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Dublin Bay diver Rory Golden will join the 2021 Titanic Survey Expedition starting in May going back to the wreck after a gap of 16 years, and taking part in a “sea bed” breaking scientific expedition.

Golden has over 44 years of dive experience and played key roles in Titanic expeditions and dives in 2000 and 2005.

Citizen explorers, known as Mission Specialists, will work hand-in-hand with Golden and other scientific, archaeological, and oceanographic experts throughout the expedition.

“I will never forget the first time I saw the Titanic. We were travelling along the flat ocean floor towards the ship and we came upon a wall of mud,” recalls Rory Golden. “We were at the forward section, near the bow, and we slowly rose up a steel wall that was covered in rivets and rusticles. Eventually we ascended over the top and there she was. It was a rush of emotion. She is massive and awe-inspiring. You are excited, amazed, and, at the same time, you feel a deep sadness for all those lost. It is unlike anything else I have experienced in over 40 years of diving. In the five short years between my dives to the Titanic the changes were dramatic. I’m anxious to bear witness to the deep ocean’s impact on this historic sight,” says Golden.

The bow of the Titantic Photo: Rory GoldenThe bow of the Titanic Photo: Rory Golden

Rory is highly regarded in the dive and Titanic communities. As a member of the Explorers Club and Vice Chair of the Great Britain and Ireland Chapter, he has been an active explorer, diver, and researcher dedicated to the preservation of Titanic history. We are proud and excited to welcome him to our expeditionary team for the 2021 Titanic Survey Expedition,” says Stockton Rush, President, OceanGate Expeditions. “His knowledge and previous documentation of this revered shipwreck will help us navigate the features of the wreck site and assess how quickly the wreck is decaying,” continues Rush.

Six missions scheduled for Summer 2021 will mark the inaugural expedition of a multi-year effort to preserve Titanic history for future generations and document the rate of decay of the important site. Using an array of high-resolution 4K cameras, a laser scanner, and sonar equipment, OceanGate Expeditions’ team will create a fully explorable photorealistic virtual 3-D model of the site.

Each participating citizen scientist will embark on 8-days at sea as a Mission Specialist crewmember and make one untethered 8 to 10-hour submersible dive as part of a 5-person team (sub pilot, subject matter expert, three mission specialists).

Each submersible dive team will spend several hours exploring the renowned Titanic wreck-site. The Summer 2021 Expedition schedule runs late-May through mid-July.

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For the first time in 15 years, paying guests will soon be taken nearly four kilometres beneath the ocean’s surface to visit the wreck of the RMS Titanic.

According to Bloomberg, a company called OceanGate Expeditions will launch its dive expeditions and research missions next May using a privately owned five-person mini-submarine.

And already more than 30 eager explorers have signed up at $125,000 (€105,260) apiece for the privilege of getting close to the remains of the ill-fated, Belfast-built ocean liner, which struck and iceberg in the North Atlantic in 1912 just days after her last port of call in Cobh.

While the planned deepwater voyages are for profit, the company insists that research is at their heart, and paying guests will take on the role of citizen scientists as they assist in a technical survey of the wreck site.

Bloomberg has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Titanic
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Old Ireland in Colour celebrates the rich history of Ireland and the Irish through the colour restoration of stunning images of all walks of Irish life, and the Irish abroad, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From the chaos of the Civil War to the simple beauty of the islands, the book also includes retouched photos of RMS Titanic leaving Belfast Port. Each image has been exquisitely transformed and every page is bursting with life.

Old Ireland in Colour started in 2019 when John Breslin developed an interest in historic photo colourisation, enhancement and restoration through personal genealogical research. He began to
colourise old family photos – photos of his grandparents from Fanore in Co. Clare and Glenties in Co. Donegal. Using a combination of cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology and his own historical research, John moved from family photographs to photographs of Galway and Connemara, and then on to others taken across the island of Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

On board the TitanicOn board the Titanic

A first class cabin interior on the TitanicA first-class cabin interior on the Titanic

After a few months, the Old Ireland in Colour project was born. For this beautiful book, John has meticulously colourised a varied and fascinating selection of images, with breath-taking attention to detail and authenticity. With photographs from all four provinces, and accompanied by fascinating captions by historian Sarah-Anne Buckley, Old Ireland in Colour revitalises scenes we thought we knew, and brings our past back to life before our eyes.

The front cover of the Old Ireland in Colour book that is out nowThe front cover of the Old Ireland in Colour book that is out now

John Breslin is a Professor at NUI Galway, where he has taught engineering, computer science and entrepreneurship over a twenty-year period. Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley is a lecturer in History at NUI Galway and President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland. She is co-founder of the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class.

Published in Island News
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Irish deep-sea diver Rory Golden is providing expertise to a new expedition to the Titanic which aims to recover the Marconi radio from the wreck, The Sunday Times reports.

The wireless Marconi telegraph was instrumental in saving more than 705 passengers from freezing Atlantic waters when the ship sank after striking an iceberg off Newfoundland in April 1912 with the loss of almost 1500 lives.

As Afloat reported previously, the ambitious project to retrieve the most famous marine radio in the world from 2.5 miles down in the Atlantic has finally secured legal approval.

The new expedition planned by RMS Titanic Inc, the salvor-in-possession, will be led by Dr David Gallo and French former naval officer Paul Henri Nargeolet.

Dublin-based Golden, who was the first Irish diver to visit the wreck site in almost 4,000 metres of water, has been engaged as a consultant to the company which has recovered over 5,500 artefacts in eight previous expeditions.

The former managing director of Virgin Records Ireland was dive safety operations manager for the Operation Titanic 2000 project which recovered 800 items - including the main ship’s wheel which he spotted. He returned in 2005 for a second dive, which was recorded in a BBC documentary.

In March 2013 he was a member of the team sponsored by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos which salvaged five Apollo F-1 rocket engines from 4200 metres in the North Atlantic, including one from Apollo 11 which launched a man to the moon in 1969.

Golden’s participation is one of several Irish connections to the new diving expedition which is expected to cost at least 10 million US dollars.

A Mayo community’s support for the new venture also helped to secure recently approved US Admiralty Court permission for it.

A letter to the US Admiralty Court from Addergoole Titanic Society director Toss Gibbons, secretary Mary Rowland and public relations officer Frank Gibbons urged that it would “give its blessing” to RMS Titanic Inc to undertake the expedition. The society remembers 11 of the ship’s fatalities from the Mayo village of Laherdane and surrounding area.

“We spent a lot of time in Ireland, in Belfast and with the folks in Addergoole to put a plan together which would satisfy the court,” RMS Titanic Inc president Bretton Hunchak said.

The recovery of the Marconi telegraph is crucial to understanding “the story of all of the survivors”, Hunchak explained.

The Marconi Telegraph room as seen from the top of the Titanic Photo: Rory GoldenThe Marconi Telegraph room as seen from the top of the Titanic Photo: Rory Golden

“Ultimately, the Marconi radio system remains an unsung hero, responsible for countless generations of families that exist only because the radio cried out on behalf of their ancestors,” he said.

“ For that reason, we must recover this incredible piece of history, to rescue the radio that saved 705 lives from being taken from the world that fateful night."

The hatch to the Marconi Room Photo: Rory GoldenThe hatch to the Marconi Room Photo: Rory Golden

Hunchak said the original plan for the expedition was within a weather window between June and August of this year, and that might still take place.

“Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we have questions now and will make a decision on timing very shortly,” he said.

“The Marconi telegraph is recognisable, from our underwater photography, but if we recover it there will be considerable conservation required before we can take it around the world as part of our exhibition of artefacts,” he said.

Golden said the project was “fraught with a lot of unknown and known variables, such as the condition of the roof area, the wreck itself, currents, visibility” and other factors, but has “a very good chance of succeeding”.

The wreck of the Titanic was discovered by Dr Robert Ballard and Jean Louis Michel in a joint US/ French expedition on September 1st, 1985, some 963 miles northeast of New York and 453 miles southeast of the Newfoundland coastline.

More on the Sunday Times report here

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An ambitious project to retrieve the most famous marine radio in the world from 2.5 miles down in the Atlantic has finally secured legal approval. The saving of the Marconi radio which sent out the distress signals from the sinking Titanic after she'd struck a North Atlantic iceberg en route to New York on 14th April 1912 has finally been given approval in a US court. And if the project is successful, it will be a very tangible reminder of a special link between Belfast and Dublin.

The Titanic was built in Belfast in a massive seven-year project between 1907 and 1912, and towards its conclusion, her legendary “Radio Shack” was installed with the latest in marine radios from the Marconi company. The company was founded and its best ideas provided by Gugliemo Marconi, whose father was Italian, but whose mother was Annie Jameson of the long-established Dublin whiskey-distilling company, a family renewed for their long and successful association with sailing.

This had been underlined in 1904 when the young Marconi’s new invention was used to transmit sailing results for the first time ever from an event afloat to national newspaper, the event being the regatta of Royal St George Yacht Club in Dublin Bay. The Jameson family had been closely associated with the club since at least the 1840s, and possibly since its formation in 1838.

The Guardian has the story of the proposed radio retrieval here

Guglielmo MarconiMake mine a Jameson……radio pioneer Gugliemo Marconi definitely had the look of one of the more serious Jamesons, which is not surprising as his mother Annie was of the famous Dublin whiskey-distilling family

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At the end of the 500 metre Titanic Walkway which connects the Titanic and Olympic Slipways to the Alexandra Dock in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, proudly sits The Great Light, a curved glass interpretive structure designed to resemble a lighthouse lantern room. The lens inside began life atop the lighthouse on Tory Island and in the 1920s replaced the Mew Island light on one of the three Copeland Islands off the North Down Coast. It’s journey to the Walkway was by helicopter, the ILV Granuaile and a store in Dun Laoghaire.

The Copelands lie on the south side of the North Channel, and posed a great danger to shipping, especially when trade in and out of Belfast Harbour increased. Over three hundred years ago the first Lighthouse was built on Lighthouse Island but as Mew Island was more difficult to see, especially at night, a new one was built there in 1884.

In the 1920s the Mew Island light was reported to be flashing irregularly so in 1928 it was replaced with eight of the lens panels from the Hyper - Radial Optic on Tory and it is this light which has earned a place in the world-famous Titanic Quarter.

The Great Light, at seven feet tall, is one of the largest optics of its kind in the world and weighs 10 tonnes. This irreplaceable heritage object is hugely significant to Belfast’s economic, maritime and industrial past.

By the 21st century, advanced light technology meant the lighthouse’s huge lens was no longer needed and in 2014 they were replaced by solar panels, a LED light, a radar beacon and AIS.

Recognising the Light’s historical importance, the Titanic Foundation charity was awarded funding for saving, restoring and displaying the optic, and with the help of many organisations including the Commissioners of Irish Lights who contributed and restored the optics, Belfast Harbour who donated the site and the Titanic Quarter who provided the Walkway, the Great Light can now be viewed by the public.

During sixteen weeks work in 2015, many parts were helicoptered to the Granuaile, the heaviest parts were towed under a buoy to the ship and the Irish Lights vessel took all the optic’s parts to Dun Laoghaire. Finally, the site was opened in November 2018 and with free public access, it tells the story of lighthouses, their technological development, the keeper and their role in the maritime and industrial history of Belfast and Ulster.

Published in Titanic
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Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds, has attended an event today to welcome the Belfast Buoys to their new home in Titanic Quarter, where they will remain on permanent display.

The buoys were given to Belfast City Council by the Commissioners of Irish Lights in 1983 and originally located in the Cathedral Gardens, which became affectionately known as 'Buoy Park'.

Regeneration of the area around Ulster University and the development of Titanic Quarter prompted plans for the buoys to find a new home near Abercorn Basin, as part of the Department for Communities’ Streets Ahead Project.

In January 2019, the landmarks were taken to the Irish Lights headquarters in DunLaoghaire for restoration. The distinctive buoys - which celebrate the city's maritime heritage – took up residence on the quays just as the Tall Ships arrived for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival.

Each buoy weighs around 3 tonnes and is made of thick steel plates riveted together. They are hollow structures, filled with air to allow them to float, and they would have been secured in place by mooring chains, attached to a cast iron sinker sitting on the seabed.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Peter McReynolds, said: “It is wonderful to visit the Belfast Buoys and to see these iconic symbols of Belfast at their new home. Given their proximity to the water, in such a popular area for locals and tourists, their move to Titanic Quarter is very fitting.

“Belfast City Council, along with our city partners, is committed to increasing the value of tourism by £500 million by 2021 as part of the Belfast Agenda, the community plan for the city. Capitalising on our rich maritime heritage is an important part of the mix, and relocating the buoys to the Maritime Mile will assist by adding to the area’s growing appeal to visitors.”

James Eyre, Commercial Director of Titanic Quarter Ltd, said: “We are delighted that these iconic landmarks have been relocated to Titanic Quarter and we are very grateful for the support and dedication from our partners; Titanic Foundation, Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, Belfast Harbour and Commissioners of Irish Lights, for delivering such a fantastic project. Known for its rich maritime heritage, Titanic Quarter attracts 1 million visitors annually and has acquired the status of a premier global destination for leisure and business tourism. We look forward to welcoming more visitors to the Buoys over the summer months.”

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, added: “We would like to thank the Commissioners of Irish Lights who have restored the buoys and repainted them in their traditional navigational colours. The three buoys are estimated to be around 80 years old, and would have been used by mariners to find a safe channel to and from port. Similar buoys would have been used in Belfast Harbour, marking the edges of the narrow Victoria Channel. The Buoys are an amazing addition to the Maritime Mile and it’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to explore the city’s rich maritime heritage.”

Mark O’Donnell from the Department for Communities said: “The Department is delighted to assist in the relocation of the Belfast Buoys from their old location in Cathedral Gardens to their new home in the Titanic Quarter. The new installation will complement the other unique attractions that are part of the Maritime Mile whilst also allowing for the redevelopment of Cathedral Gardens into an exciting new civic space.”

Published in Lighthouses
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Collective shame about the Titanic’s sinking, accounts by survivors, Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff’s role, and fears by some local politicians some decades later of a “Dublin-based developer” coming to “rape and pillage” are among themes explored in a documentary due to be broadcast on TG4 television next week.

Extensive archive footage and interviews with renowned Titanic experts form the basis for City of a Thousand Launches (italics), which was made five years ago and focuses on Northern Ireland’s links with one of the worst maritime disasters of the early 20th century – described as the “9/11” of 1912.

Over 1500 people died and over 700 were rescued when the Belfast-built passenger liner sank after hitting an iceberg off the Newfoundland coast on April 14th-15th, 1912, while en route from Southampton to New York.

British Queen Elizabeth, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the diver who discovered the wreck of the ship, Dr Robert Ballard, number among over five million people from 145 countries who have visited the award-winning Titanic Belfast visitors’ centre. However, for decades, Belfast people did not talk about the ship, and it was James Cameron’s epic 1997 film which is said to have shifted attitudes.

Dr. Ballard DiscovererDr Robert Ballard – the diver who discovered the wreck of the ship

“They thought that it was their fault,” Dr Ballard says, while Rev Chris Bennett, an avowed “Titanorack”, articulates the shame felt about the shipyard’s connection.

The documentary charts how after the Harland and Wolff shipyard, once employer of over 30,000, was sold for redevelopment and how there was a fear among some city councillors “ about a Dublin-based developer coming up to Belfast to…rape and pillage”.

US architect Eric Kuhne’s design for the “Titanic quarter” waterfront area, and the concept of a world class visitor centre, reflected the city’s changed attitude towards the ship, but the documentary explores the struggle to realise the vision and the risk taken by Donegal developer Pat Doherty to start building with no official contracts in place.

“ That was it, this sucker was getting built…and it was getting built with a vengeance!” Kuhne recalls.

Titanic Belfast - City of a Thousand Launches will be broadcast on TG4 on April 10th at 9.30pm.

Published in Maritime TV
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#Titanic - For decades it was believed that the ill-fated Titanic was sunk by an iceberg on its maiden transatlantic voyage.

Indeed, the dramatic collision and its aftermath has long been etched on the Irish consciousness, and was the centrepiece of 1997’s Oscar-winning epic.

But now experts have claimed that the iceberg was only the final straw of a calamitous journey whose fate was sealed by an unnoticed fire in its hull some three weeks before, as Independent.ie reports.

Previously only theorised by experts on the ocean liner and its demise in 1912, the fire’s status as the primary cause of the Titanic’s demise has now been all but confirmed after new analysis of photographs of the vessel before it left the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

These appear to show scorch marks on the hull close to the spot where it was later breached by contact with the iceberg — lending credence to the idea that the ship was already fatally weakened by the incredible heat of a fire inside.

Journalist Senan Molony, who fronted a Channel 4 documentary on his findings on New Year’s Day, also makes the bold claim that the White Star Line covered up the fire incident even before the Titanic launched from Southampton.

“Nobody has investigated these marks before,” said Molony. “It totally changes the narrative.”

Independent.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Titanic
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#TitanicBrexit - Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, which is home to Northern Ireland’s and Europe's most popular tourist attraction, has reported losses for last year of £333,111 (€383,329), newly filed accounts show.

Titanic Island Limited, which controls the group of companies working in the quarter, said pretax losses narrowed from £1.16 million in 2014. The group previously reported a £68,000 loss for 2014, down from £33.9 million in 2013. It said the previous year’s results had been restated due to a transition to the FRS 102 reporting standard.

Turnover totalled £10.9 million for 2015 with operating profit rising from £1.96 million to £2.49 million.

For more on the potential of the Brexit impact to one of the world’s largest urban-waterfront regeneration projects, the Irish Times has a report by clicking here.

Published in Titanic
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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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