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#fishing – Irish fishermen may get additional fishing opportunities in 2013 according to am EU Commission proposal this afternoon.

The Commission has proposed increased levels of total allowable catch (TAC) for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of herring, cod, whiting and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks. Today's proposal sets levels of TAC for stocks managed exclusively by the EU.

The Commission's ultimate goal and one of the pillars of the on-going Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels, the so-called Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), by 2015. Whenever possible, scientists advise on how to bring the stocks to MSY levels. This year, the so-called "MSY advice" could be issued for 20 stocks (compared to 12 last year). This is a marked improvement as far as the availability and quality of scientific data are concerned.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "we have to think long-term. European fishermen face a bleak future without sustainable, healthy stocks. Thanks to long-term management a number of stocks in the Atlantic waters are already fished at MSY levels. But at the same time 47% of stocks are still overfished. These facts support the Commission's vision for the CFP reform."

Details of the proposals

According to scientific advice, Norway lobster in the West of Scotland, plaice in the Eastern Channel, cod and sole in the Celtic Sea, and sole in the Western Channel are at MSY levels and the Commission proposes to raise or maintain their TACs.

At the same time, cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the Kattegat continue to be in a poor state, and the poor data hampers the management of these stocks. Sole in the Irish Sea is at extremely low levels and the Commission proposes to stop the direct fisheries and minimise the by-catches. MSY advice for haddock in the Celtic Sea and sole in the Bay of Biscay demands considerable TACs cuts, so that the stocks can be brought to MSY levels. Cod and whiting in the West of Scotland, subject to extremely high rates of discarding, continue to be in a very poor state and well below safe levels.

For more than 30 stocks where data is limited, the Commission has followed the direction recommended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and proposed cutting the TAC by 20%, in light of recent trends observed in these stocks, and on precautionary considerations.

Background

The present proposal concerns only the 83 stocks for which the TACs are decided by the EU alone. A second proposal will deal with the stocks for which the fishing opportunities are set in the context of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) or consultations with third countries (shared stocks). It will be tabled later this autumn when some of the results of those international negotiations become available.

The proposed catch limits are based on the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). Stakeholders were also consulted, based on the Commission's Consultation document from June (IP/12/584).

Useful links

·         TACs and quotas: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/fishing_rules/tacs/index_en.htm
·         Scientific advice: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/fishing_rules/scientific_advice/index_en.htm
·         Multiannual management plans: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/fishing_rules/multi_annual_plans/index_en.htm
·         Map of fishing areas: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/documentation/publications/cfp_factsheets/fishing_areas_en.pdf

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#FISHING - The Guardian reports that an alliance of EU member states plans to "hijack" a council meeting of the union's fisheries ministers today to prevent a ban on fish discards.

EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki has stated her commitment to ending the practice, describing it as “unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort.”

Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy. The practice was recently highlighted by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has called on EU states to support Ireland's effort to deal with fish discards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But some member states, led by France and Spain, have dismissed the proposed ban as "unrealistic" and "too prescriptive", and will attempt to pass a declaration to allow the practice to continue indefinitely.

According to the Guardian, the charge is being led by industrial-scale fishing enterprises who want to retain the permission to discard lower value fish in order to maximise profits.

Brussels insiders say that if the declaration were to pass it would "kill the reform".

Published in Fishing

#NAVAL SERVICE - Ireland could soon join the fight against Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the Irish Independent reports.

Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd confirmed that the Department of Defence was considering sending a personnel detachment to assist the EU's naval mission in the area west of Africa.

The region has been blighted by pirate attacks on merchant vessels and pleasure cruisers for a number of years.

Most recently, as reported on Afloat.ie, the situation prompted an interruption to the Volvo Ocean Race - with the six yachts shipped on a secret route to the United Arab Emirates under armed guard.

Ireland's potential contribution to the EU's Operation Atalanta is known as an autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD), and would be used to protect the likes of food aid ships from the World Food Programme that sail without a naval escort.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Northern Ireland faces a whopping £8 million (€9.6 million) fine from the EU over its failure to protect horse mussels.

According to BBC News, "little has been done" to protect horse mussel reefs in Strangford Lough despite promises from two government departments as far back as six years ago.

Last year Afloat.ie reported on a study from Queen's University Belfast that revealed the extent of damage to horse mussel reefs in the lough by fishing activity.

Strangford Lough is officially protected as a Special Conservation Area and a Marine Nature Reserve, as well as an Area of Special Scientfic Interest, but as BBC News states, "in reality there has been little protection put in place".

Horse mussels are pivotal to the lough's ecosystem, as some 100 other species rely on the reefs formed by the mussels in the seabed for their habitat.

NI officials now have just a few months to persuade the European Commission that they are taking strong action to protect the species, otherwise they will be charged with breaking EU directives.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#NEWS UPDATE - British boat users are risking big fines if they sail their craft outside UK waters due to new laws on the use of red diesel, the Daily Telegraph reports.

New laws coming into force on 1 April "will require anyone moving into international waters to sign a declaration that their boat is not being powered by red diesel".

Red-dyed diesel is used by farmers and commercial fishermen throughout the UK at a lower rate of duty. It is also widely used by recreational boaters and yacht owners, as is green diesel by Irish pleasure boaters, though such users have been required to pay the full rate of tax for a number of years now.

However, the European Union is now clamping down on the use of dyed diesel.

The decision by Brussels is causing consternation among the yachting community, which argues that unmarked or 'white' diesel is not widely available in harbours and marinas.

And concerns remain over the presence of biofuels in white diesel which, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, can be harmful to marine engines.

The Daily Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#GALWAY BAY - Galway Bay FM reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service is to work with the Marine Institute towards completing a management plan for Galway Bay.

It comes two weeks after a group of oyster fishermen met Minister for Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte at Leinster House to voice their concerns over a cap on oyster dredging licences.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, local fishermen in the inner Galway Bay-Clarinbridge area are concerned that their livelihoods are at risk after the European Union ruled that there is over-intensification of fishing at the oyster bed.

Only 13 dredging licences have been issued this year, and EU Directives prevent their further issue until a fisheries management plan is introduced.

Galway West Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames says steps are being made to get the management plan on track.

Published in Galway Harbour

#COASTGUARD - Representaives of Italy's coastguard will give an account of its handling of the Costa Concordia tragedy at an international conference in Dublin next month, The Irish Times reports.

The Italian coastguard has been invited to deliver the keynote address at Search and Rescue 2012, which is being hosted in Ireland for the first time.

It is expected that this address will include a detailed account of the sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia last month.

At least 17 people have died and 12 are still missing after the ship ran aground on the western Italian coast. One Irish couple were among the thousands rescued from the stricken vessel.

Meanwhile, attendees at the conference - which is being hosted in the year of Ireland's charing of the EU coastguard network - will also witness demonstrations of the Irish Coast Guard's rescue helicopter fleet at Weston Airport in Leixlip.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has been charged with preparing the grounds for a permanent secretariat to be run by EU coastguard officers.

Published in Coastguard

#ANGLING - Northern Ireland's taxpayers could be left with a bill for millions in EU fines if action isn't taken to reverse the decline of salmon stocks, the News Letter reports.

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann said he believes that voluntary measures to help protect the North's Altantic salmon will not remove the threat of "fines which would likely run into millions which [the people of NI] will end up paying".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, NI's Fisheries Minister Carál Ní Chuilín called on offshore anglers and commercial fishermen to forego applying for 2012 salmon licences.

Annual monitoring of the North's salmon rivers has shown a failure to reach targets most years since 2002, with the survival rate of salmon in the marine phases in some cases dropping to as little as 5%.

Coastal drift nets and bag nets off the north Antrim coast - which contravene EU directives - have been blamed for intercepting salmon stocks before they reach the rivers, and anglers and conservation groups have already called for a ban.

But Swann says that Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) does not yet have the legislative power to stop them.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#NEWS UPDATE - A recent Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises consumers, retailers and manufacturers on the types of craft to which the EU recreation water craft regulations do not apply.

In general recreational craft and related products must meet the essential safety, health, environmental protection and consumer protection requirements of the Recreational Craft Directive as set out in the Recreational Craft Regulations.

However, these regulations do not apply to craft intended solely for racing; canoes and kayaks; gondolas and pedalos; surfboards; historical water craft and replicas; experimental craft and ones built for own use; commercial craft; and a number of others.

These exceptions are however still subject to the EU's General Product Safety Directive.

Complete details are included in Marine Notice No 56 of 2011, a PDF of which is available to read and download HERE.

Published in News Update
Ireland has ranked fifth in a new Europe-wide report on bathing water quality - but some beaches in Northern Ireland are falling short of strict EU standards.
MEP Jim Higgins welcomed the results of the annual Bathing Water Report for 2010, saying: "Ireland's scenic attributes are a primary reason for attracting tourists and it is essential that our coastal and inland bathing sites are also enticing."
Ireland has moved up five places from its overall rank of 10th in 2009, with 90.1% of all bathing water sites meeting the EU's Blue Flag guidelines for water quality at beaches and swimming spots.
However, the Daily Telegraph reports that a number of beaches in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK were judged to be 'poor'.
Beaches at Newcastle and Ballyholme in the North are among 16 across the UK that did not pass the EU's strict checks for Blue Flags.
The 2010 report ranks Cyprus as the cleanest bathing spot in Europe, with 100% of sites passing EU insspection. It was closely followed by Croatia with 97.3%, Malta at 95.4% and Greece at 94.2%.

Ireland has ranked fifth in a new Europe-wide report on bathing water quality - but some beaches in Northern Ireland are falling short of strict EU standards.

MEP Jim Higgins welcomed the results of the annual Bathing Water Report for 2010, saying: "Ireland's scenic attributes are a primary reason for attracting tourists and it is essential that our coastal and inland bathing sites are also enticing."

Ireland has moved up five places from its overall rank of 10th in 2009, with 90.1% of all bathing water sites meeting the EU's Blue Flag guidelines for water quality at beaches and swimming spots.

However, the Daily Telegraph reports that a number of beaches in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK were judged to be 'poor'.

Beaches at Newcastle and Ballyholme in the North are among 16 across the UK that did not pass the EU's strict checks for Blue Flags.

The 2010 report ranks Cyprus as the cleanest bathing spot in Europe, with 100% of sites passing EU insspection. It was closely followed by Croatia with 97.3%, Malta at 95.4% and Greece at 94.2%.

Published in Coastal Notes
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