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Businesses within 10 kilometres of Ireland’s coastline can apply for renewable energy grants worth up to 200,000 euro under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

Funding of €25 million has been provided from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), a one-off payment to Ireland from the EU to compensate for the impact of Brexit.

A variety of sectors may qualify in seafood; coastal tourism; boat building and repair; marine leisure and sport; renewable energy initiatives, and small non-commercial harbour or pier activities.

The scheme is being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and delivered through Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs).

BIM regional officer Brenda O’Riordan said the scheme has already received some promising and innovative proposals across a range of blue economy businesses from seafood, coastal tourism, boat building and repair to marine leisure and sport.

“Given spiralling energy costs, we’re seeing a lot of interest from a wide breadth of blue economy businesses across Ireland’s coastal communities, particularly those looking to go green,” she said.

She cited examples ranging from fishmongers putting photo-voltaic units on the roof of the business to supply power and charter boat businesses upgrading their engines to hybrid/electric, to seafood companies looking at lighting, heating and refrigeration upgrades.

“With these grants, blue economy businesses can start to take greater control of their energy costs and become more sustainable by helping to reduce emissions and the impact on our environment,” she said.

The scheme is described as the largest of its kind ever and is open to three streams of projects: capital investment, business mentoring and capacity development, and upskilling and training.

Full details about the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme, including how to apply, can be found here

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Changes to the permit system for non-EEA fishing crew proposed by a Government review have been given a qualified welcome by the Irish branch of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

ITF campaign lead for Ireland Michael O’Brien said a “major omission” of the report published by the Irish government on October 11th was the situation of some 250 plus undocumented fishers and former fishers.

He said the changes will be welcomed by just under 300 fishers currently enrolled in the existing A-typical working scheme, which has been the subject of much criticism.

A cross-departmental group of senior officials in relevant Irish departments and agencies will be established to oversee implementation of the transition to the proposed new permit system, equivalent to a “Stamp 4” immigration permission with its wider entitlements.

Michael O'Brien is the Fisheries lead at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)Michael O'Brien is the fisheries campaign lead at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) 

The ITF said it would “study the report in detail and play its role in briefing the migrant fishers of its implications”.

The proposed new scheme would ensure “a path will be open to all fishers currently enrolled in the Atypical Scheme to progress to a visa stamp 4, full labour market access and family reunification if desired,” O’Brien said.

“The ITF, working with our affiliates and the migrant fishers themselves, who are organised in the Migrant Fishers’ Network, will fully engage in this process to ensure the best available type of permit, pay and working conditions are obtained for the migrant fishers,” he said.

The situation of over 250 undocumented fishers and former fishers - many of whom spent years in the Atypical Scheme “before falling out of it through injury or acrimony with exploitative employers” – is a serious omission, he said.

"Our crews are the backbone of the traditional fishing activity"

“It is inconsistent to leave these fishers to continue working undocumented in the context of this review,” he said.

O’Brien also said the authors of the report had adopted what he described as “an unwarranted defensive tone in general on the performance of the Atypical Scheme over the last six and half years, and in particular on the question of human trafficking,” which the ITF has made “credible submissions” on.

The Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO) said it “unequivocally supports the right of all non-EEA migrant fishers to fair treatment in the workplace”.

“Traditionally, many crew members on Irish fishing vessels are ‘share-fishers’ and, therefore, self-employed,” IFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said.

IFPO chief executive Aodh O’DonnellIFPO chief executive Aodh O’Donnell

“ But whether crew members are employed or self-employed, they have the right to fair working conditions. We support the implementation of overdue legislation to protect migrant fishers and to grant them the full rights and entitlements under employment legislation,” he said.

“On a practical level, we work proactively with our members to increase their awareness of the rights of non-EEA fishers,” O’Donnell said.

“We believe it would be useful to introduce a module on employment law in the BIM’s vessel owners/skippers training programmes, as recommended by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in their February 2022 report,” he said.

“Our crews are the backbone of the traditional fishing activity,” he said, and “these employees have valuable skill sets that are critical to our business and are much prized”.

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The Irish fishing industry is not being consulted properly about the development of offshore wind farms, according to the Chief Executive of the longest-established fish producer’s organisation in the State, the Irish Fish Producers Organisation.

According to Aodh O Donnell, "fishermen have a right to be consulted because it affects their livelihoods." Available charts indicate that most of the rich Irish Sea fishing area is targeted for turbine development. Fishing vessels could be displaced if there is an untrammelled development of Offshore Wind Turbines. Our industry has already taken too many hits, but proper consultation could allow us all to co-exist.”

According to the IFPO, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has signed off on six Irish Sea developments, which will move to planning stage. "There is unease that this appears to be rushed.”
Mr O Donnell was one of six fisheries representatives to take part in a fact-finding mission to a Floating Offshore Wind Farm in Kincardine, Aberdeenshire. CEOs of the other fish producer organisations were also involved.

The visit was arranged by an Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) developer, Simply Blue Group.

“We are of the view that no planning should proceed until the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) is established. There are issues around marine interests and socio-economic or environmental impact assessments. But there are also huge questions about foreign ownership of Irish energy sources, which could affect future energy security,” Mr O’Donnell said.

. “Mutual respect must be given. For large wind farm developers, most of the first phase of applications for wind farms is in the rich Irish Sea fishing and spawning grounds. Unfortunately, international experience indicates that the co-location of Offshore Wind with trawl fisheries is not possible’.

“At present, we are experiencing a gold rush approach, as developers compete for space. We must work hard to defend our communities. We must avoid a lose-lose situation. The correct pathway must involve the recognition of traditional pre-existing fishing rights’.

“There is a lot of sea available for development. “But a land grab of traditional productive fishing grounds is not acceptable. The Minister and Wind Farm industry need to take account of the rights of our fishers, who are often the last to be consulted.”

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Fishing crew from non- European Economic Area (EEA) states will be eligible for a new employment permit system, the Government has said.

The new permit system, equivalent to a “Stamp 4” immigration permission with its wider entitlements, will replace the current Atypical working scheme for migrant fishing crew which has been widely criticised.

The new system is a key recommendation of a review group’s report, published on October 11th by the Government.

A cross-departmental group of senior officials in relevant departments and agencies will be established to oversee implementation of the transition from the current to the new scheme.

It will be co-chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, with an “expected overall time frame” of 12 months for implementing the report’s recommendations.

The report and its recommendations were jointly welcomed by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

The Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) for non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet was established in 2015 as a cross-departmental response to address claims of exploitation and trafficking of undocumented non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet, the Government said in a statement.

Currently, non-EEA fishers can apply through the Department of Justice for permission under the Atypical Working Scheme to work on a specific Irish vessel for a period of up to 12 months.

However, they are not eligible for an employment permit issued by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The sector will be required to submit a comprehensive business case to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to support their inclusion in the Employment Permits System, and a “process of engagement has already begun in this regard”, the Government has said.

A study by Maynooth University said that the Atypical Working Scheme permission - under which the worker is contracted to an individual employer- and the necessity to renew this permission each year can be used by employers as a “means to threaten and exploit workers”.

Over two-thirds of those interviewed for the Maynooth University study – which was funded by the International Transport Federation (ITF) - said they would work between 15 and 20 hours a day, and pay was usually below the minimum wage.

“The publication of this report and its recommendations is the first step in putting non-EEA seafishers on a similar path to other non-EEA nationals employed in the State in terms of entitlements and protections,”Ms McEntee said.

"Non-EEA fishers and their employers will now be entitled to apply for an employment permit through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,” she said.

"These recommendations will also benefit seafishers’ employers, by streamlining the permission process and making it easier to recruit non-EEA seafishers,” she said.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said he had asked his department to examine the review group’s report and “to work closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the recommendations”.

“I have also tasked an Bord Iascaigh Mhara with providing the fishing sector with any practical assistance necessary to support of the sector’s access to the employment permit scheme," he said.

Minister of State Damien English said the report’s recommendations “will go a long way to addressing the concerns raised by stakeholders in the sector”.

“Of course, the Employment Permits system works very differently from the Atypical Working Scheme so it is proper that there will be a phased implementation in order to identify and address any challenges which arise and deal with these in the most effective way possible,” Mr English said.

Published in Fishing

Bord Iascaigh Mhara has confirmed the serious economic situation for the Irish fishing industry. In its annual report, the State fisheries board says there will be a decrease in landings, revenue and profitability.

It says, "In the long-term, decommissioning will help bring fleet capacity back in balance with available quotas and improve the profitability for vessels remaining in the Irish fleet.”

This, however, is disputed by the fishing industry representative organisations, which contradicts the BIM conclusion. They say that hundreds of jobs will be lost, damaging the industry, making it unattractive to new entrants and ultimately creating serious economic and social problems in the country’s coastal communities.

Acknowledging the problems for the fishing fleet due to fuel prices, where the Marine Minister has refused requests for a subsidy, which would be similar to other EU countries, BIM says: “Based on feedback from industry, the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine on inflation and rising fuel costs was the main driving force influencing the economic performance of the Irish fleet in 2022. In 2020, average fuel costs per litre were €0.42 whereas average fuels costs per litre in mid-2022 stood at €0.90, representing a 114% increase in cost and the current reported costs of €1.20 per litre represents a 18% increase since 2020.”

An illustration from the 2022 BIM Annual Fisheries Report 2022An illustration from the 2022 BIM Annual Fisheries Report 2022

The report, for 2021, says that the data indicates an increase in landings by weight from 2020 (+6%) and a decrease in value of landings (-7.5%) due to decreasing fish prices and changes in quota allocation. Gross profit for 2021 is projected to decrease significantly (-58%) to €27.6 million combined with a decreasing net profit (-75%) to €8.1 million.

“In terms of the outlook for economic performance for 2021-2022, preliminary data point to a decrease in revenue and profitability for the Irish fleet. It also records less time spent at sea by the country’s fishing boats: “The Irish fishing fleet spent 77,460 days at sea, of which 84% were fishing days representing a decrease of 16% and 17% respectively from 2019.

“For 2021, the data indicates an increase in landings by weight from 2020 (+6%) and a decrease in value of landings (-7.5%) due to decreasing fish prices and changes in quota allocation. Gross profit for 2021 is projected to decrease significantly (-58%) to €27.6 million combined with a decreasing net profit (-75%) to €8.1 million.

“Profitability of the Irish fleet has increased since 2019, however, it says. Revenue increased by 2%, amounting to €312 million; gross value added (GVA) €161 million (+6%), gross profit €65 million (+24%) and net profit decreased to €32 million (-20%) due in part to Covid-19. The fleet landed over 218,600 tonnes valued at €312 million, an increase of 5% from 2019 in live weight and an increase of 2% in landed value (€306.5 million). In 2021, the fleet landed 233,000 tonnes, an increase of 7% from 2020.

Overall, the cost structure of the fleet has remained stable with a slight increase in all costs except non-variable costs (e.g., insurance, loan interest). Operating costs totalled €255 million, a slight increase of 1% from 2019 with energy costs increased by approximately 10%. When capital costs are included, the total cost of operating the national fleet rose by 4% since 2019 to €278.5 million.

Direct employment generated by the sector was estimated at 2,928 jobs corresponding to 2,684 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Published in Fishing

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D, today delivered a record Budget provision for the seafood sector and coastal communities for 2023 of €335 million. The allocation represents a 62% increase in funding from 2022. This covers fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing, fishery harbour development, marine research and conservation.

Commenting, Minister McConalogue said “Today's €335 million budget announcement for the seafood sector and coastal communities represents the largest ever annual budget provision for the sector. Over the past year I have announced a range of schemes worth €225 million, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, designed to support the seafood sector and coastal communities in overcoming the impact of Brexit. These schemes will run for the remainder of this year and for 2023 and the budget provision that the Government is making today will enable these schemes to be fully delivered. The schemes reflect the recommendations of the Seafood Task Force, which I established, and which are designed to ensure that the seafood sector and coastal communities post Brexit will continue to generate economic growth and sustainable jobs in coastal communities. Having listened to fishing representatives, and at their request, I established a second tie-up scheme worth €12m for this year to help alleviate fishers' marine fuel pressures. This Budget will include supports for energy costs for seafood processors.”

The schemes which have been implemented on foot of the Task Force recommendations are:

  • Temporary Tie-Up 2021 €10m
  • Inshore Fisheries Business Model Adjustment Scheme €3.7m
  • Inshore Marketing Scheme €1m
  • Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme €35m
  • Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme €25m
  • Seafood Capital Processing Support Scheme €45m
  • Temporary Tie-Up 2022 Scheme €24m
  • Brexit Co-operative Transition Scheme € 1m
  • Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme €20m
  • Brexit Voluntary Decommissioning Scheme [open 12 9 22] €60m
  • Total of Seafood Taskforce Scheme announcements to date €224.7m

In addition, the Minister advised, “I am continuing to work on progressing the remaining recommendations of the Seafood Task Force. These schemes are being prepared at present, and I will be seeking to progress them to EU State Aid approval over the coming period.”

EU funding under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) for the period 2021-2027 is being progressed separately. This support is an enabler for sustainable fisheries and the conservation of marine biological resources, for food security through the supply of seafood products, for the growth of a sustainable blue economy and for healthy, safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed seas and oceans.

Minister McConalogue said, “I have recently secured Government approval for Ireland's €258 million Operational Programme for the seafood sector for the period 2021 to 2027. This programme is in addition to the €225 million worth of schemes that I have announced on foot of the Seafood Task Force recommendations. Today’s budget announcement for 2023 will enable the implementation of the Seafood Task Force recommendations and the new EMFAF Operational Programme during 2023.”

A number of important broader horizontal initiatives announced in the Government’s budget will also assist the seafood sector and coastal communities over the coming year. Commenting, the Minister said, “In discussion with industry over recent weeks, I am aware of the energy and fuel pressures facing fishers, aquaculture operators and processors. I am confident that measures such as the extra tie-up scheme, which was requested by the industry to alleviate Brexit impacts compounded by fuel pressures, will help fishers and the energy supports schemes announced by Government today will support processors.”

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Fishing industry representatives have said they are “ confounded and disappointed” by the Government’s repeated refusal to draw down EU-approved fuel aid for the Irish fleet.

As Afloat reported previously, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) and Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporter’s Association (IFPEA) said they met with Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue last Friday, and once again “urged him to secure the existing EU aid to help with the crippling costs of going to sea”.

An unallocated five million euro in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund could be used as a support measure, with EU approval, the organisations have pointed out.

Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogueMinister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue

“Based on BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) annual consumption data, we require fuel aid of €20m to €25m a year to compete effectively in Europe,” Aodh O’Donnell, IFPO chief executive, and Brendan Byrne, IFPEA chief executive, said in a joint statement.

“Otherwise, we are up against fleets whose governments are distributing the existing EU fuel aid or offering other fuel aid support - whereas many Irish boats can’t afford to fish because of fuel costs or can’t make a profit on fishing,” they said.

"The time for action is now"

Byrne said this was the second meeting they had requested and held with the minister this year.

“The industry spoke with one voice on the key issues of fuel aid and securing EU-approved measures to enable our fleet to compete,” he said.

Aodh O’Donnell, IFPO chief executiveAodh O’Donnell, IFPO chief executive

While the minister “took note and undertook to assess the industry’s needs”, he gave no firm commitment, the organisations said.

“Our fishing families and coastal communities deserve clear answers and clear action,” O’Donnell said.

“Jobs, livelihoods, and communities are all at risk here. We are operating in an environment of uncertainty requiring a decisive approach in line with European counterparts. The time for action is now,” he said.

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Fishing industry representatives say they are confounded and disappointed by the Government’s repeated refusal to draw down EU fuel aid.

They met with the Minister for the Marine on Friday and urged him to secure the existing EU aid to help with the crippling costs of going to sea.

“However, Minister McConalogue failed to meet this demand, although it would incur no cost to the Irish exchequer. Furthermore, a statement issued by the Minister after the meeting on Friday made no reference to the EU fuel aid scheme,” industry organisations say in a statement today.

The meeting was attended by Aodh O'Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation said that prior to the meeting, the Minster had been presented with a pre-budget submission.

Aodh O'Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers OrganisationAodh O'Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation

“This outlined fully costed measures aimed at creating a level playing field for Irish fishers in Europe. Based on BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) annual consumption data, we require fuel aid of €20m to €25m a year to compete effectively in Europe. Otherwise, we are up against fleets whose governments are distributing the existing EU fuel aid or offering other fuel aid support. Whereas many Irish boats can’t afford to fish because of fuel costs or can’t make a profit on fishing.

Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogueMinister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue

Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA said this was the second meeting they’d requested and held with the Minister this year. “The industry spoke with one voice on the key issues of fuel aid and securing EU-approved measures to enable our fleet to compete.”

“The Minister took note and undertook to assess the industry’s needs. We also pressed for the unallocated €5m European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which is fully EU funded, to be used as a support measure for our industry.”

Mr O’Donnell said they would be discussing the Minister’s response with their members and hoped the Minister would take practical action soon to address their concerns. “Our fishing families and coastal communities deserve clear answers and clear action. Jobs, livelihoods, and communities are all at risk here. We are operating in an environment of uncertainty requiring a decisive approach in line with European counterparts. The time for action is now’’.

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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency has today (Friday, 23 September) announced an extension to the Brexit Voluntary Permanent Cessation ( ‘decommissioning’ scheme) for fishing vessels.

The new deadline is 5pm, Friday 18 November.

BIM has also announced a change to the crew compensation agreement within the scheme. This agreement which was previously required to be submitted with an application, can now be submitted prior to first scheme payment subject to an applicant being approved for decommissioning and having received a letter of offer.

The aim of the new scheme, that opened for applications last week, is to help restore balance between fishing fleet capacity and available quotas following quota reductions arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK. The scheme is a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force, established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, in 2021.

More information, including details on eligibility and how to apply can be found by visiting www.bim.ie

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A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks says progress is beginning to be made towards protecting some of the most vulnerable ecosystems within Irish waters. Fair Seas has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to close parts of the Northeast Atlantic to bottom fishing but says more action is needed.

The move will see deep sea fishing using gear such as trawls, gillnets and bottom longlines, banned in 87 sensitive zones. The area amounts to 16,000 km2 of EU waters, of which nearly 9,000 km2 are within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Fair Seas published a report in June identifying 16 ‘Areas of Interest’ for MPA designation in Irish waters. The new closures line up almost perfectly with the areas identified by Fair Seas.

The new ban on bottom fishing will apply to 1.8% of Irish waters. Fair Seas is urging the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030, up from the current figure of 2% which the group says is wholly inadequate. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of our seas and coasts legally protected from activities that damage the habitats, wildlife and natural processes.

A basket star which is found in some of the deep water habitats off the coast of Ireland. The Gorgonocephalus catches prey with its many arms that bend and coil towards a mouth on the underside of its central disc. Image courtesy of the SeaRover project which is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund 2014-2020A basket star which is found in some of the deep water habitats off the coast of Ireland. The Gorgonocephalus catches prey with its many arms that bend and coil towards a mouth on the underside of its central disc. Image courtesy of the SeaRover project which is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund 2014-2020

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas highlighted the need for legislation to be implemented in Ireland, she said, “The Irish government has committed to protecting 30% of our waters before 2030. We need to ensure that MPA legislation is ambitious and timely to conserve, restore and protect our ocean. Our ocean territory is home to endangered sharks, globally important seabird colonies, and animals threatened with extinction. It is vital that we act now to restore critical habitats, safeguard wildlife and help address the climate crisis. The time for action is now.” 

Regina Classen, Marine Policy and Research Officer with the Irish Wildlife Trust said, “This is incredible news for Ireland. We have sensitive ecosystems in the deep waters off the Irish coast. These areas are home to cold-water coral reefs, deep sea sponge reefs and sea-pen fields which are easily damaged by bottom-contacting fishing gear. Not only are we now protecting fragile deep-sea reefs from bottom trawling, but even a part of the Porcupine Bank, which is heavily trawled for Dublin Bay Prawn, is now protected due to the presence of sea-pens. 

Ireland South MEP Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party Spokesperson for the Marine added, “The news that over 16,000km2 of fragile marine ecosystems are to be strictly protected is a fantastic development for Ireland and our seas. Civil society organisations have worked hard to achieve this victory over the last few years and should be commended. These areas are home to priceless biodiversity and are also some of the most effective at storing carbon. I believe these areas could now play a central role in the government’s work to protect at least 30% of our waters with new Marine Protected Areas, a third of which should be ‘strictly protected’ from human interference. The EU meanwhile must now ensure that these commitments are met by Member States as the clock is ticking towards 2030.”

The Fair Seas campaign is led by a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks, including Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Sustainable Water Network, Friends of the Irish Environment, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Irish Environmental Network and Coastwatch. It is funded by Oceans 5, Blue Nature Alliance, BFCT and The Wyss Foundation.

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Page 2 of 70

Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.

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