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#fishing - The largest fishing port in Wales, at Milford Marina has welcomed the FPV Rhodri Morgan, one of five new fisheries patrol vessels taking to the waters in 2019.

The vessel was built by local company Mainstay Marine Solutions, and was named in Cardiff Bay in December, memorialising the former First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

At 26 metres long, weighing 75 tons, the vessel carries 11,000 litres of fuel. It also has room for a 6.5 metre sea-boat. It was built, along with four other vessels, to replace the previous fleet. This fleet will patrol Welsh waters looking for illegal fishing activity.

Melanie Durney, Docks and Marina Manager, Milford Marina, commented: “As Wales’ largest fishing port, we are honoured to have the FPV Rhodri Morgan here in the marina. It is an impressive vessel, and we are pleased to see that it will be part of the fleet patrolling the Welsh fishing grounds.”

The marina which is on the Milford Haven estuary is where the Port of Milford Haven is the UK’s top energy port and Wales’ busiest port handling around 20% of Britain’s seaborne trade in oil and gas.  It is widely recognised in the industry as the energy capital of the UK in addition to a ferryport in Pembroke where Irish Ferries operate to Rosslare Harbour. 

Published in Fishing
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#Ferry - The body of a woman was recovered from the water in South Wales yesterday (Friday 2 December) after a major search operation for a person missing from a Pembroke-to-Rosslare ferry, as the Western Telegraph reports.

Irish Ferries’ Isle of Inishmore contacted the UK Coastguard from Rosslare shortly after 8am when the passenger was noted as missing and feared to have gone overboard, according to Sky News, prompting a major air and sea search of the Irish Sea and the Pembroke Channel at Milford Haven.

Dyfed Powys Police later confirmed the discovery of a body in the Lawrenny area east of Pembroke Dock in the upper reaches of the Western Cleddau, though it has not formally been identified.

Published in News Update

#Missing - BBC News reports that the search has resumed for two teenagers missing in the Irish Sea off north-west Wales since yesterday afternoon (Sunday 7 August).

The two boys, ages 14 and 15, had got into difficulty while swimming at Barmouth Beach in Cardigan Bay and were separated from their group, comprising members of the Somali and Yemeni communities in Birmingham.

It's understood one member of the group attempted a rescue but was unsuccessful.

In a separate incident, HM Coastguard and RNLI lifeboats from Cardigan and New Quay launched to reports that a man had been swept off rocks at Mwnt on the southern side of Cardigan Bay.

It was reported that two men had been walking when they were cut off by the tide and one of them fell into the sea from rocks.

Published in News Update

#MarineWildlife - A seal pup was lunch for a killer whale that's been attracting onlookers to Wales' Irish Sea coast in recent days.

As the Carmarthen Journal reports, the orca was first sighted of Mwnt, north of Cardigan, over the summer, but has since been spotted further down the coast near Fishguard - believed to be attracted by a boom in the local seal population.

It marks a rare appearance for the species in the Irish Sea, as they're more commonly spotted in Scottish waters and off Ireland's North Coast.

And it comes not long after another rare sight in the form of a pod of Risso's dolphins sighted near Anglesey in north Wales earlier this month - with experts telling BBC News that it may be one of the largest such pods ever recorded in Welsh waters.

In other marine mammal news, The Irish Times has video of a seal who appears to have taken a liking to Dublin city centre, swimming many kilometres up the Liffey from the usual Dublin Bay haunts.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#pwllheli – Wales' biggest boat show moves to Pwllheli in 2015 - Wales' deputy tourism minister welcomes news of show's return

A boating and watersports show will return to North Wales next year thanks to growing interest in the event, it was announced today.

The All Wales Boat Show 2015 will take place in Pwllheli as one of the first events at Plas Heli, the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre.

It follows two highly successful years in Conwy where it gained considerable interest from the marine and tourism sectors and attracted thousands of visitors over several days.

Organisers believe the All Wales Boat Show plugs a hole in the market and helps highlight the huge potential in Wales, where the marine leisure industry still only accounts for 2.4% of the UK as a whole, according to the British Marine Federation (BMF).

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism welcomed the news. He said: "Building on the previous successes of this event, I am delighted that Pwllheli will be hosting the 2015 All Wales Boat Show. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Plas Heli, the town's £8.3m sailing academy and events centre.

"The marine leisure industry in Wales is a major player in terms of economic development and the Welsh Government is determined to see the marine leisure industry grow and endeavour to ensure that coastal communities will benefit from this expanding market."

The 2015 All Wales Boat Show will take place from Friday May 8th to Sunday 10th May.

Davina Carey-Evans, Managing Director of Wales Watersports International which operates the All Wales Boat Show, said opportunities were now open for sponsors, exhibitors and supporters.

Those already onboard include marine specialists GJW Insurance, Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Wales/Cymru, and marine law experts Hill Dickinson.

Davina said the show was indebted to Conwy and Deganwy Quay marinas for establishing the spectacle as an annual event.

"We have enjoyed two great years in Conwy but such was the success of this year's event we simply need more space for 2015," she said.

"Pwllheli offers this but keeps the event in Wales, close to some of this country's best coastline and inland waters, and to local economies which this sector supports.

2015 will be a big year for Pwllheli and the Llyn Peninsula with the opening of Plas Heli, the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre, which has received an £8.3 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council.

Davina added: "Wales has a spectacular, scenic coastline of natural beauty with many safe anchorages, harbours and marinas. The capacity for growth is recognised and if nurtured sensitively will provide excellent potential to stimulate the economies of coastal communities.

"We believe the show can be a big success, and put down a real marker for the huge potential of the marine sector in Wales and the positive impact it can have on our economy as a whole."

The All Wales Boat Show is designed to appeal to local, regional and international visitors.

In 2014 thousands flocked to the three-day event at Conwy Quay marina, which featured luxury yachts through to power boats, coracles and even bath tubs.

Boats were on show from Fairline Wales, Hanse, Jeanneau, Beneteaeu, Robalo, Chapparal, Quicksilver, Sunseeker and Bayliner, plus over 100 used vessels. The first boat was sold within minutes of the event opening its doors to the public.

According to the BMF, the marine leisure sector supported 7,600 full time-equivalent jobs in Wales in 2013.

With events such as the All Wales Boat Show, developments such as Plas Heli and marina expansions, these numbers are set to increase.

In addition to the All Wales Boat Show website at www.allwalesboatshow.com a new site, www.waleswatersports.com has been launched by the show organisers to act as a major portal for the marine and watersports sector in Wales.

Published in News Update
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#IRC – A brand new Welsh IRC championships dubbed the 'Celtic Regatta' is to be staged at the Welsh National Sailing Academy in Pwllheli. It will be promoted in Dun Laoghaire this weekend by Stephen Tudor, an Irish Sea ISORA Champion and the Commodore of Pwllhelli Sailing Club.

The event flyer (downloadable below as a jpeg file) carries the logos of the National Yacht Club and ISORA.

Tudor says there has been a very strong and positive response to proposals for the 2014 IRC Welsh National Championships following the previous announcement regarding the date for the event - 1st to 3rd August 2014. (4th is a bank holiday in Ireland).

Tudor comes to Dun Laoghaire this weekend for the ISORA agm and black tie prizegiving at the National Yacht Club tomorrow and aims to recruit as much interest from this side of the Irish Sea as possible.

The event aims to build on the long established links between Ireland and Wales and in particular between the Clubs on each side if the Irish Sea.

So far Tudor has produced an initial promotional flyer for the three day event and a copy is attached below as a jpg document for download.

The IRC National Championship is an open event and will use the facilities of the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre and will draw on the skill and experience of the Academy's event team who regularly run World and European Championships.

Work on the £8.3M Academy facilities starts in the new year.

This work says Tudor will enhance and extend the events capacity in Pwllheli and will improve access to the world renowned sailing waters of Cardigan Bay with the provision of new dedicated visitor and events berths with cranes located adjacent to the Marina.

The substantial dredging work is expected to be completed before the start of the sailing season. The iconic and new state of the art Academy building will be ready for the 2015 season and will incorporate a café/restaurant and club house all of which will have views of the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia and mid Wales will provide a spectacular backdrop.

Published in ICRA
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#VOR - The Volvo Ocean Race will come to the Irish Sea for its 13th edition as Cardiff has been announced as a host port for the 2017-18 race.

It will be the first time the UK has hosted the round-the-world yachting challenge since the 2005-06 edition, and the first time ever that Wales has welcomed the race.

"Cardiff made a particularly impressive bid to win one of the coveted European slots and with such outstanding facilities and great enthusiasm I'm convinced that we will have a stopover to remember," said VOR COO Tom Touber at the announcement in Cardiff Bay.

"The fact that we are making this announcement five years in advance is a very strong signal about the future of the race and the commitment to it from the Volvo companies."

Cardiff Council Leader Cllr Heather Joyce said the event "will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, and be hugely beneficial to the local economy."

She added: “Being awarded the successful bid for one of the most important sailing events in the world once again demonstrates Cardiff’s ability to deliver major international sporting events on the world stage.

"It proves our reputation as an event city as well as providing an opportunity for many non sailors to try the sport through a co-ordinated programme of sailing activities before, during and following the event.”

The good news for Cardiff comes just says after Lisbon was announced as the latest host port for the 2014-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Ireland will sadly have no host port in the next running of the VOR despite the success of Galway's race finale last summer.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Large numbers of dolphins have been filmed in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast by wildlife volunteers, as WalesOnline reports.

The conservationists with the Sea Trust charity, based in Pembrokeshire, recorded the "dolphin-fest" from the deck of the Stena Europe ferry en route from Fishguard to Rosslare.

Sea Trust director Cliff Benson confirmed the sighting of "a pod of eight Risso's dolphins, 40-plus common dolphins [and] four porpoises" among others as soon as the ferry headed west of Tusker Rock.

Altogether in the three-hour passage across the Irish Sea, the volunteer surveyors recorded a total of 99 common dolphins, 10 Risso's dolphins and 26 harbour porpoises. "That's not bad for a winter trip," said Benson.

He added that while there are threats to the Irish Sea's cetaceans from scallop dredging and the like, "to date our surveys show this area is teeming with life.

“This is Wales and Ireland we are talking about not Bermuda so get this amount of dolphin and porpoise activity with whales thrown in as well is incredible."

Stena has welcomed Sea Trust volunteers on board its vessels since 2004 to check on cetaceans and other marine wildlife in the waters between Ireland and the UK on a monthly basis.

And as reported previously on Afloat.ie, Seatruck Ferries has also been providing free passage to UK marine wildlife researchers to discover how many dolphins and seabirds make their home in the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, BBC News reports that a pod of more than 100 bottlenose dolphins was recently spotted off the Isle of Man.

The Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch said it received a number of sightings from the east and west coasts of the island in the northern half of the Irish Sea, reporting a hive of activity.

"The group sizes tend to be relatively ginormous," said Tom Felce of the group. "So if they are here you can't miss them."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#LIFEBOATS - The volunteer lifeboat crew at Trearddur Bay in Anglesey, north Wales have received a kind donation and a thank-you card from the owner of Daisy, a cow recently rescued after falling from a cliff into the Irish Sea.

Danielle Bosustow, aged eight, was so touched that the crew had rescued her pet she put pen to paper to thank them. Her thank you card reads: "Thank you so much for your help rescuing my cow Daisy. I am so happy to see her again."

Along with the thank you card was a kind donation from Danielle’s grandfather, a local farmer who visited the station to show his gratitude to the RNLI.

The volunteer crew sprung into action on 22 October last, following reports that a cow had fallen from a cliff at Porthdafarch.

The lifeboat launched and with the help of the local farmer, Daisy was located and towed to safety using a bridle. She was taken to a bay close by where she could safely reach dry land.

Alf Pritchard, press officer for Trearddur Bay RNLI said: "We were shown some photographs which were taken after Daisy’s ordeal and it was good to see she is none the worse for her experience.

"It’s so nice when people come back to let you know that what you have done is appreciated. As a charity, the RNLI also very much appreciates the donation."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Cardiff in Wales is submitting a bid to host the 2017-2018 edition of Volvo Ocean Race, as yourCardiff reports.

The city's council has signed off on £3 million (€3.7 million) plans to host a stopover on the race route, bidding alongside a shortlist of 30 other cities ahead of an official decision by the race authorities in December.

Cardiff's bid is subject to confirmation of support from the Welsh government and the Cardiff Harbour Authority to cover the costs of the race village, entertainment and media facilities, and management of the race itself over a proposed two-week stopover.

It's estimated that the VOR could bring in millions to the city's economy and "expand Cardiff's reputation as an event city by hosting one of the most important sailing events in the world", according to a report submitted to the council.

The news comes days after organisers of this summer's Volvo Ocean Race finale in Galway postponed their decision on making a third bid to host the race, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Let's Do It Global said the move was to enable the group to concentrate on paying off its outstanding debts of €400,000 which it says were incurred in the wake of "adverse weather" and increased security costs due to the "outstanding success of the event".

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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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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