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Fishing and seafood organisations are hosting a “hustings” for budding MEPS in the current European Parliament election campaign.

The “#fight4fishing campaign” has invited Midlands North-West European Parliament election candidates to a public meeting in Killybegs next Wednesday, May 22nd.

Candidates confirmed to attend include sitting MEPs Chris MacManus (SF) and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Ind).

Others confirmed include Senator Lisa Chambers, (FF) Dr Brian O’Boyle (PBP); James Reynolds (TNP), and independents Peter Casey, Saoirse McHugh and John Waters

“We want to hear their views on the industry,” says IFPO chief executive Aodh O Donnell. “We want to know what they aim to do to address the crisis we are facing.”

The IFPO says it has joined forces with the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO) and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) to highlight fishing issues in the election campaign.

“Ireland has 12% of EU fishing waters but just 5.6% of EU fishing quotas and this huge disparity has to be addressed,” O’Donnell points out.

“For too long, the Irish government and the EU have ignored this injustice, and we need elected representatives who will demand change,”he says.

KFO chief executive Dominic Rihan says the cumulative value of Irish fishing quotas will have dropped by around €140m by 2025 due to Brexit.

“The biggest share – 40% - of what the EU transferred to the UK after Brexit was taken from Irish quotas. There was no assessment of the far-reaching impacts this would have on an industry which was already struggling,”Rihan says.

IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne says the situation becomes even bleaker when you see what the EU is handing out to non-members.

“Basically, the EU is allowing non-EU countries to catch more than 3 times as much fish as us this year alone… in our very own waters. Other EU and non-EU countries see growth in fishing, while our catches are shrinking.”

The three fishing organisations are also appealing to the public to put EU election candidates under the spotlight on fishing issues.

“Ask questions on the doorstep, post about fishing on social media, share our posts and demand change,” O’Donnell says.

“Our industry crisis affects not just the fishing fleet. It impacts coastal communities, support industries, restaurants, supermarkets and ordinary consumers who want to buy fresh Irish fish.”

Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA says the seafood industry is “in decline”.

“The bottom line is that our rich marine resources are being unfairly exploited by others with the EU’s consent. We need effective representation at national and EU level to defend our resources, our fishing and seafood industries and our coastal communities,’’ he says.

Dominic Rihan of the KFO says the #fight4fishing campaign aims to educate EU election candidates about the grave state of the fishing and seafood industry.

“Our Killybegs event will provide a forum for exchanging views and allow our community to raise their concerns,” he says.

Dominic Rihan of the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO)Dominic Rihan of the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation (KFO)

The Killybegs meeting with election candidates takes place at 7pm in the Tara Hotel on May 22nd, and will be chaired by Highland Radio presenter, Greg Hughes.

Candidates will be invited to speak and take questions from the floor and the meeting is open to the public to attend on a first come first served basis.

The #fight4fishing or #cosaintiascaireachta campaign is also launching an online guidance sheet to show members of the public how they can help.

The sheet provides fishing statistics, graphics to use on social media, and sample questions to ask candidates on the doorstep.

Information on it is here

Published in Fishing

The Irish seafood industry says it is giving a “guarded welcome” to the Government’s recently published “Future Framework” policy statement for offshore renewable energy (ORE).

The Seafood Industry Representatives Forum (SIRF), a collective of eight fishing and aquaculture representative organisations formed to deal with issues associated with ORE and their impacts, welcomed “important changes” made to the draft policy first published in January of this year.

Described by Minister for Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan as “Ireland’s most exciting industrial opportunity for decades”, the “Future Framework” published in early May sets out the pathway Ireland will take to deliver 20GW of offshore wind by 2040 and at least 37GW in total by 2050.

The framework includes 29 key actions and is built on an analysis of economic opportunities to encourage investment and “maximise the financial and economic return of offshore renewable energy to the State and local communities”.

“Amongst the important changes now included in the updated policy is a recognition that fishing, aquaculture, and processing are vital socio-economic activities and sources of income and employment for coastal communities,” a statement from SIRF says.

“This, along with a Government acknowledgement of the potential socio-economic impacts of ORE on communities (visual impact, construction disturbance, economic displacement etc.) is an essential step towards a more balanced debate on the future scale, location, and direction of offshore renewables in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone,” the group says.

“Critically, the revised “Future Policy” also recognises the importance of the State undertaking socio-economic and environmental cost-benefit analyses before incremental changes are agreed in key area,”it says.

The group’s chairman John Lynch stressed that “SIRF recognises and accepts the State’s need to develop offshore renewable energy at an appropriate scale to address the threat of climate change”.

“However we must also recognise and accept that fishermen and shellfish farmers are amongst those most likely to be adversely impacted by these developments,”Lynch said.

“ Rather than portray fishermen as the bad guys trying to prevent ORE, we should, instead, give proper consideration to the wider socio-economic and environmental priorities along with the benefits to local communities. This is the best way to help facilitate a stable political consensus and drive investment,”he said.

Quoting from the new policy, Lynch emphasised that “future initiatives must include maintaining and bolstering existing relationships, as well as developing additional government/stakeholder working groups to provide opportunities for policy input”.

This is provided for in Action 21 of the “Future Framework”, and Lynch pointed out that “the seafood industry is calling on Minister Ryan to establish a working group comprising seafood industry representatives and officials of his department where we can ‘knock heads together’ and find solutions to the problems that currently threaten the orderly roll out of offshore renewables”.

“ This group would complement the excellent work already being done at an industry-to-industry level by the Seafood ORE working Group chaired by Capt Robert McCabe,” he said.

SIRF said it “noted” the publication of the draft South Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan for Offshore Renewable Energy (SC-DMAP), also released by Ryan early this month.

Lynch said the group would be making a submission on this in due course.

He pointed out that the revised “Future Framework” now “recognises the importance of policies that will collectively ensure that seafood and commercial fishing activity can continue to take place within and around wind farm areas where appropriate”.

“This is an example of what can be achieved when government and industry work together,”he said, and stressed that “future generations will not thank us if we do not get this right”.

Published in Fishing
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Marine Ministr Charlie McConalogue and Bord Bia chief executive Jim O’Toole are leading a contingent of Irish seafood exporters at this week’s Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, the world’s largest seafood trade fair with over 2,000 exhibitors and 34,000 visitors.

Speaking after launching the trade reception at Bord Bia’s Origin Green Ireland Pavilion on Tuesday (23 April), Minister McConalogue said: “The Irish seafood sector, the focus of today’s event, is showcasing its extensive product range, scope and first-class reputation with international food buyers here at the Seafood Expo Global.

“Annually, over 156,000 tonnes of Irish seafood from pelagic species and whitefish to shellfish, salmon and trout are exported by Ireland’s seafood industry to all corners of the world.

“More than €550 million of Irish seafood produce was exported to over 70 countries in 2023. I am pleased to say that the demand for premium quality, responsibly sourced seafood from Ireland remains very strong.”

The Seafood Expo Global is a key event for identifying potential new markets, targeting new customers and expanding Ireland’s presence in its established markets.

The key Irish offerings during the three-day event include pelagic species such as herring, mackerel and horse mackerel, whitefish, shellfish and crustacean species such as crab, mussels, prawns, scallop, oysters and lobster, and farmed seafood including salmon and trout.

The value the Irish industry places on product integrity and responsible practices is paying dividends in attracting new seafood business, the minister’s department says.

It adds that the Irish seafood sector’s high rate of participation in Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme “demonstrates a commitment to sustainability throughout the seafood value chain. Fishers, fish farmers and processors have acquired green credentials through a large number of sustainability programmes run by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.”

Bord Bia’s Jim O’Toole said: “Trade shows like this are strategically important as Bord Bia tries to position Ireland as the supplier of choice for sustainably produced, safe and high-quality seafood with our international buyers.

“It’s also an excellent opportunity for Irish companies to generate business opportunities and to deepen relationships with existing customers.”

Minister McConalogue added: “I very much welcome the opportunity to heighten awareness of Ireland’s substantial seafood offering at the expo and on a world stage. I will continue the important work of raising Ireland’s profile as a source of superior seafood and of expanding Ireland’s range of exports worldwide.”

Published in Fishing

A Co Clare couple have invested €850,000 to transform a derelict site in the centre of Kilkee into a seafood destination.

Robert and Elaine Hayes recently opened Naughton’s Yard, a development which includes apartments, a café, an art gallery and a vintage food truck serving the best of locally caught seafood.

The €850,000 project was completed with the support of a €41,000 grant under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme. The scheme administered by BIM is funded by the EU under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The new seafood destination, which is just 500 metres from the beach, has been developed on what was the site of stables used for carriage horses that serviced the old West Clare Railway in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The derelict land had been an eyesore in the town.

A vintage 1968 American Airstream trailer has been converted it into a sleek, outdoor food truck offering seafood sourced from local suppliers and fishermen including lobster, prawns, hake and lemon sole.

The couple have been running the popular Naughtons Seafood restaurant in Kilkee for the last 25 years.

“We had our eye on this derelict site for some time and saw huge potential for it. The location is perfect, and is close to the seafront. We wanted the development to promote the fishing heritage that Kilkee and West Clare are known for, and to incorporate this with promoting local art,”Robert Hayes says.

“The site was in poor repair and an eyesore, and we were delighted to transform it into a popular attraction for tourists,”he says.

Published in BIM
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An east Cork seafood company is to invest over a million euro in an upgrade with grant-aid from a Brexit-related capital support scheme.

BalllyCotton Seafood is upgrading its production facilities and improving automation and efficiencies at its headquarters in Garryvoe.

The investment is supported by a €300,000 grant under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and drawn from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

Ballycotton Seafood employs more than 40 people at its processing activities, smokehouse, food preparation kitchen and three shops in Garryvoe, Midleton and the English Market in Cork City.

“Having improved processing capabilities and production capacity will help us move up the value chain and add value to fish through filleting, cooking, freezing and smoking,”Adrian Walsh, who runs the business with his wife, Diane, says.

Two chefs work daily in the large commercial kitchen in Garryvoe preparing a range of 25 ready-to-eat meals including chowders, seafood pies, sauces, crab, garlic mussels and breaded seafood.

“We had a healthy export business to the UK which was heavily impacted following Brexit. That was a very tough time and we had to look at different markets. We ramped up sales in Ireland and we are also doing exports to France,”Walsh said.

Adrian Walsh began working as a butcher, but 25 years ago he switched careers and joined the seafood business started by his parents Richard and Mary Walsh in 1985.

Adrian and Diane’s son Kieran is now working in the business and will eventually take it over. “We are delighted that it will be handed down to the third generation,” Walsh says.

Published in BIM
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A Donegal-based seafood processing group plans to start producing oat milk.

As The Sunday Independent reports, Errigal Bay Seafoods began examining new opportunities after “Brexit’s negative effect on the seafood processing business”.

It reports that Errigal Bay Seafoods secured planning permission last week from Donegal County Council to develop the factory on the same site as a large seafood processing facility near Meenaneary, Co Donegal.

The application says that the project has the potential to grow employment from 140 to 195, in an investment worth over €20m.

Most oat-milk products on the Irish market are imported from Britain, Poland, Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland, and the company believes there is high-growth potential.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Fishing
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A fourth generation Kerry fishing family is expanding its seafood business with a 400,000 euro investment.

The Fish Box restaurant and takeaway, based in Dingle, is using the investment to put a food truck on the road, introduce a fresh fish counter and add solar panels as part of a drive to be more energy efficient.

Since the Flannery family opened The Fish Box in Upper Green Street in the heart of Dingle town in 2018, they have earned multiple food awards and featured in several guides.

Micheál Flannery manages the business and looking after marketing and sales, while his brother, Patrick, operates and supplies fish from the family’s boat, Cú na Mara.

Their mother Deirdre is head chef, while sister Eimear works at front of house.

Micheál and Patrick’s great grandfather started fishing back in the 1920’s, followed by their grandfather, Paddy Flannery and father Michael.

The Fish Box received €200,000 in grant aid towards its investment under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The Fish Box employs around 35 people and offers both a takeaway and sit-down option outdoors, and indoors for up to 20 people. It hopes to expand to accommodate 100 customers indoors.

The investment will also see the addition of a fresh fish processing and sales area to include walk-in cold and freezer rooms, new signage and a solar panel system which will reduce energy costs.

Part of the investment includes the addition of a customised seafood truck which will spread The Fish Box brand by going on the road from January. It has already been booked for events this year.

The Fish Box kitchen offers a wide range of delicious seafood, including crispy chilli monkfish and jumbo langoustines.

“We don’t really follow trends in the Fish Box. We do our own thing, offering local food,“ said Micheál.

“We really believe that with our own trawler catching fish and supplying to our restaurant, the fresh fish counter and the truck we have a model that will work all over Ireland, and expansion from Kerry is something we will explore next year.”

"We fish from Dingle and land our catch in Dingle which then goes directly to our restaurant in Dingle. There is no travel. I know who catches the fish, who handles it, who fillets it, who cooks it and finally who eats it. We can literally offer a sea to fork experience,” he said.

More here

Published in BIM
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Flood risk management, biodiversity, seafood and water quality are among themes of the Government’s national adaptation framework on climate which has been opened for public consultation.

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan marked the opening of the month-long public consultation on Friday, 19 January on the National Adaptation Framework (NAP).

The current National Adaptation Framework was published in 2018 and outlines a “whole-of-Government and society approach to climate adaptation in Ireland”.

A review in 2022 recommended the drafting of a new National Adaptation Framework.

The framework takes a sectoral approach, which aims to “improve the enabling environment for adaptation through ongoing engagement with the key sectors and local government, along with civil society, the private sector, and the research community”, his department says.

The so-called Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAPs) are assigned to the line Ministers responsible for priority adaptation policy areas, and include the flood risk management under the remit of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Six Government Departments are currently leading in the implementation of the nine SAPs covering 12 key sectors under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015-2021.

Other sectors include seafood, agriculture and forestry under the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, transport infrastructure under the Department of Transport, and biodiversity and water quality under the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Department of Environment says that climate adaptation is “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate change and its effects”.

“It is not a one-time emergency response, but a series of proactive measures that are taken over time to build the resilience of our economy and society to the impacts of climate change. Adaptation ultimately seeks to minimise the costs of climate change impacts and maximise any opportunities that may arise,”it says.

The public consultation runs until February 19th and more information is here

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish seafood sector has a low carbon footprint, which generates less than 2% of Ireland’s total carbon emissions, according to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) study.

The report says that total Irish fish catch and aquaculture segments represent just 1.76% of Ireland’s total carbon emissions.

The study, discussed at a seminar in Athlone this week hosted by BIM with the Marine Institute, sets out a “greenhouse gas emissions” baseline for the Irish seafood sector, incorporating the Irish fishing vessel fleet and aquaculture.

The baseline, which can be used as a benchmark to measure future emissions, collates seafood carbon data for the first time, BIM says.

It identifies areas to minimise carbon emissions associated with seafood production and finds that farmed mussels, oysters and wild-caught mackerel in particular have very low carbon emissions, BIM says.

“The report stresses the need for a detailed decarbonising plan to ensure that the seafood sector plays its part in Ireland’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,”BIM says.

The study notes the diversity of the Irish seafood sector, and how the carbon footprint of different products “varies depending on the species and the methods used to cultivate or catch them”.

“The Irish seafood sector is undergoing a transformation in how we do things, how we fuel our fleets, how we grow our shellfish, and feed our salmon,” BIM economics and strategic services director Dominic Rihan said.

He said the industry is looking at a range of new technologies, alternative fuel sources as well as operational changes to reduce their carbon emissions.

Investment in the future for such initiatives will be provided through the European and Maritime, Aquaculture and Fisheries Fund, under which Ireland has received total funding of €258.4 million, he noted.

“There is also a lot of work done on waste and plastics reduction. All these initiatives contribute to lower greenhouse emissions from the sector,”he said.

Published in BIM
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If Government targets on offshore wind are met by 2050, Ireland’s seas will have turbines stretching for at least twice the length of Ireland, according to calculations by a group of seafood organisations.

A submission to the Department of Environment by the group says that it welcomes the “plan-led” approach to future (phase 2) offshore renewable energy (ORE).

However, it says there is “deepening unease” within their sector about lack of consultation and “spatial squeeze”.

The group warns that Ireland cannot afford to repeat “planning mistakes of the past”, as occurred with the Corrib gas project in north Mayo.

Eight seafood organisations, representing catching, fish-farming, processing, and inshore sectors, made the submission to the department as part of public consultation over draft maritime area plans (DMAP) for the Irish south coast.

The draft “DMAP” outlining an area for ORE was published by the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) in mid-July, and involves development of up to 900 megawatts ( MW ) offshore renewable capacity.

The current Government programme is to provide an overall 5 (five) gigawatts (GW) off the Irish coast by 2030.

The seafood group queries how much ORE development is planned in total off the south coast, given references to “further programmes”. It also asks whether ORE will be permitted within the footprint of marine protected areas (MPAs).

The group says it has calculated that the Government’s 2050 target of at least 37 GW of offshore wind will translate into a wind farm (or farms) covering an area of some 12,333 km2.

Assuming that the development is six nautical miles (11.1 km) wide, a single farm of 37GW would stretch, continuously, for some 1,110 km, the submission claims.

This would represent over twice the length of Ireland, which is approximately 500 km in length, it says.

The eight organisations welcome the principle of lower carbon emissions as part of a commitment to tackle climate change, and state that seafood is a “low carbon, healthy, and sustainable part of our food supply”.

However, they say that the current developer-led approach in phase one windfarm projects - which have already been given maritime consents and grid contracts off the east and west coasts - has the potential to result in “bitter planning hearings and mounting local resistance” due to a “poorly structured, often opaque approach”.

It calls for a risk-based assessment of potential impacts of ORE, which should include measuring impact of electromagnetic fields generated by inter-array cables; navigational hazards; insurance factors; and impact of noise on marine life during installation and operation.

The submission says that the seafood industry believes that “it is possible to reduce considerably the impact of offshore renewables on fishing if we opt for better planning, design and through the implementation/build process.

The State should “openly address the cumulative impact on fishing of all aspects of spatial squeeze” and incorporate “appropriate” mitigation measures to minimise impacts on fishing businesses and communities”.

Speaking at the launch of the joint submission, John Lynch, CEO of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation said “Ireland’s seafood industry recognises that an orderly development of offshore wind is critical to the future relationship between the seafood and offshore renewable industries. And that relationship is essential if the state is going to meet it targets for ORE development”.

Sean O’Donoghue, CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, also welcomed the move to a state-managed and plan-led approach but added that the true test would be whether the Minister and Department for the Environment, Climate and Communicatons (DECC) accepted the recommendatons made in the seafood industry submission.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications said it “welcomes the submission by the representative organisations of the Irish seafood industry to the recent public consultation on the establishment by Government of the south coast DMAP for offshore renewable energy”.

“It highlights the strong support of Ireland’s fishing industry for the decision by Government that future offshore renewable energy developments in Ireland will take place according to a plan-led regime, through the establishment of DMAPs, including an initial South Coast DMAP,”it said.

“Crucially, the process to establish all DMAPs will provide comprehensive opportunities for public participation to ensure that future offshore renewable energy development takes place with the support of local communities and in consideration for other marine activities, including fishing. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is keenly aware of crucial role of fishing, aquaculture and seafood production in supporting economic activity and employment for many Irish coastal communities,” it said.

“The Department is therefore committed to ensuring that constructive and comprehensive engagement with fishers continues to take place throughout the process to establish all DMAPs, including the South Coast DMAP. Facilitating co-existence and shared marine space between different marine users, including fishers, with offshore renewables is a further key objective of the process to establish DMAPs,” it said.

It said that “beyond 2030, the location and size of all future offshore wind developments will be determined by the establishment of DMAPs, which will take place in cooperation with all key stakeholders, crucially including the fishing and seafood sector”.

“It is important to note that the size of offshore wind developments, including the number of offshore wind turbines, required to meet Ireland’s decarbonisation targets will also be determined by technological advances, which has in recent years led to a substantial increase in the volume of green energy that a single turbine can produce,” the department said.

“This has had a corresponding reduction on the marine space required to generate a given level of green power, and this trend is continuing with offshore wind farms currently under construction,” it said.

Signatories to the seafood group submission on the south coast DMAP include IFA Aquaculture, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters’ Association, the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association and the South East Regional Inshore Fisherman's Forum.

Published in Marine Planning
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