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#fishermen – The Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. today hosted the first meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF), bringing together for the first time a network of representatives from the six recently established Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums. The inshore sector (comprising fishing boats of less than 12 metres in overall length) make up more than 80% of the fishing fleet and are predominately active within six nautical miles of the Irish shore.

Speaking ahead of the first NIFF meeting the Minister said: "In May last year I announced a package of measures to support the sustainability and viability of the inshore fisheries sector. I have long been concerned that Ireland's inshore fishermen have been poorly represented in national policy making structures and to address that deficit, and as part of the package of measures, I took the innovative step of setting up of the forum initiative. I am delighted that inshore fishermen are buying into this opportunity to focus the priorities on what is needed to ensure the long term future in their sector. I look forward to appointing the first Chair and Vice-Chair at today's meeting."

The NIFF has been set up to facilitate the development of a coherent inshore sector "voice" by encouraging inshore fishermen to discuss their fishing issues and generate commonly-supported initiatives. A network of Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), based on and linked to the community-led Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) around the Irish coast, have nominated delegates to bring forward regional proposals to the NIFF for wider industry discussion. The RIFF members include inshore fishermen, environmental interests, marine leisure, marine tourism and other marine stakeholders. The structures also provide a new opportunity for collaboration between the inshore fishing sector and their communities on sustainable strategies to optimise the income opportunities afforded by the coastal resource.

Michael Keatinge, BIM's Interim CEO and Fisheries Development Director stressed the value of the NIFF to the sector; 'This is a unique opportunity to develop our valuable inshore fishery not just in terms of short term improvements but to ensure the long term sustainability of our stocks which in turn will protect revenue and employment in our fishing reliant coastal communities. Today's meeting is a positive step forward in this regard and the issues discussed including conservation, enforcement and the collation of landings data will enable this industry to be best placed to secure a viable future. I am pleased to say that our industry's commitment to conservation is clear with a phenomenal response to the BIM Lobster V-notching Scheme last year with over 33,000 lobsters v-notched compensating fishermen to the tune of more than €250,000 and we are expecting an even greater response this year. BIM are looking forward to assisting the Minister, the Department and industry to ensure this initiative plays a key role in the development of our inshore fishing sector'

Challenges facing the inshore sector including the reformed CFP and protecting Natura 2000 sites as well as feedback from the recent consultation on a proposed management plan for razor clam fishing in the North Irish Sea were discussed at today's meeting. Other important fisheries for the inshore sector for discussion included lobster, crab and opportunities for diversification to maintain a viable inshore sector.

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#ministerforagriculture – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, T.D., has today welcomed the International Fisheries Agreement signed between the EU and Norway.

The Minister said "the fact that this agreement was concluded in Clonakilty today is very positive for our fishermen targeting these stocks for their businesses in these important fisheries which allows fishermen and fish factories to plan properly in 2015. It is also pleasing that Ireland was able to play a major part as host of these very important negotiations for the EU as a whole".

The negotiations, which began last Monday, were hosted by Ireland on behalf of the European Union at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co. Cork and involved delegates from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal.

The negotiations agreed are as follows:

The total allowable catch (TAC) for important stocks that are managed by both EU and Norway.
The sharing of these stocks between EU and Norway.
The transfer of quotas between EU and Norway as part of a balanced deal in the interests of EU and Norwegian fishermen.

The negotiations covered many stocks in both the North Sea, the western waters around Ireland and Scotland and stocks in Norwegian waters.

Minister Coveney also said "I am very pleased that my officials were able to secure a 12% increase in Ireland's share of the important Haddock fishery off Donegal. I also welcome the fact that, subject to confirmation at the Coastal States meeting in London on the 15th of December, we managed to find agreement on an increase in the Blue Whiting Total Allowable Catch for 2015. This fishery is important for our fishermen that target Blue Whiting and for our fish factories that process Irish, Norwegian and Scottish catches of this species for human consumption exports."

The Minister added that "as part of the Blue Whiting package, Ireland was able to reduce the percentage of Blue Whiting TAC, which is transferred by the EU to Norway as part of the overall deal, which will increase the amount of Blue Whiting available to our fishermen."

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#fisherynegotiations – Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, is hosting important fisheries negotiations between Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and Ireland at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. These negotiations, on the annual fishing arrangements for 2015 between the European Union (EU) and Norway, commence at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty on Monday the 1st of December.
Minister Simon Coveney stated "I very much hope that we will have a successful outcome on the exchange of fishing quotas and access arrangements which will enable the finalisation of quotas for other stocks such as Blue Whiting off the north west of Ireland and the Herring in Norwegian waters which are of major importance to our west coast pelagic fishing fleet and fish processing plants in Donegal. My delegation will be pursuing Ireland's interests to the utmost during the talks."
Over seventy delegates from across Europe and Norway will meet at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty for the week long talks.
These negotiations cover a wide range of fish stocks across the North East Atlantic which are jointly managed by and shared between Norway and a range of EU Member States.
Economically, these negotiations are amongst the most important for the EU fishing industry, and this final round will focus on setting Total Allowable Catches for 2015 for a range of stocks, the sharing of these stocks between the parties and substantial quota swops between the EU and Norway as well as access arrangements to each of the respective areas for the parties. The outcome has a very direct effect on the opportunities available to Irish fishermen in 2015.
The Minister went on to say that "Once again, the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty is the venue of choice to host these important international talks and helps in the overall aim of emphasizing Ireland's positive and proactive role within the European Union. Over seventy international delegates arriving in Clonakilty for a week in December will also bring a welcome boost to the local economy".

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#fishing – Minister Simon Coveney TD, at today's EU Fisheries Council, secured the agreement of the Council and the Commission to bank a portion of this year's fishing quotas and transfer them into 2015. This measure will give the fishing industry the option of not fishing part of this year's quota and having it available in 2015. This measure will help mitigate the impact of the Russian ban on the importation of fishery products. The banking option will be applied to the mackerel, horse mackerel and Celtic Sea herring stocks as these are directly impacted by the Russian imports ban. The measure will be introduced shortly on the basis of positive scientific advice that it will not adversely impact on the sustainability of the stocks.

Minister Coveney said "I have listened to our industry and the difficulties those fishing Celtic Sea herring, mackerel and horse mackerel are experiencing because Russia has closed its important market to EU fishery products. The price for herring has dropped significantly for this autumn fishery and I want to give the industry the option of banking part of the quota until prices improve. I today secured the agreement of the Fisheries Council and the Commission to bank 25% of this year's quota until prices improve next year when market conditions have improved. I expect the Commission to receive the required scientific advice that the stocks will not be adversely impacted by this measure over the coming week so that the measures may be adopted in early November. "

Minister Coveney added "I made clear at Council today that we must recognise that we are dealing with a difficult situation for our fishing industry arising from a geo-political issue. We fully support the sanctions decision taken by the EU but must now provide as much support as possible to our fishing industry. The agreement I secured today at Council will give the industry some time and flexibility to find alternative markets while preserving Ireland's quota allocation."

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#Angling - Proper management of farm watercourses – whether large rivers or small streams – is critical to ensuring high levels of biodiversity, according to a new leaflet jointly produced by Teagasc and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Speaking at the launch of Minding our Watercourses last week, Catherine Keena, countryside management specialist with Teagasc, emphasised the importance of farming in harmony with nature and biodiversity.

“The marketing of Irish farm produce relies on our ‘green’ environmental image," she said. "Watercourses contribute significantly to biodiversity, often being the most valuable habitat on the farm.”

IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne acknowledged the important role of farmers in the management of watercourses. “Smaller streams, even where no fish are apparent, are critical to the biodiversity of the catchment," he added.

There are 29 species of freshwater fish found in Ireland's waterways, with 14 native species present since the last Ice Age.

The leaflet shows there are different places for different species and life stages within watercourses: salmon and trout spawn on gravels in winter; lamprey spawn on gravels in late spring and summer; coarse fish lay their eggs in weedy parts of the channel; salmon and trout use riffles in the first year and move to deeper water as they grow larger; and juvenile lamprey live buried in silty margins of watercourses.

The new leaflet details best practice management of watercourses. Fencing and providing an alternative source of water is recommended as this avoids damage to the river bank and bed, reduces siltation, prevents fouling with pathogens and prevents the escape of nitrogen and phosphate.

Allowing native trees to grow along watercourses stabilises banks, creates a natural buffer zone, provides valuable habitat for flora and fauna, controls in-stream temperature and weed growth and provides shade and shelter for livestock. Buffer strips alongside watercourses intercept silt, nutrients and improve bank stability.

Farmers are reminded to watch out for and report invasive plant species which smother out smaller native species, which die back to leave large bare areas in winter, resulting in soil erosion.

Fish and their spawning grounds are protected under the Fisheries Acts (1959-2010). In-stream works should not be carried out without prior consultation and the approval of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

If maintaining watercourses, the advice is not to disturb the non-working bank slope; retain vegetation at the water’s edge; leave the working bank slope intact; remove vegetation and silt material from the open channel only; not to remove stone or gravel place spoil along the bank outside the bank-full line, spreading thinly; and leave a buffer of 20 metres at the downside end of a drain to act as a silt trap.

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#seafisheries – The impact of commercial fishing in more than 11,500 square kilometres (7,000 square miles) of English coastal waters is being reviewed to make sure that habitats and species are not damaged by fishing.
This area for further assessment covers about one-third of the sea within six miles of English beaches where there are 89 separate European maritime sites (EMS) protected under European Union law from damage caused by existing or future fishing.
Rob Clark, chief officer of the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (SIFCA) said today (October 7) that the revised approach to the management of commercial fishing within these maritime sites would ensure EU rules are fully met and inshore fisheries are sustainable.
"Building on existing management measures will ensure that all existing and potential commercial fishing is subject to an assessment of their impact on the sites," he told the annual conference of the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) in Liverpool.
Revised management rules would meet EU directives which called for seabed habitats and species in them to be restored to a "favourable conservation status" and for activities which would "significantly disturb or deteriorate them" to be prohibited.
An existing matrix-type approach showing the effect of fishing gears on conservation objectives is being used to enable regulators to decide if priority management measures should be introduced to protect a site, or whether further assessment was necessary.

Fishing activities have been classified as red, amber, green or blue according to the potential or actual impact of fishing gear on a site.
IFCAs have already introduced byelaws restricting potentially damaging fishing from some 5,680 square kilometres of the most important near shore areas classified as red risks, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) expects measures to address amber risks to be in place by 2016.
Mr. Clark said there was still a significant amount of work to be done by the 10 IFCAs and their partners covering the whole English coast, to deliver the government's commitments for lower risk fishing activities in these areas.
Amber risks would be at sites where there was doubt whether conservation objectives would be achieved because of its sensitivity to a type of fishing. The effect of that activity would need to be assessed at each site affected and management action taken based on the assessment.

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#inshorefisheries – Following the launch of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) earlier this year by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. and the recent agreement on the terms of reference for the forum; BIM are now seeking members to take part in the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs). Each RIFF will feed into the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and will link with the existing infrastructure of the Fisheries Local Action Groups or FLAG's programme. There are six FLAG's established in coastal regions around Ireland.
The RIFFs will comprise of no more than 12 members.
A minimum of 8 members will represent the inshore fisheries sector and will be appointed on the basis of:
their ability to represent the views of the inshore sector
their knowledge of inshore fisheries, fish stocks, and fishing methods, and
their capacity to engage on fisheries management issues.
In addition, the FLAG will aim to ensure that the membership is representative of the FLAG region's geographical coverage and the characteristics of the region's inshore fleet and fisheries. Applicants must demonstrate support within their respective sector for their nomination to a forum. The balance of the membership will include stakeholders from marine sectors other than fisheries, such as seafood processing/sales, marine leisure, marine tourism, environmental NGOs and community organisations.
Should the FLAGs consider a sector or area is lacking in representation the FLAG reserves the right to approach appropriate individuals or organisations to seek members.
If you are interested in applying for membership of the RIFFs, please e-mail Caroline Curraoin in BIM [email protected] or send your application by post to FLAG Co-ordinator, BIM, , P.O. Box 12, Crofton Rd., Dun Laoghaire , Co. Dublin. Full details on the terms of reference for the National Inshore Fisheries Forum are available on www.bim.ie
The closing date for all applications is Friday, 29th August 2014.

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#Angling - More than €400,000 has been made available to conserve and develop Ireland's inland fisheries resource by Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd, as he announced the opening of applications for the 2014 Salmon Conservation Fund(SCF), Midland Fisheries Fund (MFF) and new Co-op Funds.

The three Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) schemes facilitate clubs, fishery owners, commercial salmon fishers and other organisations to undertake works to improve habitat, stocks, access, invasive species management, angling, etc under its supervision and direction.

IFI says these works are important in maintaining and improving capacity within the inland fisheries resource which is estimated to contribute €755 million annually to the Irish economy.

Announcing the schemes, Minister O’ Dowd said: "The inland fisheries sector is fortunate to have such an engaged stakeholder cohort and I am pleased to be able to support IFI in making these funds available to them to allow for ground up, managed sustainable development.

"Unfortunately the Co-op Funds Scheme is only a once-off opportunity, while the other funds will have to be reviewed on an annual basis.

"I encourage all those interested in fisheries to investigate the possibilities under the various schemes to conserve, develop and promote the resources in their care for the betterment of angling, the inland fisheries resource itself and Ireland's economy."

The new Co-op Funds, which will be available for 2014 only, comprise the various funds remitted to IFI on the dissolution of the Trout and Coarse Fish Development Societies. The funds will be distributed back to the regions from which they came. A total of €160,000 is available, with over €130,000 specifically for the old Southern Regional Fisheries Board area.

The Salmon Conservation Scheme is now seven years in existence and has allocated funding to 145 salmon projects all around Ireland. A total of €200,000 is available for distribution under the scheme in 2014.

The Midland Fisheries Fund, which ran as a pilot scheme in 2013, has seen nine projects undertaken in the midland area developing angling resources, supporting scientific research and conserving fisheries habitat. A further €50,000 is available under this scheme for 2014.

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#fisheries – The Government has issued a statement on the proposed new Inland Fisheries Bill. The Minister of State, Fergus O'Dowd, along with representatives from the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) recently briefed Oireachtas members on the comprehensive review of all extant fisheries legislation that is currently taking place.

This review is being undertaken with a view to formulating proposals for a new Inland Fisheries Bill. The aim of the proposed new Bill is to ensure that the sector is underpinned by a robust and modern legislative code.

The consultation process began last Spring when stakeholders were invited to submit their views on a range of policy objectives to be included in the new Bill. As part of this process Minister O'Dowd, DCENR and IFI attended a number of well attended public information meeting held throughout the country.

The Minister and officials from DCENR and IFI set out possible proposals that might be contained in the new draft Bill and invited all stakeholders to make submissions as regards proposals they would like to see included.

As part of the consultation process 70 submissions were received from interested stakeholders, a significant proportion of which recognised the need to fund the development of the sector.

The briefing for Oireachtas members was arranged to address concerns voiced in the public domain and on social media, specifically those centering around the proposed funding of the development of the angling sector.

It was made clear that no proposal relating to the possible introduction of a "rod licence" had been surfaced and that it is not intended to make such a proposal.

The Minister, DCENR and IFI welcome all proposals for developing the angling sector in Ireland and how this may be funded. In this regard, it is intended that further comprehensive stakeholder consultation will take place prior to any finalisation of the proposed Inland Fisheries Bill.

Please find attached a non-exhaustive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which is to address the issues which have been raised publicly by stakeholders.

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#fisheries – Following a recent meeting with the Environment Agency (EA) the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) has highlighted the importance of the agency employing a strong body of fisheries professionals. The institute says this will enable the agency to deliver its statutory duty to maintain, improve and develop the nation's freshwater and inshore fisheries and to meet the needs of fishing rod licence holders.

The meeting was one of several under the heading of 'Refresh' which the agency has held with stakeholders following a year-long review of its fisheries service.
The IFM is concerned that with a gradual loss over time of expertise, direction and managerial support, the EA's fisheries function is now inadequately resourced and lacks technical vigour and leadership.

"Healthy fisheries are a barometer of how we are interacting with the water environment and we applaud the agency for reviewing its fisheries service," said John Gregory, executive officer of the IFM.
"Clearly the agency's directors have recognised inherent problems in the fisheries function and are looking to improve it."
The IFM asks the Environment Agency:
1. To strengthen its commitment to fisheries in its 2015-2020 corporate plan so that it can maintain, improve and develop fisheries for all.
2. To strengthen its regional fisheries leadership.
3. To support a more robust programme of skills development for its fisheries professionals.
4. To ensure a strong service to rod licence holders particularly by investing in still waters, and

5. To ensure that wherever possible, fisheries management decisions are based on sound science.

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