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#Brexit - Marine Minister Michael Creed yesterday (Wednesday 1 February) hosted a sectoral dialogue focused on the seafood sector and the potential impacts it could face from Brexit.

Opening the dialogue, Minister Creed highlighted the importance of ensuring that the Irish seafood sector is protected during Brexit negotiations.

“The key challenge for this Government,” he said, “will be to ensure that fisheries concerns and those of the wider seafood sector are high on the EU agenda and that our sector is not separated from the overall negotiations on a new EU/UK relationship.”

Minister Creed went on to say that for the Irish seafood sector, Brexit “poses a very particular set of serious threats over and above the trade implications common to most sectors.

“That is not to underplay the importance of a good trade outcome for the seafood sector but rather to emphasise the reality that this sector faces challenges that are unique.”

The minister explained that those threats were potential loss of access to fishing grounds in the UK zone and possible attempts by the UK to increase its current quota share at the expense of Ireland and others.

He added that “any changes to existing rights for the Irish and EU catching sector must be resisted strenuously.”

Speaking following the event, which took place in the Radisson Blu Hotel at Dublin Airport, Minister Creed commended the high turnout from the Irish seafood sector.

“Today’s turnout and active engagement by stakeholders from across the sector demonstrates the desire of all to pull together in the effort to protect Irish interests as we enter Brexit negotiations.

“I want to thank all concerned for their very positive contribution to what was a very engaging afternoon, and to assure them once again that their concerns and ideas will be taken on board.”

The sectoral dialogue saw a number of presentations by key sector stakeholders, followed by detailed discussions covering access rights, management of shared stocks, trade and aquaculture issues.

“Today was another important step in the ongoing journey we have all been engaged in since the June referendum in the UK. namely understanding and preparing for all of the possible implications arising from Brexit,” said Minister Creed.

“We still don’t know what exactly the UK will seek but the deeper our understanding of the issues, the better prepared we all will be for the challenges ahead.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, concern is spreading across Ireland’s fishing industry over the impact of Brexit on Irish fishing grounds and international seafood markets.

Published in Fishing
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#Brexit - Concern is spreading across Ireland’s fishing industry over the impact of Brexit on Irish fishing grounds and markets, as The Irish Times reports.

The potential impact of fishing vessels from elsewhere in the EU that might be expelled from British waters would put significant pressure on Ireland’s marine resource, the industry fears.

But there are also worries over the status of a post-Brexit Britain as a key market for Irish seafood, not to mention the concentration of quotas for certain species in specific regions – such as mackerel in the North West.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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Five crew members have been rescued from a fishing vessel that got into difficulties off Balbriggan shortly after 5.15 this morning. The Dublin based Coast Guard helicopter, RNLI units from Skerries, Howth and Clogherhead and Skerries Coast Guard unit all participated in an operation coordinated by the Coast Guard Marine Rescue Coordination Centre in Dublin.

Despite efforts to avert onboard flooding, using pumps supplied by the Coast Guard and RNLI the vessel sunk shortly after 8 am.

The crew despite the ordeal are reported to be in good spirits.

RNLI Adds: (11.40am)

The RNLI was alerted at 5.15am that a vessel with five people onboard a 12m fishing trawler had run aground south of Balbriggan.

Skerries inshore lifeboat helmed by Eoin Grimes launched along with Howth RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Fred Connolly and Clogherhead RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Noel Sharkey. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 from Dublin was also tasked to the scene. Skerries coast guard unit.

Weather conditions at the time were described as overcast with a south easterly Force 3-4 wind blowing.

First on scene, Skerries RNLI set up a tow line but attempts to take the vessel off failed. The lifeboat crew proceeded to take the fishermen off their vessel and transferred them onto the lifeboat. On arrival of the all-weather lifeboat from Howth, the fishermen were then safely transferred by the crew on to it.

In a bid to salvage the fishing vessel, two pumps from Clogherhead and Howth lifeboats were put onboard along with a third from the helicopter. However, despite the crews’ efforts, the pumps couldn’t overcome the water ingress and the boat sank shortly after 8am.

The fishermen were brought safely to shore in Skerries by Howth’s lifeboat where they arrived at 8.25am.

Speaking following the call out, Colm Newport, Howth RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all crews involved this morning, the vessel did sink but thankfully all five fishermen have been returned safely to shore and we would like to wish them well following their ordeal. They did the right thing this morning and raised the alarm once they began to encounter difficulties and we were happy to be able to help.

‘This call out involved lifeboat crews from three RNLI stations and our colleagues from the Irish Coast Guard, all of whom using their skills and training worked well together to bring the fishermen to safety.’

Published in Coastguard
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#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard helicopters were called on for two separate evacuations from fishing vessels yesterday morning (Monday 16 January).

In the first incident, Waterford-based Rescue 117 airlifted a fisherman who had suffered an injury on board his vessel to University Hospital Waterford.

On the same morning, Rescue 115 from Shannon was tasked to retrieve a casualty from a fishing vessel some 120 miles west of Kerry Head and transport him to University Hospital Limerick.

MEDICO Cork, based at Cork University Hospital’s A&E department, provided advice for both coastguard medevacs.

Published in Coastguard

#PairTrawling - Winter season pair trawling has been blamed for a spate of marine wildlife deaths on the Waterford coast this week, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Locals in Ardmore discovered four seals and a porpoise washed up on their beach this past Wednesday (11 January).

At least one of the seals was photographed with what appeared to be fishing net entangled around its snout.

Seals and cetaceans including humpback whales have been spotted off the South Coast in big numbers this month, likely following shoals of herring — also a popular fish for pair trawling, a fishing practice criticised by environmentalists for its threat to inshore marine wildlife.

Pair trawling was the subject of a debate on RTÉ Radio 1’s Countrywide last month, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fishing - Fishing rights retained in the sale of Irish supertrawler Atlantic Dawn could continue to net many millions of euro for its former owners — much to the ire of smaller operators in Ireland’s fishing fleet, as The Irish Times reports.

Despite being built to fish international waters, the Atlantic Dawn was entitled to a significant “fishing asset”, comprising tonnage, engine power and quota rights under EU rules, due to being flagged as Irish.

Though the ship in question was sold to Dutch owners in 2007, the Atlantic Dawn Group kept its asset — leading to a market standing that opponents say has strengthened disproportionately to the rest of the Irish fleet after the Common Fisheries Policy imposed limits on vessel expansion in 2003.

Now a number of vessels in the pelagic and whitefish sectors are seeking compensation from Brussels as a result of the Killybegs-based company’s extraordinary but entirely legal position.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Aquaculture - Marine Minister Michael Creed has announced the appointment of an independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group

The group has been established to review the process of licensing for aquaculture and its associated legal framework in keeping with actions identified in Food Wise 2025 and Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development.

On the need for a review of the existing licensing process, Minister Creed said: “Our aquaculture sector has enormous potential to sustainably grow its production of seafood to meet the opportunities presented from growing world demand for safe, sustainable seafood. Ireland’s National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development aims to sustainably grow our production across all species by 45,000 tonnes.

“To achieve that ambition, we need to revamp our aquaculture licensing process and its associated legal frameworks, so that an operator can have a decision on an aquaculture licence application within timeframes that compare favourably to our competitors.

“But any changes must ensure that all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licensing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations.”

Both Food Wise 2025 and the National Strategic Plan identified issues with the current licensing system and recommended an independent review to examine the existing challenges and propose improvements in line with best practice internationally.

Welcoming the Review Group, Minister Creed acknowledged the appropriate skills and experience that the members bring.

“I would like to thank Mary Moylan, Ken Whelan and Lorcán Ó Cinnéide for agreeing to serve on the Review Group and I look forward to their recommendations on what we need to change to give this sector a reliable, sustainable, effective decision-making foundation so that we can harness its full potential.”

Review Group chair Mary Moylan retired as assistant secretary at the Department of the Environment in 2014. Moylan successively headed the Planning and Built Heritage, Corporate Affairs and Rural Development Divisions of the department, and previously held a number of senior posts throughout her career, including responsibilities in the area of International Environment Policy, Planning and Land Use and earlier as Environment Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Communities.

Ken Whelan PhD is adjunct professor in the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD and is also research director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Dr Whelan was formerly an executive director, with responsibility for aquaculture, at the Marine Institute, chairman of the International Atlantic Salmon Research Board, and chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation. He is currently a self-employed marine and freshwater fisheries consultant.

Lorcan Ó Cinnéide is CEO of the Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association, the national representative body for the seafood processing industry. He is a member of the board of the Marine Institute, the board of the European Fish Processors Association, the Sea Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee, and a former member of the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board.

Published in Fishing
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#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed expressed his concern at the potential impact on Irelands’ whitefish fleet, ahead of the annual EU fisheries negotiations in Brussels, scheduled to conclude today (Tuesday 13 December).

“If the commission’s quota proposals remain unchanged, we are facing an overall 19% cut to our whitefish and prawn quotas for 2017,” said Minister Creed yesterday. “This would mean, in real terms, a direct income loss of over €14.7 million to our whitefish fleet.”

The commission’s proposal includes cuts to Celtic Sea cod (-68%), pollack (-20%), megrim (-28%), monkfish (-12%) and Ireland’s most important stock, prawns (-9%).

“I presented the scale and implications of these cuts to the joint Oireachtas Committee earlier this week following the completion of a Sustainability Impact Assessment which was open to public consultation,” the minister added.

“I also met the fishing industry and other stakeholders and got a detailed brief on the issues and priorities. I am very concerned about the level of cuts proposed for the whitefish and prawn fisheries. We need a balanced outcome that delivers necessary cuts to protect stocks while maintaining quota levels where justified.”

Minister Creed said his role at negotiations yesterday and today was “to persuade the commission to apply the available scientific advice in a rational and practical manner.

“This is especially important in the context of the ongoing roll out of the landing obligation, which will apply to all quota stocks from 2019.”

Ireland’s mackerel and blue whiting quotas are set for substantial increases, but this comes with cuts in horse mackerel, Celtic Sea herring and boarfish. The minister says he is accepting these quota adjustments because they are fully justified by the scientific advice.

“This is my first December Fisheries Council and I do not underestimate the challenge,” Minister Creed added. “All I can promise is that I will work as hard as I can with industry and other stakeholders, as well as with Commissioner Vella, and important member states such as France, the UK and Spain, to try and achieve a fair and balanced quota package for Ireland’s fishing industry that ensures the continued vibrancy of our industry and the long term sustainability of our stocks.”

Published in Fishing
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#Supertrawler - An MEP for Ireland South is calling on the European Commission to investigate an alleged connection between ‘supertrawler’ activity and a spike in dolphin standings earlier this year.

As the West Cork Times reports, Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune MEP has submitted a parliamentary question that makes reference to the unusually high rate of standings recorded by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) in the first three months of 2016.

“The allegation is that the spike in dolphin deaths is as a direct result of a busy and sustained period of supertrawler activity in our waters,” says Clune, who adds that the Commission “now has a duty of care under the Habitats Directive to investigate this matter to establish the facts.”

Such concerns were renewed in recent weeks after the controversial super-sized trawler Margiris was spotted fishing off the North West coast.

Last week the vessel, one of the largest of its kind on the seas, was boarded for inspection by Naval Service personnel — as the Irish Wildlife Trust reiterated its calls for a full-time inspection regime for large-scale factory trawlers to ensure compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy and environmental protections.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Pair trawling was a matter of debate on RTÉ Radio 1’s Countrywide this past Saturday (3 December).

The segment follows a call by the Irish Wildlife Trust to ban the practice of pair trawling — or trawling a single net between two fishing boats — in Ireland’s inshore bays and estuaries.

Darragh McCullough welcomed the trust’s campaigns officer Padraig Fogarty and Hugo Boyle of the Irish South & East Fish Producers Organisation to discuss the purposes of the practice, its benefits to the fishing industry and why conservationists are concerned over effects on the ecosystem.

Listen back to the interview on the RTÉ website HERE.

Published in Fishing
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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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