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Pierre Le Roy sailing the uber-scow Teamwork has a good lead in the Euorochef Minitransat 2021 as he closes towards the finish at Saint-Francois in Guadeloupe 200 miles away, where he is expected to cross the line tomorrow (Friday) evening.

With nearly a hundred miles in hand on the next boat, Fabio Muzzolinini’s Tartine, he has been benefitting from being first to the fresher winds on the western side of the Atlantic, circumstances which had dictated that the fleet trended well south in search of better pressure in mid-ocean.

Ireland’s Yannick Lemonnier, sailing the veteran 2004 Sam Manuard design Port of Galway, was at one stage showing a class best placing of tenth in the Proto division, but today (Thursday) he was recorded in 17th place, with 750 miles still to sail to the finish.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

The McIntyre Globe 5.80 design was created by Australian voyager and adventurer Don McIntyre to bring Mini Transat-style campaigning within the reach of independent sailors with minimal resources. Photographer Jim Schofield (57) of Blessington in County Wicklow - a member of Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin - was one of those attracted to the idea, and he built his own Globe 5.80 (it’s just 19ft long) in a shed at his home with the November 2021 Globe 5.80 Transat in mind.

Despite all the difficulties posed by COVID lockdowns, he has the boat completed, but getting it to the start line in Lagos in Portugal in time for the start scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday, October 31st) was best done by road trailing. Even that has seen the count-down time being severely reduced, but as the other entrants know only too well of the challenges involved, they have postponed their start until Monday 1st November in order to welcome the Blessington skipper into the fleet, even if he does not anticipate starting unit Thursday (November 4th).

The official statement confirmed the changes:

The Race Director of the G580T Lutz Kohne, has delayed the start of the McIntyre Adventure Globe 5.80 Transat 24hrs to Monday 1st NOV. at 1200 hrs UTC. While the weather was acceptable for Sunday 31st, the entrants all agreed it would be best to await the arrival of Irish entrant JIM SCHOFIELD, who has been towing his yacht ‘Molly Claire” from Ireland by car and is not due to arrive in Marina de Lagos until Sunday night. He will then launch, rig and prepare to sail in the following days. Jim has made a huge effort to be with the fleet and join the race and is now not expected to start until Thursday, catching up with the fleet officially in Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote.

All entrants want to have a drink with him before they set off! That is how the Globe 5.80 family works.

“Our fleet is the same size as the VOLVO Race fleet, so that is cool and the entrants are one big family and this is all for them!” Said Don McIntyre, founder of the 5.80 class and skipper of TREKKA.

Follow the live Tracker on www.Globe580Transat.com and live coverage of the start on Globe 5.80 Transat Facebook Page.

The Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyreThe Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyre

Published in Solo Sailing
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After a three day, no-shore-contact stopover at anchor off Portimao in southern Portugal to sort rudder and electronics problems, Limerick’s Peter Lawless (52) is southward bound again in his Rival 41 Waxwing in his bid to be the first Irishman t sail solo round the world non-stop. Under the accepted rules of such contests, challengers are permitted to anchor in some convenient roadstead, but are not allowed to avail of any shoreside assistance whatsoever.

The problem with the steering was completely solvable, but it took time as it involved the clearing of lockers. However, the masthead units came adrift because of a broken bracket, and they are now operating from a new location at the cockpit. After the frustrations of endless headwinds once the Bay of Biscay had been crossed, the weather has now settled down, and currently there are fair winds the whole way to the Cape Verde Islands.

Track chart here

Published in Solo Sailing

Things had been looking good for Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan going into the final 120-mile Isles of Scilly to Roscoff leg of Stage 3 in the Figaro Solo 2021.

He’d worked his way up to 8th as they made their way in difficult winds across the English Channel, but with first one side of the fleet being favoured, and then the other, the Irish skipper seemed too often to be with the wrong group, until by the time he finished at 15.13.03 hrs French time this afternoon, he was back in 19th place in the 34-boat fleet. More detailed analysis from the Dolan Team here

Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

In the exceptionally challenging sailing of the 620-mile third stage of the Figaro Solo 2021, Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was lying eighth as he rounded the Bishop Rock at the western point of the Isles of Scilly at 1400 hours today (Wednesday) and shaped his course for the 120-mile final leg to Roscoff in Brittany. To say that his fortunes have been up and down really understates it, as he has been in a best placing of sixth, but equally for a while was back in 30th in the 34-boat fleet in which the boats have seldom seen more than a six miles range across the fleet, but now in the closing stages are beginning to experience a greater spread.

Details in Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

Solo sailor Peter Lawless (52) of the noted Limerick voyaging family has met with mixed fortunes in Week One of his challenge to be the first Irishman to sail non-stop single-handed round the world south of the five great capes. Having taken his departure from Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary on Friday, August 21st with his Rival 41 Waxwing, he had to contend with winds from forward of the beam - sometimes quite strong - for a while, but then he benefitted for a few days from the northeasters which were making things tough for the Figaro fleet slugging their way from the Spanish coast back up to Brittany.

A special feature of his project is that although he has electronic equipment, he is navigating by sextant and paper chart in the classic style. On his way south, though, he particularly noted the high level of shipping on the Transatlantic route westward of the English Channel, and much appreciated the protection provided by the AIS system. But a problem arose when the masthead aerial serving it came partially adrift, and he had a painfully bruising time at the masthead bringing it safely down to deck level for temporary deployment from the cockpit.

The fact that the high-pressure area which normally sits in summer over the Azores has in recent days been settled over Ireland has interfered with the normal wind pattens between northwest Spain and the Azores, and he has been forced onto a more westerly course instead of being helped by the northerlies which usually blow off the coasts of northwest Spain and Portugal.

Waxwing is a well-proven veteran of world voyaging. Twenty years ago, Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire were in the midst of a classic global circulation with this rugged little ship, in a venture which took them to many islands. This latest challenge by Peter Lawless is something completely different - more details here

Peter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challengePeter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challenge

Listen to Peter Lawless's recent podcast with Afloat's Tom MacSweeney here

Published in Solo Sailing

Swedish solo sailor Yrvind's most recent appearance in Irish sailing awareness was back in May 2018, when he turned up in Dingle with his decidedly different 18ft ocean cruiser ExLex on a trailer. After the boat was launched, a local fishing boat towed his engine-less craft out to a clear departure point west of the Blaskets, and away he went, destination New Zealand.

Various circumstances prevented ExLex – in which he is quite happy to achieve a sailing speed of two or three knots – getting to New Zealand, but he had put in an impressive amount of sea time (plus port-time in Madeira and other ventures) when ExLex was towed into Baltimore recently by an obliging whale-watching enthusiast.

Since last being in Ireland, Yrvind had actually decided that ExLex wasn't really the ideal boat for the job. So having left her securely-berthed at Porto Santo in Madeira, back home in Sweden, he built the even smaller Exlex II and took a fresh departure direct from Alesund. But then he concluded the new boat was incapable of carrying sufficient stores, so it was back to base in Sweden, and in June 2021 he re-joined the first ExLex in Madeira, bound for the Azores and a circuit of the Sargasso Sea.

The voyage from Dingle was put on hold with ExLex hibernating for a while in Porto SantoThe voyage from Dingle was put on hold with ExLex hibernating for a while in Porto Santo

The whale-watcher had been out in his RIB scanning the ocean beyond Sherkin, but instead of sighting the mighty humpback whale of his dreams breaching in its impressively slow style, he spotted the Day-Glo yellow ExLex, newly arrived in Irish waters from the Azores with any further thoughts of the Sargasso Sea – which the skipper had sailed many years ago anyway – now on the back burner.

ExLex and her very bearded captain were bouncing about in lumpy seas and little wind, making only negligible progress towards port. So The Whale-Watcher towed her into Baltimore, and he and his family gave the lone skipper a slap-up meal.

The word is that ExLex (it means Out-Law) has now been reunited with her road trailer, and hopefully is out of the jurisdiction. For it so happens that solo sailing in Irish territorial waters is a decidedly grey area, so much so that those who see things in black-and-white would say that it actually contravenes our maritime regulations.

Thus some of m'learned friends might even argue that directly assisting a solo sailor to get started on his lone project amounts to aiding and abetting, whereas the Good Samaritan act of The Whalewatcher of Baltimore in bringing ExLex in out of the cold was of course a very seamanlike and praiseworthy gesture of assistance.

A further factor is added to the equation when we learn that Yrvind is now 82, and indeed will soon be 83. There are many very able sailors of four score years who are much more capable than some of half their age. But in an era when the absurdly simplistic chronological age is often still the definition of abilities, 80-year-plus skippers are also a matter of nervousness for the Nanny State.

Sven Lundin on one of his many unusual self-designed and self-built small boatsSven Lundin on one of his many unusual self-designed and self-built small boats

Beyond that, there's the reality that for motive power in calms, he relies on a sort of yuloh, a single semi-sculling oar. Such a means of propulsion was all very well when every vessel was sail-powered, and everything came to a stop in calms. But in this era when ships see calms as an opportunity for economically increasing speed, an 18ft day-glo blob which can be moved at only a barely perceptible speed in a calm is inevitably at extra risk

And then there's the fact that his boat is own-designed and home made, so much so that she defies description with a rig which draws on both schooner and ketch to such an extent that it will inevitably be called a sketch.

Thus we have Outlaw (described by himself as "The Mountain Bike of the Oceans") and her owner-skipper Sven Lundin, aka ExLex and Yrvind. Yrvind means "whirlwind" in Swedish, and he cheerfully admits that he chose his new name because if somebody is looking at an AIS screen and sees a whirlwind looming up, they'll investigate further and maybe become followers of his website and blog.

ExLex, aka Outlaw – is she a schooner, is she a ketch….?ExLex, aka Outlaw – is she a schooner, is she a ketch….?

If you do, you'll find yourself in a parallel universe in which time either acquires a new meaning, or becomes meaningless altogether, while traditional sailorly concepts of extreme performance efficiency become largely irrelevant. But as he has been happily sailing in his own eccentric way for decades now without – so far as is known – causing undue trouble or frightening the horses, he surely deserves proper respect for achievement and survival.

That said, it's even more complicated than our bare outline above might suggest. More than a few noted figures in sailing have built a boat in the parental garage or hayshed. But Sven in 1971-72 built his first self-created boat in the basement of his mother's apartment. We are not told if the apartment building had to be demolished in order to get the boat launched. But as the little craft's dimensions utilized the basement's space to the last millimetre, we cannot see how it could gave been extracted in any other way.

Deciding to go small in boats at the age of 32 was part of a fascinating progress through voyaging. In 1968 he sailed on a 12-metre boat to Rio de Janeiro, and on arrival said: "A big ship has big problems, that's why I will return to the small boats, they only give small problems."

That's the way it has been ever since, his boats built and sailed long distances including Bris II, 5.9 metres long and built in aluminium, in which in 1980 he rounded Cape Horn. In winter.

While Yrvind's more recent boats have increasingly used carbon in their construction, Bris II in which he rounded Cape Horn in 1980 (in winter) was built in aluminium.While Yrvind's more recent boats have increasingly used carbon in their construction, Bris II in which he rounded Cape Horn in 1980 (in winter) was built in aluminium.

Ultimately his ambition had been to sail non-stop round the world in something even smaller, in what he called the "definitive journey" sailing a three-metre boat. But in recent years that voyaging ambition seems to have been modified downwards to become extensive Atlantic cruising in a variety of unusual small craft. Despite that, his free-ranging style has been cramped by the pandemic, and he has had frustrating journeys through airports like everyone else. 

While Yrvind may have experienced a very special freedom-filled relationship with the sea, like everyone else the pandemic has clipped his wings and brought back the joy of airports……While Yrvind may have experienced a very special freedom-filled relationship with the sea, like everyone else the pandemic has clipped his wings and brought back the joy of airports……

Thus the ExLex, slumbering in Porto Santo, was re-awakened, and in due course a whale-watcher off Baltimore in August 2021 found himself looking at something very unusual indeed. That said, they're accustomed to unusual ships and crews arriving into Baltimore from the Atlantic. But even so, an 82-year-old Whirlwind sailing an 18ft Outlaw which looks like no other boat on earth or sea is something to chew on. 

Special catch for a whale-watcher – ExLex is towed into Baltimore.Special catch for a whale-watcher – ExLex is towed into Baltimore.

Published in Solo Sailing
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British yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth returned to the Hamble this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his victorious return to the UK at the end of a pioneering 292-day solo non-stop west-about circumnavigation against the prevailing winds and currents aboard his 59ft ketch-rigged yacht British Steel.

A large crowd gathered at the Royal Southern Yacht Club to welcome his return, including fellow pioneer solo circumnavigator Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and Mike Golding who was the first to break Sir Chay's record 23 years later. The fact that only five sailors have managed to complete the same 'wrong way' voyage in the 50 years, against the 140 who have sailed East-about with the prevailing winds, underlines the enormity of Blyth's feat 50 years ago when yachts were not equipped with roller furling, GPS navigation, poor communications and only rudimentary self-steering.

Blyth's wind vane self-steering was smashed in a storm off Cape Horn, and Blyth had to steer his 59ft yacht by hand for the remaining 20,000 miles.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said today: "Francis Chichester, Alec Rose, myself and Chay were the pathfinders when the Brits dominated this form of ocean sailing, which led to a lot of people taking up the sport."

50 years ago. Chay Blyth returning to the Hamble aboard his 59ft ketch BRITISH STEEL at the end of his 292-day solo non-stop West-about circumnavigation.50 years ago. Chay Blyth returning to the Hamble aboard his 59ft ketch BRITISH STEEL at the end of his 292-day solo non-stop West-about circumnavigation.

Mike Golding, a former fireman who has completed six circumnavigations is one of these. "Sir Chay's voyage excited me enough to get sailing and has shaped my career ever since. The continuing success achieved this last week by Team GB sailors at the Tokyo Olympics may not have been nearly so good had these pioneers like Sir Chay and Sir Robin not excited so many to buy boats and get afloat, for it is their children or grandchildren that are now leading the charge in international sailing. We have a great deal to thank them and today is a mark in the history of our sport."

Published in Solo Sailing
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Ireland’s Tom Dolan proved his preparation for next month’s La Solitaire du Figaro is on course when he finished a very tough, testing Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten race in fifth place from 33 starters.

Exhausted after sleeping for just one snatched hour between Thursday afternoon’s start and crossing the finish line back in Concarneau at 15:44 hrs local French time this Saturday afternoon, Dolan was quietly content that his only solo race so far this season – and the last before La Solitaire - went well and most of all that his carefully planned strategy paid off.

“My face is burning with the constant barrage of seawater over these last 36 hours, it has been quite an extraordinary race.” Smiled 37-year-old Dolan from County Meath, “In Ireland, we are maybe used to getting four seasons in one day but this race had everything from no wind to 35 knots, burning sunshine to thunder and lightning and heavy hailstones and no visibility. So it was a difficult race to stay on top of and so it feels good to come away with a result.”

Smurfit Kappa- Kignspan skipper Dolan and French ace Gildas Mahé – who sailed together on the Transat en Double race earlier this season – sought the weather strategy advice from Marcel van Triest, one of the world’s leading racing meteo experts and his ideas paid off.

“Basically we broke away to the east to stay to the north of a weather trough for as long as possible and that paid for us. At about six hours before the finish, I started to feel confident I could make a good result when the wind changed as I expected it to and I was able to see the fleet under me.” Dolan reported.

Smurfit Kappa-Kingpsan was sixth at the Birvideaux mark early in the course and eighth at the most southerly turn. “These are kind of arbitrary positions because one minute you can be third and the next 11th the fleet is so close and the angles changing all the time on a race like that. And so I really did not watch where the others were, I sailed my own race according to what I could see on the water and in the clouds. Really I tried not to focus on the others at all and that works for me.” Tom Dolan concluded, “But for sure I made the right sail choices at the right time and seem to be fast enough.”

Fifth place in this fleet matches Dolan’s career best fifth on last year’s La Solitaire du Figaro.

Published in Tom Dolan

The organisers of The Race Around, Class 40’s official round-the-world race, have announced the establishment of a solo category running alongside the already announced double-handed fleet.

In a move that will spark memories of the highly successful ‘BOC Challenge’ and ‘Around Alone’ era, the organisers have also taken the opportunity to increase the number of entries from 25 to 35, inclusive of five wild cards.

The race is planned for 2023 starting from France.

Sam Holliday, Managing Director of, The Race Around said, “Since announcing The Race Around in late 2019 we’ve been blown away by the level of interest around the race and have taken the time to speak with a number of those looking to compete. It has become clear that the Class40 continues to boom and we have to take into account a growing trend of those wanting to compete in a global event that goes beyond the traditional reach of Class40. The Race Around therefore perfectly fills the void for those that have finished the Mini Transat and the Route du Rhum and perhaps have the following Vendée Globe cycle in their sights.”

The inclusion of the solo category has created a race with two trophies. The solo class will race for The Race Around Trophy with the double-handed fleet racing for The Race Around Cup.

Hugh Piggin, Co-founder, The Race Around said, “Upon making this decision our main thought has always been to provide a race that aligns with the ethos of an international Class, raced by both amateurs and professionals and The Race Around remains exactly that. The ability to choose the category that best suits the respective competitors will allow a varied and interesting mix between professionals seeking glory and seasoned amateurs looking for an adventure of a lifetime whilst racing alongside and against some of the sports established names.”

Further to the inclusion of a solo category, organisers are also delighted to have signed a long-term partnership agreement with Class40. This agreement will ensure The Race Around’s continued success beyond the first edition which will start in 2023. The partnership agreement details how the two organisations will work together to ensure members are provided with the best racing opportunities whilst also ensuring a greater level of technological collaboration with regard to safety, sustainability, event qualification and more.

The Race Around is looking to establish itself as one of the great ocean racesThe Race Around is looking to establish itself as one of the great ocean races

Halvard Mabire, President, Class 40 Association said, “We’re delighted to have signed a long-term partnership agreement between our two organisations. It is clear that The Race Around is looking to establish itself as one of the great ocean races and we, as a Class, are proud to work alongside them in a true partnership. The inclusion of a solo class allows us to dream once again of the golden era of the BOC Challenge and Around Alone, races in which the racing was tough, and adventure was real. Today’s announcement allows further opportunity for competitors to stay within the class and for partners and sponsors to gain exposure on a global platform whilst also providing seasoned amateurs the ability to complete a lifelong goal of circumnavigating the globe.”

More on this new race here

Published in Offshore
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Irish Fishing industry 

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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