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Safehaven Marine captured footage (below) of the Port of Cork Pilots in their Safehaven Built Interceptor 48 Pilot Boat ”Failte” undertaking pilot transfers off Cork Harbour during the recent days of strong south-easterly gales.

Roches Point lighthouse recorded 50 knots of wind on the 13th as the Cosco bulk carrier passes by. The Cork Wave Buoy ( two NM off the harbour entrance) recorded waves of up to 6.7m at the time.

Despite the challenging sea state, the pilot boat coxswain managed to get alongside and safely disembark the pilot.

The Port Pilot boat off the stern of the Cosco bulk carrier as it departs Cork Harbour Screenshot: Safehaven MarineThe Port Pilot boat off the stern of the Cosco bulk carrier as it departs Cork Harbour Screenshot: Safehaven Marine

Most ports in the world require pilotage, it is the practice where a pilot comes on board near the entrance of the port and then assists the ship's captain with bringing the ship into port and docking or anchoring in the designated anchorage. The pilot also helps provide safe passage when the ship departs.

Afterwards, on the 15th the conditions in Cork Harbour moderated with the Grimaldi car carrier able to depart which Safehaven Marine caught via drone footage.

The Port of Cork Interceptor 48 Pilot boat alongside the Grimaldi car carrier Screenshot: Safehaven MarineThe Port of Cork Interceptor 48 Pilot boat alongside the Grimaldi car-carrier Screenshot: Safehaven Marine

The footage documents the essential work of the port,  its' pilots and pilot boat crew in keeping the port working and shipping moving in such bad sea and weather conditions.

Port of Cork Pilots in Bad Weather at Cork Harbour Entrance

Published in Safehaven Marine

The Port of Waterford is to invest almost €1 million in a new pilot boat from Safehaven Marine.

Due to come unto use in September 2021, the pilot boat will be named Port Láirge, the Irish for Waterford and a name long associated with a steam-powered dredger that served the city for more than 70 years until the 1980s.

The 15-metre-long boat will provide safer working conditions for pilotage personnel, the port says.

Safehaven Marine in Co Cork won a tendering process to design and build the new boat which will be fitted with the latest marine safety technology.

Recent launches for the Youghal-based performance boatbuilders include Interceptor 48 pilot boats for Montevideo in Uruguay and the Port of Coruna in Northern Spain.

Port of Waterford Harbourmaster Capt Darren Doyle said: “We look forward to the new Port Láirge being brought into service next year.

“Our pilot boat crew and pilots do vitally important work year-round and it is essential that they have the best possible vessel to operate from.”

Published in Safehaven Marine

Specialist Pilot boat builders Safehaven Marine of Cork, have launched a new Interceptor 48 pilot boat for the Port of Coruna in Northern Spain.

‘Practicos Coruna Ochno’ is powered by a pair of Volvo D13 500hp continuously rated engines and ZF Gearboxes. Propulsion is by conventional stern gear turning 28” propellers giving her a 25-knots continuous operational speed. Capable of carrying seven pilots and crew all on shock mitigation seating comfortably in her spacious fully lined cabin with extremely low noise levels of 73db recorded.

Her central helm position with all-round visibilityHer central helm position with all-round visibility

She is proving very economical using just under 80 litres of fuel per hr on each engine at 25kts. She is heavily fendered all round and incorporating Safehaven’s sacrificial fender system protecting the vessel at her boarding area and softening the inevitable hard impact that can occur in poor conditions. Safehaven’s proven MOB recovery system is fitted on the transom allowing a casualty to be easily recovered in a MOB situation. A full suite of Garmin electronics is installed at her central helm position which provides excellent all-round visibility and control of the craft when undertaking alongside ship pilot transfers.

The new Interceptor 48 alongside the ‘Taccola’ dredger(Above and below) The new Interceptor 48 alongside the ‘Taccola’ dredgerDredgerDredger

Safehaven undertook extensive rough weather sea trials to fully test her and took advantage of being able to do multiple boarding trails alongside the ‘Taccola’ dredger that is operating in Cork harbour presently, demonstrating to clients how nicely she handles alongside and captured some cool photos and video.

spacious forward cabinSpacious forward cabinCapable of carrying seven pilots and crew all on shock mitigation seatingCapable of carrying seven pilots and crew all on shock mitigation seating

Over the next week, she will be prepared for yet another remote Covid forced handover, with the owners being unable to visit at all throughout her construction, which was managed through plenty of online videos and photos which proved very effective.

She is to be shipped to Coruna only a few weeks late in early October. Once in operation there Safehaven expect her to handle admirably the big ‘Bay of Biscay’ seas the port can experience this coming winter.

She is Safehaven’s fifth pilot boat supplied to Spain and 45th pilot boat built overall.

Interceptor 48 pilot boat Principle Dimensions

L.O.A. (Length overall) 14.9m
Beam overall (Including fenders) 4.4m
Draft (Depth of hull below waterline) 1.3m
Displacement Lightship 16,200kg
Fully loaded 18,800kg
Fuel capacity 1800 litres
Water capacity 110 litres
Crew capacity 7 persons
Engines Volvo D13 500hp
Gearboxes ZF500
Propellers 28” 4 blade equipoise
Seating KAB514 suspension seats
Electronics Radar, GPS, Sonar, VHF
Garmin 48nm, 15” & 12” displays, ECDS, Dual-beam graphic display
Icom VHF DSC x2
Subdivision 4 x separate watertight compartments
Classification PRS
Speed (continuous operation) 25kts

Published in Safehaven Marine
Tagged under

Frank Kowalski's Safehaven Marine in County Cork set a new World powerboat record for Cork - Fastnet Rock – Cork yesterday, averaging 44.6 knots and here the Safehaven skipper reviews his record-breaking run.

As Afloat reported earlier, Safehaven Marine set a new over 50ft class Cork to the Fastnet Rock and back UIM World powerboat record in their 23m long XSV20 ‘Thunder Child II’ in a time of 2hrs 36 minutes averaging 44.6kts, recording a maximum speed of 53kts on the run. (subject to ratification by the UIM)

Thunderchild II makes her start at Weavers Point, Cork Harbour Photo: Bob BatemanThunderchild II makes a start on her successful record-breaking run at Weavers Point, Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

After a recce trip to the rock the day before, and with near-perfect conditions forecast, we made the decision to have a crack at setting the record the next day. Crossing the start line off Weavers Point at the entrance to Cork Harbour at 2 pm on Sunday the 9th of August in light winds and only a long Atlantic groundswell to contend with, we set off on the first leg heading West. Arriving at the Fastnet Rock 1hrs 21 minutes later we were surprised and delighted to see a huge flotilla of 40-50 boats waiting close by the rock to watch as we passed and wave us on. Although it was a bit stressful navigating through them as we rounded the rock it was simply fabulous to see them all set chase after Thunder Child II as she headed home. Passing the Stags Rock and Kinsale Lighthouse heading East with boats coming out to watch us as she literally thundered home, (there’s some soundtrack from her quad 650hp engines) and putting up a huge rooster tail from her surface drives we crossed the finish line to another great welcome.

Thunderchild II crew: Skipper Frank Kowalski, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls, Mary Power & Robert GuzikThunderchild II crew: Skipper Frank Kowalski, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls, Mary Power & Robert Guzik

Thunder Child II ran faultlessly during the run looking after her crew of: Skipper Frank Kowalski, Ciaran Monks, Carl Randalls, Mary Power & Robert Guzik. We were kind to her engines keeping them at just 85-90% of full power throughout, only giving her the beans for the final 10miles towards the finish line running at over 50 kts.

Published in Safehaven Marine

County Cork boat builder Safehaven Marine set a new record for an over 50ft vessel from Cork–Fastnet-Cork in its Thunder Child II vessel this afternoon.

Crossing the start line off Weavers Point Cork Harbour at 2.00 pm, skipper Frank Kowalski completed the course in two hours and 36 minutes (subject to ratification by the UIM).

Thunderchild II averaged 44.6 kts with a maximum speed of 53 kts.

Published in Safehaven Marine

County Cork boat builder Safehaven Marine is making a bid at the over 50ft vessel Cork–Fastnet-Cork UIM Powerboat World record in its Thunder Child II.

Crossing the start line off Weavers Point Cork Harbour at 2.00 pm, skipper Frank Kowalski is aiming to round the Fastnet before 3.30 pm this afternoon.

Track live here

Published in Safehaven Marine

Cork Harbour Boat manufacturer Safehaven Marine undertook an 800nm four-day cruise in Thunder Child II to Scotland, living off the boat to visit a place called the Gulf of Corryvreckan. A pretty wild yet beautiful place writes Thunderchild's skipper, Frank Kowalski

The Corryvreckan whirlpool, or ‘Maelstrom’, as would be a more appropriate description, is formed as the tide enters the narrow stretch of water between the Islands of Jura and Scarba that is the Gulf of Corryvreckan. Here the tidal flow speeds up to 8.5kts as it is squeezed between the islands, and there it encounters a variety of underwater seabed features. On the western entrance, a basalt pinnacle rises up from depths of 70m to 29m, and lying to East, directly in front of the pinnacle is a deep hole in the seabed, with a depth of 219m.

Thunderchild II heading into the standing waves at the Corryvreckan WhirlpoolThunderchild II heading into the standing waves at the Corryvreckan Whirlpool

As the water flows through the gulf it falls into this hole, and then encounters the steep face of the pinnacle, causing a massive upwelling surge of water to rise to the surface. On a flood tide this surge meets swells entering the Gulf from the west, and creates standing waves that can reach heights of 9m.

Sstationary at 6kts with the waves breaking behind Thunderchild IIStationary at 6kts with the waves breaking behind the boat

These ‘standing waves’ are not like normal waves as they form directly over the pinnacle, standing still and breaking heavily on the spot. Whirlpools are also formed over the pinnacle as well as throughout the Gulf, as opposing water columns sheer, and these can be up to 50m wide.

Submarine topography of the Gulf of CorryvreckanSubmarine topography of the Gulf of Corryvreckan

During a storm on spring tides, it is said that the angry roar from the seething waters of the maelstrom, with its standing waves and whirlpools, can be heard up to 10 miles away, and local mythology refers to this as the voice of ‘Cailleach’ (The Hag) of the Whirlpool.

In a well-found boat, the gulf can be safely navigated in fair conditions, or at slack water, but I can imagine that in a Westerly gale on a flood tide, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the place, as it would truly be described as ‘Unnavigable’. Indeed it was once classified as such by the Royal Navy.

On the day we visited with Thunder Child we had westerly winds of Force 5 gusting 6, and a 3.9m tide which enabled us to experience the standing waves on the flood and the whirlpools on the ebb.

The word Corryvreckan translates to ‘Cauldron’ and that perfectly describes the seething sea state around the whirlpools, and it was quite an experience to have the throttles set for 6kts, holding station just ahead of the standing waves that were breaking behind the boat, and not be moving at all!

There is an Old Irish text known as Cormac’s Glossary written by the King and Bishop of Cashel, Cormac mac Cuilennáin who died in the year 908: “There is a great whirlpool which is between Ireland and Scotland to the north, in the meeting of various seas, its thunderous eructation and its bursting and its roaring are heard among the clouds, like the steam boiling of a cauldron of fire.”

I felt that was a pretty cool description of the place as how the place might have appeared of old during a storm.

Coryvreckan is reputed to produce the third largest whirlpools after the Saltstraumen and Moskstraumen Maelstroms in Norway, however the unique submarine topography of the gulf of Corryvreckan and its capability to produce dangerous standing waves means that in storm conditions, it is potentially one of the most violent stretches of water in the world.

The Voyage North from Cork Harbour to Corryvreckan

Corryvreckan at Ardbeg Marina with a rainbow as a symbol of hope for a successful tripCorryvreckan at Ardbeg Marina with a rainbow as a symbol of hope for a successful trip

As Afloat previously reported, Casting off at Cobh in the afternoon on Saturday 18th July 2020 Thunder Child II arrived at Bangor marina at 9.30pm for refuelling after averaging 32kts over the 275nm run. Overnighting on aboard we set sail early Sunday morning heading up the Northern Ireland coast to Rathlin Island, itself a place notorious for producing challenging seas with its tidal strong race and overfalls, before a lumpy crossing to Scotland to enjoying two days taking Thunder Child II through the standing waves and whirlpools in the Gulf of Corryvreckan, and capturing some cool Ariel drone video.

Thunderchild II alongside at Bangor Marina in County Down(Above and below) Thunderchild II alongside at Bangor Marina in County Down

Thunderchild II at Bangor Marina

Whilst we were there It was also nice to see one of our old Interceptor 42 passenger boats ‘Venturer’ for the first time since we built her 15 years ago, and still looking good. Operated by Craignish Cruises running boat tours in the Gulf, they guided us on a tour around the islands visiting the notorious ‘Grey Dogs’ tidal race and seeing the Sea Eagles nesting nearby.

Thunderchild on her 800nm odyssey to Corryvreckan off the Scottish West CoastThunderchild on her 800nm odyssey to Corryvreckan off the Scottish West Coast

Spending Sunday night isolated on the breakwater at Ardfern marina we headed to Belfast late afternoon on Monday. Next day we were onwards to Dun Laoghaire for lunch and down the East coast of Ireland where we were buzzed overhead by Rescue 117 of the Irish Coastguard, which was great to experience and gave us the excuse to give Thunder Child the beans, and although heavy with fuel we still managed to hit over 50kts.

Thunderchild II propellorsIn the amazingly clear waters of the North, Thunder Child II’s quad propellers quite clearly over the transom

Thunderchild II Leaves Bangor MarinaThunderchild II Leaves Bangor Marina, her golden colour glistening in the sun and below

We arrived home to East Ferry Marina, Cobh late Tuesday evening after an enjoyable voyage for her crew comprising: Skipper Frank Kowalski and crew: Carl Randalls (Drone pilot) Ciaran Monks, Mary Power and Kenny Carrol. During the voyage, Thunder Child II ran faultlessly and proved her capabilities of averaging high speeds for long distances.

Thunderchild II crew: Skipper Frank Kowalski and crew: Carl Randalls (Drone pilot) Ciaran Monks, Mary Power and Kenny CarrollThunderchild II crew: Skipper Frank Kowalski and crew: Carl Randalls (Drone pilot) Ciaran Monks, Mary Power and Kenny Carrol

Thunder Child II Specification

  • L.O.A. 23m
  • Beam 5.4m
  • Displacment 25,000kg ( lightship)
  • Fuel capacity 8,000L
  • Range 750nm
  • Propulsion 4x Caterpillar C8.7 650hp engines, 4x France Helices SD23L Surface drives
  • Speed Max 54kts, Cruise 32-40kts
Published in Cork Harbour

Safehaven Marine's Frank Kowalski has announced that his planned Trans-Atlantic record attempt this year in Thunder Child II has been postponed.

Speculation mounted this week when the asymmetrical catamaran was lifted out of the water in Cork Harbour that it might be the start of record bid preparations.

Kowalski told Afloat 'Regretfully Safehaven Marine have had to postpone our planned Trans-Atlantic record attempt this year in Thunder Child II. This is due to the COVID 19 crisis and the global logistical and travel restrictions in place'.

It had previously been indicated that between July and August 2020 the same five-member crew that set a record time Round Ireland also aboard Thunder Child II, would attempt an unprecedented 4,500 km transatlantic route from Killybegs to Newfoundland via refuelling stops at Greenland and Iceland.

Kowalski also told Afloat via social media: "Due to the very small Greenland sea ice and North Atlantic weather window that existed for us to make the attempt, sadly it is not going to be possible for us to undertake the voyage this year".

Published in Safehaven Marine

The fully refurbished Thunderchild II was on the hoist at Crosshaven Boatyard in Cork Harbour yesterday, fuelling speculation that she is preparing for a new world record transatlantic crossing?

As regular Afloat readers will know, the record bid for the innovative Irish craft was postponed from 2019 until this summer.

The North Atlantic Challenge by Safehaven Marine of Youghal’s new 70ft XSV20 Thunder Child II was originally scheduled to be underway in mid-July 2019. But although the boat had her preliminary launch that February, pressure of work on other craft in the company’s internationally successful pilot and patrol boat ranges at the busy factory saw a postponement of the Challenge until 2020. And while the preferred strategy is still in favour of the northern route, the plan now is to do it west to east.

Designed and built by Youghal-based Safehaven Marine, managing director Frank Kowalski describes the super-swift craft as “a unique, hybrid hull design, asymmetrical catamaran, with a wave-piercing deep V mono-hull”.

Valued at over €1m, it is designed for high speed, with minimal turbulence.

Measuring 23 m in length, it has a 5.3 m beam and boasts a Hyuscraft hydrofoil system fitted between the two catamaran hulls.

In July 2017 the 17-metre original Thunder Child set a record in circumnavigating Ireland, anticlockwise, via Rockall, in just over 34 hours.

It was previously indicated that between July and August 2020 the same five-member crew, aboard Thunder Child II will attempt an unprecedented 4,500 km transatlantic route from Killybegs to Newfoundland via refuelling stops at Greenland and Iceland.

Published in Safehaven Marine

Safehaven Marine have launched ‘San Cibrao’, an Interceptor 42 pilot boat for the port of San Ciprian in Spain.

San Cibrao is the 14th pilot 42 model built and the 43rd Pilot vessel Safehaven Marine have delivered to ports worldwide and has proved to be a superb sea boat performing admirably in pilotage operations with all owners extolling its virtues of seakeeping, strength and stability. San Cibrao is powered by a pair of Volvo D9 engines rated at 425hp and has a maximum speed of 23.5kts. She is heavily fendered all round and incorporating Safehaven’s sacrificial fender system protecting the vessel at her boarding area and softening the inevitable hard impact that can occur in poor conditions.

Safehaven's Interceptor 42 handling winds of 50kts at the entrance to Cork Harbour with 4-metre heavily breaking seas offshore in the shoaling waters off the Daunt Rock(Above and below Safehaven's Interceptor 42 handling winds of 50kts at the entrance to Cork Harbour with 4-metre heavily breaking seas offshore in the shoaling waters off the Daunt Rock

Safehaven Marine have launched ‘San Cibrao’, an Interceptor 42 pilot boat for the port of San Ciprian in Spain

Safehaven Marine have launched ‘San Cibrao’, an Interceptor 42 pilot boat for the port of San Ciprian in Spain

Safehaven’s proven MOB recovery system is fitted on the transom allowing a casualty to be easily recovered in a MOB situation. A full suite of Furuno electronics are installed at her central helm position and she provides seating for 4 pilots on CAB suspension seats in her very highly fitted out the main cabin, which provides a comfortable relaxed environment for pilots and crew during transfers with additional accommodation in her f/wd cabin incorporating seating and berths, a separate heads compartment, dedicated electrical room and galley area.

With the Covid-19 travel restrictions in place and the Pilots from San Ciprian unable to fly here at present, so Safehaven is having to do a remote ‘on-line handover’. So Safehaven produced a video to give them every confidence that she is performing well, as she handled comfortably the stormy conditions prevailing on the South Coast of Ireland during trials, with winds of 50kts at the entrance to Cork Harbour, and over 4m heavily breaking seas offshore in the shoaling waters off the Daunt Rock, presenting the exact heavy weather conditions she was designed and built for:

As the pilots in San Ciprian have to deal with the challenging seas of the Bay of Biscay in wintertime, Safehaven wanted to ensure she was up to the task. She is due to be shipped overland shortly where she is needed urgently to ensure essential pilotage to ships entering and departing the Port in Northern Spain.

Safehaven currently has in build pilot boats for the Ports of: Coruna Spain, Gdynia, Poland, Montevideo, Uruguay and Tangier, Morocco and have this month, May 2020 signed contracts with the Faroe Islands Rescue service to supply a second Interceptor 48 S.A.R. craft.

Published in Marine Trade
Tagged under
Page 1 of 5

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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