail Online.

Two nuclear-powered Akula-class submarines were reportedly monitored by Royal Navy radar as they travelled to meet with a third sub tracked by Norway towards the English channel.

It’s understood all three were tracked by a Royal Navy sub before they went deep.

The situation comes after Russia unveiled a new stealth submersible craft amid escalating tensions over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interventions in Syria.

Mail Onine has much more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

Hello and welcome aboard your maritime programme Seascapes, this week we bring you highlights from the unveiling of a fine sculture by Mark Richards in Athy, Co Kildare on the centenary to the day of the rescue of the Endurance crew from Elephant Island and the unveiling of a sculpture by Mark Richards of Sir Ernest Shackleton beside the Athy Heritage Centre in his home place complete with an Honour Guard from the Irish Naval Service, we’ll be talking to Kevin Kenny of Athy Heritage Centre ; Commander Cormac Rynne of the Irish Naval Service; Arts Officer Lucina Russell and Jack L who performed “The Wearin’ of the Green” and we also met up with Jonathan Shackleton ...... also this week Dr Gordon Dalton of MAREI on the Maribe project and the outcome of a recent conference held in Cork....first this week here on Seascapes to our Galway Studios where we can hear from Features Editor Gery Flynn of Inshore Ireland Magazine on what’s in the latest edition ...

Features Editor of Inshore Ireland magazine – Gery Flynn ....next here on Seascapes to Athy in Co Kildare where .............to coincide with the very day a hundred years ago on the 30th of August that epic rescue of The crew of The Endurance from Elephant Island was marked by a sculpture by Mark Richards being unveiled by the Mayor of Kildare , Cllr Ivan Keatley and Alexandra Shackleton with an honour guard drawn from the Irish Naval Service in attendance ....

Also present for the ceremony was local musician Jack L who spoke briefly to Seascapes before he performed this song...

Jack Lukeman performing The Wearin’ of the Green” next we spoke to Jonathan Shackleton ...

Also in attendance was Commander Cormac Rynne of the Irish Naval Service.....

From Commander Cormac RYNNE to Kildare Arts Officer , Lucina RUSSELL..
The Athy Heritage Centre is in the heart of the town and is hosting an exhibition “ By Endurance We Conquer “running until February of next year....

Lets have a final word from Kevin Kenny of Athy Heritage Centre....
MARIBE is Marine Investment for the Blue Economy , Dr Gordon Dalton who is based at MaREI ERI, at University College Cork is Maribe Project Coordinator , we last talked to him earlier this year

Dr Gordon Dalton of MAREI /ERI – Maribe Project Coordinator

We wish swimmers the “Swim Sisters” team of Lynsey Dunne -Connacht, Mary Bolger-Hinds- Leinster, Claudine Hughes -Ulster and Maighread McMahon from Munster , they will attempt to become the first four provinces, all-female team to swim the length of the largest freshwater lake in these islands , Lough Neagh – a distance of approximately 30.5km.

The “Swim Sisters “ are four experienced open water swimmers and members of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association. And it was through their love of open water swimming that the team the " Swim Sisters " came together. Two of them , Lynsey & Maighread are veterans of two successful English Channel relay swims.You can read more about their swim on the Seascapes webpage....

That’s it for this week on your maritime programme, on the sound desk this week Niall O Sullivan , next week here on Seascapes we bring you the story of the Aud and Sir Roger Casement and highlights from the commemoration held on Banna Strand earlier this year at Easter .....Grainne McPolin was there for Seascapes when she spoke with with H.E. President Michael D Higgins we hear from local historian Pat Lawlor about Sir Roger Casement the humanitarian, explorer and seafarer and descendants of Captain Monteith and Sir Roger Casement ; until next Friday night, tight lines and fair sailing.”

A popular wedding venue a Wedding Fair is being held in The National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Haigh Terrace, Dun Laoghaire on Sunday 18th September open from 12 noon....

Ireland’s National Maritime Museum is housed in Dun Laoghaire’s 180-year-old Mariners Church, directly opposite the new DLR Lexicon library and easily accessible by DART suburban train and several bus services. The museum’s greatest artefact is probably the building itself as it is one of a few custom built places of worship for seafarers remaining intact in the world to-day.

Experienced guides will bring you on a voyage of discovery enthralling you with stories of discovery, heroism, war and disasters at sea. You will learn about maritime history, exploration, navigation, radio, deep-sea cable technology, nature, wildlife and view art inspired by the sea.

See the 10-tonne revolving Baily Optic, try the electrified steam engine and pause to reflect at the Titanic exhibit, the re-created radio room, the Royal Navy prisoners docks and the war memorial. Try sailor’s knots, learn how they lift heavy weights, be photographed with the pirate, research in the library, visit the shop and café and much more.

Published in Seascapes
Page 1 of 6

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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