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Over 270 coastal projects have been awarded grants totalling four million euro in EU and State funds just five days before the European Parliament elections.

The grants to 274 projects across seven coastal regions were announced yesterday by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Michael Creed, who said the initiative supported total investment of €6.4 million.

Almost 400 applications were made for this year’s scheme, co-financed by the EU’s Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Government.

The EMFF has a budget of 12 million euro over six years for projects which would encourage fishing communities hit by quota restrictions and other challenges to diversify.

Applications are assessed by seven regional fisheries local action group boards (FLAGs) and forwarded to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Many of the projects had been signed off by FLAG boards from mid-March, but a spokesman for Mr Creed denied earlier this month that the final announcement was being delayed to time in with the European election campaign.

Members of several FLAGS had said that there was considerable frustration over a “long wait”, and a belief that this was influenced by the European election date of May 24th.

A total of 3,977, 723 euro has been awarded to 47 FLAG-approved projects in the north region, 42 in the north-west, 36 in the north-east, 62 in the west region, 41 in the south-east, 29 in the south, and 17 in the south-west.

“Ireland’s seven FLAGs are providing a wonderful source of investment for local seafood and marine projects in our coastal communities,” Mr Creed said yesterday in a statement.

“Over 800 projects in seven coastal regions have benefitted from EMFF funding since the present FLAG scheme was launched in 2017,” he said, adding that the “high number of successful projects funded this year reflects both the quality ... and the hard work of the local communities through the seven FLAG Boards.”

Published in Coastal Notes

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has initiated an investigation into the lack of transparency around EU ministerial decisions on annual fish quotas.

“The famous all-night meetings of ministers in Brussels are completely behind closed doors, and yet make important decisions for the sustainability of fishing stocks and of jobs in fishing communities around Europe,” Ms O’Reilly said.

The investigation, which focuses on the negotiations confirmed by EU ministers each December on sharing out stocks in EU waters, has been welcomed by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation.

The European Ombudsman office inquiry is one of three separate investigations into a lack of transparency on the decision-making of national governments at EU level which Ms O’Reilly announced on Tuesday. (May 14).

The other two inquiries focus on how the EU handles Eurogroup documents and makes them public or not, and on public access to the positions taken by national authorities on the risk of pesticides to bees.

The investigation into lack of transparency around setting total allowable catches and quotas of fish by ministers follows a complaint by non-profit environmental law organisation ClientEarth, which has offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing.

In a letter to Mr Jeppe Jeppe Tranholm‐Mikkelsen, Secretary-General of the Council of the EU, dated May 10th, Ms O’Reilly explains that the complaint concerns how the EU council adopts the annual regulations setting the ‘total allowable catches’ of fish stocks in the north-east Atlantic for 2017, 2018 and 2019.

She says the complaint concerns the EU council’s failure to record the positions of member states expressed in working groups, at Committee of Permanent representatives of governments of member states (Coreper) meetings, and at ministerial meetings of the council.

She cites failure to provide timely access to “legislative documents (proactively and upon request)”, and a register of documents, which the complainant argues is “incomplete and not user-friendly”.

“As I am sure you agree, transparency is essential to enable European citizens to participate effectively in the EU’s decision-making process and to hold those involved to account,” she says.

“ Unless documents are made available in a timely way, interested third parties with relevant expertise cannot provide critical input that can be taken on board by decision-makers,” she says.

“ Given the public interest in sustainable fishing and sustainable fishing communities, from environmental, social and economic perspectives, I have decided to open an inquiry into this complaint,”she says..

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said that any such inquiry was timely.

Mr Murphy said that the Irish industry was briefed by the Irish fisheries minister and officials both before and after EU fish councils in December, and such consultation was very welcome.

“However, who wouldn’t welcome an investigation into the transparency of EU ministerial decisions,” he said.

The late Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Joey Murrin had been a scathing critic of how EU ministers conducted their business in relation to quota setting and coined the phrase “paper fish” – for fish allocated from stocks which may or not be able to sustain such catches.

Ms O’Reilly’s separate inquiry into how the EU handles Eurogroup documents relates to three technical committees of national civil servants who prepare Eurogroup ministerial meetings.

Documents showing when the Economic and Financial Committee, Eurogroup Working Group, and Economic Policy Committee meet and what they discuss are “not public, making it extremely difficult for citizens to monitor Eurozone governance”, she said.

In a separate ongoing Commission inquiry, Ms O’Reilly issued a finding of maladministration for the refusal to provide public access to documents on the positions taken by national authorities on the risk of pesticides to bees.

She noted that the European Food Safety Authority produces guidelines in 2013 on the impact of pesticides on bees, but some national authorities were blocking their implementation by the European Commission, she said.

This is entirely their decision, but when they make it, European citizens have a right to know the position their own government took, just as they should at member state level,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“ Biodiversity is a particularly important issue,” she said.

Published in Fishing
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Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Michael Creed has denied that a roll-out of several million euro for coastal projects has been delayed to tie in with his party’s European election campaign.

Dozens of projects qualifying for grants totalling up to 4 million euro this year are awaiting letters of approval from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), almost two months since first recommendations were sent to the State’s sea fisheries development board.

Members of seven Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAG) told Afloat that there was considerable frustration over a “long wait”, and a belief that this was influenced by the European election date of May 24th.

The EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has a budget of 12 million euro over six years for coastal-based projects which would encourage fishing communities hit by quota restrictions and other challenges to diversify.

The FLAG scheme is one of 18 drawn from the 240 million euro EMFF Operational Programme 2014-2020, co-funded by the EU and the Government.

The money is disbursed by BIM after initial assessment and approval by the seven regional FLAGs, representing a broad range of stakeholders.

Each FLAG region must have at least one boundary comprising the coastline; it must have a significant level of employment in fisheries or aquaculture; must have a population of over 70,000 in its electorate district; and must have a minimum of 150 and a maximum of 400 vessels in all fleet segments on the fishing vessel register.

Both State bodies and community groups can apply for funding. Projects approved in two rounds of FLAG funding totalling 3. 1 million euro to 247 projects last year ranged from coastal trails to small harbour facilities, "micro-seafood" enterprises, kayaking, and sailing for people with disabilities

Last year’s successful applicants were announced by Mr Creed in May and July, 2018.

Mr Jerry Gallagher, chair of the North FLAG, said that the boards had complained then about the delay in rolling out final approval letters, and has been assured there would be a speedier delivery this year.

The FLAG boards have “done their work” and submitted projects from mid-March of this year to BIM, he said.

“We’d really like to see these projects being rolled out earlier, as promised, because some of them are very dependent on the summer tourism season,”he said.

The grants are paid after receipts for the projects are furnished to BIM, he pointed out.

“Many community groups can’t approach banks without a letter of approval from BIM,” he said.

Mr Finnian O’Sullivan, chair of the South FLAG, said that he had not received complaints from applicants in his area about the delay, but “it would be no harm to have the complete list out” at this stage.

A spokesman for Mr Creed said that the projects had not yet come before the minister, and BIM was still awaiting a final list from all seven FLAG boards.

A BIM spokeswoman said that “some but not all of the projects were approved mid-March”.

“Once projects are approved, the average turnaround is two months or thereabouts. There isn’t any delay in issuing the letters of approval,” the BIM spokeswoman said.

Mr Gallagher described the statements as a “smokescreen”.

In response to a Dáil question by Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Mr Creed said he was “aware that a number of FLAG board meetings have taken place recently, and that the FLAGs are actively notifying selected projects to BIM, who issue formal project approval”.

“I expect to announce a tranche of EMFF FLAG grant awards later this month,” Mr Creed said in the written reply dated May 8th, 2019.

Published in Fishing
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Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. today announced the award of €2,369,801 in grants to 17 seafood enterprises in 9 different counties under his Department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for the seafood sector. The grant awards will support total investment in these companies of €6,472,909 in the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors.

Minister Creed said, “I am delighted to say that, despite uncertainties created by Brexit over the past 2 years, there is still strong confidence in our seafood sector about its future growth prospects. The 17 seafood enterprises that are investing €6.5 million this year with assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supported Programme are evidence of that strong confidence in the sector and the Government is supporting that confidence. These companies are seizing the market opportunities that are there in abundance for quality Irish seafood products. This is particularly true for companies like Keohane Seafoods from Cork, which is undertaking a major €3 million investment to double its salmon production capacity at its plant in Bantry.”

Creed added, “My Department is assisting ambitious seafood enterprises with many exciting growth projects through generous EMFF financial supports, available through BIM for seafood enterprises to grow their output, add value to their products and develop and diversify their markets worldwide. In this announcement, Seafood companies in Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Louth and Monaghan are being supported to drive forward the development of their companies with innovation and technological development, thereby creating further value-added from our high-quality primary seafood products”.

The grants are co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and are subject to terms and conditions.

Grant approvals - Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Bantry Mussels Harbour Limited

Bantry Cork

Upgrade of boat’s engine room with twin keel cooled engines and a 3 phase generator.

162,068

64,827

Curraun Fisheries Limited

Mulranny Mayo

Modernisation of salmon farm management systems.

187,808

75,123

Ocean Farm Limited

Killybegs Donegal

Upgrade of salmon farm technology.

1,175,202

470,081

Top Oysters Limited

Cromane Kerry

Purchase of a flat bottom boat and oyster production equipment

93,532

37,413

Michael Lydon

Galway

Upgrade to continuous longline system

45,099

18,039

Atlantic Greenway Oysters Ltd

Westport Mayo

Capacity increase of oyster farm

40,553

16,221

Caragh Clams Limited

Cromane Kerry

Fourth phase development of oyster farm

24,428

9,771

Cromane Seafoods Limited

Cromane Kerry

Purchase of a flat bottom boat and oyster trestles

88,752

35,500.88

Hugh O'Malley

Achill Island Mayo

Capacity increase in oyster production & new equipment purchase

81,021

32,408

TOTAL

 

 

1,898,463

759,383

   Grant approvals – Knowledge Gateway Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total

Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Institute of Technology Tralee

Tralee Kerry

Development of an Oyster Farm Management System & Data Warehousing Solution

318,001

318,001

  

Grant approvals - Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total

Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Seafood Processors Ltd

Omeath

Co Louth

Upgrade of pre-pack fish line

16,344

4,903

Keohane Seafoods Unlimited

Bantry

Co Cork

Machinery & System Processing for Smoking Plant and Salmon Line

3,000,000

900,000.00

Bio-marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd

Castleblayney

Co Monaghan

Installation of Odour Abatement System to reduce the impact on the environment and to lead to new and improved products

529,975

79,496

Castletownbere Fishermens Co-operative Society Ltd

Castletownbere Co Cork

Develop an oven ready Megrim product for the Spanish Market

236,118

70,835

TOTAL

 

 

3,782,437

1,055,234

 

Grant approvals - Seafood Innovation & Business Planning Scheme

Beneficiary

County

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Breizon Teo

Rossaveel

Co Galway

R & D Project to Pack Irish Prawns for French Market

10,009

5,004

Bio-marine Ingredients Ireland Ltd

Castleblayney

Co Monaghan

Comparison of Proteins in terms of functionalities

13,916

6,958

Keohane Seafoods Unlimited

Bantry

Co Cork

Advisory Services to enhance management systems

39,600

19,800

TOTAL

 

 

63,525

31,762

 

Grant approvals – Seafood Scaling & New Market Development Scheme

Beneficiary

Location

Project

Total Investment €

EMFF Grant €

Jade Ireland Seafood Ltd

Sofrimar Kilmore Quay Co Wexford

McBride Fishing Downings Co Donegal

Shellfish Ireland Castletownbere Co Cork

Development of China, Hong Kong & Taiwan Markets

209,700.00

104,850.00

Connemara Producers Group

Connemara Seafoods Frozen Ltd Westport Co Mayo

Oilean Mara Teo. Lettermore Co Galway

Market development in Asia

201,143.00

100,571.00

TOTAL

 

 

410,843.00

205,421.00

Published in Fishing
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Following recent mediation between a number of Government Departments and the International Transport Workers’ Federation on the scheme for employment of non-EEA fishers (outside the European Economic area) in parts of the Irish sea fishing fleet, a settlement agreement has now been reached and signed by all parties. This mediation was in the context of proceedings taken by the International Transport Workers’ Federation against the relevant Government Departments in relation to the Scheme and a recent High Court judgment on injunctive relief, dated 7 December 2018. The High Court today (30 April 2019) struck out the case.

The relevant Government Departments involved in the Scheme are the Department of Justice and Equality; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; and the Workplace Relations Commission.

The main terms of the agreement are as follows:

  • Every intended participant under the Scheme is to receive their contract of employment in their native language, as well as English. The contract will include clear wording regarding the fisher’s entitlements to pay, working-hours and rest periods. The letter of approval is also to be in the fisher’s native language, as well as English, as appropriate.
  • A link to a webpage explaining the fisher’s rights as an employee and where the fisher can make complaints regarding any violation of these rights will be provided to participants in the Scheme in their letter of approval.
  • As has previously been the case, the costs associated with applications under the Atypical Workers Scheme are not recoupable from the fisher’s wages.
  • No employment permission is granted to any non-EEA nationals to work in the State without a contract with a specific employer. Non-EEA fishers retain the right to transfer employment within the Scheme; any such transfer of employment can occur without the existing or previous employer’s consent.
  • Where the Department of Justice & Equality becomes aware that a fisher has left their employment, for any reason, before the end of their twelve month contract, a letter will issue to the non-EEA fisher requesting that they provide details of their new contract of employment under the Scheme to the Department of Justice & Equality within 28 days.
  • EU Directive 2017/159 will be transposed into Irish law by the 15th of November, regulating maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest, and manning requirements aboard commercial fishing vessels.
  • The relevant bodies, i.e. the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the Marine Survey Office (MSO), and the Department of Justice and Equality, will liaise with each other on the enforcement of S.I. 709 of 2003 (relating to the hours of work and rest on board fishing vessels).
  • The Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will meet on a two-monthly basis for the first six months, starting in May, and quarterly thereafter, to monitor the Scheme and ensure that it is operating as intended.
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An Taoiseach Leo Varadker launched Inland Fisheries Ireland’s electric fleet of cars along with Richard Bruton TD, Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Sean Canney TD, Minister with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector. The organisation is introducing energy efficient vehicles with a view to achieving a 24 per cent reduction in the Co2 emissions from its fleet. The electric vehicles have been wrapped in a fish-themed design with an electrically charged eel swimming across the side to promote the organisation’s shift to zero-emission cars. 

The four vehicles will be driven by Project Officers from the organisation’s National Strategy for Angling Development’s (NSAD) Project Management Office which works with angling clubs and community groups around the country to support the development of the fisheries resource. Project officers travel to rural and peripheral areas to work with local groups to support them in undertaking environmentally sustainable fisheries development works. This enables communities to realise the many economic and recreational benefits which the fisheries resource can accrue for their area.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I am pleased that Inland Fisheries Ireland is setting a really positive example by switching to a more carbon friendly fleet. As a country, we all need to do more to tackle climate action, so it is important to see our public bodies taking the lead. We will all need to make adjustments to how we live and how we get around; these cars will send a positive message, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the organisation.”

Richard Bruton TD, Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said: “It is vital that every aspect of our society seek ways to reduce their carbon impact and the public service must be the first to show that it takes policies for sustainability seriously, if we are to persuade the rest of society to make the step changes which we need to make. Today’s announcement shows that Inland Fisheries Ireland is leading by example and making changes to adapt. As a result of this new electric fleet, they will reduce their carbon footprint by 24 per cent.” 

Seán Canney TD, Minister for Natural Resources said: "This initiative by Inland Fisheries Ireland clearly demonstrates the ambition by all stakeholders to reduce emissions. It is the first step in de-carbonising our transport and sets an example for all other State and Semi-State companies and agencies to follow." 

Inland Fisheries Ireland has over 300 staff with many using vehicles to allow them to carry out their protection, environmental, promotional and research duties. Ireland has 5,600km of coastline, 70,000 kilometres or rivers and streams and 144,000 hectares of lakes and ponds, all of which fall under Inland Fisheries Ireland’s remit. In addition to moving to energy-efficient vehicles, the organisation has implemented a fleet management system to generate additional efficacies and to ensure the fleet is being used in the most appropriate manner and that driver safety remains a priority.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The energy reduction target of 33 per cent by 2020 is an opportunity to refocus the philosophy of our organisation. As an environmental agency, we are very aware of the critical nature of climate change and the impact it is having on our fisheries resource. We are looking at every aspect of our work to see how we can reduce our environmental footprint. The move to ‘green’ vehicles is just one of the many changes which we are making to ensure we reduce our overall emissions. 

Our new fleet represents a €160,000 investment by the organisation which will allow us to operate in a more efficient manner and to carry out our duties as custodians of the fisheries resource in a more sustainable manner.”

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The EU Commission today issued a Brexit Contingency Plan, agreed with Ireland and seven other impacted Member States, which sets out how fisheries would be managed in a No Deal Brexit. Fisheries is recognised as one of the most immediately critical issues facing the EU in a no-Deal Brexit.

The Communication sets down the preparations in the EU, agreed with the eight Member States directly impacted, in the event of a no-Deal Brexit. It identifies the need for mitigation measures and in particular compensation for temporary tie up of fishing vessels. It gives the EU Commission a strong co-ordination role.

"compensation for temporary tie up of fishing vessels"

Minister Creed today said “This communication reflects the high level of planning by Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Sweden working closely with DG Mare. When I met Commissioner Vella last February, I emphasised the real risks of a concentration of fishing into Ireland’s 200 miles fishing zone by EU fleets if they are excluded from UK waters. I pointed out that inevitably this would lead to displacement of our own fleet and depletion of fish stocks if no action is taken.”

Minister Creed added that “I stressed to the Commissioner the need for a European approach to addressing this issue and agreed with him that the key Member States and DG Mare needed to put in place a contingency plan. I have been working intensively over recent weeks, and have kept the fishing industry informed of the work to ensure that we are ready for this worst-case situation, while always hoping that we will never need to call upon these plans.”

Minister Creed stated, “We now have identified and agreed, co-ordinated and fully prepared measures that will be immediately available to address a no-Deal Brexit situation if the UK were to decide to deny EU vessels access to UK waters. I am seeking additional EU funds to support this mitigation measure if they become necessary. If we need to call on these arrangements, it will be essential, as we have now agreed at EU level, that all involved EU fleets must co-operate under these structured arrangements to manage the situation. We have now agreed that the Irish fleet would not be disproportionately impacted and have ensured that each Member State impacted would take a fair share of the pain.”

A copy of the EU Communication is here

Published in Fishing
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President Michael D Higgins has turned down an appeal made to him by lawyers for four mussel fishermen to refer controversial new legislation on access to Irish inshore waters to the judiciary.

The legislation restoring access by Northern Irish vessels to Irish waters within the six nautical mile limit was voted through the Dáil last week.

It was signed into law by Mr Higgins yesterday. 

In a letter to lawyers for four mussel fishermen - who won a Supreme Court case in 2016 challenging the legality of the “voisinage” or reciprocal access to waters - the President’s secretary general Art O’Leary explained that Mr Higgins may only refer a Bill to the Supreme Court “in circumstances where there is a question” that it, or part of it, “may be repugnant to the Constitution”.

The letter did point out that individuals or groups could still take a case to the courts to challenge the constitutionality of legislation.

The fishermen’s legal advisers are still awaiting a response from EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella over their concerns that the legislation was passed without understanding the real impact on the Irish fishing industry.

“We have no problem with Northern Irish fishermen in Northern Ireland making their living, if this was what this was all about, ”one of the four fishermen, Gerard Kelly of Greencastle, Co Donegal, said.

"Mr Kelly had gone on hunger strike outside the Dáíl last week to try and highlight the issues"

Mr Kelly had gone on hunger strike outside the Dáíl last week to try and highlight the issues to politicians and halted his action after the legislation was finally passed.

“Our problem is that this new law gives sufficient loophole to international companies who might register in Northern Ireland and could then gain access to our inshore waters at a time when the stocks cannot take this amount of effort,” Mr Kelly said.

“The key phrase in the legislation is “owned and operated in Northern Ireland” which is not clearly defined," he said.

“We are not just talking about the impact of increased effort on the mussel fishery, but about the impact on inshore stocks such as Razorfish and clams.”

Vessel length will be restricted when a new ban on trawlers over 18 metres inside the six-nautical-mile zone comes into force in 2020.

The Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, which was voted through by 72 votes to eight, has been flagged as reinstating the voisinage (informal neighbourhood) arrangement in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic from 1965 to 2016.

Access by Northern Irish-registered vessels to Ireland’s baseline to six-mile limit was suspended in 2016 after Mr Kelly and three colleagues won their Supreme Court case.

The court ruled then that Northern-Irish registered vessels had been unlawfully allowed to harvest mussel seed in Irish territorial waters.

The fishermen contended available mussel seed had dropped from 30,000 to 2,400 tonnes in 2012, and the court heard from a shellfish expert who noted the mussel seed fishery was “sustainable” with some good practices, including fishing seed later in the season to reduce mortality, until 2003/2004.

These “good practices” could no longer exist, the expert noted, after Northern vessels had entered the fishery.

The legislation to restore “voisinage” had been in abeyance until the recent detention of two Northern Irish fishing vessels in Dundalk Bay by the Naval Service. Although the two vessels had pleaded guilty and were released without conviction, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had described it as a “really regrettable incident”. The Democratic Unionist Party had accused the Government of trying to implement a “hard border” at sea.

Mr Varadkar did state it would be helpful if the British government gave assurances that it would not itself withdraw from the 1964 London Fisheries Convention (LFC). Britain declared two years ago that it intended to leave the convention, which preceded the EU Common Fisheries Policy, this July. (2019).

The Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation has argued that the new legislation may give all European parties to the LFC the right of access to Irish waters from six miles into the baseline even after Britain leaves.

A British government spokesman said that “we have always been clear that the voisinage arrangement exists separately from the LFC” and Britain’s withdrawal from it has “no legal effect on voisinage”.

“For this reason, there will be no requirement for Britain to alert other member states in the LFC to any change in Irish legislation”.

British government fisheries spokesman Lord Gardiner of Kimble stated in the House of Lords on March 11th that a number of representations were made by the British government since 2016 to restore “voisinage”.

He said that Mr Varadkar had “committed on March 1st” to “changing the law to restore the status quo to what it was before 2016, and has indicated that he is confident the legislation can be passed quickly”.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Minister Creed, has made similar commitments,” the House of Lords was told.

Mr Creed has denied that the amended legislation has anything to do with Brexit, but elements within the fishing industry believe his decision to push through the Bill before Britain leaves the EU is tied into efforts to guarantee future access by Irish vessels to British fishing grounds after Britain withdraws from the Common Fisheries Policy.

Published in Fishing
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#navy - In Dundalk Bay, two Northern Ireland-registered fishing vessels were detained on Tuesday evening of this week.

As RTE News reports, they were detained by the crew of the LÉ Orla who were carrying out their normal patrols in the area.

The Irish Naval Service has confirmed the two boats were detained for alleged breach of fishing regulations.

They were escorted to Clogherhead where they were handed over to gardaí yesterday.

Gardaí say the vessels, The Boy Joseph and The Amity, were detained under the 2006 Fisheries Act and an order to hold the boats for 48 hours was issued at Dundalk District Court.

The fishing boats remain at Clogherhead.

The detention of the two vessels comes amid an ongoing dispute caused by the demise of an informal deal between the UK and Irish governments.

For further reading on the fishery detention, click here.

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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today was presented with the ‘Strategy for the Irish Inshore Fisheries Sector 2019-2023’. The strategy is the first industry-led blueprint for the Inshore Sector and was presented to the Minister by the Chair of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum.

The Strategy presented today follows an extensive development process involving the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums which have been instrumental in supporting initiatives that seek to encourage a more sustainable, profitable and well-managed inshore fisheries sector. An inclusive approach was taken to identifying key issues and priorities for the sector, including a Steering Group with industry and State partners, a dedicated workshop and public consultation.

Welcoming the Strategy, Minister Creed commented:

“I am delighted to receive the ‘Strategy for the Inshore Fisheries Sector 2019-2023’. The Strategy marks a major milestone in the work of the Inshore Fisheries Forums who, since their inception, have developed initiatives seeking to protect the future of a sector which is extremely important for Irish coastal communities. I would like to thank the Forums for their support in the development of the Strategy and I look forward to seeing the outcomes it achieves.”

The Strategy sets a number of objectives that will frame the work of the Inshore Forums as industry representatives and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) as the development agency, providing a clear direction for the development of the inshore sector over the next number of years. BIM will lead the implementation plan, in partnership with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, to deliver the actions to underpin a sustainable future for the sector. The strategy will target financial support available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to where it can be most effectively used.

The Minister also announced that he has approved an increase to the minimum conservation reference size for brown crab. This new conservation measure, which was initiated by members of the fishing industry in the South East, will increase the minimum size of brown crab that can be landed by Irish sea-fishing boats from ICES areas VI and VII to 140mm. The Minister invited the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and the marine agencies to submit views on an appropriate lead-in period for the new measure.

Minister Creed said:

“I am pleased to announce the approval of this conservation measure, particularly as it was initiated and developed by inshore fishermen who recognise the importance of cultivating a sustainable fishery. I would like to thank the Inshore Fisheries Forums and their members for continuing their proactive approach to conservation issues in the inshore sector.”

The approval of the conservation measure follows an extensive consultation process involving the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and a public consultation that was held in 2018. Industry proposed the increase as a way of supporting the sustainability of the brown crab fishery by allowing brown crab more time to reproduce. An appropriate lead-in period will be identified and the measure will be implemented by statutory instrument.

The Minister also congratulated the new Chair of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, Trudy McIntyre from the South East Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum.

“Trudy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role at a very important time in the Irish inshore sector and has already been instrumental in supporting initiatives in the inshore fisheries sector, including the first Inshore Fisheries Strategy. I wish Trudy every success and I look forward to working with her.

The Minister went on to say:

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Alex Crowley for his work as Chair of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum. Alex has done an outstanding job and he has been resolute in his commitment to the development of the inshore sector.”

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Page 1 of 49

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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