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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Whale watchers on Slea Head were treated to a special sight earlier this week with the surprise appearance of the killer whale known as John Coe, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Landscape photographer Richard Creagh was among the lucky few on Monday (27 June) to spot the orca known by the distinctive notch on his dorsal fin – though in more recent times he's also lost a chunk of his tail fluke, most likely to a shark bite.

Creagh, a keen marine wildlife watcher for the last 10 years, said: "Up to now killer whales had always eluded me but today I got to add them to my list, and what a sight it was! I’m still buzzing!"

John Coe's unique orca pod are regular visitors to Irish waters, though he himself was last spotted close to our shores almost three years ago at the Inishkeas in Co Mayo, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group – which is asking the public to watch the seas for any more sightings of the senior cetacean.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fishing - 'Money for old rope' is the pitch for a new initiative that aims to recycle old fishing nets that often end up littering the seas, as the Irish Examiner reports.

A number of Irish companies have been invited to Norway later this year to explore the possibility of collecting abandoned fishing nets and other ocean waste for repurposing in various industries – such as using the rope fibres in reinforced concrete.

They will be led by Macroom E, a company started by Cork County Council to help small and medium businesses make the most of recycling initiatives.

Macroom E is a partner with Circular Ocean, a Europe-wide project hosting a showcase this September on its work to remove waste from the ocean – where plastic and 'ghost nets' remain a hazard to marine wildlife – and turn it into a useful, and profitable, resource.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Jellyfish - Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has raised the red warning flag in Sandycove and erected signs warning swimmers of the presence of stinging jellyfish in the water and washed up on the beach. Photographs have been taken and sent off for expert identification of the marine species.

Published in Water Safety

#Larne - Coastal wildlife in Co Antrim is under threat after a significant diesel spill from a Caterpillar plant in Larne at the weekend, as the News Letter reports.

The plant machinery firm faces likely enforcement action after 40,000 litres of red diesel leaked into Larne Lough via a storm drain – news of which was not made public till days later, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

As the Northern Ireland Environment Agency moved to assure that the spill's impact on marine life would be minimal, conservationists remain concerned as the diesel slick was seen drifting towards The Gobbins, home to many protected seabird species.

Spot checks of affected parts of the Antrim coast have as yet found no injured birds, but Ulster Wildlife maintains that the spill "could have potentially devastating impacts on breeding birds".

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#BlueWhale - The skeleton of a blue whale beached in Ireland that's to be the centrepiece of London's Natural History Museum has been held together by old newspapers for more than 80 years, it has emerged.

Afloat.ie previously noted the Irish origins of the giant marine mammal remains that were recovered from the Wexford coast 125 years ago – and is next year set to replace Dippy the diplodocus in the London museum's atrium.

But as Kent Online reports, it was only recently discovered that parts of the massive skeleton were being held together with copies of the Kent Messenger newspaper from the 1930s.

Staff responsible for the careful reconstruction of the blue whale specimen found dated newsprint within the plaster-like material that had been used as 'stuffing' to pack out and hold together its bones.

According to a museum spokesperson, it indicates strong connections between the English county and the workers in London who prepared the whale for display.

Kent Online has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fungie - Dingle's resident dolphin Fungie has sustained a significant wound below his dorsal fin, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The deep cut, likely inflicted by a visiting boat's propeller, was noticed yesterday (Friday 3 June) by fans of the popular marine wildlife attraction who's delighted locals and visitors alike in Dingle for more than 30 years.

However, Fungie lovers have been urged not to panic – as the famous bottlenose has healed well from similar injuries before, and has already returned to frolicking with boaters in Dingle Harbour.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#BowheadWhale - The search continues in tracking down the elusive bowhead whale that's excited marine wildlife experts since it was sighted in Carlingford Lough at the weekend.

One of a species never before recorded in Irish waters in the 25 years since the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) was formed, the 20ft juvenile whale was photographed from a pilot boat at the mouth of the lough at the Helly Hunter Rocks on Sunday 29 May.

It's thought that it may be the same individual from the arctic species spotted off Cornwall in mid May, following a previous bowhead sighting at the Scilly Isles in February.

The Celtic Mist joined the hunt yesterday (Tuesday 31 May) on its circumnavigation of Ireland and failed to make any sighting, though bowhead whales are known for being difficult to spot due to their lack of a dorsal fin.

The IWDG has much more on this story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Months after she was found on the streets of Galway, the seal pup named Poison Ivy has returned to the sea at Galway Bay with a group of fellow rescued seals.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Ivy was no more than three weeks old when she was picked up by council workers on a Salthill footpath last December.

Though seriously ill, she fought her way back to health under the watchful eye of the staff at Seal Rescue Ireland in Wexford, who gave her a name in keeping with their comic-book theme.

But it was back to Salthill she went this past weekend when Ivy was released into the wild at Ladies Beach, according to Galway Bay FM.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Turtles - Two rescued loggerhead turtles have been returned to the ocean by the crew of LÉ Róisín as the Naval Service vessel makes its way to the Mediterranean on deployment.

According to RTÉ News, the Naval Service were only happy to oblige when contacted by Dingle Oceanworld about the possibility of releasing Una and Tallula.

The former was nursed back to health at the Dingle marine wildlife sanctuary after she was found at Barryroe in West Cork last December.


She was joined on the OPV by Tallula, a turtle washed up in Cornwall who was treated at Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium and flown into Dingle especially for release.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, LÉ Róisín and its 57-strong crew are headed to the Mediterranean as the first deployment for the Naval Service this year under Operation PONTUS.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Places are going fast for a special cruise on board the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Celtic Mist to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ireland's whale and dolphin sanctuary.

Celtic Mist will depart Fenit, Co Kerry next Saturday 7 May with a team of IWDG members and marine science experts on an almost three-month circumnavigation of Ireland, first heading north along the Wild Atlantic Way and around to the Irish Sea, calling on Dublin on 7 June to mark the 25th anniversary of the Irish Government's official declaration of this island's waters as a sanctuary for cetaceans.

The declaration came only three months after it was proposed by the then newly formed IWDG, and both have been instrumental in raising awareness of the bounty of marine wildlife in Irish waters.

Though berths on the voyage are filling fast, everyone will have the opportunity to participate by assisting in outreach events along the cruise route, or by tracking its progress online. Details on how to get involved can be found on the IWDG website HERE.

Along the way passengers on Celtic Mist may be treated to some of the incredible wildlife the sanctuary was created to protect, such as humpback whales – a number of which were spotted on an early visit to West Kerry earlier this month, likely attracted by schools of sand eels, as the IWDG reports.

In other marine wildlife news, locals near a beach close to Ballyshannon in Co Donegal have complained after a whale carcass was left rotting on rocks three days after it was reported to authorities.

According to the Irish Mirror, successive high tides had failed to shift the 25ft minke whale, though Donegal County Council says it is arranging for the animal's disposal.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 8 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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