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Displaying items by tag: pollution

The new National Maritime Oil & HNS Spill Contingency Plan (NMOSCP) will establish “a national framework and strategy to co-ordinate marine pollution preparedness and response”, according to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Published yesterday (Friday 26 June), the plan aims to address all oil and HNS (hazardous and noxious substances) pollution in the waters of Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, whether it originates from ships, harbours, offshore units, oil/HNS handling facilities or land-based sources.

An “essential feature” of the plan is co-ordination between the Irish Coast Guard and relevant Government and non-State bodies, and it provides “a platform to co-ordinate responses in the context of the Major Emergency Management Framework and separately under the Strategic Emergency Management National Structures and Framework”.

The department adds that the NMOSCP “will address Ireland’s obligation under international convention in respect to preparedness and response to maritime pollution incidents”, and will provide the coastguard with a benchmark for best international practice.

The contingency plan is available to download below, while various standard operating procedures can be found on gov.ie HERE.

Published in News Update

It started in August last year when Northern Ireland man Jon Medlow noticed the amount of rubbish floating downstream while kayaking in the River Bann near Portadown.

Just a few months later, as BBC News reports, and he’s removed almost 9,000 bottles from the waterway — besides hundreds of discarded footballs, and enough refuse to fill close to 70 bin bags.

The sheer amount of waste even prompted Medlow to purchase a dinghy which he tows behind his kayak to carry the rubbish he collects — and his one-man initiative has now won support from the local council.

BBC News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking
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An Irish sailor and visual artist will join next month’s leg of an all-female sailing voyage that’s carrying out important research into the devastating impact of ocean plastic.

Claire McCluskey was a relative novice to sailing when in 2016 she and her partner took part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), the first of two transatlantic voyages she has under her belt.

Now she’s preparing to set out to sea once again, as she has been chosen from over 10,000 applicants to join the crew of eXXpedition Round The World 2019-2020.

The pioneering all-female sailing voyage and scientific research mission is circumnavigating the globe via four ocean gyres and the Arctic.

And Claire is one of 300 women to join the crew over the voyage’s 30 legs over more than 38,000 nautical miles, studying microplastic and toxins in our oceans.

In February and March, Claire will join Leg 7 of the eXXpedition mission to sail 2,000nm from the Galapagos to Easter Island, gathering samples en route from the South Pacific Gyre — a major plastic accumulation zone.

She will be part of an interdisciplinary team which, in addition to assisting with scientific research at sea, will bring together their unique expertise to think of new ways to tackle the problem of plastic pollution.

As a visual artist, this experience will contribute to Claire’s research into our relationship with the ocean, and will inform a new body of work on her return to Ireland. She will also be writing updates and blog posts for the duration of the four-week voyage.

You can Claire’s participation in the eXXpedition voyage via her GoFundMe fundraiser — for which she is also organising a table quiz next Tuesday 4 February from 7.30pm at Bloody Mary’s on South William St in Dublin — and find out more about the Pacific islands leg HERE.

Published in Marine Science

A court has heard that Malahide Marina was flooded with enough sewage to fill more than two Olympic-size swimming pools in a pollution incident last year, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Irish Water pleaded guilty to offences under the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 following the malfunction of a treatment plant in the north Co Dublin town on 28 April 2018.

The company was fined €1,500 and ordered to pay €850 for expenses and €5,000 towards legal costs.

Brendan Kissane, inspector for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which brought the case, told the court that the incident occurred after one of the plant’s three pumps had been removed, and the other two failed four days later on a day when the facility was not staffed full-time.

This resulted in raw sewage overflowing from tanks in the facility into the nearby marina.

It was also heard that the pump failure was not detected until the day after the pollution incident, a Sunday, and the pollution continued until a temporary pump was installed the following day.

TheJournal.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas

Marine Minister Michael Creed has welcomed the increase in trawlers and other fishing boats now signed up to Ireland’s Clean Oceans Initiative.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the initiative involves fishermen storing and returning to land marine plastics that come up in their nets daily as they fish, thereby removing this pollution from the marine environment.

The minister launched the Clean Oceans Initiative in January this year at Union Hall, setting a very ambitious target for the participation of the entire Irish trawl fishing fleet in the scheme by 31 December.

To date, 168 trawlers and 56 other fishing boats have signed up with 12 ports registered and involved in the initiative.

“It is heartening to see the numbers that have come on board and that we are now at 70% participation. I would like to thank every boat owner who has joined up,” said the minister.

“We need to get every single trawler on-board for this. This is good for the fishing industry and good for the environment.”

He added: “I’m delighted that the fisheries producer organisations endorsed this initiative and are encouraging their members to sign up and get involved.”

Protecting our oceans is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

By the end of the third quarter this year, approximately 70 tonnes of marine plastic waste had been collected from 12 of Ireland’s busiest fishing ports and 25.5 tonnes of used fishing nets have been collected for recycling by Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) mobile shredder, the ‘Green Machine’.

Minister Creed expressed his thanks to BIM and to those leading the early brigade: “I must commend all those currently involved in the Clean Ocean’s Initiative being run by BIM and the longstanding commitment many in the fishing industry have to bringing ashore plastic waste from the sea.

“I look forward to seeing 100% participation by our trawling fleet by the end of this year.”

Applicants are advised to sign up on the BIM website or by contacting BIM directly at 01 214 4100.

Published in Fishing

Plastic fibres released during construction on the Dun Laoghaire baths site last year have again washed up on nearby beaches, as The Irish Times reports.

The plastic shards were washed into the water during a concrete pour at the development last November, prompting a safety advisory for swimmers and beach-goers between the West Pier and the Forty Foot.

A clean-up operation was launched at the time which recovered 50kg of the 70kg of plastic strands released.

Now a volunteer clean-up group says some of the unrecovered plastic reappeared at Sandycove on Thursday ahead of Storm Lorenzo.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has prosecuted three businesses and landowners in the Lough Sheelin and River Camlin catchments between May and September 2019, for the discharge of harmful substances to nearby watercourses.

In June, Kiernan Milling of Granard, Co Longford was convicted in Longford District Court for the discharge of effluent to the River Camlin catchment.

Judge Hughes ordered the payment of €2,441.65 in fines and costs, for breaches under the 1959 Fisheries Consolidation Act.

On 23 July, in Virginia District Court, Mr Patrick Kiernan was convicted and ordered to pay €2,900 in fines and costs, for the discharge of effluent to the Kildorragh River in the Lough Sheelin catchment.

A third conviction was secured by IFI in Virginia District Court in September 2019.

Mr John Lynch, Mountnugent, Co Cavan was ordered to pay €2,500 in fines and costs for allowing the discharge of deleterious matter into the Schoolhouse River, also part of the Lough Sheelin catchment.

In a fourth case in May 2019 at Longford District Court, Judge Hughes disposed of a prosecution by IFI against Mr Derek Moorehead in relation to discharges to a tributary of the Camlin River and ordered Mr Moorehead to pay €500 to a wildlife charity.

Lough Sheelin is a well-known wild brown trout fishery in the Great Western Lakes and one of the most important brown trout angling locations in Ireland, while the River Camlin is an important spawning and nursery location for Lough Ree brown trout.

Amanda Mooney, director of the Shannon River Basin District, said: “Pollution events in the spawning and nursery tributaries along these catchments can threaten indigenous fish populations. The maintenance of the aquatic habitat is vital if we are to sustain and enable wild fish populations to thrive.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland is working to protect and conserve this natural resource to ensure its sustainability into the long term.

“Angling for brown trout in lakes in the Inny catchment and Lough Ree generates important economic activity for rural communities and any impact on fish populations in the area may also have negative impact in this regard.”

Published in Angling

North Cork Creameries Co-operative Ltd pleaded guilty on two charges in relation to a pollution incident on the Allow River in Co Cork last year at a sitting of Mallow District Court on Tuesday 17 September.

The charges followed an investigation by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in relation to a milk spillage into the river at Kanturk during August 2018.

The court heard that the incident occurred during a tanker loading process at the company’s production facility in Kanturk, which then discharged to the river.

Judge Brian Sheridan granted probation after hearing evidence that the defendant company had made a significant investment to upgrade their facilities in recent years and that a conviction would have a detrimental effect on the company’s wellbeing.

The court awarded €2,654 for costs and expenses to IFI and ordered the co-op to make a payment of €7,500 to the local angling club.

North Cork Creameries Co-operative was previously prosecuted by IFI in the Circuit Court in 2012 for similar offences, and it also received the benefit of the Probation Act in the District Court in 2018 following a prosecution by Cork County Council under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act.

Commenting on the case, IFI senior fisheries environmental officer Andrew Gillespie said: “Protection of fish stocks is vital to maintaining an extremely valuable natural resource for the benefit of local and tourist anglers alike.

“The River Allow and its tributaries are a prized recreational angling resource with much of the catchment soon to benefit from the locally managed and Government-funded Duhallow Farming for Blue Dot Catchments project.

“The project aims to improve the river water quality and biodiversity via the implementation of beneficial measures by farmers and landowners.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Wastewater overflows from Ringsend’s over-capacity treatment plant have made algal blooms in Dublin Bay much more likely, says one marine expert.

Speaking to The Green News, Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch Ireland said overflows from Ringsend which have occurred after heavy rainfalls provide the right nutrient-rich environment for algae to prosper.

Afloat.ie readers will remember the ‘orange slick’ seen on south Dublin beaches this past summer — and this past week the Shelly Banks adjacent to the Ringsend plant was blanketed in rotting seaweed many mistook for raw sewage.

But capacity issues at Ringsend are only one facet of the the problem, according to Dubsky.

“It’s not just one big Ringsend discharge as the treatment plant is struggling, it’s all those smaller stormwater overflows mixed with sewage water which are discharging right at high watermark onto the shore,” she said.

The Green News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

RTÉ News reports that a major angling competition set for Athlone yesterday (Friday 16 August) was cancelled over the recent oil spillage in the River Shannon near the town.

Westmeath County Council has been investigating the pollution incident on the important waterway since earlier this week, as previously noted on Afloat.ie, but have not yet identified its source.

While efforts were made to contain the spill on the Al River, a tributary of the Shannon, locals say the slick has now spread to the old canal in Athlone town.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
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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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