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#NavalService -  Fishing boats, both Irish-registered have been detained in the Irish Sea for alleged breaches of fishing rules.

It was part of an overnight operation The Irish Examiner writes by the Naval Service patrol vessel LE Eithne when officers boarded the two boats.

The vessels are being escorted to Howth Harbour in Co.Dublin and will then be handed over to Gardaí.

It brings to seven the number of boats detained by the Naval Service so far this year.

Published in Navy

Following the conclusion of 2019 Annual Fisheries Negotiations at 3.00am this morning (Wednesday) Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., confirmed the deal negotiated is a balanced outcome, delivering on sustainability objectives and ensuring a strong result for fishermen, against the challenging backdrop of Brexit.

2019 will see the full implementation of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’, where the practice of discarding juvenile fish at sea will end. The application of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’ for all Irish stocks in 2019, coupled with a move towards fishing at maximum sustainable yield levels (rebuilding stocks to a sustainable optimum), are very positive developments for fishermen and for the broader goal of sustainability.

"2019 will see the end of the practice of discarding juvenile fish at sea"

Minister Creed said today; “My primary ambition at these negotiations was to set quotas for Irish fishermen that will support the livelihoods of fishermen and at the same time respect the scientific advice for stocks. The particular challenge facing the fishing industry from the beginning of 2019 is landing all catches and ending discarding of fish at sea. Our fishing industry has been fully supportive of the new policy while seeking to find solutions that will allow fishermen to continue viable and sustainable fisheries. I am satisfied that the package agreed today delivers a balanced deal on quotas.”

The final deal negotiated provides for maintenance of quotas year on year, with an increase in value to €260m. In addition, the Commission agreed to a practical and sustainable approach in relation to key stocks impacted by the discards ban. The revised quotas will assist in delivering on the discards ban while maintaining all of our fisheries open throughout 2019.

For a number of important fish stocks there were significant increases in quota. The Minister said that; “I was pleased that the scientific advice supported large increases in a number of stocks of importance, for South and South Western ports, such as Haddock (+20%), Hake (+28%) and Megrims (+47%) in the Celtic Sea. The overall increase of 30% in whitefish quota, including offshore Haddock (+92%), for the North West will provide improved fishing opportunities for whitefish fishermen in Donegal. The increases in Haddock (+20%) and Cod (+16%) in the Irish Sea reflects the continuing regeneration of these stocks.”

Minister Creed said; “We knew coming into these negotiations that, in line with the scientific advice, some substantial cuts would be necessary to protect some of our key fisheries such as herring, mackerel and prawns. To their credit, the Irish fishing industry accepted that these cuts were necessary. In the interests of sustainability, we accepted a cut to our prawn quota of 32%, which reflects the scientific advice.”

Concluding, Minister Creed said; “This was a very challenging and complex negotiation. Some of the Commission’s quota proposals this year would, in my view, have run the risk of closing sustainable fisheries by creating a ‘race to fish’ and exhausting quotas for important fish stocks in the Celtic sea, Irish Sea and the waters off Donegal. That risk has been averted.

I believe that, on balance, it is a sustainable and viable package. 2019 will be a challenging year for the Irish fishing industry, not least with the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, but I believe that this agreement on quotas will help us all to face those challenges head on.”

Published in Fishing
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Leading fishing industry representative Joey Murrin has died this morning in Killybegs, Co Donegal, at the age of 82.

The iconic leader of the Irish Fishing Industry for over three decades. Murrin became the fishermen's champion, known throughout the country and widely in Europe. He very effectively fought for fishermen's causes throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's and many in the Industry today owe much to the work that Murrin carried out on their behalf.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., lead the tributes "Joey's very warm and distinctive voice on Irish radio, arguing the fishermen's cause, became part of the soundtrack of people's lives over many years and raised the profile of his industry inestimably.”

The Minister went on to say that "in later years, after Joey's retirement, he kept an active interest in the fishing industry and was never afraid to speak out on issues that concerned him. In particular, he continually represented the needs of all in his home town of Killybegs and the wider Donegal community.”

Minister Creed concluded "Joey helped to steer and develop the Irish Fishing Industry in the early years of EU membership and played no small part in ensuring the development of the modern fishing industry. His family and friends can take some comfort on this sad day from the successes he delivered over a lifetime of selfless commitment to the fishing industry.”

Published in Fishing
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Following the outstanding success of the Irish contingent at the recent Cheltenham horse-racing festival, Afloat.ie understands that ongoing exploratory international talks have been stepped up to ensure that existing access is maintained and developed to countries where our thriving bloodstock industry is serving a healthy export market. But there’ll be alarm in coastal communities that our fishing waters are being considered as a bargaining chip.

A tripartite agreement has been in place between Ireland, Britain and France since the 1960s, whereby thoroughbred horses with the correct paperwork – passports in effect – can travel easily and unhindered between the three countries. With highly-strung animals like top racehorses reaching the final peak of fitness in the buildup to a major race, the smoothest passible journey is essential, and this particular agreement is covered under EU law.

But the arrival of Brexit could change this very efficient state of affairs and other close and lucrative interactions between the three national bloodstock industries. While the various authorities are giving every assurance that the system can continue unhindered, Brexit is still uncharted territory, and a small specialist group in the Irish bloodstock industry is closely monitoring the situation.

In fact, according to one source, they’re going further than this, and are actively exploring ways in which links to France’s growing horse-racing industry can be strengthened post-Brexit with more direct and special treatment, while by-passing the British side of the tripartite agreement.

It’s understood that behind the scenes, the French government are prepared to consider special treatment for the Irish bloodstock industry, but only if there’s a tangible benefit for them in some other area, and they have hit on improved access for French boats to Irish inshore fishing waters as a possible solution to the need for a trade-off.

In responding to criticism of this high-handed attitude to supposedly sacrosanct Irish fishing rights in inshore home waters, a spokesperson for the bloodstock negotiating team said that it was high time people took a realistic look at the big picture, and realized the relative significance of the bloodstock and fishing industries to the Irish economy.

“The Irish bloodstock industry employs more than 100,000 people, and brings in earnings of billions of euros. Our fishing industry employs about 15,000 people at most, and on the actual boats, many crewmembers are immigrants. Not only do the people of Ireland have a very low level of fish consumption, but they don’t want to take on the tough and challenging job of catching them either – at deckhand level, they seem to prefer to leave that to foreigners.

But in the horse racing industry, Irish people are passionate about their jobs at every level. And their devotion to it is rewarded by success, and a high status in the rural and national community. Is that the case with the fishing industry? We think not. So it would be better for everyone if we secured more scope for our bloodstock industry to expand in France, and allowed the French into our inshore waters to catch fish. They’ll not only make a good job of catching the fish, but they’ll make a better job of cooking them too - they’re much more enthusiastic about eating seafood than we are in Ireland.

Faced with the probable harsh reality of Brexit, we have to realize that sacrifices will have to be made in some parts of the economy to provide for the greater good, and letting some of our small fishery go for the sake of even better times for the bloodstock industry is an obvious step”.

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Published in Fishing
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This beautifully illustrated book explores the history of the fishery piers and harbours of Galway and North Clare. A testament to these structures as feats of engineering, it is also a riveting account of the human aspect that shadowed their construction; a beautiful rendering of the maritime activities that gave life to the Wild Atlantic Way – kelp-making, fishing, turf distribution, and sea-borne trade.

Humble Works for Humble People nurtures the retelling of human stories surrounding the piers, giving voice to the unacknowledged legacy of the lives that were their making. Foreign financial support, humanitarian efforts, controversies and conflict – these are all features of the piers and harbours’ development and preservation. Humble Works for Humble People is a vital contribution to the maritime history of Galway, Clare and of Ireland in general; an overlooked but culturally rich facet of Irish history.

Buy the book online from Afloat.ie's Marine Market here.

Published in Book Review
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A Native Oyster Workshop has drawn on heritage and science to highlight the importance and future of the Native Oyster fisheries across Ireland during the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival.

Cuan Beo, a recently formed community based organization established with a mission of improving the quality of life, environment, economy and heritage around Galway Bay highlighted the need for action to restore the Native Oyster stocks across Ireland during the Native Oyster Workshop (NOW17) which was held in Clarinbridge last week Thursday 5th October 2017.

The workshop brought together Native Oyster Fishermen from the 8 remaining oyster fisheries in Ireland together with the relevant agencies responsible for their governance to develop a plan towards their restoration. The workshop heard that the native Oyster fisheries have been in decline for the past 200 years and are currently at an all-time low. Factors such as poor water quality, absence of fishery management plans, complex governance structures and overfishing have all contributed.

According to Diarmuid Kelly, Chairman of Cuan Beo, the aim of the workshop was to review the current status of the Native Oyster fisheries along the Atlantic coast of Ireland, to discuss the issues impacting on their productivity and identify a roadmap towards the effective management and restoration of Oyster Beds and to restore sustainable production output from these fisheries.

oyster farmers irelandCuan Beo committee members Diarmuid Kelly, Kelly's Oyster, Ollie Tully, Marine Institute, Seamus Breathnach BIM, Mary Gerry O'Halloran, and Colm O'Dowd Photo: Andrew Downes

While Galway and Clarinbridge is synonymous with the oyster, its ecological status is poor. The situation is similar across Europe. It is listed by OSPAR as ‘threatened and declining’ and is listed as a priority habitat in the UK and in many areas in Ireland, including Galway Bay. The native oyster is subject to conservation objectives and is seen as a significant component species in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The workshop heard that much of the legislation is complex, misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Prof Noel Wilkins (NUI Galway) presented on the history of the native oyster beds in Galway Bay from times of super-abundance and tracking their decline to the present day. This was coupled with presentations from government agencies including the Marine Institute, the SFPA, Waters and Communities and BIM highlighting challenges relating to their restoration including licensing and governance, disease, water quality, fisheries management and displacement by invasive species. Case studies from successful fisheries were presented from Lough’s Agency in NI and Tralee Co-op.

An action plan was agreed at the workshop to create a national working group in the coming weeks. The group would not just lobby for simplification in governance but also to address assessment and up-skilling of existing co/op management in each area and the provision of support and assistance in developing management plans for each fishery. BIM agreed to coordinate the establishment of this working group.

The day-long event concluded with the official launch of Cuan Beo, by Cllr Eileen Mannion Caothairlaoch of County Galway. The launch was also attended by Seán Kyne TD Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs, and Digital Development. Niall Sabongi (KLAW Restaurant Dublin) held a masterclass in oyster tasting with a selection of native oysters from the various fisheries across Ireland and the event was concluded with a lecture highlighting the importance of the oyster in Galway Bay from pre-historic times (4000BC) to the present day by Local Archaeologist and historian, Michael Gibbons.

Published in Fishing
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On my PODCAST this week I am dealing with three particular subjects – the Government’s lack of interest in the United Nations honouring of seafarers this Sunday; concern in coastal communities from where there are claims that senior officials in the Department of the Marine have threatened fishermen that another cut in the size of the Irish fishing fleet will be forced upon them, with or without their agreement – and water shortages on West of Ireland offshore islands caused, their community representative association claims, by a quarter-century of neglect of the needs of these communities to enable them to continue living on the islands.

The International Maritime Organisation, which is the United Nations body for the sea, of which Ireland is a member, has not listed Ireland as officially marking Sunday next, June 25, as INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE SEAFARER, with the theme “SEAFARERS MATTER.” It is to be hoped that there will be individual efforts to remember the seafarers but it is a poor example by the State that an island nation, dependent for 95 per cent of its exports and imports on ships, shipping and seafarers, cannot officially run at least one national day in the year to show appreciation for seafarers. We will be pleased at AFLOAT to hear of events anywhere around Ireland.

DAY OF THE SEAFARER

There is a lot of concern in coastal communities about the future of the fishing industry amid fears that the Government is trying to force through another reduction in the Irish fleet, by cutting the number of boats to satisfy EU pressure, which gives a vastly bigger entitlement to catch fish in Irish waters to the bigger EU nations than Irish boats can catch in our own waters. That’s an issue I took up with the Minster for the Marine, Michael Creed, when I asked him if the Government is giving enough priority to maritime matters.

You can hear his response on the PODCAST below: 

Published in Island Nation
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#RNLI - Skerries RNLI launched on Tuesday evening (30 May) after the Irish Coast Guard received reports of a distress flare fired from a trawler near Balbriggan.

The lifeboat — with helm David Knight and crew Stephen Crowley, AJ Hughes and JP Tanner — proceeded towards Balbriggan Harbour, where they soon spotted a fishing trawler with another fishing vessel alongside and went to investigate.

The fishing trawler had suffered a serious electrical problem and lost all power, lowering anchor and firing a flare to signal that they required help. The second fishing vessel had responded to the distress call and come to their assistance.

With the low tide making entrance to Balbriggan Harbour difficult, the broken-down trawler was taken under tow by the lifeboat and brought to the safety of Skerries Harbour.

Speaking after the callout, Skerries RNLI lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, things can go wrong at sea. Thankfully they were carrying flares and didn’t hesitate to use them to raise the alarm.

“We’d also like to say well done to the other vessel that responded immediately to the call for help.”

The incident came just days after a fishing vessel sank off Skerries, taking the life of one of its two crew, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Fishing - Migrant fishermen’s allegations of continued exploitation within the Irish fishing industry have been supported new figures that claim more than a fifth of the fleet employed undocumented workers last year.

That’s according to Fora, which cites figures from the latest annual report of the Workplace Relations Commission — indicating 28 cases out of 126 inspections where its officials found non-EEA employees without valid work permits.

The same report also notes a further 59 employments rights breaches on Irish trawlers in 2016.

This latest news comes just weeks after Labour Senator Ged Nash told the Seanad that new rules introduced to regularise migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry are not working – with many fishermen allegedly putting in more than double the hours for which they are guaranteed the minimum wage.

The scheme was introduced in the wake of the Guardian investigation into alleged widespread exploitation of migrant labour — but just 182 of the available 500 permits had been issued as of mid February this year, with five more issued by the end of March.

Meanwhile, two prosecutions have gone forward since the scheme was introduced in February 2016, but in both cases the defendants were cleared of wrongdoing.

Fora has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - The Marine Institute will begin the annual Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS 2017) off the North and North West Coasts from tomorrow (Saturday 8 June).

The 10-day operation, in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) obligations, is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 49 otter trawls (60 minutes) in ICES area 6a off Donegal – following on from a similar operation off the South Coast last month.

Fishing will take place within a three nautical mile radius of the positions indicated in Marine Notice 18 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

The RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB) will be used throughout the duration of the survey. The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations, will display appropriate lights and signals, and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout.

Commercial fishing and other marine operators are requested to keep a 3nm area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period.

Full co-ordinates of the survey area, as well as details for fishing operators with static gear within the survey zone, are included in the aforementioned Marine Notice.

Published in Fishing
Page 3 of 50

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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