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Displaying items by tag: aquaculture

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. today announced the award of over €1.8 million in grants to 19 seafood enterprises under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme for the seafood sector. The grants are co-funded by the Exchequer and the EMFF.

Minister Creed said, “Against the Brexit backdrop and its potential implications for our food exports, I am particularly pleased to see so many seafood enterprises continuing to invest in growing their production, developing new consumer products and growing and diversifying markets, something I witnessed first hand during my recent Trade Mission to the Gulf States. My Department’s EMFF seafood development programme is providing a suite of 3 development schemes for our seafood processing sector that aim to incentivize seafood innovation and new product development, support capital investment in state of the art equipment to add value to raw material and to give processors the tools to diversify and develop their export markets. In this first of a series of grant approvals for 2017, grant aid of almost €900,000 has been awarded to 7 seafood processors supporting in excess of €3 million in value adding capital investment, while grant aid of €824,000 has been awarded to 8 aquaculture enterprises supporting capital investment of €2.8 million that will directly contribute to growing output from these farms in the coming years and help achieve the ambitious sustainable growth targets we have set for our aquaculture sector”.

Minister Creed added, “I have provided Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) with €26 million of EMFF funds in 2017 and I expect to announce many more awards as the year progresses”

Beneficiary

County

Total Investment

Grant Approved

Dunns Seafare Ltd.

Dublin

€522,176

€148,726

Seafood Processors Ltd.

Louth

€72,968

€21,890

Keohane Seafoods Ltd.

Cork

€77,426

€23,227

Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd.

Monaghan

€1,799,821

€510,000

Sofrimar Ltd.

Wexford

€375,780

€112,734

Shellfish De La Mer

Cork

€179,730

€53,919

Albatross Seafoods Ltd.

Donegal

€66,000

€14,100

TOTAL

 

€3,093,901

€884,596

 Grant approvals - Seafood Scaling & New Market Development Scheme

Beneficiary

County

Total Investment

Grant Approved

Connemara Producers Group

Mayo / Galway

€114,022

€57,011

TOTAL

 

€114,022

€57,011

Grant approvals - Seafood Innovation & Business Planning Scheme

Beneficiary

County

Total Investment

Grant Approved

Ocean Farm Ltd.

Donegal

€19,070

€9,535

Atlantis Seafoods

Wexford

€16,300

€8,150

Kish Fish Company

Dublin

€20,700

€10,350

Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd.

Monaghan

€25,000

€12,500

Keohane Seafoods Ltd.

Cork

€40,000

€20,000

TOTAL

 

€121,070

€60,535

Grant approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme

Beneficiary

County

Total Investment

Grant Approved

Bells Isle Seafoods Ltd

Donegal

€400,753

€160,301

Blackshell Farm Ltd

Mayo

€101,942

€40,776

Comhlucht Iascaireacht Fanad Teo

Donegal

€1,057,145

€317,143*

Feirm Farraige Oilean Chliara Teo

Donegal

€923,161

€276,948*

Huitre Du Connemara

Louth

€61,825

€24,730

Michael Lydon

Galway

€74,440

€29,776

Mannin Seafoods Ltd

Cork

€31,885

€12,754

Atlantic Maritime Ltd

Mayo

€139,470

€55,788

TOTAL

 

€2,790,621

€824,125

Published in Fishing

#Aquaculture - Marine Minister Michael Creed has announced the appointment of an independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group

The group has been established to review the process of licensing for aquaculture and its associated legal framework in keeping with actions identified in Food Wise 2025 and Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.

On the need for a review of the existing licensing process, Minister Creed said: “Our aquaculture sector has enormous potential to sustainably grow its production of seafood to meet the opportunities presented from growing world demand for safe, sustainable seafood. Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development aims to sustainably grow our production across all species by 45,000 tonnes.

“To achieve that ambition, we need to revamp our aquaculture licensing process and its associated legal frameworks, so that an operator can have a decision on an aquaculture licence application within timeframes that compare favourably to our competitors.

“But any changes must ensure that all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licensing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations.”

Both Food Wise 2025 and the National Strategic Plan identified issues with the current licensing system and recommended an independent review to examine the existing challenges and propose improvements in line with best practice internationally.

Welcoming the Review Group, Minister Creed acknowledged the appropriate skills and experience that the members bring.

“I would like to thank Mary Moylan, Ken Whelan and Lorcán Ó Cinnéide for agreeing to serve on the Review Group and I look forward to their recommendations on what we need to change to give this sector a reliable, sustainable, effective decision-making foundation so that we can harness its full potential.”

Review Group chair Mary Moylan retired as assistant secretary at the Department of the Environment in 2014. Moylan successively headed the Planning and Built Heritage, Corporate Affairs and Rural Development Divisions of the department, and previously held a number of senior posts throughout her career, including responsibilities in the area of International Environment Policy, Planning and Land Use and earlier as Environment Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Communities.

Ken Whelan PhD is adjunct professor in the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD and is also research director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Dr Whelan was formerly an executive director, with responsibility for aquaculture, at the Marine Institute, chairman of the International Atlantic Salmon Research Board, and chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation. He is currently a self-employed marine and freshwater fisheries consultant.

Lorcan Ó Cinnéide is CEO of the Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association, the national representative body for the seafood processing industry. He is a member of the board of the Marine Institute, the board of the European Fish Processors Association, the Sea Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee, and a former member of the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board.

Published in Fishing
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#FishFarm - Could proposals for the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site provide a back door for fish farming in the bay?

That’s the concern of local campaigners after a Statutory Instrument was enacted earlier this month that changes the licensing laws for salmon farming for research purposes, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

The new law allows for salmon farms under 50 tonnes to operate without an Environmental Impact Assessment – one of the issues before the withdrawl last year of controversial plans for what would have been one of the largest aquaculture projects in Europe off the Aran Islands.

According to Billy Smyth, chair of campaign group Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, the move confirms suspicions that the Marine Institute test site off Spiddal could be used for fish farming.

“Let the Marine Institute just ask the Norwegians for the results of their research and save money,” he said.

The public consultation on the foreshore lease application for upgrades to the present test site closed earlier this month.

But contributions are still being sought on a new strategy for coastal communities with fishing and fish farming interests under the FLAG West scheme, following a series of public meetings in Co Galway last week. Galway Bay FM has more HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Seafood - New Marine Minister Michael Creed yesterday (Friday 27 May) announced the award of €4.3 million in grants to 51 seafood enterprises under five schemes launched earlier this year under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme for the seafood sector.

The grants are co-funded by the Exchequer and EMFF and subject to terms and conditions.

“The EMFF Seafood Development Operational Programme was only adopted in December 2015 and I am delighted that it has so quickly seen these significant investments in our seafood sector provided with the financial supports that will ensure that these critical investments can be implemented," said the minister.

"Collectively, these investments will deliver jobs to coastal communities, develop new value added seafood products, develop new markets and further sales for our seafood products, and develop knowledge and new processes in aquaculture production, disease management and animal husbandry.

"These investments will assist seafood enterprises to contribute to the ambitious growth targets we have set for our processing and aquaculture sectors. I expect to announce further grant offers under these schemes in the coming months."

The grant offers are made under five EMFF Schemes. For the processing sector, €3.4 million was awarded to 27 enterprises under the Seafood Capital Investment Scheme towards total investment of €19.4 million. These investments are projected to create 316 jobs by 2019 and additional sales of €77 million by 2019.

In addition, €157,000 was awarded to four enterprises under the Seafood Scaling and New Market Development Scheme towards total investment of €335,000 and €164,000 was awarded to eight enterprises under the Seafood Innovation and Business Planning Scheme towards total investment of €328,000.

For the aquaculture sector, €199,000 was awarded to four enterprises under the Knowledge Gateway Scheme towards total investment of €305,000, while €382,000 was awarded to eight enterprises under the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme towards total investment of in excess of €1 million.

Further details of the schemes concerned are available at the BIM website HERE.

Published in Fishing

With concerns around sustainability of food security continuing to rise, a team of European aquaculture experts will begin a four-year study worth almost €7 million to establish new strategies and models for sustainable growth in the industry.

The Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability (TAPAS) project, led by the University of Stirling, will create cost-efficient management tools and practices for the European aquaculture sector to investigate the limits to fish farming activity in a location, social interactions, potential environmental impacts and any future risks. The Marine Institute is the Irish partner in the EU Horizon 2020 funded project, with Dr Dave Jackson leading a key work package feeding into the development of an aquaculture ‘toolbox’.

Professor Trevor Telfer of the Institute of Aquaculture is leading the multi-partner study which starts this month and will seek to establish a comprehensive ‘toolbox’ to support transparent and efficient licensing, enhance environment sustainability and aquatic food security while tapping into the potential for food production and jobs.

The consortium will evaluate structures currently in operation across the EU’s seas, lakes and rivers, examining various environments and developing new approaches to deliver computer-based support systems for sustainable aquaculture expansion. The work is in line with the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive to protect marine environments more effectively and will provide consistent real-time monitoring, observation, early forecasting and management technologies.

The research team will collaborate with industry, regulators, certifiers and other stakeholders to ensure the toolbox they create is accessible, using training and outreach activities to improve the image of European aquaculture and promote an integrated sustainability strategy.

Professor Telfer, Stirling Institute of Aquaculture said: “As Europe continues to produce millions of tonnes of food each year, we want to ensure this industry is feeding the world in a sustainable way, while taking care of the environment.

By developing new, flexible and unified approaches to aquaculture planning we aim to strengthen sustainable growth in the vital marine and freshwater sectors.”

Dr Dave Jackson, Marine Institute said: “The breadth of experience gained through our 15 consortium partners allows us to bring together sophisticated technologies, computer models and decision making capabilities into a single, streamlined entity for regulators and producers throughout Europe to use.

The collaborative work will play a major role in the European Commissions’ strategy to achieve smart growth in aquaculture production across the region’s seas. Aquaculture in European waters is a key driver for the blue economy representing approximately 5.4 million jobs and generating a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. ”

The project will also support Ireland’s vision for aquaculture, ' a sustainable and competitive aquaculture sector, where production will grow according to market and consumer demands and in balance with nature and society' which is outlined in the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.

Published in Marine Science
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#Aquaculture - Marine Minister Simon Coveney yesterday (12 June) launched a public consultation on a draft National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, proposing 24 actions and initiatives to boost the sustainable growth of aquaculture

The reformed Common Fisheries Policy requires EU member states to prepare multi-annual national strategic plans to drive forward the sustainable development of aquaculture, and the draft plan launched this week has been prepared in that context.

Commenting on the plan, Minister Coveney said: “Aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry internationally with very rapid expansion opportunities identified over the coming decades to meet the ever growing seafood demand arising from population growth and increased consumption in Asia.

"Aquaculture internationally produced 67 million tonnes of farmed fish in 2012 and it is projected to increase to 85 million tonnes by 2022. That global projection to increase aquaculture production by 18 million tonnes by 2022, puts in context the proposals in the National Strategic Aquaculture Plan to increase Irish aquaculture production by 45,000 tonnes, across all species, by 2023.

"While the targets in the plan are ambitious in the context of the past performance of this industry nationally, they are modest in the context of the global expansion which this industry will experience over the next seven years.”

Minister Coveney added that “our aquaculture industry has long been recognised as an area with potential to grow significant value and employment and to sustainably provide the raw material to enhance our processed seafood exports. Clearly, that has not happened and there are many complex reasons for that.

"At the same time, concerns have been raised about the environmental sustainability of the industry. In this plan, I have sought to identify all of the issues affecting both the growth potential and sustainability of the aquaculture industry and I am proposing a suite of 24 tailored actions to boost sustainable growth, while allaying legitimate areas of concern.

"With these initiatives, I believe we can get our aquaculture sector back on a path of sustainable growth and provide much needed jobs in our coastal communities."

Actions proposed in the draft plan include the introduction of a set of guiding principles for the sustainable development of aquaculture, recommended to the minister by the Marine Institute, together with scale limits and phasing in relation to the development of individual offshore salmon farms, also recommended by the Marine Institute. 

Other initiatives include a review of the regulatory framework for aquaculture licensing and associated administrative procedures, and financial supports to build capacity, foster knowledge, innovation and technology transfer and expert advice and training for aquaculture operators in business planning, disease management and environmental best practice.

Submissions on the draft plan and related environmental report and appropriate assessment are invited by 24 July 2015 to [email protected] Relevant documents are available for download HERE.

Published in Fishing

#FishFarm - Marine Minister Simon Coveney will make a decision on the controversial Galway Bay fish farm "as soon as possible", as The Irish Times reports.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara's ambitious proposal off the Aran Islands for a 500-hectare organic salmon farm – which would be the largest of its kind in Europe – was pushed back over a year ago amid protests from angling and community groups opposed to the scheme, and concerns from the EU over its environmental impact.

It is now one of a whopping 600 applications for aquaculture licences of various scopes under consideration by the minister.

Many of these are said to have been in the system for more than five years – costing the State some €60 million in investment opportunities, as the Irish Farmers' Association claims.

Discussing his department's plans for aquaculture in replies to Dáil questions this week, Minister Coveney maintained there is a "strict separation" between his role as "decision maker" and his duty to promote development in the industry.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

The SEAFARE (Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Aquaculture for the Atlantic Region of Europe) project held a one-day seminar at Instituto de Investigación y Formación Agraria y Pesquera (IFAPA)'s headquarters in Seville (Spain) on the 30th October 2013 as part of the dissemination activities carried out to present the main outcomes of the project. The seminar, entitled "The potential for wetland aquaculture; balancing economic development and conservation benefits", focused on the potential benefits of implementing wetland aquaculture in the Gulf of Cadiz region, and attracted more than 50 stakeholders from Spain, Portugal and the United States.

The morning session included two sets of presentations, where the project partners explained their main findings relating to wetlands aquaculture, including the benefits of integrated multitrophic aquaculture systems and the ecosystem services wetlands aquaculture can offer to society. The presentations are downloadable from the project website (www.seafareproject.eu). Following the morning session, a round table discussion took place in which environmental managers, aquaculture industry representatives and scientists had the opportunity to present their own views on the potential of wetlands aquaculture in the Gulf of Cadiz region.

Antonio Concepción, president of the Aquaculture Business Association in Andalucía, said: "There is no doubt wetlands aquaculture is beneficial for the region in terms of economic activity, employment generation, and also environmentally, as it is proven that wetlands aquaculture can contribute to the regeneration of abandoned landscapes. However, we should take into account that production costs are higher than off-shore aquaculture, but the fish produced in wetland systems are of better quality than those produced in offshore aquaculture. These factors make the product more expensive and it is more difficult to find our place in the market. It is not all about wetland aquaculture benefits, we must put an extra effort into the creation of a new brand and find new commercialisation channels".

The afternoon session included a visit to the facilities of Veta la Palma, an aquaculture farm located on an island in the Guadalquivir River, 10 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Veta la Palma provides a good example of how aquaculture can be used as a driver for wetland reconstruction. The attendees had the opportunity to see for themselves how beneficial the implementation of wetlands aquaculture in the region can be from both economic and ecological perspectives.
Dr. Pedro Cañavate, researcher at IFAPA El Toruño and one of the organisers of the seminar, said: "I hope this seminar will help to make stakeholders from the region aware of the real potential of wetlands aquaculture for the region. This meeting aimed to show stakeholders that we have the optimal conditions to develop wetlands aquaculture, and we also have the know-how to do it. Now it is up to policy makers and industry to take the initiative".

The SEAFARE project aims to promote the diversification of the aquaculture industry by providing a greater range of species and alternative environmentally-friendly production systems. All the initiatives developed by the project are assessed for their commercial applicability through close collaboration with stakeholders and SMEs. The project involves 14 partners, bringing together applied R&D centres, aquaculture industry organisations and environmental agencies across the Atlantic maritime region to promote the sustainable expansion of European aquaculture.
For more information about SEAFARE, please visit www.seafareproject.eu .

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#aquaculture – ASIMUTH, an Irish led EU Framework 7 funded project (FP7), was recently awarded the COPERNICUS (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Masters Prize for best earth-monitoring service for European citizens 2013. The pan-European project developed an online alert system (HAB Forecast) to provide an early warning to the aquaculture industry of imminent harmful algal blooms (red tides).

ASIMUTH is led by the Daithi O'Murchu Marine Research Station (Bantry) and involves scientists and SMEs from five European Atlantic States (Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal). Irish partners include the Marine Institute and Irish SME Numerics Warehouse Ltd (Galway). According to the project co-ordinator, Dr Julie Maguire (DOMMRS), "the new service gives producers time to adapt their culture and harvesting practices before a bloom arrives in their area, reducing potential losses which can have a devastating impact on aquaculture businesses".

In Ireland, closures, due to harmful algal blooms, of shellfish growing areas of up to 10 months have been experienced in the past. Other impacts such as losses of farmed fish and widespread mortalities of wild fish and benthic organisms have been experienced during red tide blooms in 2005 and 2012.

Joe Silke, Head of Shellfish Safety at the Marine Institute noted that "This is the first forecast system of its kind and was designed to combine information from monitoring stations, satellite data, biological and physical oceanic models to produce regular forecasting reports to the shellfish industry. Working with neighbouring countries gives us a better chance of early detection of these blooms and inter-regional water currents can be modelled to estimate the potential impact of these blooms in advance of their arrival at aquaculture areas."

The ASIMUTH project - Applied Simulations and Integrated Modelling for the Understanding of Toxic and Harmful Algal Blooms is co-funded under the 7th EU Framework 7 Programme for Research and Technological Development (2007-2013).

The Best Service Challenge is one of nine categories in the European Earth monitoring competition (COPERNICUS Masters)and aims to increase awareness of existing Earth monitoring services and their benefits to European citizens. As winner of the Best Service Challenge 2013, HAB Forecast will benefit from a substantial satellite data quota worth €40,000 made available with financial support by the European Commission.

The HAB Forecast bulletin is available on the ASIMUTH website www.asimuth.eu.

Published in Fishing
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#Fishing - "Absolutely hammered" is how a Carlingford Lough oyster farmer describes the state of his business after £350,000 (€404,000) worth of his stock was destroyed by a virus in the recent heatwave.

And as the Belfast Telegraph reports, Darren Cunningham now fears financial ruin after at least 80% of his juvenile oysters were wiped out by the ostreid herpes virus, which kills the shellfish when the water temperature rises above 16 degrees.

Unfortunately for Cunningham and fellow oysterman Harold Henning, who fears a total loss of his young oysters, Stormont has no compensation scheme in place for lost stocks in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
Page 3 of 7

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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