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Displaying items by tag: stranding

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) received a report at the weekend of a large baleen whale struggling in the shallows at Cross Beach in north-west Co Mayo.

The 12-metre marine mammal, thought to be a sei whale or fin whale, was ushered back into deeper waters by a group surfing in the area on Sunday 27 November.

But locals are urged to keep a lookout over the next few days as the whale, believed to be injured or in poor health, is likely to strand again.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Common dolphins stranded in a Kerry river last weekend were saved by the quick actions of local people, as The Kerryman reports.

Trapped by the fast receding tide at the mouth of the Cloghane Estuary on the Dingle Peninsula last Saturday (20 June), the group of dolphins were fortunate they didn't have to wait long for the community to spring into action.

Following a report from local woman Shelia Mulcahy, Louise Overy of Dingle Oceanworld and her sister Tabitha co-ordinated efforts that involved area fishermen and landlubbers alike, keeping the dolphins wet till enough people arrived to help move the protected marine wildlife back into deeper waters.

The Kerryman has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Locals have been astounded by a mass stranding of up to 200 pilot whales in New Zealand.

According to the Irish Independent, volunteers were yesterday (13 February) fighting to save the whales that were still alive after beaching along a 7km stretch of sand at the north end of New Zealand's South Island.

The death toll was last put at around 25, and while some other were reportedly refloated, they were said to be "swimming in a confused fashion" as the Guardian reports.

Farewell Spit, where the stranding has occurred, is said to be a 'whale trap' for its numerous cases of cetacean strandings - bringing to mind the recent "unusually large number" of whale beachings in Scottish and Irish waters.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A juvenile dolphin was saved after stranding in the shallows at Maree on Galway Bay thanks to the swift actions of a local farmer.

As the Galway Advertiser reports, Martin Costello waded out into the inlet at Ballinacourty - a notorious spot for marine wildlife strandings - to pick up the young cetacean and carry it out to deeper water, from where it was able to swim out to safety.

Such human intervention was invaluable in the rescue of an ailing seal pup that was found alone on a beach in Connemara at the weekend.

According to the Irish Mirror, the infant seal was taken to Seal Rescue Ireland in Athlone, where staff have named him Sea Noodle and are nursing him back to health, though a serious chest infection means he's not out of the woods yet.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Skerries RNLI joined a number of groups in assisting a beached whale back out to sea at Gormanston in Co Meath earlier today (Thursday 20 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat shortly after 10am following reports from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) that a 25ft pilot whale had beached in the area.

The lifeboat helmed by Joe May, and with crew members Emma Wilson, AJ Hughes and Laura Boylan onboard, made its way to the scene where May got into the sea and helped manoeuvre the whale back into deeper water.



Skerries RNLI then shadowed the whale guiding it out to sea, preventing it from turning back to shore by positioning the boat in its way. The lifeboat did this for about 25 minutes until the mammal was well clear of the shore.

Other agencies on scene included Skerries coastguard, the Defence Forces based at Gormanston, the IWDG, Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

Meanwhile, RTÉ News reports that a second whale was found dead on the beach near Mornington, north of Bettystown.

Despite initial fears that the whale was the same one rescued in the morning, it was later determined to be a different creature.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Another beaked whale stranding has been recorded on the Irish coast just weeks after two of such creatures were found in Donegal.

A ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) made the discovery at Aillebrack in Co Galway on the evening of 27 May.

The 5m carcass of a female - like the female and juvenile found in the northwest - is thought to be either a True's or Sowerby's beaked whale.

Mick O'Connell, strandings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), says the latest stranding "raises new questions", with suspicion that its death may be linked to the face of the Donegal pair earlier this month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, beaked whales are a rare occurrence in Irish waters, with the last record before this month' stranding made in 2009.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Two dolphins saved from stranding on a beach in Donegal leapt from the water "as if to say thank you" after their rescue by a local fish farmer.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that salmon farmer Shea Coyle and his father Michael acted quickly after noticing what at first looked like two upturned surfboards on Downings beach near Fanad.

But what looked from afar like surfboard fins turned out to be the fins of two dolphins that had become trapped in the sand.

Shea described how the dolphins were "trying desperately to wriggle free" before he leant a hand to heave them back into the water.

"After about 10 minutes I got one dolphin safely out into deeper water and he stayed there whilst I got to work on the other."

Once the second dolphin was free, the pair "just took off" - and were later seen by the Coyles from a nearby peer, giving what might just have been a show of thanks.

The happy story in Donegal occurred not long after a series of dolphin and whale strandings in the northwest described as "unusual" by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Seven dolphins and two beaked whales have stranded on beaches in the northwest in events described as "unusual" by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

On the Mullet Peninsula, a group of seven common dolphins - comprising five adults and two juveniles - live stranded at Tarmon Beach on Sunday 12 May.

Though initial attempts to refloat them were successful, one of the juveniles was later found dead and the other was euthanised due to poor health.

Meanwhile in Donegal, the fresh carcass of a female True's or Sowerby's beaked whale was found on Sunday evening on Five Fingers Stand at Inishowen - some days after a reported live stranding of a Sowerby's beaked whale on the Welsh coast.

The Inishowen stranding was followed yesterday 14 May by the discovery of a dead beaked whale calf at Trawbreaga Bay, in what is believed to be a connected stranding.

Samples of the adult female were taken in order to confirm the species, either of which would mark a rare cetacean record for Ireland - the first since 2009.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has described as "very unusual" a mass stranding of common dolphins on Achill Island last week - which was followed this week by the remains of cetaceans washed up in Kerry.

At least eight common dolphins were found dead on Keel Beach, Keem Beach and Dookinella on the Co Mayo island at the end of January.

And The Irish Times reports that two pilot whales and an "otherwise healthy" dolphin were found washed up at Cuas Croom near Cahirciveen in the last few days.

Commenting on the former incident, IWDG stranding officer Mick O'Connell said: "While there are occasionally live strandings involving groups of dolphins, it is very unusual in this country to see this number of dead dolphins washed ashore over a 10km area."

Strandings of deceased dolphins have also been reported in Donegal, and the IWDG's Simon Berrow suggests that the recent severe weather experienced around Ireland's coast may be a factor.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Marine wildlife experts are investigaing the causes of a mass stranding of pilot whales at Fife in eastern Scotland at the weekend.

The Press Association reports that 16 whales from a 26-strong group died when they stranded on a beach near St Andrews on the morning of Sunday 2 September. Three of those that died were calves.

More than 50 volunteers assisted members of the RNLI and vets from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in refloating the other 10 whales at high tide yesterday afternoon, in what BDMLR co-ordinator Ali Jack described as "a fantastic effort".

Rescuers used specialist pontoons brought in from across Scotland as well as Newcastle and Cumbria in northern England.

According to The Guardian, some 24 whales from the same pod were spotted in the shallows further along the coast at Cellardyke and are under close observation.

A Forth coastguard spokesman said that vets would return to the beach this morning to carry out post-mortems on the whale carcasses to find any indication of what might have caused them to come so close to the shore.

The spokesman told The Guardian: "It is a very rare occurrence in Scotland and very sad. The usual scenario would be that the whale that is leading the group has become ill, or has lost its way, and gets beached and the rest will follow on, although we do not know for sure if that is what happened."

The incident brings back memories of last year's mass stranding of 44 pilot whales in the Scottish Highlands, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Twenty-five whales from that pod died at the Kyle of Durness, in a tragedy that mirrored the deaths of 33 whales in a similar mass beaching in Donegal in late 2010.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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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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