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Commercial Fishing News from Ireland
NI Pays Tribute To Priest Who Pioneered Lough Neagh Eel Industry
#Fishing - Tributes have been paid to the driving force behind Europe's largest wild eel fishery in Lough Neagh. As the Belfast Telegraph reports, Father Oliver Kennedy passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Described by NI Agriculture Minister…
Fishing Vessel Sought Immediate Naval Assistance
#TrawlerRescue- An Irish registered fishing trawler the Saint Claire sought immediate assistance from the Naval Service when approximately 80 miles west of Dingle Peninsula on Thursday evening. The OPV L.É. Niamh (P52) responded to the request as the trawler had…
Carlingford Lough Oyster Farmers 'Hammered' By Heatwave Virus
#Fishing - "Absolutely hammered" is how a Carlingford Lough oyster farmer describes the state of his business after £350,000 (€404,000) worth of his stock was destroyed by a virus in the recent heatwave. And as the Belfast Telegraph reports, Darren…
Concerns Over Sea Lice Treatment Planned for Galway Bay Fish Farm
#FishFarm - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has responded to concerns from environmental groups that an ingredient in treatments for sea lice in salmon farms poses a threat to wild marine life. As Galway Bay FM reports, campaigners Galway Bay Against…
Giant Monkfish Among West Coast Fishermen's Strange Catches
#Fishing - Irish fishermen have reported some unusual catches in recent days, according to The Irish Times. Galway trawler Martins Marie brought home a massive lobster weighting almost 3kg with a carapace of more than 15cm. But Rossaveal vessel Virtuous…
Irish Seafood Exports Increase by Over 20% in 2012
#seafood – Simon Coveney, T.D, The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced today the award of €2.4 million in grant aid to 25 seafood processing companies under the 2013 Seafood Processing Business Investment Scheme. Taken in conjunction with…
Coveney Secures Agreement to Prepare for Trade Restrictions Against Iceland and Faroes
#mackerel – Minister Simon Coveney T.D., supported by the UK, France and Spain today at the Council of Ministers today pushed strongly to have trade restrictions imposed immediately by the EU Commission against Iceland and the Faroe Islands as a result…
Coveney Blasts Iceland's 'Irresponsible' Mackerel Quota
#Fishing - Mackerel quotas will be the focus of discussions among European fisheries ministers in Brussels today as Ireland seeks a reduction of Iceland's share. As RTÉ News reports, Marine Minister Simon Coveney will seek "strong and decisive action" against…
Marine Institute Stands over Scientific Paper on Aquaculture Impacts on Wild Salmon Stock
#aquaculture – A recent Marine Institute study published in the peer reviewed international Agricultural Sciences journal (June 2013) found no correlation between the presence of aquaculture and the performance of adjacent wild salmon stocks. The study by Dr. Dave Jackson…
CFP Reform Reaches Final Hurdle In Brussels
#CFP - RTÉ News reports that the "final battle" before reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comes up today as a European Parliament committee votes on the changes led by the Irish Presidency of the EU in the first half…
IFI Has 'Serious Concerns' Over Wild Salmon Study Methods
#Fishing - The Irish Times reports that Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has expressed "serious concerns" over the findings of a new study on wild salmon in Ireland. The State agency for Ireland's fisheries argues that the study - which concluded…
Marine Safety Packages Unveiled for Fishermen in Cross Agency Initiative
#fishing – A key aspect of new state safety packages for fishermen unveiled today is the use of EPIRBS which are to be made mandatory overtime and included in revised Fishing Vessel Code of Practice. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo…
Fishermen's Safety Package to be Announced in Union Hall
#fishing – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney T.D. & The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar,TD willl launch an enhanced safety package for fishermen at the pier  in Union Hall, Co Cork next Monday (July 8) at 12 noon. 
Fisherman to Pay Donation to Conservation Group for Landing Endangered Species
A Judge has ruled that the State's case was proven at a recent case brought before Donegal Town District Court - Mr Shane Curran, the Master of the fishing vessel the Velvet Chord II, was ordered to pay €500 to…
Burrishoole Fishery in Furnace, County Mayo Opens 19th June
#fisheries – The Burrishoole Fishery in Furnace, Co Mayo opens Wednesday 19th June to 29th September. The Fishery will be open weekly on Wednesday through to Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm. The Burrishoole Fishery, which is owned by the Marine Institute,…
East Euro Black Market 'Drives Poaching In Irish Waterways'
#Fishing - The growing black market for coarse fish in eastern Europe is being blamed for an increase in illegal fishing on Ireland's inland waterways. That's the situation according to the Sunday Independent, which also highlights the "major problem" of…

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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