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Displaying items by tag: plankton

#MarineScience - New research raises questions over “significant disruption” to microscopic marine wildlife by seismic surveys — leading to calls for the Government to take notice.

According to The Irish Times, Lorcán Ó Cinnéide of the Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association says the findings by researchers in Australia could explain anecdotal claims of reduced fish stocks in areas off the Irish coast where seismic surveys for oil and gas have taken place.

The new study, by marine scientists at the University of Tasmania and Curtin University, found that the air gun signals commonly used in seismic surveys of the seabed caused up to a 300% increase in ocean plankton deaths in the waters off Tasmania.

“Plankton underpin whole ocean productivity,” the study’s lead author Prof Robert McCauley said. “Their presence impacts right across the health of the ecosystem so it’s important we pay attention to their future.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

#MarineScience - The team behind one of the world's biggest studies of ocean plankton have renewed their drive to encourage participation by all manner of seafarers.

As reported earlier this year on Afloat.ie, the Secchi Disk project involves the use of an special apparatus, a 30cm-wide flat white disk attached to a tape measure or rope and weighted by a small weight that's dropped off the side of a vessel.

Mariners then observe the disk as it drops, and when it disappears from view that level is known as the Secci Depth, a measure of the turbidity of the water - which in turn is influenced by the amount of microscopic marine wildlife present.

Seafarers in British and Irish waters - sailors, fishermen and yachtsmen alike - can then contribute their measurements via the Secchi App for smartphones to help researchers build a more complete picture of phytoplankton activity in our oceans and measure their changes over time.

Full details of the project and how to take part are available via the Plymouth University website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Researchers at a UK university are hoping to enlist seafarers to help conduct one of the world's biggest studies of ocean plankton.

BBC News reports on the project by the Marine Institute at Plymouth University, which hopes to encourage fishermen and sailors alike to take part in its survey in Britain's coastal waters - including the Irish Sea - and far beyond.

Anyone participating in the study must drop off the side of their vessel an apparatus called a Secchi disk - a 30cm-wide flat white disk attached to a tape measure or a rope, and weighted from below by a small 200g weight.

When the disk disappears from view, that level is known as the Secchi Depth, which measures the turbidity of the water, which in turn is influenced by the amount of the microscopic marine wildlife in the water column.

Seafarers are being asked to record the Secchi Depth and upload to researchers via a mobile app for iOS and Android devices in order to build a complete picture of plankton activity in the world's oceans.

"If we can just get a small percentage of the global population of sailors involved, we can generate a database that will help us understand how life in the oceans is changing," said project leader Dr Richard Kirby.

"It would help us learn much more about these important organisms at a crucial time when their habitat is altering due to climate change."

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science
New evidence is indicating that wild salmon are adapting to climate change by feeding in colder waters, The Irish Times reports.
According to salmon expert Dr Ken Whelan, wild salmon are now diving as far as 800m below the surface - normally the preserve of the sperm whale - to feed for periods of up to 24 hours during winter months.
They are also travelling closer to the polar ice fields, in response to the warming of the Atlantic Ocean.
The change in behaviour was noted at a salmon summit in France attended by more than 100 fishery managers and scientists from across Europe, which was convened to discuss the threat of climate change to wild salmon stocks at sea.
Plankton levels are particularly affected by the changing wind and ocean currents, said Dr Whelan of findings from the EU-funded Salsea programme, which he led.
“Surviving the first winter at sea seems to be the key challenge for these stocks, and the salmon in the northern states like Norway and Russia, seems to be less affected,” he said.
But the recent return of wild salmon to the Tolka in Dublin, as well as healthy returns along other inland waterways, highlighted that the news was not all doom and gloom.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

New evidence is indicating that wild salmon are adapting to climate change by feeding in colder waters, The Irish Times reports.

According to salmon expert Dr Ken Whelan, wild salmon are now diving as far as 800m below the surface - normally the preserve of the sperm whale - to feed for periods of up to 24 hours during winter months.

They are also travelling closer to the polar ice fields, in response to the warming of the Atlantic Ocean.

The change in behaviour was noted at a salmon summit in France attended by more than 100 fishery managers and scientists from across Europe, which was convened to discuss the threat of climate change to wild salmon stocks at sea.

Plankton levels are particularly affected by the changing wind and ocean currents, said Dr Whelan of findings from the EU-funded Salsea programme, which he led.

“Surviving the first winter at sea seems to be the key challenge for these stocks, and the salmon in the northern states like Norway and Russia, seems to be less affected,” he said.

But the recent return of wild salmon to the Tolka in Dublin, as well as healthy numbers along other inland waterways, highlighted that the news was not all doom and gloom.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
The recent warm weather has attracted scores of basking sharks to feed in Irish waters weeks ahead of schedule, Metro reports.
Video posted on YouTube by mackerel fishermen in Donegal Bay shows one of the sharks - the second largest species in the big fish family - just metres from their boat:
"We saw about 20 basking sharks that day," fisherman Brian Smith told Metro. "I have never seen so many at this time of year. You don't usually see them until later in May time."
Despite their fearsome size, basking sharks are among the friendlies of Ireland's marine wildlife.
They feed only on plankton and tiny fish - sifting them through their enormous gaping jaws - and are known for their calm temperament.

The recent warm weather has attracted scores of basking sharks to feed in Irish waters weeks ahead of schedule, Metro reports.

Video posted on YouTube by mackerel fishermen in Donegal Bay shows one of the sharks - the second largest species in the big fish family - just metres from their boat:

"We saw about 20 basking sharks that day," fisherman Brian Smith told Metro. "I have never seen so many at this time of year. You don't usually see them until later in May time."

Despite their fearsome size, basking sharks are among the friendlies of Ireland's marine wildlife.

They feed only on plankton and tiny fish - sifting them through their enormous gaping jaws - and are known for their calm temperament.

Published in Marine Wildlife
29th October 2010

Living Beyond Our Means

That is not a title referring to the current economic situation, though it is certainly apt in that regard. I am using it to refer to the fact that as humans we live on relatively small pockets of land on this planet that is dominated by the oceans upon which we depend for life. So much damage is being done to those oceans that 600 marine scientists this week issued a sombre warning:

"It is well past the time to get serious about measuring what is happening to the seas around us."

I was looking this week at an interesting sight, an image of the Earth taken from outer space in which our planet appears as a globe, dominated by a huge drape of blue hues broken up by irregular patches of brown and green, with swirls of grey and white above them. The blue are the oceans, the patches of brown and green the land and the swirls of grey and white the clouds. It made me think that, if life had evolved on another planet and scientists from there were looking at Earth, they would see it as a water planet, dominated by the oceans which cover over 70 per cent of its outer surface.
The oceans are what set Earth apart from other planets in the solar system. They contain over 324,126 cubic miles of water, an enormous quantity of liquid upon which life on the planet depends. We humans, who lack the ability to live totally in water, who do not possess the gills with which marine life is equipped, who are land-bound, air-breathing organisms, have forgotten how unrepresentative is our perspective of land in relation to the oceans. They occupy two-thirds of the world on which we humans live and which we believe was made for us. Yet, there is much more life in the seas. Isn't that an interesting thought, particularly as human life continues to abuse the oceans?

POGO is an organisation linking 80 per cent of the world's institutions studying the oceans. The "Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans" was created by leaders of the world's major oceanographic institutions. One of its major aims is to reach out to the public, creating more awareness of the seas. It has now established 'Oceans United,' an international forum intended to become 'The Voice of the Oceans,' sharing observations, knowledge and information for the benefit of humanity which depends for its continued existence on the survival of the oceans.

The 600 marine scientists who issued that sombre warning are members of 'Oceans United.' They have called for an integrated global ocean observation system which would monitor the entire ocean surface:

"The situation is that serious. Every country in the world needs to unite, irrespective of their differences, because the ocean surface is now more acidic than ever before and this will affect life on our planet."

The danger from this rising trend is that it will affect the basis of life in the sea – the plankton which are at the base of the global marine food chain. This is not a remote, ethereal issue. Scientists are concerned that the origins of recent world catastrophes such as the floods in Pakistan and summer heat waves and forest fires could be traceable to effects on the oceans as they grow saltier, hotter, more acidic and thus less biologically diverse.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork , where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

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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