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Commercial Fishing News from Ireland
A fishing vessel in Howth Harbour
In response to Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) recommendations, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has issued a Marine Notice to remind masters, owners, users, charterers, skippers and crew of fishing vessels of previous safety advice and requirements.…
Emily O'Reilly
European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has recommended that the EU fisheries council should “proactively” release documents on annual fishing quota negotiations into the public domain writes Lorna Siggins Ms O’Reilly has ruled that the documents should be made public at the same…
Blue whiting for sale in Spain
Marine Minister Michael Creed last week welcomed agreement reached between the European Union, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland regarding the blue whiting fishery for 2020. “This agreement provides welcome stability in this important fishery for Irish fishermen,” he said…
West Cork trawlerman Adrian Bendon, Marine Minister Michael Creed and Jim O’Toole, chief executive of Bord Iascaigh Mhara launching the Clean Oceans Initiative in Union Hall earlier this year
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…
A potato grouper in the Coral Sea off Australia being cleaned by two bluestreak wrasses
Campaigners against salmon farms have raised concerns over the state of Irish wrasse stocks after it was confirmed the fish have been taken en masse to help clean lice from farmed salmon. As Donegal News reports, a number of salmon…
Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI working with Rescue 116 to rescue the crew of the grounded fishing boat
Five crew were rescued from a fishing vessel that ran aground on rocks on approach to Ardglass Harbour early yesterday morning (Wednesday 23 October). Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews launched to assist after a Mayday call from the…
Smart Net Management focus of BIM and ISWFPO workshop in Castletownbere
Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, and the Irish South and West Fishermen’s Producers Organisation (ISWFPO) co-hosted a net management workshop in Castletownbere, West Cork this month. The aim of the day-long event, attended by a cross -section…
Demersal trawls will be carried out from the RV Celtic Explorer from 31 October to 14 December
The annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS 2019) will take place off the North, West and South Coasts for six weeks from 31 October. Carried out by the Marine Institute, the IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of around 170…
Mackerel is Ireland’s single most valuable fishery
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD today confirmed the outcome of the international fisheries negotiations which concluded in London between the European Union, Norway, and the Faroe Islands on the management of mackerel in the North…
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan with Marine Minister Michael Creed
Speaking at the Agrifish Council in Luxembourg yesterday (Monday 14 October), Marine Minister Michael Creed welcomed the solidarity shown by EU member states and institutions regarding Brexit. Highlighting the need for a swift response to help fishermen and farmers in…
The Johnston and Mooney families at the ceremonial launch of the MFV Amethyst in Killybegs.
As the Donegal Democrat writes, when they do things in Killybegs, they like to make a big splash about it and that's certainly true when it came to the recent ceremonial launch of the largest vessel in the fishing port since 1980.…
The Celtic Sea herring fishery lost its MSC sustainability certification early in 2018.
A State sea fisheries officer made a protected disclosure over its levels of regulation to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and members of an Oireachtas committee last year. The whistleblower, an officer with the Sea Fisheries Protection…
Master fishmonger Hal Dawson with Laura Desmond, Manager Reids Fish Market Howth.
Ireland’s first accredited fishmonger qualification has been launched today in the fishing port of Howth, Co Dublin. Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, has developed the Certificate in Fishmonger Skills accredited by nationally and internationally recognised Quality and…
GMIT-Led Research Team Launches World’s First Shellfish Traceability Tool
Studies carried out by a research team led by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have resulted in the development of the world's first scientific-based shellfish traceability tool. This unique tool used ‘trace elemental fingerprinting’ of shellfish soft tissues and shells…
Industry concerned about ‘flashpoints’ over access to waters if UK leaves EU without deal.
Both the Irish Naval Service and Air Corps, reports The Irish Times, are being primed to protect Irish sea fishing areas and vessels in a no-deal Brexit amid industry fears of tensions between EU and non-EU trawlers. The UK crashing…
The hull of the FV Aisling Patrick washed ashore in western Scotland on 28 May 2018, from the MCIB report
New Marine Notices from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) remind skippers and crew of small fishing vessels of the requirements set out in the relevant Code of Practice, following the official maritime reports into two fatal incidents…

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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