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Displaying items by tag: invasive species

Invasive chub have been confirmed in the River Inny in Longford, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

A single fish was caught on rod and line at one of a number of spots where IFI staff recorded possible sightings following reports from members of the public.

Chub (Squalius cephalus) are non-native to Ireland, with the potential to compete with native species for food and space as well as be a carrier of fish diseases and parasites.

The River Inny — a tributary of the Shannon — is the only Irish river in which they have been recorded thus far, and removal operations between 2006 and 2010 were thought to have eradicated the species from the system.

It is not yet clear whether the current chub are linked to the original population or were more recently introduced.

However, the threat of chub spreading through the Shannon system “is of real and pending concern to the biodiversity of Ireland’s biggest catchment”, says the fisheries body.

IFI’s head of research Dr Cathal Gallagher explained: “Ireland’s rivers are ecologically important ecosystems, which support significant recreational fisheries for native and established fish species.

“Non-native fish species threaten these ecosystems and the game and coarse fisheries that they support — potentially in unforeseen ways — and are thus a cause for concern.”

IFI appeals to anglers to protect Ireland’s fisheries by not moving fish between watercourses for any reason and to submit any sightings directly to IFI or on the hotline at 1850 347424 or 1850 FISH24.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has renewed its appeal to angling enthusiasts and the general public to be vigilant and report the presence of any Pacific pink salmon encountered in Irish river systems over the coming months.

In 2017, this non-native fish species unexpectedly appeared in unprecedented numbers in multiple river systems in the south-west, west and north-west of the country.

As pink salmon predominantly have a two-year lifecycle, there is potential for the species to reappear in Irish rivers again this year and every second, so-called ‘odd’ year thereafter.

However, they can also turn up in ‘even’ years and a single specimen was recorded in the River Suir in 2018.

Also known as humpback salmon, pink salmon are a migratory species, native to river systems in the northern Pacific Ocean and nearby regions of the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.

The species also has established populations in rivers in northernmost Norway and in the far northwest of Russia, originating from stocking programmes undertaken in this part of Russia since the 1950s until 2001.

Although a single specimen was first recorded in Ireland in 1973, they were very rare in Irish waters until 2017.

In the past week, pink salmon have been reported returning to rivers further south in Norway than anticipated which increases the likelihood of their reappearance in Irish rivers this year.

“The potential presence of pink salmon in Irish rivers again is of ongoing concern to Inland Fisheries Ireland as its presence in large numbers may negatively impact some of Ireland’s native species such as Atlantic salmon and sea trout as well as estuarine and coastal marine fish species and their associated ecosystems,” says Dr Cathal Gallagher, IFI’s head of R&D.

“Despite only very limited information being currently available to assess such threats, the climatic and environmental conditions in Ireland are considered quite amenable to facilitate the establishment of Pacific pink salmon populations in Irish river systems.”

IFI has developed an identification guide (2.31 MB PDF) to help anglers and the general public identify pink salmon.

Anglers are asked to report catches of pink salmon to IFI’s 24 hour confidential hotline number at 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. As these fish die after spawning, some dead specimens could also be encountered along Irish rivers.

Anyone who catches a pink salmon is asked to:

  • Take a photograph of the fish
  • Tag the fish and present it to IFI and a new tag will be issued to replace the tag used
  • Record the date and location of capture, and the length and weight of the fish
  • Keep the fish and do not release it back into the water (even in rivers only open for catch and release angling)

IFI will then arrange collection of the fish for further examination. This will help establish the abundance and extent of distribution of the species in Irish waters.

Published in Angling

Waterways Ireland advises all users of sightings on the Royal Canal at Ashtown of a large invasive rodent species that is highly damaging to river, lake and canal banks.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the coypu — also known as the nutria in the United States — is regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to agriculture, the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The coypu is an EU-regulated species of concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place (No.1143/2014).

The large river rats can also carry a number of serious diseases communicable to humans and domestic animals.

Waterways Ireland says coypu eradication programmes can cost up to several millions of euro and are not always successful.

Most recently there were sightings of the rodents in Cork city two years ago, after a number were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in a tributary of the River Lee.

But their presence across the country in the capital raises concerns about their further spread throughout Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with common otters:

  • Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length. Features same in juveniles.
  • It can weigh 5-9kg.
  • It has webbed hind feet.
  • Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle.
  • Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
  • Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
  • Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

Do not attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals.

Waterways Ireland appeals for the public keep a lookout along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown, and report sightings (with photos is possible) to any of the following:

For more information visit species.biodiversityireland.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Cork residents near the River Lee are urged to be report any sightings of coypu after one of the large rodents was seen in Cork city last week.

The invasive species was released within the last two years in the Curraheen River, a tributary of the Lee, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) trapping 10 of the large river rats since then, according to the Irish Examiner.

But the NPWS now seeks the public’s help in identifying how far beyond the Curraheen they might have spread, with possible sightings on the Cork-Bandon road, at Monkstown on Cork Harbour and in streams north of the city.

The situation is a far cry from two years ago, when fears of a coypu invasion of Ireland’s inland waterways were dismissed upon the news of a single three-foot rodent found in a Tipperary stream, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Also known as nutria in the United States, the rodents are regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Angling - Plans to introduce non-native fish species into Irish lakes have been alleged by Irish angling enthusiasts, as the Mayo News reported recently.

A social media post via the Irish Pike Society, which has since been removed, claimed that fishermen from the UK and Ireland were planning this month to introduce various non-native fish such as catfish and barbel into designated brown trout fisheries that include Lough Mask and Lough Conn.

Inland Fisheries Ireland confirmed they were aware of the claims and were monitoring the situation.

According to the Connacht Tribune, the allegation is the latest incident in an ongoing dispute between anglers who want to keep western loughs free of predatory fish like pike, and others who feel undue preference is given to salmon and trout.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

Five years ago the Department of Transport told the United Nations agency dealing with safety at sea and the marine environment that it was preparing to ratify a treaty drawn up by the UN intended to control the spread of invasive marine species which could cause damage in Irish waters, possibly wiping out native marine species and causing damage to the marine environment generally.
Five years later, while 51 nations around the world have signed the Ballast Water Management Convention drawn up by the International Maritime Organisation, Ireland still hasn’t done so, despite a request from the Secretary General of the Organisation.
The treaty is designed to counter the threat to marine ecosystems caused by potentially invasive species carried across the oceans of the world in ships’ ballast water. Ballast water is essential to the safe and efficient operation of modern shipping, providing balance and stability to unladen and partly laden ships. Because shipping transports up to 90 per cent of the world’s traded commodities, it is reckoned to transfer up to 5 billion tonnes of ballast water around ports of the world every year and that is claimed by scientists to be the main cause of introducing non-native species from one country to another.
When Peru, this month, became the 51st State to accede to the Treaty to try to control this problem, I asked the International Maritime Organisation if Ireland had ratified…


“Not yet” I was told from IMO Headquarters in London, with the additional quote from their spokesperson… “but it is apparently intending to … Well that is what Ireland said in 2011” and they sent me a copy of Marine Notice No.47 of 2011 from the Department of Transport which stated that “Ireland’s maritime administration is at present preparing the legislation that is required and intends to ratify the Convention when this process is complete…”
Five years later, the IMO suggested to me that it might be worth asking why Ireland had not signed… I did and the Department told me…that “provision to give effect to the Convention was made in the Sea Pollution Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 2006. Now that’s ten years ago, but it seems a Statutory Instrument has been drafted by the Department to give effect to the Convention in Irish law. However, subject to some legal clarifications the Department expects that the Order will be enacted only …” shortly after the Convention comes into force…”

zebra mussel boat

Zebra mussels on the hull of a boat

Thereby hangs the rub…This treaty has actually been hanging around since 2004, that’s 12 years ago, even as the problems of invasive species increased with specific threats identified in Ireland by Government task forces, to freshwater river systems, lakes and coastal areas. To come into effect it needs a minimum of 30 States to approve it which would represent 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. 51 States have done so but they represent only 44.87 per cent of tonnage. Ireland’s access would only add .02 per cent tonnage, but the Secretary General of the IMO has appealed to every nation to support the Convention… so why is Ireland delaying, saying that it won’t sign until the Convention comes into force… in other words waiting for other nations to support it while Ireland won’t?
Senator Grace O’Sullivan is the Green Party’s spokesperson on the environment and says Ireland could push the treaty along if the Government would sign it, while Richie Flynn, Executive of IFA Aquaculture on behalf of fish farmers, isn’t surprised by the failure to sign, but it doesn’t please him.
Hear their views and the Podcast above.

Published in Island Nation

#Angling - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has published its report on the Asian clam survey at Lanesborough, Co Longford and the surrounding area, which has found that complete removal of the invasive species "is not feasible".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, IFI said it was working closely with all relevant agencies as well as local community and angling groups to re-open the popular fishery after last month's invasive species scare.

All stakeholders have now been briefed with IFI's report and recommendations and management actions will be considered over the coming weeks.

IFI says an "enormous amount of work has taken place over a short period of time.

"It is clear from the findings of the survey that the population of Asian clam has already reached a stage where complete removal is not feasible."

It's expected that disinfection kits will be commissioned in the coming week to halt any further spread of Asian clam from the Lanesborough fishery.

Fishing is then set to resume thereafter, but anglers are reminded that fishing will remain closed until an official announcement from IFI.

The full report on the Lanesbourough Asian clam situation is available as a PDF to read or to download HERE.

Published in Angling

#InvasiveSpecies - The invasive Japanese sea squirt - also known as 'marine vomit' - is spreading extensively in the south of Galway Bay, a marine scientist tells The Irish Times.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Japanese sea squirt (Didemnum vexillum) spreads like a blanket across the seabed and other surfaces, smothering shellfish and other marine life in the process.

It is often transported over large distances on boat hulls and fishing equipment.

Two years ago signs of the highly damaging species were detected in Strangford Lough, following work in North Wales to prevent its spread into the lucrative shellfish waters of the Menai Strait.

Sea squirts were first detected in small amounts in Galway Bay seven years ago, says marine biologist Dr Julia Nunn.

But their present abundance at the shore near Ballindereeen in Co Galway could pose a threat to shellfish farming and spawning beds or scallops and herring in the area.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

In related news, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) joined Canoeing Ireland to launch invasive species disinfection guidelines for paddle sports enthusiasts like canoeists and kayakers.

IFI says paddle sports watercraft and associated equipment are known to facilitate the introduction and spread of environmentally damaging invasive species like Asian clam and fish pathogens such as salmon fluke (which has not yet been recorded in Ireland).

These may be carried from one water body to another as hull-fouling organisms in bilge water, or entangled in equipment exposed to the water.

The complete guidelines are available to download HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#InvasiveSpecies - When invasive aquatic species become established, they cause significant damage to freshwater ecosystems, fish populations and to the economies that depend upon them.

Next to habitat loss, invasive species are considered the greatest threat to native biodiversity. Anglers play a vital role in protecting the native and unique fish stocks and waterways on the island of Ireland.

Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Institute of Technology Sligo are looking for anglers to take a short online questionnaire on angling and invasive species.

The questionnaire should take no more than 8 minutes and can be completed anonymously. Your views would be greatly appreciated.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

#Angling - From today 1 June, Northern Ireland's anglers are banned from selling salmon caught in rivers under new measures from the Legislative Assembly.

As BBC News reports, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín said that the new rules are "the first step in a series of conservation measures aimed at protecting stocks of the iconic Atlantic salmon".

The rod and line catch sale ban is intended to encourage the practice of 'catch and release' which is set to become mandatory next year, and also brings NI legislation into line with the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

It comes months after the shocking news that just three out of every 100 wild salmon returned to Northern Ireland's rivers in 2011, prompting concerns that the species has declined to "Dodo levels".

Moves have already been made to control the commercial offshore netting of salmon in order to boost their numbers in the North's waterways.

Another threat to salmon numbers is the rise of invasive species in Northern Ireland's waterways, which as the News Letter reports have cost the economy more than £46 million a year, according to Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Highlighting the risk to NI's marine wildlife and plantlife, as well as fisheries and agriculture, the minister said "increasing awareness of the threat of invasive species and the need to tackle them is key to achieving success".

A new strategy by the Legislative Assembly will involve partnerships between government, the community and environment groups "working in tandem" to deal with the problems caused by invasive species such as the Japanese sea squirt, detected in Strangford Lough last year.

Published in Angling
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Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

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

FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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