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A guide to assist fishing skippers to meet landing obligation requirements has been published by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).

A waterproof copy of the guide has been posted to all vessel owners with an electronic logbook onboard. One guide will be delivered for each 12 metre and over vessel.

The guide was compiled with input from the SFPA consultative committee.

Discarding is a term specifically used for catches of species which are not kept but returned to the sea.

The “landing obligation” is the term used by the EU to put an end to the wasteful practice.

Under the landing obligation requirements, all catch subject to Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits must be retained, recorded, and landed, unless an exemption applies.

The SFPA’s guide offers detailed instructions on how discards can be recorded using ieCatch V3, the latest version of the Irish electronic logbook software.

Illustrated with step-by-step procedures, screenshots, and examples, it guides users through the process of logging a discard.

Welcoming the publication of the guide, SFPA executive chair Paschal Hayes said he was “encouraged that representatives from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee have partnered with the SFPA in the production and promotion of our Landing Obligation Exemptions Guide”.

“It is imperative for fishing vessel masters and owners to familiarise themselves with this guide to ensure accurate recording of discards and compliance with conditions for discarding under de minimis and high survivability,”Hayes said.

“Accurate reporting of discards plays a role in the sustainable management of our marine resources. The SFPA continues to ensure the implementation of the Landing Obligation through inspection, control activities and consultation with fishers, other control agencies and various stakeholders,”he said.

Sea-Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee chair Catherine McManus said the guide is “a practical example of the Consultative Committee, working with the SFPA”.

“ Promoting compliance with the Landing Obligation is important to ensure fishers are fully informed of their obligations and that the future sustainability of the sector is safeguarded. I want to thank my colleagues in the Consultative Committee who worked with the SFPA to progress this initiative,” McManus said.

The guide is accessible here

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A group of Kerry secondary school students are participating in a presentation by inshore fishermen on the crisis in the sector, which will be delivered to Government TDs and senators on Wednesday (Feb 28).

The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) has been invited to outline the situation of its members to TDs and senators via the audio-visual room.

Shellfish markets have collapsed, margins have tightened, there are new restrictions on catching pollack, and many boats have had no earnings for the past two months.

Transition year students from Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare have been working on a campaign for the ECO Unesco Young Environmentalist Awards (YEA), and have selected the issue of the impact of inshore trawling by boats over 18 metres in length.

They believe the fishing for sprat by larger vessels to provide fishmeal for farmed salmon is having a negative impact on stocks targeted by smaller inshore vessels.

The all-Ireland environmental awards programme recognises and rewards young people who raise environmental awareness and improve the environment.

Environmental scientist Rachel Hawker, who has been working with the TY students, said they held a workshop in Kenmare earlier in the month which some members of NIFA attended.

Following this, NIFA invited the students to present on the situation in Kenmare at the meeting in the Dail on Wednesday.

Hawker explains that the students found that the trawling by large boats in the Kenmare Bay area is “directly relevant their chosen themes of the Eco UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award, including biodiversity and marine life and the impact of removing sprat”.

The students also believe it has a negative impact on food supplies, citing the statistic that it takes five kilo of sprat to produce one kilo of farmed salmon.

Earlier this month, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue initiated a public consultation on fishing with trawls inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines.

As Afloat has reported, NIFA has already highlighted its situation before an Oireachtas committee.

The Government’s failure to implement a national inshore fishing strategy drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has been disastrous for the sector, the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine was told in January.

Published in Fishing
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The Dingle Peninsula's fishing community takes centre stage in a new maritime television series set to air on TG4.

The show, which begins on Tuesday, March 5th at 7.30 pm, follows the lives of the locals as they carry out their work over the fishing season from March to October.

The series explores the strong fishing culture of the area, which has been passed down from generation to generation. Despite the challenges posed by the weather and government regulations, many continue to make their livelihoods from the sea. Viewers will get a chance to meet the fishing community of Corca Dhuibhne, their families, and their community.

In the first programme, the audience meets Éamonn Ó Corcara from Bréanainn, who is seen fishing for oysters during the last day of the season. Eddie Moore and his son Cathal from Dingle are also featured, as they work to refurbish their boat and prepare for their return home from Limerick. In addition, Chef Aoife Ní Chiobháin from Na Gorta Dubha discusses her search for fresh local fish, while long-established company Iasc Uí Chatháin has a new project in the works.

Aoife Niė Chiobhaėin from Na Gorta Dubha Aoife Niė Chiobhaėin from Na Gorta Dubha 

The second show follows the crew of the Kate Marie as they fish for crabs and lobsters. The Iasc Uí Catháin team can be seen putting the finishing touches on a new tourist attraction, located on the site of the old fish processing factory, which was once a major employer in the area. Caitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta Dubhai is waiting for the crew of the Misty Dawn to return home, while Eoin Firtéar from Com Dhíneol is doing his best to complete work on his new boat, the Órla Méabh.

Caitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta DubhaiCaitlín de Mórdha from Na Gorta Dubhai

Viewers are introduced to Kevin Granville from Dingle in episode three, where he skippers the Virtuous, which is full of prawns. The show also features Áine Uí Laoithe from Dún Chaoin, an expert on the rich song tradition associated with the seas around West Kerry. The Dingle regatta is blessed with a weekend of sunshine, and the crew of the Kate-Marie bring crabs into Ballydavid pier in the pouring rain.

Áine Uí Laoithe from Dún ChaoinÁine Uí Laoithe from Dún Chaoin

The final episode introduces viewers to the fisherman Maidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile Íochtarach, who is using his experience at sea for a new venture. Alec Ó Cíobháin from An Muiríoch shares his side of the story during the illegal salmon fishing era around Bally David, and the net making tradition is going strong with Edward Mac Gearailt from Baile Dháith.

Maidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile ÍochtarachMaidhc Ó Mainín from An Baile Íochtarach

As the peninsula's community prepares for the Dingle Food Festival, viewers will have to wait and see what becomes of Eoin Firtéar from Com Dhíneol, as he hopes to launch his new boat. Join us and experience the ups and downs of life at sea with the working crew of the sea.

Published in Maritime TV

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D has launched Ireland's National Seafood Development Programme under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2012-2027 (EMFAF).

The programme, which had multiple stakeholder consultations and environmental assessments, secured funding of €258.4 million for the new programme, an increase in funding over the previous EMFF Programme 2014-2020.

The new programme builds on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) Schemes and provides for additional, longer-term supports to enable the seafood sector to engage in transformational change and for coastal communities to thrive.

The Programme envisages support for capital investment both on board and ashore, relating to landing obligations, innovation in fishing gear and methods, technical advice to the fleet, acquisition of the first vessel by young fishers, support to the inshore fleet, training and marketing.

The Minister explored the details of the Programme and met with the EMFAF Monitoring Committee members to discuss the strategic objectives of the EMFAF fund.

The launch took place at the annual Skipper Expo in Limerick in the presence of the EMFAF Monitoring Committee.

Published in Fishing
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An Oireachtas committee is to hear the case of the Arklow fisherman who discovered serious stability issues with a Dutch-built trawler and was left with debts of 1 million euro.

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsmen meets today (Thurs 22) to discuss the experience of CJ Gaffney, owner of the former vessel Mary Kate.

The issue is listed as Public Petition Number P00012/23 on “Justice and Safety”, and will hear from Gaffney as petitioner.

It will also hear from Mary Bertelsen, campaigner and concerned citizen on people’s rights; Jakob Pinkster, stability and ship building expert; and Justin Delaney, stability expert.

Committee cathaoirleach and Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne said the petition relates to Gaffney’s “long campaign for compensation following his purchase in 2007 of a Dutch-built, German-registered trawler, which was then registered in Ireland and later found to be unstable and unsafe”,

“The committee welcomes Mr Gaffney and his supporting witnesses and looks forward to discussing his case, which has clearly had a considerable impact on him, his family and his business,”Browne said.

As Afloat has previously reported, Gaffney tried to take legal action in both the Netherlands and Germany after he discovered the stability issues, took out a loan to cover fixing the vessel and then had to surrender it to the bank in 2012.

He sought EU funds in compensation, but the EU said it was up to the national state. The vessel was broken up in New Ross, Co Wexford last year under the Government’s decommissioning scheme.

Gaffney maintains that questions need to be asked at both national level and EU level as to how the beam trawler was issued with a stamped stability book from a renowned international classification society.

He says questions should be asked as to how a valid ship sailing permit was issued when it had 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel present since new build, and how the case was handled after various authorities had been notified of this.

The Oireachtas committee will also discuss a number of other petitions from members of the public.

The Joint Committee on Public Petitions and the Ombudsmen is a standing committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas and has 11 members, seven from the Dáil and four from the Seanad.

It will meet on Thursday February 22nd at 1.30pm in Committee Room 1 of Leinster House.

The meeting in the Committee Room 1 can be viewed live on Oireachtas TV.

Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

Published in Fishing
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Inshore fishermen are due to state their case about the crisis experienced by their members to TDs and senators later this month (Feb).

Members of the Dáil and Seanad have been invited to hear the delegation from the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) speaking to the chamber via the audio-visual room on February 28th.

NIFA spokesman Michael Desmond said that members have already outlined the serious difficulties in the sector in a presentation to an Oireachtas joint committee last month.

The Government’s failure to implement a national inshore fishing strategy drawn up by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has been disastrous for the sector, the 14 members of Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, food and Marine were told.

NIFA outlined how shellfish markets have collapsed, margins have tightened, there are new restrictions on catching pollack, and many boats have had no earnings for the past two months.

The NIFA delegation was led by Michael Desmond, accompanied by board members John Menarry and Eamon Dixon.

Their presentation at a full parliamentary hearing comes just several weeks after a new public consultation on a proposed six-mile ban by Irish marine minister Charlie McConalogue was opened.

It is the second such public consultation on the issue- a previous transition to a ban on trawling inside six nautical miles for vessels over 18 metres was overturned by a legal challenge.

NIFA represents over 200 Irish inshore vessels, with 150 members extending from Donegal to Cork and Kerry.

The association was recognised as an EU seafood producer organisation in January 2023.

Published in Fishing

Ireland's six state-owned Fishery Harbour Centres are set to receive a boost from the government, with almost €29.7m allocated for capital projects in 2024. Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D confirmed the news today, stating that these centres are crucial infrastructure for Ireland's seafood industry, with approximately 87% of all fish landings in Ireland passing through these facilities. 

The investment will be used to develop first-class landing infrastructure, where a modern seafood industry can operate effectively and efficiently, providing maximum opportunities for primary and secondary processing of seafood in Ireland. The funding will also help to provide a strong Irish seafood processing industry to service the fishing fleet and maintain coastal communities.

The Fishery Harbour Centres accommodate diverse marine commercial business, including commercial cargo traffic, cruise liners, restaurants and other leisure, tourism and social activities, which complement the critical economic activity generated by Ireland's fishing industry.

The Deep-water Quay project at Ros an Mhíl, which will receive €17m in 2024, continues to be a priority project and is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2025. Meanwhile, the Smooth Point pier extension at Killybegs will be concluded in the coming months with €3.25m being invested in 2024. At Castletownbere, maintenance of the Mainland Quay will receive €575k in 2024 and will be phased as a multi-annual project with further investment in subsequent years.

Killybegs Harbour in County Donegal Photo Clive WassonKillybegs Harbour in County Donegal Photo Clive Wasson

The government has invested heavily in the Department-managed facilities since 2020, with a combined investment of €116m, including €41.5m spent in 2023. Bord Iascaigh Mhara has valued the GDP of Ireland's seafood industry at €1.3 billion, highlighting the importance of primary and secondary food production activities.

Minister McConalogue noted that a key objective for the seafood sector is to continue on a path of sustainable economic and environmental development by carefully managing the utilization of sea-fisheries and aquaculture. The continued investment in the sector underpins the government's commitment to the industry, with the €29.7million being expended this year helping to progress major infrastructure delivery and underpin climate resilience and the further development of Ireland's Blue Economy.

In addition to infrastructure development, the government's commitment to supporting environmental and sustainability objectives is demonstrated through several important projects planned under this year's programme, including renewable energy upgrades on buildings and water metering to monitor resource consumption.

Fishery Harbour Centres and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme 2024

Fishery Harbour Centres and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme 2024

Published in Fishing
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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended that the Minister for Transport should consider introducing regulations specific to the installation and operation of articulated hydraulic deck cranes on fishing vessels.

The MCIB recommendation is one of a number issued in its report inquiring into a crush injury sustained by a crewman on board a fishing vessel off the Cork coast in November 2021.

Recommendations in relation to risk assessments, safety legislation, hazard warnings and training for use of articulated deck cranes are also published in the report.

The incident occurred on board the 21 metre-long fishing vessel Aquila which was fishing south of the Kinsale gas rigs on November 7th, 2021.

The vessel with five crew onboard had left the fishing port of Union Hall, Co Cork, the night before. Wind at the time was force three, westerly, with a moderate sea.

The wooden twin trawler was rigged for Danish seine net fishing

As the report states, “at approximately 12.00 hrs on the 7th November, the fishing vessel was at the fishing grounds and the crew were hauling the second haul of the day using the vessel’s net handling crane”.

It says that the crane’s hydraulic system “experienced a sudden loss of hydraulic oil pressure, causing the crane’s jib and power head to uncontrollably lower inboard trapping a crew member between the power head and the underside of the deck supporting the net drum”.

The crewman, who is from the Philippines and had been on the crew for two years, suffered crush injuries.

The vessel’s skipper contacted the Cork Coast Guard Radio (CGR) by VHF radio at 12.38 hrs, advising it of the incident and requesting a medical evacuation of the injured crewman.

It says that at approximately 15.00 hrs, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter R115 from Shannon airlifted the injured man ashore to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for medical attention.

The man was discharged from CUH on November 8th, and was passed fit to fly home. He returned to the Philippines to recover.

It says he recuperated, and has since returned to work as a fisher onboard an Irish registered fishing vessel.

More details are in the MCIB report here

Published in MCIB

Tributes have been paid to the late Professor Ray Bates, a leading Irish and international meteorologist who was from a well-known Co Wexford family involved in fishing and marine science.

Met Éireann has said he was a pioneer in several fields, and a “respected and influential voice in the scientific community”.

As The Sunday Independent reports, he had spearheaded new models for computer forecasting systems which won him an award from US space agency NASA.

A former assistant director at Met Éireann, who subsequently worked at NASA, Denmark’s Niels Bohr Institute and University College, Dublin (UCD), he latterly encountered opposition from scientists and climate activists over his challenge to the consensus view on the level of threat posed by climate change.

The eldest of eight, he was born in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, 1940, to fishing skipper Willie Bates and Margaret Alice Walsh. His siblings became immersed in fishing, marine science and the offshore sectors, while he studied physics, after winning a gold medal from St Peter’s College in Wexford.

He graduated from UCD in 1962 with a first class honours, having worked with his father on lobster fishing and taking visitors to the Great Saltee island bird sanctuary during his summer breaks from college.

After a short period with the Irish Sugar Company, he worked as a forecaster at Shannon Airport with the Irish Meteorological Service --- now Met Éireann. He took a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which he was awarded in 1969.

His MIT supervisor was the renowned meteorologist, Jule G Charney, one of the first to use computer forecasting. Through is contact with Serbian-American and Canadian meteorologists Fedor Mesinger and André Robert, Bates helped to develop new forecasting models, including a technique called Lagrangian integration.

Met Éireann was the first weather service to make use of this method, now central to forecasting in many national weather services.

During the 1970s, Ray worked with the Egyptian Meteorological Institute, and the World Meteorological Organisation, and in 1987 he was appointed senior scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US.

In 1994, NASA conferred him with an award for his “leadership and pioneering work” with the semi-Lagrangian models of forecasting.

He and his wife Zaira moved to Denmark in 1995 where he became professor of meteorology at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen until his retirement in 2004. After Zaira died of cancer he returned to UCD as an adjunct professor of meteorology, and continued research there and with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).

He chaired the RIA’s Climate Change Sciences Committee from 2009-2013, and was a member of the RIA’s Climate Change and Environmental Sciences Committee from 2014-18. He was awarded the Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2009.

He set up the Irish Meteorological Society, and served as its president from 2004 to 2008. He and his second wife, Natasha, spent more time in Wexford where he bought a sailing craft with his brother, Dick, he was a founder member of the Kilmore Quay Boat Club.

His colleague, Dr Peter Lynch of UCD’s school of mathematics and statistics, said at his funeral that Bates had published several important papers on the theory and modelling of the global climate and “everything he said or wrote was based on meticulous, unbiased analysis”.

His work on climate sensitivity and climate feedback proved controversial as he questioned the scientific rigour of one of the special reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relating to global warming in 2018.

Writing in The Farmers’ Journal, Bates said the IPCC report ignored “important scientific evidence” gathered since 2013 “which reduces the sense of a looming emergency”, and said the Citizens’ Assembly had not received impartial scientific advice when it looked at how Ireland should respond to climate change.

He did not deny that the climate was changing, stating that “reasonable precautionary measures to reduce emissions should be taken on the basis of risk, but it does not require that we seriously damage our economy or bring our traditional way of life to an end in the process”.

Having helped to form the Irish Climate Science Forum, he subsequently withdrew from it .

Prof Lynch described Bates as a man of great integrity, and noted that while criticism of his views, “ not all of which was civil or scientifically justified”, caused him some distress, “it is beyond doubt that his work was of the highest scientific standard, and continues to merit serious consideration”.

Met Éireann said he was “a distinguished meteorologist and climate scientist and a pioneer in the fields of atmospheric dynamics and numerical weather prediction (NWP).

It said he “made significant contributions to the understanding of the dynamics and thermodynamics of the atmosphere and played a crucial role in developing NWP for operational weather forecasting”.

“He was a respected and influential voice in the scientific community, as well as a mentor and friend to many colleagues and students,” Met Éireann said, and it noted that “his rigour, commitment and passion were instrumental to advance weather and climate science and will always be remembered”.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Marine Science
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Irish fishing industry organisations have called on Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and his officials to “come clean” on the exact nature of talks between the EU and Iceland on fisheries.

In a joint statement, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) and Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) say they are “extremely concerned” about what they describe as “secretive EU talks with Iceland”.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) has separately called on McConalogue to give a “public assurance” that the informal talks between the EU Commission and Iceland on access to Irish waters are “not up for discussion” at an EU council of fisheries ministers on Tuesday (Jan 23).

“There’s a genuine fear that the negotiations may be close to a deal granting Iceland valuable access to our rich waters - without our input or adequate consultation,” IFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said.

“Why would the minister agree to give Iceland access to our waters when there is almost nothing in the deal for Ireland’s fishing industry,” he said.

“ This is a colossal and embarrassing failure of negotiating skills. The sector is already suffering from the loss of 26% of our mackerel quota to the UK in the disastrous Brexit deal. So, why not use access deals - like this one - to seek a rebalancing of Ireland’s quota to address these losses fully?” he said.

The IFPO said the minister is describing the EU-Iceland talks as “informal” but had “failed to confirm if agreement has been reached already”.

“The fishing industry struggles to understand Ireland’s weak negotiating stance at EU level. We need a government that fights for our industry in the national interest, the way other EU member states do,” O’Donnell said.

“The EU Common Fisheries Policy has failed Irish fishing communities and deals like this are simply adding insult to injury.”

“Iceland has been a main driver in unsustainable fisheries for mackerel and blue whiting in the North-east Atlantic. They have a record of fixing inflated quotas and building new vessels to expand their catches. At the same time, Ireland is forced to decommission our whitefish fleet and downsize because of reductions in our allowable catch,”he said.

“The Irish blue whiting quota is worth around €15 million for 2024,” O’Donnell said.

“If this new deal goes ahead, Iceland can catch almost the same amount of blue whiting in Irish waters as we do. They have a population of less than 380,000 compared to our population of over 5.2m. They are not an EU member. How is this a fair deal?”

“The heart of the matter is that the EU is effectively using our EU waters to get better deals for other EU and non-EU states at Ireland’s expense,”O’Donnell said, describing it as “both unbelievable and outrageous”.

IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne said that “we fail to understand why our minister and his officials are negotiating an agenda driven by the EU Commission. This agenda is not in Ireland’s interest but benefits Iceland as a non-EU member. Have we not learnt any lessons from the past?” 

The volume of Ireland’s pelagic fish exports dropped by 45% last year, according to the latest Bord Bia report, Byrne noted.

“That represents a fall of an estimated 31% in the value of these exports – a loss of €56m to the Irish economy in one year alone,”he said.

IS&WFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy echoed concerns about the Iceland talks.

He also said that he was told by McConalogue last week that recent media reports about a Danish offer of 6,000 tonnes of mackerel to Ireland had “been unhelpful” in the context of Commission talks on Iceland’s access.

As Afloat report, the Danish fisheries minister made the offer in writing to McConalogue last September as a temporary solution during an ongoing dispute over mackerel. The offer was not taken up by Ireland.

Murphy said he had clearly expressed his views on the Danish offer to McConalogue, during an online meeting with him on January 17th, and had “voiced his astonishment as to why, during the many recent meetings with the minister, the existence of this [Danish] letter was not disclosed”.

Published in Fishing
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