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#FISHING - The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) aquaculture executive has criticised the Government's grant aid scheme announced this week, claiming that it rules out the majority of Ireland's fish farming industry from accessing funds.

Richie Flynn said that the rules for grant aid insist that applicants hold a "current licence", which he claims is "virtually impossible" to procure at present.

“The prolonged and unnecessary delays in dealing with licenses are within the control of the Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food to resolve with the National Parks and Wildlife Services," he said. "The fact that they have not succeeded in issuing renewals to industry since 2007 is their fault.

"Now we have a situation where to avail of grant aid, the same department are insisting on having an up to date licence, which is virtually impossible to achieve, from their colleagues in the same offices in Clonakilty.

"It makes a mockery of the grant aid system and exposes the insanity of holding back an industry which can provide vital jobs and exports for our coastal peripheral areas."

The IFA also described as "technically and practically unfeasible" the Government's insistence that grant-funded projects be completed before the end of the calendar year. 

“The industry is wondering if the department is deliberately trying to set up a situation where they give themselves no choice but to give back their aquaculture budget to the Department of Finance for the third year in a row to make themselves look good," he said. "From the point of view of fish farmers, processors, customers, suppliers, consumers and industry watchers, it looks anything but good."

Flynn called on Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to "re-examine his own departmentally imposed restrictions, which are not required by EU rules, and give a boost to a sector which has serious demand for its products and a bright future ahead if domestically imposed obstacles are removed.”

Published in Fishing

#BUDGET - Coastguard and lifeboat services, mountain rescue and the Commissioners of Irish Lights will not face any further funding cuts in the latest Budget, according to the Minister for Transport.

The Irish Times reports that, following the reduction of his department's budget, Minister Leo Varakdar stated that substantial cuts have already occurred in the maritime safety sector.

Moreover, he announced an increase in the maritime budget from €70.5 million to €80.3 million, due to provisions for the new Irish Coast Guard helicopter contract.

Earlier this week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, underlined the importance of the marine sector to Ireland's coastal communities.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney announced a round of expenditure estimates on Monday which include increased funding for investment in processing, aquaculture and fishery harbours.

Published in Budget
The European Union's maritime affairs commissioner has promised a "level playing field" during the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), The Irish Times reports.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Maria Damanaki was in Dublin on Thursday to discuss reform of the policy with Irish stakeholders.
She admitted that Ireland had suffered under the current policy, which has led to overfishing in Irish waters by other EU member states such as Spain.
The commissioner said that better maritime planning and protection of "small-scale fisheries" were fundamental to the new CFP.
But she denied that Ireland's situation would worsen under the new proposals, which include concessions on transferable quotas that critics - including Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney - fear would see multinationals buying up Irish fishing rights.
She said similar concessions had worked in Denmark, the US, Australia and New Zealand, adding that the system is designed to compensate those who want to leave fishing without straining the EU's finances.
Damanaki also discussed encouraging the development of offshore aquaculture to combat rising imports of seafood, and her commitment to ending the practice of fish discards - which may also involve a programme to provide lower-income individuals with cheaper fish.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

The European Union's maritime affairs commissioner has promised a "level playing field" during the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), The Irish Times reports.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Maria Damanaki was in Dublin on Thursday to discuss reform of the policy with Irish stakeholders.

She admitted that Ireland had suffered under the current policy, which has led to overfishing in Irish waters by other EU member states such as Spain.

The commissioner said that better maritime planning and protection of "small-scale fisheries" were fundamental to the new CFP. 

But she denied that Ireland's situation would worsen under the new proposals, which include concessions on transferable quotas that critics - including Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney - fear would see multinationals buying up Irish fishing rights.

She said similar concessions had worked in Denmark, the US, Australia and New Zealand, adding that the system is designed to compensate those who want to leave fishing without straining the EU's finances.

Damanaki also discussed encouraging the development of offshore aquaculture to combat rising imports of seafood, and her commitment to ending the practice of fish discards - which may also involve a programme to provide lower-income individuals with cheaper fish.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

It maybe the second last item on the programme for government issued by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore yesterday but the indications are good that the marine sector will see a reinstated Department of the Marine. the Fine Gael and Labour coalition say 'marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery'. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Coastal communities, fisheries & marine environment

We will negotiate the best possible deal for fishermen in the review of the Common Fisheries Policy.

We will support the development of sustainable aquaculture and fish farms by streamlining the licensing process and reducing associated bureaucracy.

Marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery. We will develop an integrated marine and coastal planning process in order to maximise the potential of Ireland's coastline in fishing, aquaculture, ocean energy and tourism.

A Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment, based on consultation with all major stakeholders, will be brought before the Dáil annually before EU fisheries negotiations commence.

We will replace criminal sanctions system for minor fisheries offences with administrative sanction system to bring Ireland into line with other European jurisdictions. Safety at sea and decent working conditions must underpin the development of the fisheries sector. We will explore the provision of an emergency towing vessel for the Coastguard.

Published in News Update

Fine Gael has pledged to reinstate the Department of the Marine in its election manifesto published today. Under the heading 'steering the marine' Fine Gael also says it will replace the Boards of all State Port companies and Harbour Commissions within one year of entering government. The full chapter dealing with Marine is below:

1.11 Supporting the Seafood Sector and Marine
Expanding the Industry: Fine Gael believes Ireland, as an island nation with a strong and valued fishing tradition has huge potential to succeed as a serious competitor in the international seafood sector. The seafood industry currently generates annual revenues of €718 million and provides direct employment for 11,000 people. With an estimated 40 million tonnes of seafood to be required annually by 2030, there is significant scope for further expansion.

Common Fisheries Policy:

We will negotiate the best possible deal for Irish fishermen in the context of the ongoing review of the Common Fisheries Policy. Our priorities are:
• A progressive reduction of discards, fishery by fishery and in all maritime regions in the EU.
• Protection of the Hague Preferences.
• A uniform and transparent regulation regime.
• A clear, independently audited database of infringements across the EU.
• The development of a sustainable aquaculture plan.
• A strong focus on seafood marketing, labelling and country of origin to ensure imports meet the same
standards on safety, hygiene, traceability, recall, information and audit.

Sea Fisheries Bill:

We will publish legislation to replace the criminal sanctions system for minor fisheries offences with an administrative sanction system to bring Ireland into line with other European jurisdictions.

Funding for Fisheries:

Fianna Fáil and Green Party in-fighting has limited Ireland's ability to draw down EU funds for seafood development. We will resolve difficulties blocking the drawdown of available funds. Aquaculture Licensing: An additional 42 million tonnes of farmed seafood will be required to keep pace with demand each year by 2030, just 20 years away. We must increase our raw material supply and expand our aquaculture sector. We will remove administrative obstacles and clear the backlog of aquaculture licences currently preventing the creation of thousands of jobs in the aquaculture sector.

Value Added Products:

Currently, 85% of all Irish seafood is commodity traded. There is a significant opportunity to generate more value from this raw material base. Fine Gael will task Bord Iascaigh Mhara with assisting Irish companies in adding value to their products through innovation.

Single Food Label:

We will create and market a single label for all Irish produce and will drive a targeted marketing campaign to grow the Irish brand in new markets.

1.12 Steering the Marine

Marine Department:

Marine and fisheries policy is currently spread across three Departments. Fine Gael will merge these responsibilities under one Department for better co-ordination in policy delivery.

National Marine and Coastal Plan:

We will develop an integrated marine and coastal planning process to reach the full potential of our coastline in fishing, aquaculture, ocean energy and tourism.

Ports Development:

We will support the development of our ports and marine sector as important drivers of economic growth. We will also replace the Boards of all State Port companies and Harbour Commissions within one year of entering government.

The manifesto is HERE

Published in News Update
Minister for Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith and Minister of State Sean Connick have met one of the world’s biggest seafood companies to discuss the potential for expansion of the industry in Ireland, the Irish Times reports.
Marine Harvest, which presently employs 250 people in Ireland and 5,000 worldwide, hopes to produce between 10 and 12,000 tonnes of premium salmon for export from its fish farms in Donegal, Mayo, Cork and Kerry in 2012.
The company sees potential to double its production and employment in Ireland over the next 10 years and discussed with the ministers how the marine infrastructure can best accommodate this.
“I see enormous potential for the expansion of both finfish and shellfish aquaculture," said Minister Connick.

Minister for Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith and Minister of State Sean Connick have met one of the world’s biggest seafood companies to discuss the potential for expansion of the industry in Ireland, The Irish Times reports.

Marine Harvest, which presently employs 250 people in Ireland and 5,000 worldwide, hopes to produce 10-12,000 tonnes of premium salmon for export from its fish farms in Donegal, Mayo, Cork and Kerry in 2012.

The company sees potential to double its production and employment in Ireland over the next 10 years and discussed with the ministers how the marine infrastructure can best accommodate this.

“I see enormous potential for the expansion of both finfish and shellfish aquaculture," said Minister Connick.

Published in Fishing
Page 7 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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