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Displaying items by tag: Sea Fisheries Protection Authority

Efforts are due to resume this week to avoid a series of 24-hour strike actions by State sea fisheries inspection staff after talks collapsed last week at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

As the Times Irish edition reports today, the WRC discussions had been convened after SFPA staff voted “overwhelmingly” late last month for industrial action in a disagreement over consultation on management changes to the State body.

It is understood the discussions fell apart over an SFPA management decision to continue with organisational changes recommended in a consultancy review.

The Price Waterhouse Coopers (Pwc) review of the SFPA finalised last year found that the authority was “not working effectively” and that it required “urgent attention”.

The SFPA monitors and enforces sea-fisheries and seafood safety legislation, and it works with the Naval Service on inspections of fishing vessels under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

The union served notice of the first in a series of 24-hour stoppages at sea fisheries harbours from midnight of March 8th, but this was suspended when invitations were issued to attend the WRC.

Fórsa and SFPA management resumed contact shortly before the weekend to seek a resolution, and both bodies declined to comment.

The SFPA committed to implementing the Pwc review’s 47 recommendations from early this year.

The Pwc review also referred to a European Commission audit of 2018 in Killybegs, which has led to a recent demand from the EU for “payback” of Ireland’s mackerel quota due to issues with weighing and under-reporting of catches.

It is understood that SFPA staff believe they are being blamed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the under-reporting.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Fishing

Notice of “rolling 24-hour stoppages” by State sea fisheries inspectors was suspended last night as a dispute between staff and management was referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)

As Times.ie reports today, trade union Fórsa confirmed that it has accepted an invitation to participate in a WRC hearing on Friday, and will suspend “proposed action as a result”.

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) staff voted “overwhelmingly” late last month for industrial action in a disagreement over consultation on management changes to the State body.

The first in a series of 24-hour stoppages at the State’s sea fisheries harbours was due to take place from midnight next Monday, March 8th.

Any industrial action could affect inspections of fish landings at the State’s six sea fishery harbours of Killybegs, Co Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl, Co Galway, An Daingean (Dingle), Co Kerry, Castletownbere, Co Cork, Dunmore East, Co Waterford and Howth, Co Dublin.

The SFPA’s remit involves both compliance with and “effective enforcement” of sea-fisheries law and seafood safety law”, and it works with the Naval Service on inspections of fishing vessels under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

The union’s marine branch represents approximately 110 members at the SFPA, which has its headquarters in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

Fórsa confirmed that notice of action was served last week, and said that the dispute “involves the findings of an independent review of the SFPA”.

A Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) review of the SFPA finalised last year found that the authority was “not working effectively” and required “urgent attention”.

The PWC review referred to a European Commission audit of 2018 in Killybegs, which has led to a recent demand from the EU for “payback” of Ireland’s mackerel quota due to issues with weighing and under-reporting of catches.

The EU audit, published in 2019, found Ireland had overfished its quota of mackerel by 28,600 tonnes, its horse mackerel quota by 8,100 tonnes and its blue whiting quota by 5,600 tonnes between 2012 and 2016.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue is currently engaging with the EU on the “payback” sought.

It is understood that SFPA staff believe they are being blamed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for the under-reporting.

Fórsa says that SFPA management had agreed to a joint approach with staff on implementing 47 recommendations made by the Pwc in relation to changes in the organisation.

The SFPA said it did not wish to comment.

Read more on Times.ie here

Published in Fishing

Nearly 700 illegally caught lobsters have been seized in an operation in Rosslare, as RTÉ News reports.

Officers from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) detained a Spain-bound lorry in the Co Wexford port town yesterday, Wednesday 22 July.

On board they found more than 600 of its 6,000-lobster load were undersized — and 60 others were V-notched, indicating female lobsters which must be returned for breeding.

It followed an earlier incident this week in which SFPA officers seized 86 lobsters from a recreational fisher, despite the law allowing only one lobster to be caught per day and with sales prohibited.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Twenty-two charter angling vessels have been granted authorisation to participate in a bluefin tuna data collection programme after a successful pilot last year.

The Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme will see skippers catch, tag, measure and release Atlantic bluefin tuna for data collection purposes off the Irish coast.

The authorised vessels, which are located in Cork, Clare, Galway, Sligo and Donegal, will support an international scientific programme to increase knowledge of the behaviour and abundance of bluefin tuna in Irish waters and across its distribution generally.

Atlantic bluefin tuna, the largest tuna in the world, frequent Irish coastal waters to feed during the species’ annual migration through North Atlantic waters.

The bluefin tuna is prized by sea anglers for its power and fighting ability and is a very valuable commercial species, though there is currently no sport or commercial fishery for bluefin tuna in Ireland.

The new programme, which has been developed by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the former Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Communications, Climate Action and Environment, will operate again in 2020 having commenced on a pilot basis in 2019.

Eamon Ryan TD, minister with responsibility for inland fisheries, said: “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my department, increased from 15 last year, will contribute substantially to essential bluefin tuna data collection as they migrate along the Irish coastline.

“The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this research programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved.

“I want to acknowledge the key role of the authorised charter skippers and their crews who are bringing their unique expertise to bear on providing valuable data for scientific purposes, and the ‘citizen scientist’ anglers who will catch the fish. The fact that 209 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities is a great achievement by the skippers.”

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure this remains a strictly controlled programme.

A full list of authorised skippers can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin

Published in Angling

#FISHING - A Wexford fisherman has defended the free giving away of monkfish to the public yesterday morning after exceeding an EU quota.

RTÉ News reports that Seamus O'Flaherty, owner of the trawler Saltees Quest, handed out the fish to hundreds of passers-by at Kilmore Quay rather than have the surplus catch thrown back into the water.

The vessel's skipper Jimmy Byrne defended the move as a protest against an EU rule that requires over-quota fish to be discarded at sea.

According to The Irish Times, officers with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, who observed the monkfish giveaway yesterday, have prepared a file for submission to the Director of Public Prosecution.

The authority said it found a large quantity of monkfish retained on the vessel which had been logged as having been discarded - and emphasised that catches landed that are not declared as discards are still counted against the national quota.

Byrne, meanwhile, described the practice of discards of dead fish as "crazy" especially when many people in Ireland are "going hungry".

He commented: “I have a certain quota of fish to catch and the monkfish end up getting caught. There’s more monkfish in Ireland than ever before. I can’t tell the monkfish not to go into the net."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#fisheries – The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) will host a seminar entitled Pelagic Fisheries – Monitoring, Control and Surveillance from today, Tuesday 19th June to Thursday 21st June at their head office in Clonakilty. The seminar will include delegates from: the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate; the Irish Naval Service; the Marine Institute; Marine Scotland, the Scottish Control authorities; the National Bureau of Criminal investigation (NBCI); representatives from the Irish pelagic industry as well as the SFPA. The key objective of the seminar is to share information and best practice in terms of verifying compliance of pelagic fisheries at sea.

The first session takes place today, Tuesday 19th June and will involve a number of presentations including; an overview of Norway's and Ireland's fisheries control procedures; the fisherman's perspective on compliance and control; pelagic stocks and fisheries in the North East Atlantic from a scientific perspective and the origins, role and purpose of the EU/Norway Pelagic Technical Working Group.

On the second day the focus will be on best practices in fisheries control at sea and on landing. There will also be a discussion on lessons learnt from previous enforcement actions both in Ireland and Scotland.

The final day will involve a perspective of an industry group who have harnessed the benefit of compliance to achieve external accreditation of their fishery and associated labelling of their product. Following this, the seminar will focus on developing agreed action points and steps to implementation.

Andrew Kinneen, Board member with the SFPA said: "This seminar will provide an excellent opportunity for key representatives from Norway, Scotland and Ireland to share valuable information on how best to monitor the legal exploitation of pelagic fisheries around the coasts of Ireland. The SFPA wants to play our part in protecting the rich resources of mackerel, herring and other pelagic fish around the coasts of Ireland for the benefit of responsible fishermen. We need to ensure we have the best systems in place so that illegal practices such as high-grading are prevented. The effective monitoring and control of these pelagic fish stocks requires the close co-operation of Ireland with other Member States and with Norway. I am sure this seminar will help promote a level playing field of best practice amongst the participants. We look forward to a fruitful exchange of information and ideas on how we can best work together to protect the interests of legitimate fishermen.

The Irish seafood industry is vitally important to our economy - total sales of Irish seafood on both domestic and export markets, excluding direct landings for Irish vessels into foreign ports, amounted to €730 million in 2008 which represented 345,000 tonnes. Exports of Irish seafood for 2010 are estimated at €365 million. An estimated 75% of Irish seafood exports are sold in EU markets - markets outside of the EU are also of vital importance notably for Ireland's pelagic fleet which fishes mainly mackerel, horse mackerel, herring and blue whiting. Nigeria and Russia are among the main markets for these species. This seminar will seek to underline that good goverance overall and co-ordinated monitoring effort between Ireland and other countries is the way forward to safeguarding jobs and securing a profitable future for Ireland's fish catching and processing sectors."

Published in Fishing

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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