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At a meeting with representatives from the Irish fishing industry this week, it was emphasised that a coordinated approach and cooperation are necessary to reverse its decline and promote growth.

The fishing delegation expressed their appreciation for the ongoing support received from the Taoiseach, his government, and his party, which could strengthen Ireland's voice at the EU negotiating table. Fine Gael and government support were acknowledged to have significantly secured better deals for Ireland, such as the Norway Blue whiting agreement.

The delegation relied on continued support from Mr. Markey, a Fine Gael MEP, who has been instrumental in promoting Ireland's interests at the EU level and demanding a fair outcome for Ireland. The meeting also welcomed contributions from new Assistant Secretary Sinead Mac Sherry, and outlined the Department's support for the fishing delegation.

The delegation emphasised the need for an all-of-government approach to secure better deals from the EU and highlighted the impact of Brexit on Ireland's fishing sector.

From L to R: Michael Treacy, EU Advisor to the IFPO and IFPEA; An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Manus Boyle of Killybegs Stevedoring; Colm Markey MEP (FG); Brendan Byrne, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA); and Aodh O Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO)From L to R: Michael Treacy, EU Advisor to the IFPO and IFPEA; An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Manus Boyle of Killybegs Stevedoring; Colm Markey MEP (FG); Brendan Byrne, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA); and Aodh O Donnell, CEO of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO)

The Taoiseach pledged to engage at the highest levels in Europe to champion Ireland's position and expressed his keen interest in the fishing industry.

The meeting concluded with a discussion on the need for collaboration between the industry and state agencies to deliver better outcomes for Ireland, including diversification opportunities and harmonized protocols on fishing controls.

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Two fishing industry organisations have criticised aspects of a recent ecologically sensitive analysis of the western Irish Sea for potential marine protected area (MPA) designation.

In a joint statement, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) and Irish South and East Fishermen’s Organisation (IS&EFO) say that the report is a “good starting point” but has not addressed “some key issues”.

It “should not be used” for informing offshore renewable planning on this basis, they argue.

The “Ecological sensitivity analysis of the western Irish Sea to inform future designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)” report published last month identified a list of 40 sensitive species and habitats in a sea area which has been targeted for extensive offshore windfarm development.

It was commissioned by the Department of Housing, which holds responsibility for marine planning.

The two organisations criticise the report’s decision not to include species or habitats already listed in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives or species individually managed under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and socio-economic impacts.

This decision was due to the fact that legal provisions for their conservation and sustainability are already in place, according to the report’s authors led by Prof Tasman Crowe of UCD’s Earth Institute.

“ Until these additional issues are considered, the report should not be used for informing the ORE planning process or for identifying areas suitable for MPAs,” the two organisations state.

“Given the importance of these issues and their dependence on the output of the ecological sensitivity analysis, it is essential to establish a transparent review and revision process through which issues may be highlighted and addressed,” they state.

The KFO and IS&EFO also say that there is “no official consultation process on the report, and the current informal approach whereby stakeholders may submit observations is far from robust or transparent”.

“ These issues call into question the validity of the output of the current analyses for ORE planning and MPA identification and highlight the urgent need for a more comprehensive approach and report,” they say.

The organisations say that four levels of stakeholder engagement were defined in the report, namely “inform, involve, engage and disseminate”.

“The seafood industry were involved in the first, third and fourth levels, whereby they were informed via email of the project and offered an opportunity to submit feedback, invited to an in-person information session where a broad overview but no specific details of the analytical method was presented and discussed and finally invited to an online presentation of the final report and results where questions could be asked,” they state.

“All of these engagement levels essentially concerned informing stakeholders,”they note, but say that “no specific details of the analyses were presented in the Level 1 and Level 3 sessions, therefore it was not possible for seafood industry stakeholders to make a meaningful input into the process”.

“For example, the key features chosen for the sensitivity analysis and the underlying data were not known to the seafood industry prior to the presentation of the final report,”they state.

The level 2 “involve” stage appears to be where data and feature selection were discussed in detail, but “this level was restricted to involving only key government and agencies stakeholders, and the seafood industry was excluded… despite their extensive knowledge of the area and features within”.

“The reasoning behind this exclusion, as highlighted in the report, was the limited time available for the study,” they note.

“ The KFO and IS&EFPO understand that this was not the choice of the report authors,” they say, and they say this was the fault of the Department of Housing, which commissioned the study with a tight deadline of just four months.

“All future processes for identifying potential areas for MPAs or for assessing potential sites for ORE developments should involve all stakeholders early at every step and level of the process,” they say, as “the only way to ensure a successful outcome”.

Excluding habitats and species that are listed in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives was “a flawed decision that resulted in a significant data gap in the sensitivity analysis and led to the incorrect interpretation of the areas that were not deemed to be potentially sensitive” the organisations note.

This situation is “particularly notable in the case of sandbanks, defined in Annex I of the Habitats Directive as “sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time”, they state.

They note that Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has identified the Irish Sea as having “the greatest resource of sandbanks in Irish waters”.

“To date only the Long Bank and the Blackwater Bank, both located off Wexford, have been designated as special areas of conservation (SAC) in the western Irish Sea,” they state.

“ Some of the largest sandbank, including the Kish, Arklow and Codling remain undesignated and have also been highlighted as areas for ORE developments with monopile-based wind turbines,” they state.

“One would assume that as sandbanks are listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive then they would be considered sensitive habitats regardless of whether they were legally designated as SACs or not, and any analysis of sensitive habitats in the western Irish Sea would highlight these areas for protection,” they state.

“Neither the Kish, Arklow or Codling bank were highlighted as sensitive areas in the sensitivity analysis report,” the organisations say, questioning why non-designated sandbanks were excluded from the analysis.

The report is also confusing in relation to a range of infra and circa-littoral sediment types included as features that met the criteria for inclusion for spatial protection, they state.

The organisations also say that the exclusion of seabirds from the ecological sensitivity analysis, as they are considered under the EU Birds Directive, is “also a significant issue”.

Since the report’s publication, the same department which commissioned it has announced the proposed designation of a large special protection area (SPA) for birds in the northern part of the Irish Sea, and this “completely changes the perception of the outputs of the report”, they say.

“Offshore wind turbines are well proven to cause disturbance and displacement of seabirds and are likely the most damaging activity that could occur within an SPA,” they note, and failure of the report to highlight this “indicates a significant deficiency”.

The two organisations also say there are “significant issues related to the data used in the analyses”.

“Most of the data was fisheries-dependent data, which is biased towards areas that are of key importance for commercial fishing,” they say.

“ Fishermen will try to avoid areas with, for example, a high abundance of juveniles as these are of no commercial value and will represent wasted effort. Therefore, an analysis which is mainly based on VMS and logbook data is biased towards identifying areas with fishing operations,” they point out.

“The resultant sampling data is not a true representation of the species range and does not capture the diversity of life present in the Irish Sea,” they say.

“The lack of data, despite being mentioned in the report, is not immediately apparent to the general reader and requires further extensive reading of the appendices,” they state.

“There are also specific examples where the data used for assessing individual features is questionable,” they state, citing ray distribution data as an example.

“The bottom trawl survey data were collected in the Irish Sea from 1993-2012 and as such, are older than the 10 years defined in the report as “relevant to the current distribution” of mobile species,” they state.

“Another example of questionable data is the delineation of the herring spawning grounds in Dundalk Bay,” they say.

“There is no evidence to support this delineation, and it was made purely on the basis of the presence of a coarse sediment substrate type, which is also widely found further south in the Irish Sea,” they state.

Other issues raised include an “overly simplistic” analysis of carbon sequestration; omission of seafood provision in terms of protein and nutrients as an “essential ecosystem service”; and failure to include decommissioning of ORE developments as a significant pressure source on ecosystems.

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Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., held a 'positive' meeting with fishing sector representatives.

The agenda included, among other items, an update on the implementation of the Seafood Sector TaskForce recommendation support schemes and advance preparations for 2024 fishing opportunity negotiations.

The organisations at the meeting were the Irish South and East Fish Producer Organisation, the Irish Fish Producer Organisations, the Irish South and West Fishermen’s Organisation, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Irish Island’s Marine Resource Producer Organisation, National Inshore Fishermen’s Association, National Inshore Fisheries Forum, Co-operative representatives and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Organisation. Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Marine Institute also attended.

Commenting on the meeting, the Minister said: “The meeting was very positive, and there was a good discussion on positive outcomes for Ireland this year, on implementation of the fishing representative-led Seafood Sector TaskForce recommended schemes and on fishing opportunity negotiations for 2024, amongst other agenda items discussed.”

The Minister provided an update on the implementation and uptake of the Seafood Taskforce Brexit support schemes and also updated the industry on the progress of the final remaining schemes as recommended by the Seafood Sector Taskforce:

“I was pleased to advise the industry that four new schemes have been submitted to the EU Commission for State Aid approval. These are the Brexit Pelagic Fisheries Support Scheme, the Brexit Fish Processor Transition Scheme, the Brexit Specific Scallop Fleet Transition Support Scheme and the Brexit Fisheries Cooperative Transition Scheme 2023. Following approval, these schemes will be rolled out to support fishers in the coming months. On receiving the TaskForce report, I was eager to make sure that this report was fully implemented. With these four schemes coming online, I am glad to say that I have listened to fishers and representatives and brought the report to reality.”

Minister McConalogue also discussed the preparations for the negotiations on fishing opportunities for 2024, during which the industry representatives outlined the views of their members.

The Minister said: “I wanted to take this opportunity for an initial discussion with the industry ahead of the fishing opportunity negotiations, which will take place in the autumn. Our fishing industry plays an essential role in Ireland’s preparation for these crucial annual negotiations. Working together in 2022 and 2023, we achieved positive outcomes on negotiations, including on Blue Whiting.”

The Minister added: “I thank the industry representatives for this week's constructive meeting. I will continue to work closely with the sector to secure our shared objective of a sustainable future for our seafood sector and the coastal communities dependent on it.”

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Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue, T.D., addressed the key issue of decarbonisation of the fisheries and aquaculture sector at the Informal Meeting of Fisheries Ministers held in Vigo, Spain on 17 and 18 July.

At the meeting, organised by Spain, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Fisheries Ministers from across the EU discussed ways to overcome challenges and potential barriers to deliver carbon neutrality for the seafood sector by 2050.

Member States agreed on the need for significant investment, in addition to that provided under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), in order to achieve the energy transition. Ministers also noted the need for innovation in alternative energy for fishing vessels as the current technologies are not yet sufficiently developed and available to scale for maritime use.

Minister McConalogue highlighted the need for an EU-wide approach:

“Fisheries are a shared Union resource. Therefore, we need to take collective action on an EU-wide basis. Any policy or regulatory framework must have clear, realistic objectives, taking into account the cost involved and the investment and support needed over a realistic timeframe. Such a framework must consider all aspects of the seafood sector and adopt a dual approach of increasing efficiency and exploring alternative energy sources in parallel.”

On the decarbonisation of fishing vessels, the Minister noted:

“Different fleet segments will have different needs and challenges, and these must be considered when planning supportive action.”

The Minister went on to say that: “Adapting port infrastructure to facilitate the use of alternative fuels and sustainable energy sources will require significant investment. An EU-wide investment framework is essential for equitable development and to allow Member States to maintain competitiveness.”

Regarding the Aquaculture and Processing sectors, the Minister said:

“Moving to more sustainable and efficient energy use will make these sectors more resilient and competitive and help them to fulfil their crucial role in ensuring the EU’s food security.”

Last month, the European Commission launched the Energy Transition Partnership – a multi-stakeholder platform to promote cooperation and dialogue in order to accelerate the energy transition in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This follows on from the publication of the Commission’s Communication on the Energy Transition of the EU Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector as part of its Fisheries Package in February.

One of the objectives of the Commission’s Communication is that by 2024, the Commission – in close cooperation with the Energy Transition Partnership – will develop a roadmap for the energy transition of the sector towards climate neutrality by 2050.

Minister McConalogue welcomed the establishment of the Partnership and, in conclusion, said:

“Successfully transitioning to more sustainable energy sources will be a key factor in securing the sector's long-term viability. Therefore, we look forward to working with the Commission and the Partnership to develop the energy transition roadmap.”

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The intergovernmental marine science organisation which advises the European Commission on fisheries regulations has been told by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation that it has got its data wrong in recommending major fishing closures.

The Killybegs Organisation has challenged the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to examine and withdraw its recommendations on closing 87 areas of EU waters. The KFO Chief Executive says there are several errors in the data ICES used, which the KFO has identified and which make ICES decisions incorrect.

This is a serious challenge to the scientific body and to the European Commission, which, acting on ICES advice, closed the areas to bottom fishing last September.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation CEO Sean O’DonoghueKillybegs Fishermen’s Organisation CEO Sean O’Donoghue

“We have carried out a major amount of work in looking at the underlying data, and we have found several errors in the data used by ICES,” KFO CEO, Sean O’Donoghue, told me. “The upshot of this is that there are significant errors in areas such as off the Donegal coast, indicating that there is no scientific basis for their decisions. We have notified ICES, the Commission and the Minister.

“There is no way that the existing closures on the ICES advice can be carried forward because they are not on a scientific basis. ICES must retract its advice and perform a full and transparent review. In the interim period, the European Commission should suspend the enforcement of the closed areas.

”KFO recognises the need for conservation and restoration of sensitive marine habitats and ecosystems. This is important not only for addressing the biodiversity crisis but also for supporting sustainable fisheries, which are critical for food security. We acknowledge that there is a need for areas to be closed to mobile contact bottom gears but these areas need to first be identified based on robust scientific evidence, which is currently not the case,” Mr O’Donoghue said.

In this week’s Podcast, he outlines the manner in which the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation is challenging ICES.

Listen to the Podcast below

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A leading fishing industry leader has said that the commercial fishing and offshore wind energy sectors “must work together” if Ireland is to protect both its energy and food security.

Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O Donnell said that wind farm developers have “failed to properly engage with the fishing fleet about locating wind farms in rich-fishing areas”.

“This could have a fundamental impact on how much fish the Irish fleet can catch and ultimately on our food security,” he said in a statement

“Irish fishing communities deliver one of the lowest carbon footprint sources of healthy renewable protein,” O Donnell said.

“We deserve recognition and respect for our role in Irish society and in peripheral coastal communities.”

O’Donnell said his organisation was “particularly concerned about plans to locate large sea-based wind farm projects in the Irish Sea”.

"the naïve view of wind farm developers is that fishermen can simply move"

“The choice of location for most of these projects was driven by legacy considerations revolving around optimal grid connections and project cost. It appears that even basic considerations about traditional fishing activity and sensitive spawning areas have been discounted or largely ignored,” he said.

“The richest fishing grounds are often in areas favoured by wind farms, and the naïve view of wind farm developers is that fishermen can simply move,” he adds.

“But these sea basins have been fished traditionally for generations, particularly for Dublin Bay prawns. This is a significant sustainable wild-caught fishery, which ranks as Ireland’s most valuable seafood,” he said.

‘’The seafood sector is willing to engage and work on a co-existence approach. There is an abundance of sea in the Irish EEZ (European Economic Zone) to locate wind turbines, and technological developments have enabled new possibilities,” he said.

“To avoid the worst outcomes, developers and fisher stakeholders alike must adhere to the communications standard developed by the Seafood Offshore Energy Working Group,” he said.

The group was convened by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue in 2022.

“Our key concern is that the fishery sector is still not receiving adequate information about turbine details and locations. This is a basic prerequisite for proper engagement and meaningful consultation,” O Donnell said.

“We appreciate that the external environment is much changed, with an energy crisis driven by the Ukrainian war - and the need for energy security has accelerated the priorities,” he continued.

“ But there must be a balanced, informed, and coherent process between energy security, environmental impact, food security and fisheries interests,” he said.

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A French-registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for alleged non-compliance with European fisheries legislation.

The detention took place on Wednesday (June 21), a day after an inspection was conducted from the European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA’s) offshore patrol vessel.

This followed a “risk-based approach that focused on gear and fishing area, not by the registered flag of the vessel”, the SFPA says.

The EU inspectors, one of whom was an Irish inspector from the SFPA, were operating from onboard the EFCA chartered offshore patrol vessel “Ocean Protector”.

The fishing vessel was found to be fishing using gillnets and was allegedly not using any acoustic deterrent devices on over 15,000 metres of fishing gear.

Gillnets are made of monofilament nylon mesh that is invisible underwater and therefore acts as a hazard to cetaceans and other marine mammals.

By utilising the acoustic deterrents or “pingers” to emit a certain frequency at regular intervals, cetaceans such as dolphins which are at risk of entanglement and drowning in the gear are given a warning.

“Cetaceans are part of the prohibited species list, and catching and landing this species represent a threat to the conservation status of the species, which includes all species of dolphins, porpoises, and whales,” the SFPA says.

The SFPA says it has been using enhanced technologies both at sea and ashore to verify compliance with the requirements for such gear to have acoustic deterrents.

The “pingers” have to be attached at a minimum of 200-metre intervals (when digital devices are being used) or 100-metre intervals if analogue devices are in use, it says.

These devices are required on any bottom-set gillnet or entangling net for vessels over 12m in certain sea areas.

The detained vessel was escorted to Castletownbere, Co Cork where it was handed over to An Garda Siochana and SFPA officers for further assessment and investigation. The master of the vessel was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday evening.

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The Government’s promise of consultation and involvement of the fishing industry in the development of offshore wind farms is not being delivered on according to South East Coast fishermen, who claim that consultation and discussion, which was promised, has turned out to be a “cosmetic approach” for public relations purposes, without meaningful engagement.

The Chief Executive of the Irish South and East Coast Fish Producers’ Organisation, John Lynch, a fishing boat owner himself, says that “picking the site for a wind farm is one thing, but picking the actual location of the turbines is another and of great importance for fishermen and the fishing grounds.”

John Lynch is Chief Executive of the Irish South and East Coast Fish Producers’ OrganisationJohn Lynch is Chief Executive of the Irish South and East Coast Fish Producers’ Organisation

"Picking the site for a wind farm is one thing, but picking the actual location of the turbines is another"

It was very interesting, at the World Ocean Day Conference, in discussion with representatives of environmental organisations, that they expressed concern to me about the same topic as fishermen - an emerging maritime spatial squeeze affecting all marine users.

Kilmore Quay Harbour and marinaKilmore Quay Harbour and marina

On this week’s Podcast, John Lynch says that the fishing industry is willing to engage with wind farm developers on the way forward, but it “must be meaningful engagement, not just being told about plans without our concerns being listened to.”

“Promises were made, but so far, the fishing industry has been offered nothing, nothing, and this is not what was indicated,” he said. “There is going to be a lot of marine spatial squeeze. We will have massive squeeze in the Irish Sea particularly.”

He is my Podcast interviewee this week. Listen to the Podcast here.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

“The saddest thing really is to see how, all around the coast, indigenous fishing people like me become extinct, we’re just not going to be there,” says former skipper and trawler owner Caitlín Uí Aodha in an interview with The New York Times.

Uí Aodha is one of a number of vessel owners interviewed by the newspaper in a feature on the impact of the current Brexit-related decommissioning scheme on the Irish fleet.

A total of 42 vessels from the Irish whitefish fleet are being scrapped, as part of the scheme funded from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The fund was set up by the EU to ease the impact of Britain’s withdrawal and consequent loss of quotas, with Ireland bearing the largest burden among coastal states.

New York Times journalist Megan Specia and photographer Finbarr O’Reilly spoke to Uí Aodha in Co Waterford and to owners in Castletownbere and Union Hall, Co Cork, and Greencastle, Co Donegal

Cara Rawdon, 64, who has been fishing for 40 years from Greencastle, said he received a fair price for his boat and is retiring.

“There are no young men getting into it here,” Rawdon told the newspaper.

Coastal communities around Ireland “are being annihilated”, Rawdon said.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation has welcomed the report, which it has circulated unlocked on this link here

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Irish fishing boats will tomorrow (9th May) join an EU-wide protest about plans to restrict bottom fishing further. The protest is being organised by the European Bottom Fisheries Alliance (EBFA), which says 28% of the fishing fleet has disappeared in the last 20 years due to restrictions.

“Fishers have made huge efforts to protect the marine environment and recover fish stocks,” says EBFA chair, Iván López van der Veen. He says thousands of Km2 have been closed to bottom fishing, putting the future at stake. The EU is now proposing to ban bottom-trawling in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

"Scallops and Dublin Bay Prawns, have been fished for generations by family-run businesses using bottom fishing systems"

The protest will be supported by the Irish Fish Producers Organisation, who say such a ban will create a 30% reduction in available fishing grounds. IFPO chief executive Aodh O Donnell says ‘’many of our key species, such as scallops and Dublin Bay Prawns, have been fished for generations by family-run businesses using bottom fishing systems. They represent a traditional way of life and are the economic and social strength for many communities, some of which will be put at risk.”

“Our members fully support the conservation of fishing stocks and species and adhere to quota restrictions to promote the long-term sustainability of our oceans. As stakeholders, we have a vested interest in maintaining healthy seas. We are delivering on the sustainability targets.”

“But the harsh reality is that we have never had a fair share of EU quotas. We’ve taken the biggest quota hit post-Brexit, and as a result, we are decommissioning a third of our whitefish fleet. Despite all of this adversity, we are now facing another potential huge cut in fishing opportunities.”

“We are committed to conducting responsible fishing in ways which utilise technical measures that protect and conserve marine life. The Irish fishing sector is leading the way in working with the Irish Sea Fisheries Board in developing and applying innovative trawling techniques. The EU should be talking to the fishing industry about these effective, innovative options instead of simply imposing a unilateral ban. This proposed ban will prevent trawling in large areas of traditional fishing grounds, which are of critical importance to IFPO members and many other Irish fishing vessels.”

The protest takes place at mid-day on 9th May - the Day of Europe. Fishers taking part will “sound the horn of our vessels, as the call of distress it signifies,” says the IBFA.

The IFPO is urging its members to take part. “The key message is that the entire industry is in solidarity in protesting against the actions of the EU,” says Aodh O Donnell.

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Page 5 of 79

Ireland's Sailor of the Year Awards

Created in 1996, the Afloat Sailor of the Year Awards represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

Since it began 25 years ago, the awards have recognised over 500 monthly award winners in the pages of Ireland's sailing magazine Afloat, and these have been made to both amateur and professional sailors. The first-ever Sailor of the Year was dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

And since then it's gone on to read like a who's who of Irish sailing.

The national award is specially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing's elite. After two decades the awards has developed into a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

The overall national award will be announced each January to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to, Irish sailing in the previous year.

A review of the first 25 years of the Irish Sailor the Year Awards is here

Irish Sailor of the Year Award FAQs

The Irish Sailor of the Year Awards is a scheme designed by Afloat magazine to represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene..

The Irish Sailor of the Year Awards began in 1996.

The awards are administered by Afloat, Ireland's boating magazine.

  • 1996 Mark Lyttle
  • 1997 Tom Roche
  • 1998 Tom Fitzpatrick & David McHugh
  • 1999 Mark Mansfield
  • 2000 David Burrows
  • 2001 Maria Coleman
  • 2002 Eric Lisson
  • 2003 Noel Butler & Stephen Campion
  • 2004 Eamonn Crosbie
  • 2005 Paddy Barry & Jarlath Cunnane
  • 2006 Justin Slattery
  • 2007 Ger O'Rourke
  • 2008 Damian Foxall
  • 2009 Mark Mills
  • 2010 Anthony O'Leary
  • 2011 George Kenefick
  • 2012 Annalise Murphy
  • 2013 David Kenefick
  • 2014 Anthony O'Leary
  • 2015 Liam Shanahan
  • 2016 Annalise Murphy
  • 2017 Conor Fogerty
  • 2018 Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
  • 2019 Paul O'Higgins

Yes. The boating public and maritime community can have their say to help guide judges in deciding who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year by using an Afloat online poll). The judges welcome the traditional huge level of public interest in helping them make their decision but firmly retain their right to make the ultimate decision for the final choice while taking voting trends into account. By voting for your favourite nominee, you are creating additional awareness of their nomination and highlighting their success.

Anthony O'Leary of Crosshaven and Annalise Murphy of Dun Laoghaire are the only contenders to be "Sailors of the Year" twice – himself in 2010 and 2014, and herself in 2012 and 2016.

In its 25 year history, there have been wins for 15, offshore or IRC achievements, nine dinghy and one designs accomplishments and one for adventure sailing.

Annually, generally in January or February of the following year.

In 2003 Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presented the Awards.

©Afloat 2020