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Displaying items by tag: Salmon

The Loughs Agency says it shares its stakeholders’ concerns about the impact of cormorants predating on juvenile salmon during the annual smolt migration.

Unlike other salmon predators, cormorants are a protected species under Article 4 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Given the legal protection of this marine wildlife species, the management and population surveys are the responsibility of the Wildlife Section of the Biodiversity and Conservation Science Unit, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and their counterparts in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Angling clubs and fishery managers in Northern Ireland should be aware of the process to apply for the appropriate licence to assist in managing these birds and other actions, including scaring the birds to move them on, after agreement with wildlife officers from NIEA.

The NIEA advises that under Article 18 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, an application can only be legally processed if it can be shown that:

  • There is no other satisfactory solution, and;
  • The licence is issued to prevent serious damage to a fishery.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) recently secured two separate convictions for illegal netting of salmon on the Barrow and Nore rivers respectively.

At a sitting of Kilkenny District Court on Tuesday 23 February 2021, Richie Lennon of New Ross, Co Wexford was fined €300 together with a €500 contribution towards costs following a prosecution taken by IFI.

Lennon pleaded guilty to the offences of illegal netting, the possession/control of four salmon and the refusal to give the name and address of another person when lawfully demanded.

The breaches of fisheries legislation occurred on 22 July 2020 on the River Barrow near Bauck in Co Carlow.

IFI fisheries officers outlined the facts of the case to the court and how Lennon had been observed in the act of illegal netting on the River Barrow, attempting to capture salmon.

Evidence in relation to the offence was given before Judge Carthy. Following the conviction, details of a previous prosecution against Lennon which had been dealt with at Wexford District Court on 15 April 2014 when the Probation Act had been applied was identified.

Judge Carthy made it clear to Lennon that if he appears in court again on similar offences, she will consider a prison sentence.

‘On the River Barrow and the River Nore, salmon stocks are well below their conservation limit and require protection’

On the same day in Kilkenny District Court, Michael Hynes of Ballybeg, Co Waterford was fined €300 together with a €500 contribution after he pleaded guilty to the offences of illegal netting, the possession of seven salmon and the refusal to give the name and address of another person when lawfully demanded.

The breaches of fisheries legislation here occurred on 22 June 2020 on the River Nore, in the townland of Clonamery, Co Kilkenny.

Evidence in relation to the offence was given before Judge Carthy sitting at Kilkenny District Court. IFI officers outlined the facts of the case to the court that Mr Hynes was apprehended and found to be in possession of seven dead salmon in his vehicle.

Lynda Connor, director of the South Eastern River Basin District at IFI, said: “I would like to commend the fisheries officers’ efforts and continuous commitment to protecting salmon.

“On the River Barrow and the River Nore, salmon stocks are well below their conservation limit and require protection. This type of illegal activity can have devastating effects on future stocks of salmon.

“These two convictions highlight the ongoing issue of illegal netting for salmon and IFI’s zero tolerance of this serious misconduct.”

Published in Angling

While some anglers enjoyed success on the rivers within Foyle and Carlingford in 2020, the Loughs Agency says it continues to take a precautionary approach in line with national and international trends.

The State of the Salmon Report published by the international lead on salmon management, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), highlights the worrying and continuous decline in the populations of the Atlantic salmon.

NASCO states: “It now takes about double the amount of eggs to produce one adult (compared to 1990s) that will return to that same river to spawn — an indication of the multiple pressures facing the species throughout its complex life cycle.”

This decline continues to be reflected locally, the Loughs Agency warns, with rivers such as the Finn in Co Donegal failing to reach their conservation targets in 2020 and therefore will continue to operate on a catch and release basis for the 2021 season.

Now the agency is calling on anglers to take steps to ensure sustainability of the fisheries of Foyle and Carlingford. Anglers are encouraged to:

  • Update their catch return and fishing effort regularly throughout the season on the eLicence website. This data is used to help Loughs Agency manage the fishery using real-time data.

  • Keep the Loughs Agency’s 24hr Response Line telephone number +(0) 44 2871 342100 as a contact on their phone and report any concerns directly and promptly. The Loughs Agency relies on reports of illegal fishing and pollution from the public.
  • Practice catch and release. Many anglers already do this, with around 45% of anglers not taking carcass tags when they purchase their licence.

  • Implement biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of invasive species.

  • For the 2021 season, the Loughs Agency is issuing a maximum of one blue tag for the period 1 March to 31 May and/or a maximum two black tags for the period 1 June to 31 October, depending on the type of licence purchased. Tackle shops have been instructed not to issue more than these maximum quantities for the 2021 season.

The rivers Film and Foyle opened this past Monday 1 March, signalling the start of the salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout angling season. However, game, coarse and sea angling is already available in both catchments.

For still water game anglers, Binevenagh Lake opened on 1 February. The lake lies on a basalt plateau that towers over Lough Foyle and its flanking lowlands below with the famed hills of Donegal beyond.

The 3.2 hectare lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout by DAERA Inland Fisheries and successful flies include Bibio and Buzzer patterns.

Fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing are permitted and the fishery has a daily bag limit of four trout per rod. A Loughs Agency game rod licence and a DAERA game angling permit are required to fish this water.

Some private fisheries are also operating and offer fishing for rainbow trout including Ballyheather, Altmore, Birchwood, Cashel, Termon, Oaks, Glenowen, and Duncrun Fishery in the Foyle area. In the Carlingford area, Donaghaguy Reservoir is open for trout fishing. A Loughs Agency game licence and a permit from the relevant fishery are required to fish these waters.

Coarse angling on the Newry Canal (Photo: Loughs Agency)Coarse angling on the Newry Canal | Photo: Loughs Agency

Coarse angling is permitted all year round, but the climate impacts on which species can be targeted. While tench, bream and rudd are active in warmer weather, roach and perch feed in all seasons and make good year round fishing for the coarse angler.

In the Foyle area, coarse fishing is currently available at Aghlisk Lough, Baronscourt Lakes, Enagh Lough, Longvale and Lough Muck near Omagh. In Carlingford, anglers can also fish for roach and perch at Bessbrook, Camlough, Derryleckagh, Drumlough, Greenan Lough, Mill Dam, Milltown Lough and in Newry Canal. A Loughs Agency coarse licence and permission from the relevant fishery owner is required to fish these lakes. In some cases a day ticket must be purchased.

The marine waters in Foyle and Carlingford offer fantastic sea angling with stunning landscapes and seascape backdrops. Flounder, bass, dogfish, dab, rockling, conger, pollock and ray are likely catches for the shore angler.

The Foyle area has over 90 miles of coastline of inlets, beaches, estuaries and rocky shores from which to cast from, while Carlingford offers almost 30 miles of coastline opportunities to fish. No licence is required for sea angling, but if fishing for salmon or sea trout a Loughs Agency game licence is required for the season.

Anglers are reminded to comply with the latest government advice and restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. For further information on season dates, licence and permit requirements in the Foyle and Carlingford areas, visit the Loughs Agency website’s angling section HERE.

Published in Angling

The River Drowse’s first specimen salmon in 36 years has been caught and recorded, as Derek Evans writes in The Irish Times.

Seamus O’Neill from Ballyshannon was the lucky angler to lure the 25lb salmon last Monday (2w February) at the Old Sea Pool in the Drowse Salmon Fishery, which lies on the Donegal-Leitrim border.

The last salmon of comparable size caught on the River Drowse was a 35lb 8oz specimen landed in 1985, says the fishery’s proprietor Shane Gallagher — who was nine years old at the time.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
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Connemara’s first salmon of the year has been caught on the Delphi fishery, as Covid-19 restrictions keep many anglers away from their favoured riverbanks.

Delphi fishery manager David McEvoy was only angling for ten minutes when he hooked and landed a 6lbs 3 oz salmon in the “Waterfall pool” on the Bundorragha river, using a Willie Gunn tube fly.

Within an hour, the Delphi estate manager Michael Wade also caught a 6lbs fish in the river’s “Rockpool”.

Both catches recorded on February 1st – the first day of the season on the Bundorragha - have now been verified by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

There is usually keen competition in January to hook the first salmon, and the Drowes in Leitrim - which is one of the few rivers to open earlier than February 1st - has been claiming the honour in recent years.

However, Covid-19 restrictions on travel beyond five kilometres from home have kept riverbanks relatively quiet early this year.

The Delphi catch was the first to be hooked “on the fly”, while a 9.5 lb salmon was landed on rod and line on the Laune in Co Kerry on January 30th by Stephen Jordan.

IFI records the first fish which have been released and doesn’t tend to confirm fish caught which have been killed.

Mr McEvoy explained that as his was a ranched fish, it was killed, while Mr Wade’s fish was wild and was released.

All wild fish are released at Delphi, while ranched salmon – as in fish reared in hatcheries and then released - are removed.

“There is a saying that if the first fish landed is small, there will be a good season, but I think that is a bit of baloney,” Mr McEvoy said.

However, he does believe there will be a good spring run this year for a combination of reasons.

Wild salmon returned in record numbers to rivers in the west last year, but salmon expert Dr Ken Whelan cautioned that “one good salmon season” does not necessarily suggest a positive trend.

“We will really only know what is happening after scientists from Norway, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland meet in the autumn,” he said.

Published in Angling
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A farmer from Beaufort in Co Kerry was convicted and fined €3,300 plus costs following a prosecution taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

In a hearing at Caherciveen District Court on Thursday 10 December, Judge David Waters convicted Raymond Breen under Section 173 (d) of the Fisheries Consolidation Act 1959 for carrying out works in the Gaddagh River which damaged sensitive spawning beds.

While a charge of obstruction was struck out, Judge Waters commented that he could not ignore the defendant’s behaviour when considering the appropriate penalty.

The Gaddagh River, a tributary of the River Laune and in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), is an important spawning habitat for Atlantic salmon, a species protected under Irish and European law.

The court heard evidence that an inspection carried out by IFI fisheries officers discovered substantial amounts of spawning gravel removed from the river and stock-piled along a 250m section of bank.

Heavy machinery tracks were recorded across the riverbed, the protected spawning gravels and on both banks.

Evidence was given that the engine of a tracked earth-mover at the site was hot when discovered but the driver could not be located. The scene was described in court as a “working site”.

Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District at IFI, said: “This is a serious environmental crime. The removal of gravel from spawning beds will directly impact our already endangered Atlantic salmon stocks by drastically reducing usable spawning gravel.

“We urge all landowners to take responsible action and to contact their advisors or Inland Fisheries Ireland before carrying out any works that may damage watercourses on or adjacent to their land.”

Published in Angling

Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister with responsibility for the Inland Fisheries sector has approved legislation that will govern the wild salmon and sea trout fisheries in 2021. These will come into effect from Friday 1 January 2021.

Minister Ryan said, “We are opening 83 rivers for salmon and sea trout fishing in 2021. This will allow careful management of this important natural resource, for which conservation will be to the fore.

In a positive trend, forty-nine of the rivers will be fully open, an increase of 20% on 2020, with a further thirty-four available on a ‘catch and release’ basis. Continued movement in a positive direction is only possible over time and is entirely dependent on everybody redoubling our conservation efforts in the face of environmental, climate and human impacts.”

"In a positive trend, forty-nine of the rivers will be fully open, an increase of 20% on 2020"

To inform the legislation for 2021, Minister Ryan received management advice from Inland Fisheries Ireland in relation to over 140 genetically individual wild salmon stocks in Ireland, which in turn was considered in the light of individual scientific assessments. The assessments were carried out by the Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS) an all-island independent scientific group comprising experts from a range of bodies.

This advice was also made available as part of a statutory public consultation process during which 33 written submissions from stakeholders were received.

Management advice based on the TEGOS assessment of rivers/estuaries/harbours is that:-

  • 49 rivers to be open as a surplus of fish has been identified in these rivers;
  • 34 rivers to be classified as open for “catch and release” angling; and
  • 64 rivers to be closed as they have no surplus of fish available.

Minister Ryan said, “Ireland is internationally recognised for prioritising the conservation imperative as fundamental to our salmon management efforts and our contribution to the continuing global initiative that is the International Year of the Salmon 2020 has been second to none. Environmental and climate change and human impacts continue to place salmon and other species at risk. I am determined that the innovations of International Year of the Salmon, which continue to bring people together to share knowledge and raise awareness, will endure. This is key to ensuring the resilience of salmon in Ireland and in the entire North Atlantic”.

New Wild Salmon & Sea Trout Fisheries Legislation in 2021

Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme (Amendment) Regulations S.I. No. 667 of 2020

These regulations provide for, the quotas of fish that can be harvested by commercial fishing engines and rod and line from those rivers identified in Schedule 2. The Regulations also provide for the use of brown tags in specified (low surplus) rivers which are identified in Schedule 4.

Angling Bye-law No. 982 of 2020

This Bye-law prohibits the use of any fish hooks, other than single or double barbless hooks, and also prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for all species of fish in the waters specified in the Bye-law. This is to avoid the use of hooks and baits which are not conducive to fish survival and to ensure that the objective of C&R fishing is not frustrated.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea trout (Bag Limits) Bye-law No. 983 of 2020

Provides for an annual bag limit of 10 fish being either salmon or sea trout (over 40 cm) per angler and provides for a season bag limit of 3 fish in the period 1 January to 11 May, a daily bag limit of 3 fish from 12 May to 31 August and a daily bag limit of 1 fish from 1 September to the end of the season. The Bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified numbers of fish have been caught in the specified periods.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea trout (Catch and Release) Bye-law No. 984 of 2020

Provides for catch and release in respect of salmon and sea trout (over 40 cm) in rivers that are meeting at least 50% of their Conservation Limit as mentioned in the Bye-law. The Bye-law also provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait in angling for salmon and sea trout over 40 cm.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Suir) Bye-law No. 986 of 2020

This Bye-Law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Suir (including the waters of the Rivers Clodiagh, Lingaun and Blackwater) and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks during the period 17 March to 30 September.

Conservation of Sea Trout Bye-law No. 987 of 2020

This Bye-law provides for a daily bag limit of 3 sea trout (less than 40 cm in length) and provides for the use of single or double barbless hooks and prohibits the use of worms as bait once the specified number of sea trout have been caught.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (River Slaney) Bye-law No. 985 of 2020

This Bye-Law provides for catch and release in angling for salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40cm) in the River Slaney and also prohibits the use of worms, prawn, shrimp or any other crustacean, or artificial forms thereof, as bait and any fish hooks other than single or double barbless hooks.

Conservation of Salmon and Sea Trout (Closed Rivers) Bye-law No. C.S. 331 of 2020

Prohibits the taking or attempting to take by rod and line salmon and sea trout (over 40 cm) in the rivers specified in the Bye-law.

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has reopened its sales of salmon and sea trout angling licences for the 2021 season.

E-licences can now be purchased online and will be delivered along with a logbook straight to your phone or computer. Gill tags will be dispatched by post.

There is no price change for salmon and sea trout angling licences this year and licence fees will remain the same across all classes, including those for juvenile anglers.

Anglers are legally required to be in possession of a licence and logbook when fishing for salmon or sea trout. Online licences must be printed off along with the logbook and in the possession of anglers while fishing.

For anglers who require tags on or before Tuesday 5 January, online licences must be purchased on or before Monday 21 December.

Alternatively, angling licences will be available to purchase from approved licence sales distributors from the end of December/early January.

For those anglers who do not require tags in advance of 5 January, online licences and logbooks will be available from the IFI online shop throughout the Christmas period.

Anglers are advised to comply with Government guidelines specific to the region in which they live and wish to travel to. IFI has published updated advice for anglers, who are also reminded to check before travelling as due to Covid-19, working arrangements for distributors and fisheries may have changed.

IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell said: “We are happy to announce the opening of 2021 licence sales for salmon and sea trout angling. We would like to use this opportunity to recognise the contribution salmon and sea trout anglers make to the sustainability of the resource by paying their licence fee and supporting the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation, and Protection Fund as a result.”

The costs for salmon licences will remain as follows:

  • All Districts (ie all Regions) Annual: €100
  • Juvenile (under the age of 18 years) All Districts Annual: €10
  • One District, Annual: €56
  • All districts, 21 Days: €40
  • All districts, 1 Day: €20
  • Foyle Area Extension: €80

IFI also reminds all salmon and sea trout anglers to return their 2020 angling logbook and unused gill tags as soon as possible, even if there is no catch recorded.

Anglers are asked to make the return via the business return envelope which was supplied at the time of license purchase. Otherwise, anglers can return their completed logbook and unused tags to the IFI office address on their licence/logbook.

These returns will provide vital information regarding the status and management of our wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks for the future.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency is reminding anglers in the Foyle and Carlingford areas to log and submit their angling effort, catches and releases for the 2020 season.

Rod licences for salmon and sea trout in Foyle and Carlingford come with a legal obligation to inform the Loughs Agency (via the eLicence web portal) of how many times the licence holder went fishing and got many fish they caught.

To date, the agency says less fewer than 10% of anglers have made their return for the 2020 season.

For the 2020 season, the Loughs Agency will be carrying out an in-depth study of catch returns and angling effort to determine fish runs in rivers, number of fish caught, weight of fish caught and/or released, and how much time anglers put into catching those fish.

As a result, anglers are encouraged to make their return and be as accurate as possible with locations, dates, weights, species, methods and time spent fishing.

The deadline for catch returns is Thursday 21 January 2021.

Published in Angling

Anglers in Donegal and Tyrone fear a recent bogslide near Ballybofey has made an important salmon river uninhabitable for fish.

Footage of the peat slippage on Mourne Beg at the Donegal/Tyrone border, which went viral on social media over the weekend, shows some of the thousands of tonnes of bogland that slid into the River Derg system.

And according to BreakingNews.ie, a local angling representative said one dead fish had already been found ahead of more they expect to discover in the coming days.

The Loughs Agency said its staff are “evaluating the environmental effect” of the incident along with Donegal County Council and other agencies.

Published in Angling
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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