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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD met representatives of the seven new Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty today. €12m is available to the FLAGS under Ireland’s Operational Programme for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Each FLAG will now receive technical support to prepare a Local Development Strategy, in consultation with local communities, setting out the FLAG priorities for development and support in their area.

Minister Creed said, “I am pleased to announce the commencement of this Community-Led Local Development Process. Job creation and Rural Development are key priorities for this Government. The success of the FLAGs under the previous Programme shows that Fisheries and Aquaculture communities can identify priorities to target investment best suited to their area’s needs and I am enthusiastic about the opportunities which will emerge from these 7 new
FLAGs .”

Commenting on the success of the programme to date, Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Seafood Development Agency said, ‘Over the period 2012-2015, more than 180 projects were awarded grants of just under €1m. This initial funding has supported a wide range of initiatives targeting job creation, social inclusion, tourism, community regeneration and market development around our coastline. This first phase of the FLAGS initiative has already resulted in 14 new businesses being created, 16 jobs being safeguarded and 27 new jobs being created’.

Co- funded by the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund and the Exchequer as part of Ireland’s €241m EMFF Operational Programme, the initiative is focused on community-led development to enhance the economic opportunities and social sustainability of Fisheries and Aquaculture dependent areas. The process will see consultation take place in each of the seven FLAG areas to contribute to a Local Development Strategy to support job creation, adding value, promoting innovation as well as enhancing environmental assets and promoting each area’s maritime cultural heritage.

Under the previous Seafood Development Programme which ran until 2015, FLAGs were established for the first time in 2012. Over 180 projects were awarded grants of just under €1m and saw a wide range of initiatives targeting job creation, social inclusion, tourism, regeneration and market development supported around the coastline.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) is the implementation partner working directly with the FLAG groups to assist them to establish and develop their own Local Development Strategies. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine oversees the programme and EMFF/Exchequer funding aspects.

Published in Fishing

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today expressed concern at proposals for some of Ireland’s key fisheries quotas, ahead of annual EU Fisheries negotiations in Brussels next week. The Minister said that the rolling out of the new discards ban for a number of Irish stocks added to the complexities of this year’s negotiations.

Minister Coveney said today that “Some of the proposals for stocks of great importance to Irish fleets are unnecessarily restrictive in my view and do not reflect scientific advice. We must set quotas that support sustainable fish stocks and I will support cuts where the scientific advice is clear that that is the right thing to do. The Commission is proposing a 43% and 27% cut to our cod and haddock quotas in the Celtic Sea, these stocks are stable and cuts of this magnitude are not justified. Other serious cuts are proposed for our very valuable prawn quota which is not supported by the scientific advice and for whitefish quotas in the Irish Sea. We must set quotas that support sustainable fish stocks and I will support cuts where the scientific advice is clear that that is the right thing to do. I will be making a strong case next week to Commissioner Vella to make significant changes to these quota proposals. ”.
The Minister added that “There is an added complexity to this year’s negotiations as the new landing obligation for certain stocks will apply from the 1st of January 2016. During the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, brokered by Ireland, I was a strong advocate of a phased introduction of discards ban to end the wasteful practice of discarding high volumes of fish at sea. As part of that Reform, it was also agreed that quotas would be adjusted upwards for stocks covered by discards ban to take account of the new situation that all catches must now be landed. It is vital that this ‘uplift’ in quotas is fully applied to the stocks that come under the discards ban in 2016, to support its practical implementation.”
In 2016 Irish fisheries covered by discards ban include prawns, whiting in the Celtic Sea and Haddock in the Irish Sea and the area west of Scotland.
Minister Coveney concluded by saying that “I am meeting our industry representatives this evening in advance of Council and I also intend to meet other stakeholders on margin of the Council to get a full understanding of priorities. During the Council I will keep the industry representatives and other stakeholders fully up to date on progress and developing issues.”

The Annual Fisheries negotiations to decide on quotas for 2016 takes place on the 14th and 15th of December in Brussels.

Published in Fishing

Fifth and sixth class students from St Mary’s Senior School, Dunmanway, Co. Cork, were named National Winners of Inland Fisheries Ireland’s ‘Something Fishy’ competition award at a prize giving ceremony held in the West Cork Education Centre, it was announced today

The students received the award and a €700 prize for their class project ‘The Wonderful Water Kids Show’. Project entries in this year’s competition addressed the themes ‘Water: A Precious Commodity’ and ‘Water Quality and the Environment’. Their innovative entry comprised a digital and artistic interpretation of the theme, presented through a video format.

Jim Daly TD and Noel Harrington TD, congratulated the students while presenting the perpetual ‘Something Fishy’ award to the students on behalf of Joe McHugh, Minister for Natural Resources, who was unable to attend the event.

Ms Mairead Twohig, Principal, St Mary’s Senior School, was presented with the school prize by Michael McCarthy TD, at the ceremony. Commenting today, Ms Twohig said: “I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the students of St Mary’s Senior School, who have demonstrated their excellent understanding of water and its huge importance in the world in their ‘Wonderful Water’ project”.

Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), commented: “I would like to thank the participant schools and the staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland, who bring to life the ‘Something Fishy’ educational programme, not only at St Mary’s but at many other schools around Ireland. IFI is committed to this programme which I hope ignites an interest in all things fish, fishing and fish habitat.”

Speaking at the event, Suzanne Campion, of IFI, said: “‘Something Fishy’ is an educational resource designed and promoted by IFI in conjunction with the Blackrock Educational Centre. It ensures that children do not become an ‘endangered species’ on the banks of rivers, lakes and our coast. In a typical year, we bring the programme to around 100 schools across the country. Every year, IFI staff aim to make the programme exciting and interesting for children so that learning is easy and fun.”

Those addressing the attendees included Mary O’Donovan, Director of West Cork Education Centre and Pat Seaver Director of Blackrock Education Centre. Both educationalists applauded the high production standards of St Mary’s Senior School’s winning project and noted the many teaching and learning experiences emanating from the strand and strand units of history, geography, science in particular, but also through linkages and integration with most subjects in the new curriculum.

‘Something Fishy’ 2015/16 programme
Aimed at fifth and sixth class students at primary level, the programme is based on the life cycle of salmon and gets students to explore, water, fish, fish stocks, angling, conservation of rivers and lakes and fish as part of the food chain. As well as class based work Inland Fisheries Ireland fishery officers take students into the ‘field’ to get hands on experience of their work. A comprehensive set of resources for teachers and children is available on www.somethingfishy.ie

Schools interested in participating in the 2015/16 programme should contact their local Education Centre for details.

This year’s winning entry ‘The Wonderful Water Kids Show’ can be viewed online at: www.somethingfishy.ie/blog.html.

Published in Fishing

#seafood – Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, to the Marine Institute in Galway.

Minister Coveney said "I am delighted to welcome Commissioner Vella to Ireland on his first official visit as Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and the Environment. While the Commissioner will have many opportunities over the coming days to learn about the overall importance of maritime affairs to Ireland, today our focus was on the seafood industry. In particular, this was an opportunity for me as Minister and the relevant stakeholders to provide the Commissioner with an overview on the seafood industry in Ireland and the challenges and opportunities in implementing the new reformed Common Fisheries Policy."

Commissioner Vella, who is responsible for Maritime Affairs and the Environment, is on a three day visit to Ireland during which he will have a number of engagements, the first of which was roundtable discussion with seafood industry stakeholders in the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney hosted a discussion between the stakeholders - representing the catching sector, processors, the aquaculture sector as well as the environmental pillar – and the Commissioner during a two hour meeting today in the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney went on to say "Today was a very valuable opportunity for seafood stakeholders to directly engage with Commissioner Vella and to express their views on a wide variety of issues of direct importance to coastal communities dependent on fisheries and aquaculture in Ireland. This kind of direct engagement will ensure that the Commissioner has a solid understanding of the issues of concern to Ireland as we implement the new CFP. In particular, stakeholders raised issues around the phasing in of the new discards ban or Landing obligation and the objective of achieving maximum sustainable yield or MSY by 2020 at the latest".

Published in Fishing
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#faw – A programme of activities to mark Fisheries Awareness Week 2015, the annual event run by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) was launched today, with a range of fisheries-related public events in angling hotspots around the country from Friday 15th to Sunday, 24th May.

Fisheries Awareness Week runs nationwide each year in early summer, and aims to encourage adults and children to take up fishing as a new hobby. To achieve this, IFI works with angling clubs and organisations to promote all types of angling – from trout spinning to fly fishing.

IFI also uses this platform to promote its role in protecting and conserving our fisheries resource. IFI works with existing anglers to heighten their awareness of the environment with events ranging from game, coarse and sea angling demonstrations, river walks, open days at fishery facilities and more.

Commenting on Fisheries Awareness Week, Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, said: "This annual series of public angling events has proven highly popular and every year hundreds of people turn out to join angling clubs for introductions to shore angling, fly casting and more. We are particularly delighted that every year, adults and children who have never fished before attend these events and discover their passion for what is a great hobby.

"Ireland offers a wealth of rivers and lakes as well as fantastic stocks of high-quality fish. The importance of protecting and conserving our fisheries resource in Ireland cannot be understated – it contributes to our health and wellbeing, our environment and our economy. Fisheries Awareness Week is a fantastic way of raising awareness nationwide."

A number of events will take place from Cork to Donegal, including activities such as an exploration of the sea shore with a marine biologist in Waterville; an introduction to fly fishing and spinning for trout in Balrothery; and introductions to fly fishing in Carrigavantry, Co. Waterford and Meadows Trout Fishery in Fanad, Co Donegal. Events are free and open to all.

For the full programme of events for Fisheries Awareness Week 2015 visit here

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#fisheries – Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the progress made at the international Blue Whiting Fisheries negotiations in Clonakilty.

The Minister said "I am pleased that serious efforts were made this week to resolve the contentious issue of how this important fish stock is shared between the various parties. The current sharing arrangement for this large fish stock, which is heavily fished to the north west of Ireland and Scotland in the springtime, has broken down .The European Union and other parties are looking for a fairer long term sharing arrangement of this valuable resource."

The Minister reported that at this week's negotiations "The European Commission made a strong case for an increased EU share, which would also mean an increase in Ireland's quota. It's unfortunate that a final agreement was not possible with our international partners in this fishery but substantial progress was made in the negotiations. I am hopeful that an equitable sharing arrangement can be found when the parties next meet."

Negotiations on international management of the very large North East Atlantic Blue Whiting fishery began last Tuesday and were hosted by Ireland on behalf of the European Union at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Delegates from France, United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands Norway, Iceland, Faeroes Islands, as well as Ireland were in attendance.

The European Commission had requested that Ireland host the talks on behalf of the European Union at the National Seafood Centre. Fishing industry representatives were also present to monitor the negotiations. The Blue Whiting fishery is very important to Ireland and for 2015 the Irish quota is over 23,000 tonnes.

This quota is landed directly into Killybegs and is increasingly processed for human consumption in fish factories in Killybegs , who have pioneered the use of this resource for human consumption. In addition to the catch by the Irish fleet, vessels from Norway & the United Kingdom have landed over 32,000 tonnes of Blue Whiting into Killybegs this year, creating additional employment in the fish processing industry.

Published in Fishing

#bass – Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed today that the Bass Fishing Conservation S.I. No. 826 OF 2007 remains in force and imposes a bag limit of two bass in any one period of 24 hours. The Irish bye-law also places a ban on angling for bass during the spawning season, which runs from 15th May to the 15th June.
On 29th March 2015, the European Commission introduced a daily bag limit which allows for 'not more than three' bass to be retained by anglers. This limit complements and supports Ireland's conservation measures, and those implemented by other countries, to assist in the recovery of bass stocks across Europe.
The limit is operational in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) divisions: IVb, IVc, VIIa, VIId, VIIe, VIIf, VIIg, VIIh, VIIj and VIIk, and highlighted in the map above.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.

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#Seafood - Marine Minister Simon Coveney today (Friday 27 March) announced plans for a new €241-million development programme for the seafood sector for the period up to 2020.

The new programme will be co-funded by the EU through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and is subject to adoption by the European Commission.

A public consultation on the minister’s proposals for the new programme and a strategic environmental assessment were published today, with comments invited by 1 May 2015.

In announcing the new programme, Minister Coveney said: “Our seafood sector is worth in the region of €850 million annually to our economy, with exports growing by 70% since 2009 to €540 million. Seafood is widely recognised as a high growth area of our economy, with the potential to grow to €1 billion by 2020.

"The investment package I am announcing today will be a key element in achievement of that growth potential. It will provide the capital to assist seafood enterprises to sustainably grow their production, add value to our seafood exports and create much needed employment in our coastal communities.”

He went on to say that he "negotiated a doubling for the period to 2020 of the EU seafood development funds to Ireland. Under this programme, €147 million will be provided to Ireland under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Government is providing an additional €94 million in co-funding, demonstrating our commitment to growing and developing the sector.”

The minister said he recognises "at the outset that there will be many views on how these funds would best be invested and on which particular areas should be prioritised.

"Following a detailed process of analysing the investment needs of the sector, I am proposing today that we invest €42 million in implementing the new Common Fisheries Policy, including measures for developing more selective fishing gear, and supporting the new discards ban.

"I am also proposing that we invest a further €6 million to build on the good work that has been ongoing over recent months to revive and sustainably grow our inshore fisheries; €30 million to sustainably develop our aquaculture industry and implement a new national plan for aquaculture that I will be announcing shortly; €12 million to grow the seafood based economies of our coastal communities through community-led fisheries local action aroups; and €41 million to grow markets for our seafood products, develop our seafood processing industry and develop new value added products for those markets. 

"I am also making available almost €10 million to support implementation of EU environmental law, to help protect vulnerable habitats and species and ensure that our seafood sector continues to operate and grow in a sustainable manner.”

The Minister concluded by inviting comments on these proposals by 1 May, and said he looks forward "to considering all views and discussing them with stakeholders”.

Published in Fishing

#fisheries – Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and Queens University Belfast (QUB) jointly sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at QUB's Medical Biological Centre earlier this week, on Wednesday 11th of March 2015, expressing their commitment to a continued rich and productive liaison in research and education.

Over a number of years, scientists from QUB and Inland Fisheries Ireland have worked in collaboration to produce high quality research covering an extraordinary range of projects, species and topics. Current areas of joint research include: fish population genetics; aquatic invasive species; and fish telemetry.

Speaking at the announcement, IFI's Head of Research, Dr Cathal Gallagher commented: "IFI and QUB look forward to building on our existing relationship to produce the highest quality research outputs and publications to support the conservation and management on the inland fisheries resource."

The organisations are also seeking to collaborate in encouraging and supporting the development of the next generation of fisheries scientists and technologists.

Dr Cathal Gallagher, continued: "I am confident that the memorandum of understanding signed here today will act as an impetus to move forward with future research collaboration to support our shared goals. I see this collaboration as vital in supporting the development and education of the next generation of scientists into whose hands the future of this resource will be placed.

"I'm also extremely impressed by the expertise and quality of the joint research currently being undertaken and I look forward with anticipation to reviewing the outputs of these projects.'

Professor Christine Maggs, Head of School, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, welcomed the announcement, saying "We are delighted that there is now formal recognition of the long and productive collaboration between QUB and IFI.

"The School's expertise in fish genetics, fish biology and aquatic ecology has been successfully applied to answering significant research questions for the IFI for more than a decade."

Published in Inland Waterways

#illegalfishing – At a sitting of Galway District Court on Tuesday, 3rd February, Judge Denis McLaughlin convicted two men of illegal fishing, and issued fines and costs totalling €1,850. Michael Gannon of Raleigh Row, Galway City, and Brendan Hardiman, with an address at Mace, Corrandulla, Co. Galway were both in court on charges of the illegal use of a net, and illegal possession of a net in contravention of the 1959 Fisheries Act.

Judge McLaughlin heard evidence that on the night of 6th July 2014, fisheries officers on patrol observed the men in a boat on Lough Corrib setting a net. The men returned to shore and left the scene. At approximately 2 am on the 7th July the men returned to the lake, rowed out and retrieved the net. On return to shore they were challenged by the fisheries officers, and under caution they admitted the offences.

Both men were convicted by Judge McLaughlin on one count, with the second charge taken into account. It was acknowledged that on the night both defendants had been co-operative, had accepted responsibility for their actions and were pleading guilty to the charges. The judge heard that Mr. Hardiman had two previous convictions for similar offences, and he fined Mr. Hardiman €750, with €300 costs. Mr. Gannon was fined €500 with €300 costs.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.

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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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