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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Conservationists want Tralee Bay and Brandon Bay in North Kerry to be declared a protected marine wildlife zone for bottlenose dolphins.

The call comes in the wake of new research by the Irish Whale Dolphin Group (IWDG) in tandem with the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation, which has identified the vast majority of bottlenose dolphins in North Kerry as members of the Shannon Estuary group that has enjoyed Marine Protected Area status since 2000.

“We knew dolphins had been regularly observed in Brandon Bay,” said the IWDG’s Dr Simon Berrow of the new research, “but did not know which population they belonged to and had no idea they were as abundant and frequent as this study has shown.”

Stephanie Levesque, senior author of the study, added that the research identified “very high numbers of Shannon dolphins present during the summer months in Brandon and Tralee Bays.

“If further surveys were to be carried out at various times of the year, including collecting behavioural data, it could help us to better understand how they are using these habitats.”

Elsewhere on the West Coast, Galway Bay FM reports on efforts in Connemara to form local groups in Oughterard and Letterfrack which are designated for the protection of pearl mussels.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The RSPB has welcomed the announcement of new marine protected areas for Northern Ireland this week.

“The formal designation of four new marine protected areas will help protect a range of vulnerable species and habitats - ranging from black guillemots to ocean quahog and seagrass meadows,” the wildlife charity said in a statement.

Among the new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) announced by Storming is an area near Rathlin Island off Co Antrim that’s the first in the UK to be set aside for a seabird species, the amber-listed black guillemot.

The other new zones announced include seagrass meadows in Waterfoot, also in Co Antrim, and the fragile ecosystem for sea pens in Carlingford Lough.

Also included among the new MCZs is the territory of ocean quahogs in outer Belfast Lough.

According to The Irish News, these clams are thought to have been thriving in the waters near the city for over 200 years - and individual clams could live for hundreds more.

The Stormont announcement comes a year after the new zones were first proposed for public consultation, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The first meeting of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s (IWDG) new local group for North Kerry takes place this Friday 9 December at the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre from 7.30pm to 9pm.

All are welcome to the evening’s talk by biologist Dr Marie Louis on her work on bottlenose dolphins in Ireland and internationally, followed by a meeting on setting up the new group.

The North Kerry group’s main focus is to get local people out experiencing and recording cetaceans and collecting data for the IWDG, as well as increasing membership numbers. Contact [email protected] for more information.

In other news, Conal O’Flanagan has been appointed to the IWDG’s board of directors, replacing regular Celtic Mist helm Karl Grabe.

O’Flanagan joined the IWDG soon after its formation in 1999 and was the first co-ordinator of its Constant Effort Sighting Scheme. The resident of North Co Dublin has previously been a director on the board and served as group treasurer.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - Is cannibalism among seals to blame for deaths of the marine mammals recorded on Ireland’s shores?

That’s one reason suggested by researchers in the latest report from the Irish Seal Sanctuary’s seal death database, according to the Irish Examiner.

While further research is required, recent studies at UCD indicate that some injuries previously attributed to boat propellers may be consistent with attacks on younger seals by older bulls.

Fishing activity is also suspected in some of the more than 100 carcasses recorded in the two years before May 2016 — particularly over the winter months in Waterford and Wexford, though there is no confirmed connection to the concurrent inshore fishery.

The sanctuary’s database relies on public contributions, with the largest number of seal carcasses reported in Dublin, followed by Cork, Wexford and Waterford.

In related news, the Dublin InQuirer reports on the uneasy relationship between dog walkers on Bull Island and the reserve’s resident seal colonies, which conservationists argue are often disturbed by pets running loose.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) received a report at the weekend of a large baleen whale struggling in the shallows at Cross Beach in north-west Co Mayo.

The 12-metre marine mammal, thought to be a sei whale or fin whale, was ushered back into deeper waters by a group surfing in the area on Sunday 27 November.

But locals are urged to keep a lookout over the next few days as the whale, believed to be injured or in poor health, is likely to strand again.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A small Norwegian community in the Arctic Circle recently had a whale of a problem with their internet connection - literally.

As New Scientist reports, a subsea internet cable in the Kaldfjorden north of Tromsø which should have been 170m below the surface broke loose from the fjord bed and entangled one of its many humpback whale visitors for more than a day.

Believing at first that the marine giant was caught in fishing gear, rescuers discovered after finally freeing the whale that it had been caught in a data cable - hence the affectionate nickname ‘Hacker’.

New Scientist has more in the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Wicklow People reports that a six-week-old common seal is being treated for suspected stab wounds after being found in “very shape” by people walking on Arklow’s South Beach yesterday morning (Friday 18 November).

The incident is the second in three weeks in the Arklow area to involve a seal with wounds thought to have been caused by human hands. More on this story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Irish-made documentary The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde will be broadcast this Saturday 29 October at 7.15pm on TG4.

Narrated by Liam Ó Maonlaí and shot in Cape Verde, Ireland and Malta, the film follows Dr Simon Berrow of the the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and an international team of marine scientists on an ambitious adventure to prove humpback whales from both the northern and southern hemispheres use the Cape Verde archipelago as a breeding ground.

“If we could make the connection, our understanding of humpback whale behaviour in the Atlantic would change,” says Dr Berrow. “Such a breeding ground would be unique. But going there in the first place at that time of year and at significant cost was a big if in itself.”

The lecturer at GMIT also believes the film will help highlight the importance of conservation in Irish waters.

“It still comes as a surprise to many that we have whales in Ireland,” he says. “In fact the numbers here are increasing each year and Ireland is becoming internationally important.

“To understand where whales in Ireland are coming from or going to and breeding is essential to protect them. This film is part of a 12-year search for the breeding grounds of humpback whales in Ireland.”

The broadcast on TG4 this weekend coincides with the 25th anniversary of all Irish waters being declared a whale and dolphin sanctuary, the first of its kind in Europe.

“It is an international story with an Irish perspective,” says director Tony Whelan. “It’s a cracking tale. Spending time with these scientists in an extraordinary environment was a privilege. We hope people enjoy it.

“We are really happy it has been taken up by TG4, an important channel for independent filmmakers. Without them stories like this can go unseen.”

The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde was screened around the country earlier this year as part of a library tour, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Marine scientists have been puzzled by the recent beaching of a whale rarely seen off the east coast of England.

According to the Guardian, the carcass of a 12m fin whale washed up at Holkham in Norfolk last Thursday afternoon (20 October), far from its usual waters between Britain and Ireland.

“You never get them in the North Sea, so what it was doing there, we have no idea at the moment,” biologist Dr Ben Garrod told the newspaper.

It’s not yet known what causes the marine giant’s death, though collision with a vessel in the North Sea has been mooted as one possibility, as the Eastern Daily Press reports.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Independent.ie has video of a seal pup being rescued by quick-thinking beachgoers in Co Down this week.

Aaron McLoughlin realised he had no phone signal to call for assistance when he and his wife Gemma and her family found the young seal stranded on the sand.

So he and his father-in-law David Lamont improvised a sling to lift the juvenile marine mammal out of danger and back into the water, as you can see in the clip below:

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Page 5 of 53

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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