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Displaying items by tag: aquaculture

Seafood is a popular and healthy food product in Ireland with the average Irish person consuming about 22kg of fish per year.

People recognise the health benefits with fish being low-fat and a good source of omega-3 fats, which are vital for brain function, heart and many other benefits. Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. In Ireland most of our salmon are farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country. Aquaculture is the farming of animals in the water and has been practised for centuries, with the monks farming fish in the middle ages. More recently the technology has progressed and the aquaculture sector is now producing in the region of 50 thousand tonne annually and provides a valuable food product as well as much needed employment in many rural areas of Ireland.

A typical fish farm involves keeping fish in pens in the water column, caring for them and supplying them with food so they grow to market size. Or for shellfish, containing them in a specialised unit and allowing them to feed from natural plants and materials in the water column until they reach harvestable size. While farming fish has a lower carbon and water footprint to those of land animals, and a very efficient food fed to weight gain ratio compared to beef, pork or chicken, farming does require protein food sources and produces organic waste which is released into the surrounding waters. Finding sustainable food sources, and reducing the environmental impacts are key challenges facing the sector as it continues to grow.

One innovative solution being investigated to deal with these issues is called integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, or IMTA.

Growing of scallops at Lehanagh PoolGrowing of scallops at Lehanagh Pool

IMTA is a different way of thinking about aquatic food production and is based on the concept of the ´food chain’. It involves farming multiple, complementary species from different levels of the food chain together for their mutual benefit, where the waste by-products from the fish providing food for another species. Shellfish filter out microscopic plants and organic content from the water column to grow, and seaweeds and plants absorb the minerals from the water for them to grow. Growing shellfish and seaweed species in close proximity to fed fish mimics these natural cycles in the seas and creates a local ecosystem where the wastage and impacts are reduced, and the productivity and diversity of products from the site is increased.

The Marine Institutes’ aquaculture research site in Lehanagh Pool in Connemara is an example of IMTA, where salmon are reared on site, with scallops and seaweeds growing alongside helping to remove the organic inputs. IMTA is seen as a promising solution for sustainable aquaculture development.

The Institute is coordinating the innovative Horizon2020 IMPAQT project which is working to promote aquaculture production based on IMTA, by addressing the lack of data and tools to assess the factors that affect IMTA, and to enable a real-time response to production challenges, environmental impacts and seafood quality.

Growing of seaweed on a lineGrowing of seaweed on a line

The project is developing a computerised, artificially intelligent, management platform which analyses the environment, the fish behaviour, and data from other sources such as satellite data, image analysis, and inputs from the farmer on site. This is used to inform fish welfare and water quality and to provide real-time operational feedback and advice to the farmer on the management of their site. The technologies include new sensors, wireless communication systems, and state of the art software utilising the internet of things. This system is being designed and tested at the Institute’s research site in Lehanagh Pool, at Keywater Fisheries IMTA site in Sligo, in collaboration with our international partners at other sites across Europe, and in Turkey and China.

Published in Aquaculture
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Campaigners against salmon farms have raised concerns over the state of Irish wrasse stocks after it was confirmed the fish have been taken en masse to help clean lice from farmed salmon.

As Donegal News reports, a number of salmon farms in Donegal, Galway and other areas owned by Mowi — the former Marine Harvest — have between them moved in tonnes of wild wrasse, a known ‘cleaner fish’ that feeds on sea lice, over the past four years.

Responding to a Dáil debate question from Catherine Connolly TD this past summer, Marine Minister Michael Creed confirmed that “several special of cleaner fish are used in Ireland as a method of controlling sea lice”.

But there are fears that the mass withdrawal of wrasse and other such species from the wild could tip the balance of Ireland’s delicate marine ecosystem.

“The absence of wild wrasse in bays may result in stress and disease in other large species of fish which rely on wrasse to keep them clean of parasites,” said Billy Smyth, chair of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.

Donegal News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Galway Bay FM reports that An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for a development at a Connemara site overseen by Udarás na Gaeltachta.

Plans for the Páirc na Mara facility were previously approved by Galway County Council, but continued to face opposition from local groups concerned that the initial proposals would develop into a full-scale salmon farming facility.

That decision has now been overturned by the national planning authority, according to Galway Bay FM.

Four months ago the Páirc na Mara marine project had welcomed the announcement of €2 million in funding from the Business, Enterprise and Innovation to develop a market-focused marine innovation and development centre at the Cill Chiaráin site.

Published in Coastal Notes

The latest research and knowledge on oyster diseases was presented at a meeting on Pacific oyster health held recently by the Marine Institute’s Fish Health Unit.

The event attracted more than 80 participants from Ireland’s oyster farming industry, as well as representatives from Ireland’s seafood development agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Presentations focused on mortality, disease management and current national and international research in oyster health.

Oyster mortalities in recent years in Ireland have been mainly associated with either Ostreid herpes virus-1 μVar (OsHV-1 μVar) infection or the bacterium Vibrio aestuarianus. Both diseases cause significant oyster mortality events and an economic loss to oyster farmers and producers.

Researchers from the Marine Institute and University College Cork presented the major findings from the REPOSUS project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s FIRM programme.

The three-year REPOSUS project focused on reducing the impact of pathogens associated with mortalities in Pacific oysters. This included results from sentinel trials in disease impacted bays, molecular and pathogenicity characterisation studies on isolates of OsHV-1 and rache and studies on environmental parameters which influence mortality.

French institute IFREMER also presented the latest results from the VIVALDI project (Preventing and Migrating Farmed Bivalve Diseases) funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

VIVALDI combines European research resources to better understand shellfish diseases and improve the sustainability and competitiveness of the European shellfish industry. The Marine Institute is one of 21 partners involved in this research project.

Industry representatives from Ireland also shared their experience of managing losses in shellfish production due to oyster disease and mortality on their sites.

This feedback, along with research presented, will be used to update the current best practice guide for disease control and management in Ireland's oyster industry.

Published in Marine Science

Kinsale Yacht Club is encouraging its members to make submissions on the recent licence application for a mussel farm off Castlepark Beach in the West Cork harbour.

Following its previous trial in the area, Woodstown Bay Shellfish — based in Dunmore East, Co Waterford — made its application late last year for an Aquaculture Licence to dredge for mussels at a site of around 25 hectares beyond James Fort.

The application also states that the site is located in or adjacent to a sensitive area, the closest to the site being the Sovereign Islands Special Protection Area.

A public notice was published in the Southern Star last Thursday 7 February, and submissions must be made prior to Wednesday 6 March quoting the reference T05/472A to:

Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine
Aquaculture and Foreshore Management Division
National Seafood Centre
Clonakilty, Co Cork

All submissions must be signed and no fee is required.

Kinsale Yacht Club Commodore David O’Sullivan confirmed that the club has already made its own submission on behalf of KYC members, which is available on the club’s website.

The letter cites the strong tidal current in the proposed location of the mussel bed as a concern – and suggests a recent "notable increase" in mussel growth in the marina, allegedly resulting from mussels from the trial being washed towards the town after stormy conditions.

“We must do all we can to preserve our beautiful harbour and every little helps,” Cdre O’Sullivan said.

Published in Kinsale

#Seafood - Marine Minister Michael Creed has called for European Maritime & Fisheries Funding (EMFF) for small to medium enterprises in aquaculture and seafood processing to be continued post-2020.

Addressing the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers meeting in Luxembourg yesterday (Monday 18 June), the minister said: “Ireland expects to fully spend its 2014-2020 allocation and we foresee increasing investment opportunities and demands for the 2021-2027 period.

“I would like to highlight one particular area of initial concern that we have identified, namely the apparent proposal to restrict EMFF aid for capital investment in aquaculture and seafood processing to financial instruments only. Currently such a restriction applies to large scale operators only.

“The majority of our operators are small or medium enterprises. Depriving them of grant aid would have a very negative impact on our policy objectives to grow scale and add value in our processing and aquaculture sectors.

Minister Creed added: “While we are in favour of continued and increased use of financial instruments, we must continue to have recourse to grant aid where these are most appropriate.”

Published in Aquaculture
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#PáircNaMara - Galway County Council is seeking further details on the Páirc na Mara development for Connemara, following an objection from a local group opposed to salmon farming.

New plans for the ‘marine innovation park’ were submitted late last year by Údáras na Gaeltachta, envisaging a low-carbon marine industry hub over nine hectares, and with a focus on aquaculture research.

But as Galway Bay FM reports, an objection by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages — which has long campaigned against aquaculture projects in the region — has “caused anger in west Connemara” where the park is slated to be developed.

The situation has now prompted the council to seek more information on the fish farming aspects of the project.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#Aquaculture - Researchers in Galway and Athlone are leading a project to identify technologies that can improve the management of freshwater fish farming and reduce its impact on the environment.

As Green News reports, the teams at NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology will look at new techniques that can reduce disease rates in inland aquaculture and the accompanying risk of transmission to fish in the wild.

Concerns over the latter were raised after a number of farmed salmon escaped into five rivers in Galway and Mayo last October.

Green News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquaculture
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#MarineScience - A new planning application is set to be submitted for the proposed ‘marine innovation park’ in Connemara, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Páirc na Mara is envisaged as a low-carbon marine industry hub over nine hectares, with a focus on aquaculture research.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the new research cluster would form part of a network including the existing Marine Institute facilities at Newport in Co Mayo.

The deadline for expressions of interest in the revised project is tomorrow, Friday 1 December.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Aquaculture - The INvertebrateIT Project for the aquaculture sector, in which the Marine Institute is one of five partners, has been officially launched.

The project is focused on developing innovative approaches for aquaculture, particularly on the use of organic waste for the production of insects as alternative ingredients in fish feed.

INvertebrateIT aims to help aquaculture operators mitigate their current dependence on costly, volatile, and often unsustainable ingredients in traditional fish feeds, to diversify their business and to contribute to a better management of valuable organic waste and/or new algal substrates for invertebrate production.

This proposed integrated scheme builds on available technology in insect production and strategic policy for the aquaculture and waste sectors.

It is one of three projects selected to develop joint roadmaps and bankable demonstration projects in the Atlantic and North Sea to co-ordinate further investments for innovation.

Funding is provided by the European Maritime and Fishers Fund under the Blue Labs – Innovative Solutions for Maritime Challenges.

“Perhaps the most exciting part of the INvertebrateIT project is that we get to support innovation in an extraordinary growth sector,” said Silvia Sarria, INvertebrateIT's project co-ordinator and European policies division lead at Innogate to Europe.

“Creating a circular economy for fish feed and other aquaculture products by feeding fish with something they would eat in their natural environment, is a win-win for all involved.”

The project plans to engage SMEs to support project development which will commercially exploit opportunities combining sustainable aquaculture, invertebrate production and smart waste management. To that end, an open contest will soon be announced at www.invertebrateitproject.eu.

Published in Marine Science
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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