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Displaying items by tag: Sean Connick

Minister Brendan Smith and Minister Sean Connick meet with the new International CEO of Marine Harvest International and the Head of their Irish Operations to discuss plans for expansion of production & employment in Ireland

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD and Minister of State, Sean Connick TD, met yesterday with the CEO of Marine Harvest, one of the world's biggest seafood companies, which has extensive investment in the aquaculture industry right along the western seaboard of Ireland, to discuss the potential for significant expansion of the industry in Ireland.

Mr. Alf-Helge Aarskog CEO of the Norwegian based multi - national company and Mr Jan Feenstra CEO of its Irish operations, outlined to the Ministers the challenges, opportunities and potential for finfish production globally. The company's Irish fish farms, in Donegal, Mayo, Cork and Kerry, have been expanding production and hope to produce between 10 and 12,000 tonnes of salmon for export from Ireland this year. The company has been increasingly moving to the production of premium organic salmon and this year expect that 70% of their Irish production will be sold in prime European markets as organically produced fish.

The company, which currently employs 250 people in Ireland and 5,000 worldwide sees significant potential to double production and employment in Ireland over the next ten years. To achieve this the company sought to explore with Ministers how aquaculture activity can be best expanded and developed sustainably in existing and new offshore locations on the Irish coastline.

Both Ministers emphasised the synergies between the company's production plans and the broad strategic vision set out in the Government's 'Food Harvest 2020' report. The focus by Marine Harvest Ireland on the sustainable production of salmon for export , mainly through organic methods has very significant benefits for job protection and creation in communities around the coast.

Minister Smith said "Exports are fundamental to Ireland's economic recovery and role that Marine Harvest and other aquaculture operators can play in further expanding exports of seafood is hugely important." Minister Smith added that "Our seafood exports increased by 18% in value last year and our Government's Food Harvest 2020 strategy outlines the enormous export potential in this sector in coming years" .

Minister Sean Connick said that "I have over the last year focussed heavily on the Aquaculture sector as a driver of substantial permanent and sustainable employment in our coastal communities. I can see enormous potential for the expansion of both finfish & shellfish aquaculture. To this end, the expertise of my Department and it's Agencies is fully focussed on the sustainable development of the industry in line with the overall Government Strategy."

Published in Fishing

Minister of State (with responsibility for fisheries) Sean Connick TD today published the report of the National Implementation Group established in December 2008 to oversee the implementation of the Strategy for Improved Pest Control on Irish Salmon Farms, published in May 2008.

Over the course of the Implementation Group's work, the vast majority of sites maintained lice levels below treatment trigger levels and, in all instances when notices to treat were issued, effective treatment plans were put into practice. Arising from the positive results, the report contains a series of recommendations encompassing treatments, disease monitoring and management practices to continue the progress to date.

Commenting on the report, Minister Connick noted that "Pest control will always remain a challenge requiring active management on any farm. However it is heartening to see that since the introduction of the new Pest Management strategy there has been a sustained reduction in the level of egg-bearing lice on farms in spring time. This illustrates the benefits of co-ordinating efforts between scientists and industry and I commend the participants, including the members of the Group and all salmon farmers who took part in the work, for their mutual co-operation on this issue."

Both the report and the Strategy <http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/publications/2008/SeaLiceControlStrategy.pdf> are available for download from the Publications section of the Department's website.

Published in Fishing

Mr. Sean Connick, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food welcomed the agreement reached after two days of talks in Brussels on 2011 quotas for the Irish fishing fleet.

The final agreement will deliver whitefish quotas worth some €116 million, including the protection of Ireland's €54 million prawn fishery. There will be a 10% increase in quota for Ireland's €75 million mackerel industry and a two thirds share, worth approximately €4 million, for Irish fishermen of the new boarfish industry.

Speaking at the end of the negotiations in the early hours of Wednesday (16 December), the Minister said

"The negotiations have been particularly challenging this year with the European Commission proposing cuts across many stocks of commercial importance for Ireland. Consulting with our fishing industry and NGOs, working with other Member States and concentrating on the scientific evidence, was, I believe key to securing a balanced sustainable package."

"This package will help underpin the economic future of our costal communities."

There will be 15% increase in haddock and whiting stocks in the Celtic Sea. While for the cod stocks off the North West and the Irish Sea, the quotas will be reduced by 25% in line with the Recovery Plan for these stocks. For Celtic Sea cod, the current quota level has been maintained for 2011 on the basis of new survey results from the State's Research Vessel "Celtic Explorer".

Minister Connick commented "By introducing new information on Celtic Sea cod, I secured agreement that the current level of TAC will continue into 2011, and may be increased during the year if the new survey results are confirmed by the scientists. However, given the poor state of cod stocks off the North West and in the Irish Sea, cuts were necessary".

Commenting on the 3% reduction in the prawn quota, the Minister said "Prawns are a very important fishery all around our coast. It is the most valuable catch for the Irish whitefish fleet worth €54 million. While the Commission originally proposed a 17% cut, I secured just a 3% decrease in the quota on the basis of a strong scientific case."

The quota for mackerel will be increased by 10%, and should be worth up to €75m in 2011. This is the most important fishery for the North West fleet based in Killybegs and is also important for the South West multi purpose fleet, supporting processing jobs in the coastal communities.

There were also increases in the quota for Celtic Sea herring of 30%, although there were cuts in the North West stock reflecting concerns about the state of those stocks.

Finally, Ireland secured the largest share in an important new fishery for boarfish that will be worth just under €4 million in 2011. The Irish fishing industry has been working with the scientific community to develop a management plan for boarfish, a mid-water shoaling species, now found in large volumes off the South West coast. The agreement reached in Brussels provides for a total allowable catch of some 33,000 tonnes, with two thirds going to Ireland.

Minister Connick commented "In an example of a successful investment in scientific research by industry, we have opened up a new fishery and secured the major stake in that industry. This ensures a new revenue stream for Irish industry into the future. We believe we can now develop a significant and sustainable fishery on this stock, in which we will continue to hold the largest share".

Published in Fishing
Sean Connick TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today announced grant aid support for 129 projects. The European Fisheries Fund provides co-funding for specific projects which are outlined in the appendix.

Grant-aid of €1,122,084 is being provided to support a total investment of €2,023,127 for safety upgrades on board fishing vessels, lobster conservation, the development of Environmental Management Systems for Ireland's fishing fleet, and a number of collectively based projects under the new Marine Environment Protection Scheme (MEPS).

"These projects will further support our fishing industry", said Minister Connick. "Based as they are on the principle of responsible fishing practices that result in premium quality Irish seafood, the environmental focus for many of these projects will be critical in sustaining Ireland's fisheries sector during this time of unprecedented economic challenge".

A range of marine environment, conservation and safety initiatives are approved. Jointly developed by the industry and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Seafood Environmental Management System (sEMS) and the Marine Environment Protection Scheme (MEPS), respond to the growing demand by seafood providers and consumers for access to responsibly sourced wild caught fish. Included is grant-aid of over €350,000 to assist Irish fishing vessels develop and implement Environmental Management Systems as well as undergoing third-party accreditation for the newly developed BIM Stewardship Standard. This internationally accredited (ISO65 – EN45011) standard is amongst the first of its kind worldwide. Ireland led the way with the introduction of the first such scheme for salmon in 2005 and since then has developed similar schemes for mussels and oysters.

BIM will also roll out the €419,000 Marine Environment Protection Measure, a programme aimed to maintain healthy fish stocks while simultaneously developing the marine environment. The national lobster conservation programme is also funded to the tune of €113,000 with a similar investment being made by inshore fishermen.

A full list of all the projects funded is provided below.

Sea Fisheries Development Programme

Fisheries Operational Programme – European Fisheries Fund

SCHEME

Projects Approved

Investment

Total Grant Aid

Marine Environment Protection Measure*

 

8

€477,366

€418,902

SEAFOOD ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT & CERTIFICATION GRANT AID SCHEME*

 

7

€740,117

€350,073

Shellfish Discard & Live Return Reduction scheme - Lobster conservation* 

42

€205,680

€113,124

FLEET SAFETY SCHEME

 

70

€483,936

€193,574

MARINE TOURISM SAFETY SCHEME

 

2

€116,029

€46,411

TOTAL

129

€2,023,127

€1,122,084

 

 

 

Published in Fishing

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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