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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

 

Atlantic Dolphins choose to eat high-energy fish to suit their energetic lifestyles, scientists have found.
A study of dolphins off the French coast shows that dolphins shy away from less calorie-dense prey in favour of high-energy food. This dispels a myth that dophins are opportunistic feeders that take any food that comes their way.
The study was carried out by Dr Jerome Spitz and other scientist at the University of La Rochelle in France, who looked at the eating habits of short-beaked common dolphins ( Delphinus delphis ).
This species are the most common type of dolphin in nearby Atlantic waters. The team studied the stomach contents of dolphins caught accidentally in tuna drift nets to see what they ate. They then compared what they found in the dolphins' stomachs with what surveys of trawling fish catches indicated as plentiful in the same waters.
What they found was that dolphins actively select their prey based on its energy density, preferring deep-sea species like lanternfish instead of fish that have lower energy densities.
The dolphins studied turned their noses up at fish with under 5kJ of energy per gram, and sought out rarer breeds of fish that had a higher energy rate.
Two favourites were less common species of  lantern fish, the Kroyer's lanternfish  and the Glacier lanternfish  which have 7.9kJ and 5.9kJ per gram respectively.

Atlantic Dolphins choose to eat high-energy fish to suit their energetic lifestyles, scientists have found.

A study of dolphins off the French coast shows that dolphins shy away from less calorie-dense prey in favour of high-energy food. This dispels a myth that dophins are opportunistic feeders that take any food that comes their way. 


The study was carried out by Dr Jerome Spitz and other scientist at the University of La Rochelle in France, who looked at the eating habits of short-beaked common dolphins.

This species are the most common type of dolphin in nearby Atlantic waters. The team studied the stomach contents of dolphins caught accidentally in tuna drift nets to see what they ate. They then compared what they found in the dolphins' stomachs with what surveys of trawling fish catches indicated as plentiful in the same waters.


What they found was that dolphins actively select their prey based on its energy density, preferring deep-sea species like lanternfish instead of fish that have lower energy densities.
The dolphins studied turned their noses up at fish with under 5kJ of energy per gram, and sought out rarer breeds of fish that had a higher energy rate.


Two favourites were less common species of  lantern fish, the Kroyer's lanternfish  and the Glacier lanternfish  which have 7.9kJ and 5.9kJ per gram respectively. Other less energetic predators, like sharks, are less fussy and take anything that's going.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

Mr. Sean Connick, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, today (June 29th) launched a milestone report on the effects of climate change on Ireland’s marine ecosystems. The document - Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2009 – details a number of significant observations recorded in recent years including: increases in sea surface temperature, increased wave heights off the south west coast and an increase in the number of warm water species in Irish waters, ranging from microscopic plankton to swarms of jellyfish. This report is one of three projects funded as part of the Marine NDP Research Programme (Sea Change) under the Environmental Policy Research Measure.


“It could be argued that one of the greatest challenges our marine food industries - such as fishing and aquaculture - are the effects of marine climate change,” said Minister Connick. “These changes will be primarily driven by the Atlantic Ocean. Research is therefore urgently required to improve our capability to predict marine climate change so that we can preempt and deal with the economic, social, political and environmental consequences that might follow.”

One key finding of the report is that increases of sea surface temperature of 0.6°C per decade have been taking place since 1994, which are unprecedented in the past 150 years. This in turn is linked to an increase in microscopic plants and animals, along with species of jellyfish. Further up the food chain, increased numbers of most warm water fish species have been observed in Irish waters, along with sightings of exotic species such as snake pipefish. Declines in number of seabirds have also been observed which may have a climate link.

“Ireland is strategically placed to play a key role in monitoring ocean-induced changes in our climate and environment,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “Geographically the warm southern waters of the Atlantic drift come closer to Ireland than any other country in Europe, where they merge with the cooler northern waters off the coasts of Galway and Mayo. It is here that the predicted biological shifts in marine species diversity or abundance are most likely to occur, making Ireland an ideal laboratory for the study of marine climate change.”







In the long term, the Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2009 report predicts that global mean sea level may rise by up to 0.88 m by 2100. This, when combined with the increase in wave heights of 0.8 m that have already been observed off southwest Ireland, could lead to an increased threat of coastal erosion and flooding.

‘We assembled a team who extensively reviewed and analysed our extensive marine databanks on oceanography, plankton and productivity, marine fisheries and migratory species such as salmon, trout and eels with the specific aim of identifying any pattern that might be linked to climate change,” said Dr. Glenn Nolan of the Marine Institute who managed the team. “In some instances these data were painstakingly assembled over a considerable period of time, indeed one of the time series extends back over five decades.”

A second report which reviews the effect of ocean acidification in Irish waters “Ocean Acidification: An Emerging Threat to our Marine Environment - 2010” has also been completed which highlights the growing threat to marine life and fragile ecosystems around the coast as a direct consequence of increased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. The report recommends that a nationally coordinated multidisciplinary marine climate change and ecosystem monitoring programme be established that will enable better evaluations to be made of the threats posed to the marine environment and economy by ocean acidification. It emphasises closer links between climate change, ocean acidification and environmental policy development especially in relation to mitigation strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy for Ireland, identified climate change as a priority area for research over the period 2007 to 2013 and this report represents a significant contribution towards achieving the objectives of the marine research programme. It addresses the need to increase our understanding of the drivers and regulators of climate so as to improve the accuracy of advice to Government while at the same time provide key inputs into the national climate change programme of the EPA. It will also improve the reliability of predictive models, and allow researchers to downscale global climate model predictions to the regional/local scale.  As an island nation, it is important to continue to support investment in marine climate change research. This in turn will strengthen Ireland’s ability to develop knowledge-based scenarios on climate change impacts on the various marine sectors and include these in all future social, economic and environmental strategies.

The complete Irish Ocean Climate and Ecosystem Status Report 2009 and Report summary are downloadable from:

http://www.marine.ie/NR/rdonlyres/E581708D-6269-4941-836F-6B012DD7A4BD/0/IrishOceanClimateandEcosystemStatusReport2009.pdf

http://www.marine.ie/NR/rdonlyres/7528902D-2467-4F3E-BF21-39D81AEA4D37/0/SummaryIrishOceanClimateandEcosystemStatusReport2009.pdf

The Ocean Acidification Report can be downloaded from:

http://www.marine.ie/home/publicationsdata/publications/Marine+Foresight+Publications.htm

Published in Marine Wildlife

Scientists at the Marine Institute, Galway, are working with anglers around Ireland to study the migration and diving behaviour of porbeagle sharks (Latin name - Lamna nasus) in the northeast Atlantic. Porbeagle sharks are one of the top marine predators around Ireland, but very little is known about their movement patterns in the northeast Atlantic.

Like most pelagic sharks around the world, the porbeagle shark is vulnerable to fishing pressure due to its high commercial value, slow growth rate and complicated reproductive cycle. However, there is currently no protective legislation for the species, primarily due to a lack of basic information on its biology and ecology.

Marine Institute fisheries scientist Dr. Maurice Clarke said, "Understanding the biology and spatial ecology of the porbeagle shark is key to the conservation of the species and for establishing successful ecosystem-based management strategies in the northeast Atlantic".

To study the movement patterns of porbeagles, scientists are using pop-up satellite tags. These tags are fitted harmlessly to the back of the shark and collect information on the animals' location and depth distribution, together with data on the environment in which the sharks live. Then after nine months the tags pop-up to the surface and transmit the data to polar-orbiting satellites.

With help from expert shark angler, Peter McAuley, three tags were deployed off Downings, Donegal, in September 2008. These data have provided new insight into the migration and diving behaviour of porbeagle sharks around Ireland. One shark, a juvenile male, migrated over 2400 km to Madeira off the west coast of Morocco during the wintertime. Another shark migrated to the Bay of Biscay, a region that is considered a hotspot for other shark-like species such as albacore tuna. The results also showed that porbeagle diving behaviour is linked strongly to the day-night cycle and the monthly lunar cycle.

Daragh Brown of BIM commented that, "These results are really interesting and since there isn't a whole lot known about porbeagle behaviour or habitat preference, even small amounts of data can really advance our knowledge".

This year, Marine Institute scientists are hoping to tag large adult females to find out the location of porbeagle birthing grounds. Currently nothing is known about where these large predators give birth.

The Marine Institute is currently working with the Irish Elasmobranch Group, French Research Institute for Exploration of the Seas (IFREMER), and the Association for the Conservation of Sharks (APECS) to find further funding for the project that will end in 2011. They aim to establish links between the fishing industry, recreational anglers and the public to increase research and awareness for the conservation of these sharks.

Dr. Edward Farrell (Irish Elasmobranch Group) said, "Pelagic sharks have received much global attention recently. Given the increasing pressures that threaten their survival, there is a pressing need for new research to underpin effective management measures".

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

A four-year survey of jellyfish population and movements in the Irish Sea continues this summer, with the public being asked to report sightings of any jellyfish that they see on the water. The EcoJel project is a collaboration between UCC and Swansea University and aims to see whether jellyfish in the Irish Sea could be a potential resource, either as an export product to countries where jellies are a delicacy, or as an attraction for divers who enjoy diving with jellyfish blooms.

The survey also hopes to deepen understanding of jellyfish blooms, which have caused beach closures and fish kills in the Irish Sea in recent years.

For more information, or to report sightings, check out  www.jellyfish.ie

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

On Saturday May 1st, the Irish Seal Sanctuary made its last journey from Garristown in North Dublin to release three seals in Courtown’s North Beach, Co Wexford. The weekend marked the beginning of a new era for the ISS who are setting up a new head quarters in Courtown. Irish boaters play an important role in identifying and advising the seal sanctuary of stranded or injured seals around the Irish coast. More here

 

Useful links on this story:

http://www.irishsealsanctuary.ie/iss_via/html/main.htm

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0503/1224269588723.html

 

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

The finding of “a well-established, high-density colony” of the freshwater Asian clam in the river Barrow at St Mullins, south Co Carlow, has alarmed fisheries officials and wildlife experts. Michael Parson has the full story in The Irish Times. Dr Joe Caffrey of the Central Fisheries Board said the invasive species posed a threat to salmon, trout and other native species such as the freshwater pearl mussel. The “invader” could damage the food chain in Irish rivers and fatally harm the gravel beds which are used by fish as spawning grounds.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 53 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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