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Ferry firms involving four operators have landed UK government contracts worth a total of £77.6m to provide post-Brexit freight capacity.

Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line, according to BBC News, will have the job of ensuring medical supplies and other vital goods continue to get to the UK.

The government says it wants a smooth flow of freight "whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU",

Contracts will be in place for up to six months after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

The additional capacity will be on quieter ferry routes between mainland Europe and UK ports in Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.

Published in Ferry

The British Ports Association (BPA) outlines that decarbonisation, innovation, infrastructure, freeports and properly functioning and resourced regulators are key asks for future government spending, which the association set out in a letter to the UK Chancellor from the ports industry today.

While the UK government’s planned ‘comprehensive spending review’ may be on ice for another year, according to reports, the BPA delivered its submission to the Treasury noting that reforms putting ports at the heart of regional economies should not be delayed.

With EU Exit [Brexit] imminent, the BPA has also called for funding to future-proof the sector. As a member of umbrella group Maritime UK, the BPA's submission complements MUK's submission, which calls for a £1bn maritime decarbonisation programme.

Commenting, Mark Simmonds, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the British Ports Association and Chair of Maritime UK's Policy Working Group said: “Whilst the Chancellor may understandably delay this process due to continuing uncertainty from covid-19, we hope the Government does not take its eye off decarbonisation and climate change, which is an urgent challenge.

For further details LloydsLoadingList reports of the BPA submission to the UK government. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

In the UK the Government, according to Belfast Telegraph, is set to pay for work on post-Brexit port checks in Northern Ireland, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has said.

The DUP MLA told the BBC that the UK Government would now pay for the work after he reportedly proposed pausing it due to the current political uncertainty around Brexit.

In the summer, the Government said enhanced regulatory checks would be required on animals and food products crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal.

The Executive assumed a legal responsibility to undertake the work for the Government to enable it to fulfil its international obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, Mr Poots expressed a reluctance to commit an estimated £40m to the project without further clarity. Click for more here

Published in Ports & Shipping
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In the UK the Government, reports NorthWalesLive, has been accused of “waiting for Holyhead Port to fail before stepping in”, amid a funding row over Irish Sea (ferry) transport links.

Disappointment has been expressed following an announcement on Friday that the Holyhead to Dublin route has been left out of a £17m support package for Stena Line, P&O and Seatruck to maintain “critical routes” between ports in the UK mainland with Northern Ireland.

This was despite calls from local politicians, including the letter of Anglesey Council, who had written to ministers urging financial backing to help bridge the gap due to the drop-off in passenger services during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Answering subsequent criticism of the decision, including from the Welsh Government, a spokesperson for the UK Government said that the the Dublin-Holyhead route is “running effectively” but the situation is being continually monitored.

Further criticism came in the Commons on Monday from Arfon MP Hywel Williams, with the Chancellor failing to offer immediate assurances over financial support for Holyhead Port amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

For much more on the north Wales ferryport click here.

Published in Ferry

In the UK the government has defended not including the Holyhead to Dublin Port on Irish Sea ferry routes supported with public funding, as NorthWalesLive also reported.

The UK Government has made £17m available to Stena Line, P&O and Seatruck to maintain “critical routes” between ports in England and Scotland and Northern Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Northern Ireland Executive will cover 40% of the costs.

But the route between Anglesey and Ireland has not been supported - a decision criticised by Welsh Government and Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Now though the UK Government has responded.

A spokesman said: “The Dublin-Holyhead route is running effectively, but the UK and Irish Governments - alongside the Welsh Government - continue to monitor the situation.

More on this ferry development click here

 

Published in Ferry

Additional financial support is needed to keep the Port of Holyhead’s ferry operators going during the Coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed.

While some freight services continue between Wales and Ireland, the slashing of passenger services has led to calls for UK Government cash to bridge the gap between a drop in income and running costs of maintaining such an important strategic international transport and freight route between Dublin and Holyhead.

As a result, the leader of Anglesey Council has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps and Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart to highlight her concerns on how it could affect the 400 workers based at the port.

Cllr Llinos Medi described the impact of coronavirus on the day-to-day operations of both Holyhead Port’s ferry operators – Stena Line and Irish Ferries – as “severe” with both having already curtailed services but remaining committed to maintaining transport of critical freight.

For much more click NorthWalesLive here

Published in Ferry

BBC News reports that the UK government has awarded £86.6m of contracts to ferry companies to transport medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Brittany Ferries, DFDS (see: related Brexit info), P&O and Stena Line will be able to deliver those supplies from 31 October, it said.

The contracts are aimed at making sure deliveries of vital products continue, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The government was criticised earlier this year after awarding a transport contract to a company (Seaborne Freight) with no ferries.

The contracts will be in place for six months so the government is prepared for different Brexit scenarios, a spokesperson said.

For more including concerns over sourcing of medical supplies click here. 

Published in Ferry

The Irish Sea ports of Liverpool and Heysham in addition Sheerness (London Medway) all part of the Peel Ports Group, have received funding to enhance measures they have already taken to improve resilience ahead of the UK’s expected departure from the EU on 31 October.

The funding according to Peel Ports Group was announced last month by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

These funds will go towards creating more space for HGV parking and container storage to support smooth trade operations by RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ferries, especially across the Irish Sea. (Afloat adds, Peel Ports also operate the MTL Terminal in Dublin Port.)

The fund comes as part of a £30m government scheme, announced last month, to bolster ports across England and ensure they continue to operate efficiently post-Brexit.

Mark Whitworth, Chief Executive Officer of Peel Ports, said: “We are doing everything we can to help our customers continue delivering import and export trade throughout our port network. This government funding helps us to put in place additional measures to achieve that. Whatever happens after 31 October we are as ready as we can be to facilitate global commerce that will benefit the UK economy.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our world-leading maritime ports are fundamental not only to our success as a global trading nation but also to people’s everyday lives, bringing vital goods into the country. This timely investment will support ports across the country in their work to boost capacity and efficiency, ensuring they’re ready for Brexit and a successful future.”

For information on Peel Ports RoRo services click this link.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Tagged under

The British Ports Association has responded to the UK Government’s “two borders for four years” Brexit proposals which was announced by the Conservative Party this week.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of BPA said “The majority of Northern Ireland’s trade is with Great Britain and a border in the Irish Sea would be extremely challenging for the ports in Northern Ireland and those in England and Scotland who have freight routes. Ironically also in a ‘no deal’ situation there could be displacement issues for Welsh ports.

We recognise the sensitivities and issues around the land border and have always said that the best resolution and the best way to meet the Government’s commitment to frictionless trade is a deal that has no customs or regulatory checks at all, anywhere.”

Afloat.ie adds that Belfast Harbour is to host the BPA's annual Conference between 15-18 October.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Tagged under

#ferries - In the UK the Department for Transport is cancelling contracts to provide extra ferry services after Brexit.

As BBC News reports, ending the contracts with Brittany Ferries and DFDS could cost the taxpayer more than £50m. (See related Eurotunnel payout story). 

The government bought £89m worth of capacity from the two firms. Some of that capacity might be sold, but millions of pounds could be lost.

The contracts were designed to ease pressure on the port of Dover, by creating extra services at other ports.

In February, the DfT was forced to axe its £13.8m contract with a third company, Seaborne Freight, which the BBC found had never sailed a vessel.

Earlier this year, the National Audit Office estimated that the cancellation costs of all the ferry contracts would be £56.6m.

The cost is likely to only be several million pounds less than this. More on the story, here.

Published in Ferry
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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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