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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The carcass of an 11-tonne sperm whale has washed up at Carnsore Point in Co Wexford, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

The 8.5m whale — discovered by local man Davie Rea on the rocky shore at the end of last week — was identified as an adult female by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Kevin MacCormick of the IWDG added that the giant marine mammal appeared to be emaciated “so most likely it was not in good health”.

It’s been five years since the last sperm whale stranding on the Wexford coast, as the species is more often found in western waters.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Not even two months in and 2017 is already the worst year on record for whale and dolphin strandings, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

As of Friday 17 February, a whopping 56 cetacean standings had been recorded — more than half of them identified as common dolphins.

Prior to 2010, the average numbers of standings were around 22, of which five would have been common dolphins, says the IWDG’s strandings officer Mick O’Connell.

The question of what is happening to cause such a spike in strandings throughout this decade prompted a meeting between the IWDG, Government agencies and representatives from Irish and European fishing fleets earlier this week.

“There is a disconnect somewhere,” says O’Connell, “as internationally accepted visual evidence of bycatch is seen in some strandings, and post-mortem reports on five common dolphins in Mayo in 2013 reported that their deaths were likely to be due to bycatch in a pelagic trawl net, yet Irish and EU observer schemes involving pelagic trawlers reported no bycatch in commercial pelagic hauls.”

The latest stranding was recorded in Fenit, Co Kerry on Wednesday (15 February) — a dolphin alleged by locals to have been caught in the nets of a large trawler offshore before being dumped overboard, as the Irish Mirror reports.

The Irish Examiner adds that another common dolphin with blood marks was found at Ballyconneely Beach in Connemara on the same day, while two days previous the emaciated carcass of a sperm whale was found on Nethertown Beach at the most south-easterly point of Co Wexford.

Last month, a spate of marine wildlife standings on the Waterford coast was blamed on pair trawling activity in the area.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Galway Atlantaquaria is currently caring for an extremely rare slipper lobster found in Galway Bay off the Aran Islands in recent days.

According to the Marine Institute, this is the first recorded landing of the warm ocean species at this latitude in the North Atlantic, after previous reports Kerry and Cork in the last decade.

The latest find was landed by skipper John Connolly of the fishing vessel Connacht Ranger from Kilronan on Inis Mór, and landed into Rossaveal, where it was later identified by Terlich Smith of the Marine Institute.

"My nieces and nephews were very excited about the slipper lobster, and named it Tréan, which is an old Irish word for hardy and brave and usually associated with warriors,” said Connolly.

“The fact it was so small, came so far north, and survived being towed up in a big net full of spurdogs, stones and prawns does make the name seem pretty apt.”

The Galway Atlantaquaria is now caring for the 72mm exotic lobster, which is progressing well after a week in quarantine.

Published in Marine Wildlife

There are photographs on marine animal welfare websites which show the awful horror and terrible suffering which balloon and lantern releases into the air have caused to marine wildlife. If you saw or see them, you would never again let a balloon blow away towards the sky. Those photographs certainly made a huge impression on me as did Niall Hatch, Development Officer with Birdwatch when he came on the programme this week with a plea to all listeners – even though it may be done with the best of intentions, please stop releasing balloons into the air, because that act is killing seabirds and marine wildlife. The country’s marine animal welfare organisations are all backing this plea.
Do listen to Niall, hearken to his words and take action…..

On THIS ISLAND NATION we bring you stories that you won’t hear on any other radio station…. There hasn’t been much reporting that it rains in Antarctica, the Continent of snow and ice where it is now Summertime… And that rain is killing penguins who are used to the cold temperatures but not to being wet….Donald Trump doesn’t believe in climate change… He should listen to those with first-hand experience, like Jim Wilson, the respected Irish ecologist and ornithologist, just back from a trip down there and about to return to the area… Climate change is a hard-sell, he says, but it is happening. It’s difficult to imagine perhaps, but it is a sign of climate change – rain in Antarctica.. Weather is what we experience every day, climate is the long-term change in weather. On our last programme Jim revealed that it was an Irishman, Edward Bransfield, who first set eyes on Antarctica. That story has brought a big response from listeners, so progress is being made on the plan to build a monument to honour Bransfield, even if Russia’s Vladimir Putin may try to claim territorial rights in Antarctica. He could face a tough job to beat the people of Cork Harbour!
The Government’s plans to protect and develop rural communities will, it is hoped, include the coastal communities and should include the offshore island communities which are an essential part of Ireland’s maritime history and culture. Rhoda Twombly, Secretary of the Islands’ Federation, Comhdháil Oileán na hÉireann, brings us the latest news from the islands, which include a new college on Inishmaan and developments in the arts on Inisheer. She also reveals why the people of Inishbofin Island are scouring the world for ‘yarn bombs’!
“Boating is for everybody.” I liked those words from Martin Ryan, Chairman of Meitheal Mara, Cork City’s community boatyard and maritime heritage voluntary organisation which has launched an ambitious €5m. ‘Strategic Plan’ to create “an integrated maritime hub” on Leeside. He accepts that it will take some time, maybe as much as five years to achieve, but says the organisation is determined to do this. He makes good points about how our rivers belong to everyone and how building a boat to use on them can be a life-changing experience.
Salmon anglers were not happy in the month of January when, for the first time, no Spring salmon were caught, though this changed this month. Myles Kelly of Inland Fisheries Ireland reports the story for THIS ISLAND NATION.
Enjoy the programme below.

Published in Island Nation

#MarineWildlife - The Seal Rescue Centre in Courtown is appealing for new sponsors to fund supplies for the marine wildlife in its care, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

The sanctuary recently took on its first sponsor in Gorey’s Amber Springs Hotel, which now has its name displayed over one of the 12 kennels available.

More than 60 seals are being kept at the Co Wexford centre that has a busy winter period taking in rescued seals and seal pups, the latest of them brought in from Clogherhead in Co Louth at the end of January.

But the Seal Rescue Centre is also celebrating successful releases back into the wild of seals it has treated — like Nala, an orphaned seal found in distress at Union Hall in West Cork last October, according to the Southern Star.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineScience - Scientists from Northern Ireland will lead a new project monitoring whale and dolphin sounds off the Scottish and Irish coasts, as BBC News reports.

The scheme led by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will see a network of buoys deployed with devices to pick up cetacean chatter – as well as potentially harmful ocean sounds from sea traffic or industry.

"Displacement from noise is a very real effect and ... if it doesn't cause them to move will change their behaviours and, at the most acute levels, can cause physical and physiological damage to the animals,” says Dr Adam Mellor of the AFBI.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - A whopping 71 species of shark can be found swimming in Irish waters.

That’s according to the new New Red List of Cartilaginous Fish, as reported by TheJournal.ie, which adds that half of all sharks in Europe can be found swimming around the Irish coast.

Eleven of these species are classified as either ‘endangered' ’critically endangered’, such as the porbeagle shark, the Portuguese dogfish and the basking shark — the second-largest fish in the oceans and a frequent visitor to Irish inshore waters.

The Red List comes hot on the heels of a new atlas of Ireland’s wildlife that’s dominated by whales and dolphins, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And it also notes that outside of Ireland, where angling for such species is predominantly catch-and-release, recreational fishing poses a growing threat to cartilaginous fish like sharks, skates and rays.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Ireland’s whales and dolphins feature in a new atlas of the country’s wildlife, as The Irish Times reports.

The Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015, published by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, maps the distribution of 77 mammal species both on the island and in its territorial waters.

Cetaceans account for almost a third of this number, among a whopping 68 species of whales and dolphins that frequent Irish waters.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Dr Simon Berrow relates his long-term study of the Shannon Estuary’s thriving population of bottlenose dolphins in a book that celebrates an encouraging national habitat for species that struggle not so far from our shores.

Afloat.ie readers might remember a previous atlas concentrating on Ireland’s abundance of marine mammals that was published in 2013, and for which this new book makes a useful comparison.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group reports on the stranding of three common dolphins in Dungarvan at the weekend.

Two of the three dolphins were still alive when found on Friday (13 January), though they were in “poor condition”, and one was later confirmed dead. The other was last seen in the area on Saturday and its current status is unconfirmed.

The news comes just days after two common dolphins were refloated after stranding in Tarbert, Co Kerry, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

It also follows a spate of marine wildlife deaths on the Waterford coast during the week, incidents that have been blamed on pair trawling activity.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#PairTrawling - Winter season pair trawling has been blamed for a spate of marine wildlife deaths on the Waterford coast this week, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Locals in Ardmore discovered four seals and a porpoise washed up on their beach this past Wednesday (11 January).

At least one of the seals was photographed with what appeared to be fishing net entangled around its snout.

Seals and cetaceans including humpback whales have been spotted off the South Coast in big numbers this month, likely following shoals of herring — also a popular fish for pair trawling, a fishing practice criticised by environmentalists for its threat to inshore marine wildlife.

Pair trawling was the subject of a debate on RTÉ Radio 1’s Countrywide last month, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 5 of 54

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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