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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde will continue its screening tour of libraries throughout Ireland from next month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the documentary that follows marine wildlife expert Dr Simon Berrow's decade-long study of Atlantic humpbacks – a number of which frequent the Cork coast every year – had a special screening in Clonakilty earlier this week.

That comes after previous showings in Killarney on 23 January, and Dun Laoghaire's new Lexicon on 12 January.

The library tour continues in February with stops across the country scheduled up to summer. Future free screenings are as follows:

  • 10 February – Kilkee – 6.30pm
  • 25 February – Youghal Library – 7.00pm
  • 5 March – Maynooth Library – 3.00pm
  • 5 April – Carraroe – 6.00pm
  • 14 April – Ballyroan Library, Dublin – 7.00pm
  • 21 April – Dungarvan Library – 7.00pm
  • 10 May – Ballinasloe Library – 7.00pm
  • (Dates in Skibbereen in March and Bray in May are TBC)
Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The 'dolphin whisperers' is what they're calling a trio of siblings from Northern Ireland who helped rescue a distressed bottlenose dolphin off the coast of Brisbane in Australia.

Matthew, Joshua and Jessica Poole from Templepatrick leapt into action when staff at the Tangalooma Island Resort – where Matthew has worked for years and was recently joined by his brother and sister – found the dolphin had a fishing hook and line caught in her mouth, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The line was easily removed, but things became critical a week later when the dolphin, named Silhouette, had to be separated from her calf Betts for further treatment – a delicate situation when dolphin calves can die from stress.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - Four more sperm whales have beached in eastern England on the North Sea coast after the first died in Norfolk last Friday (2 January).

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the first whale died on a the beach at Hunstanton despite best efforts to refloat it.

Initially estimated to be 50 feet in length, the carcass was later measured around 30 feet and has been put under guard to prevent "scavenging", as BBC News reports.

The whale was one of a pod of five whose remaining members have since stranded and died across the Wash in the Skegness area, according to the Irish Examiner.

A number of those carcasses have since been vandalised with graffiti reading 'Fukushima RIP', 'CND' and 'mans fault' [sic] – alleging a connection between the Japanese nuclear plant disaster in 2011 and the health of marine wildlife in the world's oceans.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Talk about a bounty! While it was reported on Afloat.ie just two days ago that whale sightings are on the increase in the Sunny South East as the season draws to a close, that wasn't the whole story.

According to the New Ross Standard, Martin Colfer's whale-watching tour trip last weekend not only sighted a humpback whale and fin whales but also more than 95 dolphins – enough to claim Hook Head as the new Dingle.

It's thought that the warming oceans are bringing cetaceans to Irish waters in much greater numbers than before as they chase their preferred fishy meals.

In other news, locals and visitors at a popular Norfolk beach were wowed by the sight of an enormous whale that washed ashore on Friday afternoon (22 January), as the Irish Mirror reports.

The 50ft sperm whale sadly died despite best efforts to refloat it in deeper waters -- but it's now become something of an attraction on the beach at Hunstanton as investigators work to discover the cause of death.

BBC News reports that the whale was one of as many as five that swam into the Wash inlet of the North Sea, two others of which freed themselves after stranding.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - There's good news to report from the Galway Atlantaquaria as Ninja the loggerhead turtle is out of intensive care.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 'cold stunned' reptile was close to death when she was rescued by staff at the Seal Rescue Centre in Courtown, Co Wexford after washing up on a Kilmore Quay beach before Christmas.

She was shortly after transferred to the longer-term care facilities at the Salthill aquarium, where she was treated for frostbite and wounds to her skin and shell.

And according to The Irish Times, the turtle is now over the worst of her ordeal, though she's missing a flipper and her skin will require more treatment.

The same staff at Galway nursed Leona the loggerhead back to health before she was flown to the more suitable warmer climes of the Canary Islands just over a year ago.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Whale sightings are on the increase in the South East this week as the season tapers off, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

"As large whales don't keep to our calendar year, this annual south east flurry of large whale sightings represents the tail-end our our large whale season," says the IWDG's sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

"And what a season it has been, especially for the humpback whale, which have enjoyed a record year both in terms of frequency of sightings since they first appeared in early May off the Slea Head Peninsula."

The latest spots were made both on land – by Andrew Malcolm and Ann Trimble from Ardmore Co in Waterford at the weekend – and on a whale-watching trip with Martin Colfer's South Coast Charter Angling, recording a humpback whale and more than five fin whales between them.

And there might still be time to head down to the Sunny South East to catch a glimpse of these ocean giants before they depart for the spring.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Wildlife experts on the Isle of Man have been stumped by the carcass of an otter – a species not native to the island – found on Port Erin beach last Friday (15 January).

As BBC News reports, while the once severely threatened British otter population has recovered to the extent that the marine mammals can now be found in every county in England, they have never knowingly been a presence on Man – until now.

And with no microchip present on the animal to determine the deceased otter's origin, or indicate how it got to the island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the local wildlife trust has something of a mystery on its hands.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Twenty per cent of England's waters are now protected by Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) after 23 new sites were designated by the UK government, as the Guardian reports.

Two sites in the Irish Sea – Allenby Bay on the Solway Firth, and West of Walney off Barrow-in-Furness, both in Cumbria – number among the latest zones announced yesterday (Sunday 17 January).

The news comes a month after Northern Ireland put forward four new proposed sites for consultation, and more than two years after Westminster confirmed the first 27 MCZs around the British coastline, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

With the latest designations, that now brings the total number of conservation zones in England to 50 – still less than half of the 127 sites originally proposed after the passing of the Marine Act six years ago.

And according to marine conservation experts, even with these designations "the UK’s rich marine life has very little protection'.

Prof Callum Roberts of the University of York added that the MCZs are no more than "paper parks".

"They have no management at all, so life within them remains unprotected," he said. "They will be worse than useless, giving the illusion of protection where none is present."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - A new film on a decade-long study of humpback whales in the Atlantic will have a special screening in Cork later this month, as The Southern Star reports.

The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde – which stars some of the marine giants that visit Cape Clear every year – will be shown to the public in a free event at Clonakilty Library at 7.30pm on Wednesday 27 January.

It following the work of Dr Simon Berrow of GMIT the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), who has been a part of annual marine science expeditions to Cape Verde for a number of years, studying the humpback whales of the islands off Western Africa – and their connections with West Cork, where the species is regularly spotted each summer.

Dr Berrow also featured on Afloat.ie this week for the new journal paper he co-authored on the threat of banned toxic chemicals in European waters to killer whales and other cetaceans.

Note: a previous reference to a screening in North Donegal was inaccurate, but dates of future library tour screenings for the film from February 2016 can be found HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Toxic chemicals banned in Europe nearly 30 years ago are still polluting the seas off the continent.

And marine scientists fear their continued presence could spell the end for the killer whale and other species in European waters, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The warning comes from newly published research on concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in marine wildlife – specifically orcas and other dolphins – in Irish, British and Mediterranean waters.

Co-authored by Dr Simon Berrow of GMIT and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the paper in the latest issue of journal Scientific Reports claims that despite the outright ban on the use of PCBs since 1987, they persist in "dangerously high levels in European cetaceans".

High exposure to PCBs, once used in the manufacture of paints and electrical equipment, weakens the immune systems of cetaceans and has a severe effect on their breeding rates.

The paper is available online HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 11 of 54

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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