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New research led by the University of Oxford says that successful conservation policies for marine mammals have increased the potential for conflict with small scale fishing communities.

The study published in the journal Conservation Letters says that management has to strike a balance, and the international community “needs to incorporate the needs and opinions of fishers in the global dialogue”.

This should include “considering if protecting human welfare could involve reducing protection for marine mammals”, the research states.

The paper drew on the experience of fisheries on the west coast of South America to highlight what the researchers describe as a “worldwide issue”.

“Globally, conflict between recovering seal and sea lion populations and fishing communities has been escalating,” the authors state.

They note that in South America, specifically Peru and Chile, marine mammals have been protected since the mid-20th century.

“ Conservation policies have mostly been successful and over the last thirty years marine mammal populations - specifically those of sea lions and seals - have recovered,” they state.

“ However, this recovery means that there’s a much higher likelihood that these animals will come into conflict with local fishers,” they say.

The study found that nearly nine out of ten fishers have a negative impression of sea lions, and they estimate that on average sea lions reduce their catch and income by over 50%.

“Whilst it’s illegal for sea lions and seals to be killed, this is happening regularly with over 70% of fishers admitting that sea lions are being killed to defend catches,”the study says.

It says that “fishers’ overwhelming concern is that sea lion populations are now too large”.

“To manage this conflict, there’s a need to balance the competing objectives of wildlife conservation with protection for local communities,”the researchers state.

“ There’s still concern about sea lion and seal populations because of how recently they’ve recovered, but small-scale fisheries are struggling, and fishers are often earning less than the minimum wage,”they note.

“If the global community is committed to a post-2020 deal for nature and people where improvements to people's wellbeing and nature conservation are both fulfilled - the elusive ‘win-win’ - then governments and scientists must engage with these “messy” local conflicts that repeat across the globe but resist high-level simplification,”lead author Professor Katrina Davis, noted.

The study says that sea lions and seals eat the same fish targeted by fisheries, and it is not uncommon for fishers to catch fish that have already been “nibbled” by the marine mammals.

This is a similar situation in Ireland with competition between seals and inshore vessels.

Marine mammals can also be accidentally caught in fishing nets.

“A tricky balance must be met between ensuring the future viability of marine mammal populations and ensuring that the livelihoods of small-scale fishers are protected. Fishers perceive that they are suffering large catch and income losses because of sea lions—and it’s these perceptions that we have to manage when we’re developing policy solutions,” Prof Davis says.

The researchers say the plan to investigate the impact of culls, and whether this would be viable without harming population levels, and whether it would curb aggression towards marine mammals.

The full paper can be read here

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced the launch of a Brexit Temporary Fishing Fleet Tie-up Scheme.

The scheme will help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts on the fishing fleet arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed in December between the European Union and the UK. The scheme delivers on a recommendation of the Seafood Sector Task Force in its June 2021 Interim Report. The scheme is targeted at whitefish vessels in the Polyvalent and Beam Trawl segments.

The Minister said: “Arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the UK, Ireland is set to lose 26,412 tonnes of quota per year on a phased basis up to 2026, valued at around €43 million. These quota cuts affect many of our most valuable fish stocks and significantly impact our fishing fleet incomes in 2021. The Task Force I established in March has carefully considered this issue and recommended in its June 2021 Interim Report that a temporary fleet tie-up scheme should be implemented for the whitefish fleet to make best use of the reduced quota available in 2021 and to ensure continuity of supply throughout the remainder of this year”.

Brexit Temporary Fishing Fleet Tie-up SchemeBrexit Temporary Fishing Fleet Tie-up Scheme

The Minister went on to say: “The scheme I am launching today will invite vessels in the polyvalent and beam trawl segments to tie-up for a one-month period during October to December 2021. These vessels would tie-up at the quayside and cease all fishing activity for that month. In return, the vessel owner would receive a payment compensating for the lost fishing income. The vessel owners will in turn be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew. The following payment rates will apply”.

Published in Fishing
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The EU has approved a 10 million euro scheme to support the Irish fishery sector affected by Brexit and the consequent reduction in quota shares.

The 10 million euro funding under State aid rules is separate to the 5 billion euro Brexit Adjustment Reserve funding for EU states affected by Brexit. 

The European Commission says the support will be “available to companies that commit to temporarily cease their fishing activities for a month”.

“The aim of the scheme is to save part of the Irish reduced fishing quota for other vessels, while the beneficiaries temporarily suspend their activities,”the Commmission says.

“The compensation will be granted as a non-refundable grant, calculated on the basis of gross earnings averaged for the fleet size, excluding the cost of fuel and food for the crew of the vessel,” it says.

Each eligible company will be entitled to the support for up to a month between September 1st and December 31st this year.

Under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), member states can support the development of certain economic activities or regions, under certain conditions.T

This support will ensure the “sustainability of the fishery sector and its ability to adapt to new fishing and market opportunities arising from the new relationship with the UK”, the Commission says.

It says it will also facilitate the “objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term”.

The approval of 10 million euros under State aid rules “does not prejudge whether the support measure will eventually be eligible for BAR funding, which will be assessed once the BAR Regulation has entered into force”, the Commission says.

“However, it already provides Ireland with legal certainty that the Commission considers the support measure to be compliant with EU State aid rules, irrespective of the ultimate source of funding,”it says.

The separate 5 billion euro BAR funding for a number of affected coastal states will be allocated later this year, drawing on three main factors - the value of fish caught in the UK exclusive economic zone; the importance of trade with the UK; and the population of maritime border regions with the UK.

The EU has said that overall some €600 million will be allocated on the basis of the factor linked to fishing, €4.150 billion based on trade, and €250 million under the factor linked to maritime border regions.

Following on from the EU approval.of State aid, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue announced a temporary tie-up scheme for the fishing industry on Friday evening

Published in Fishing
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A Spanish registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service within Irish waters. 

The detention by the LÉ William Butler Yeats was in relation to "alleged breaches of fishing regulations", the Defence Forces press office said.

It did not give the position of the detention, other than stating it was "within the Irish exclusive economic zone". It said it would be escorted to port and handed over to the Garda.

This is the seventh vessel detained to date this year by the Naval Service, which conducts inspections at sea in line with a service level agreement with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Earlier, this month a French registered fishing vessel was detained by the Naval Service off Mizen Head.

Published in Fishing
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Irish MEP Sean Kelly has called on the government to “rethink” its refusal to assist an Arklow fishing family after it lost substantial funds over a vessel bought abroad which proved to be dangerously unstable.

As the Times Ireland reports, the MEP for Ireland South said the case was a “one-off” and should be dealt with quickly and sympathetically by the Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

Skipper CJ Gaffney (49) of a well known Arklow fishing family - with five generations of service with the RNLI lifeboat – incurred substantial losses over the purchase of the vessel which had been certified as safe by German authorities.

The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands in 2007, with the Gaffneys borrowing 620,000 euro for the purchase.

The vessel was registered under the German flag, and was certified by Germanischer Lloyd Classification Society.

However, when CJ Gaffney began fishing the vessel in January 2008, he noticed that it was significantly more unstable than his previous older boat.

Tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the vessel, and the family opted to lengthen it to make it safer.

The family also initiated legal action against several German companies and the German Marine Safety Authority, but jurisdiction could not be established.

Ireland’s Marine Survey Office (MSO) would not allow the boat fish due to the dangerous stability issue, but issued a stability certificate in 2009 when it had been modified.

However, the Gaffneys had run out of money to buy an additional license.

The Gaffney family were left with a loan of almost 2 million euro after the banks sold the vessel in a fire sale. CJ Gaffney is currently working as a pilot in Dublin Port.

Research by the Gaffney’s legal representatives and naval architect established that other vessels of similar design were built for European waters and could have safety issues.

The European Commission, which gave the family a hearing over the issue back in 2011, says it is outside its remit, but indicated to the Gaffneys that Irish authorities could draw on EU funds to assist them.

Kelly said that he had been in touch with the European Commission, and it was “very sympathetic” and had “made it clear” it would like to see the Gaffney family being assisted financially.

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has also called on the two ministers to resolve the issue on humanitarian grounds.

“C J Gaffney did everything he could , and he has prevented people from drowning,”Ms Whitmore said.

The Department of Transport said that the Marine Survey Office (MSO) “has been very proactive on this issue”.

The German ship safety division, the vessel designers and McConalogue’s department declined to comment.

Read The Times here

Published in Fishing
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Applications are being sought for a business diploma with a “salty air taste” run by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Institute of Technology (IT) Carlow.

The closing date is September 3rd for prospective participants in BIM’s higher diploma in business in fisheries and aquaculture.

The course, now in its fifth year, is designed for those interested in management, financial, research and development or regulatory roles in fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and related fields.

It may also appeal to those looking to start an aquaculture or fisheries business company or expand an existing company into new markets, BIM and IT Carlow IT.

As Dick Bates - from a well known Kilmore Quay fishing family - explains, the course is the only one in Ireland of its type at third level dealing with fisheries and aquaculture.

It is “more accessible than ever now all over the coast and the offshore islands, due to continuing online delivery”, Bates says.

“My dad was a fisherman from Kilmore Quay, who through circumstances of the time could not progress beyond primary education,” he says.

“I am immensely proud to be involved with the higher diploma in a voluntary capacity in my retirement. I think he would approve,” Bates says.

“I really believe in the transformative powers of education and believe that the way that the fisheries sector has been ignored by the third level institutions in Ireland for so long is not right. I also believe that training is no substitute for education,” Bates adds.

Entry requirements are NFQ Level 7 or level 8 Award or equivalent in a related discipline or relevant industry experience.

Organisers say consideration will also be given to applicants who do not hold level 7 QQI academic qualifications but who have extensive industry experience.

Currently, all modules are being taught remotely due to Covid -19 restrictions on Fridays and Saturdays every second week.

Funding for the course fee and subsistence costs may be available through here

Published in Aquaculture
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The Marine Minister and Donegal T.D., Charlie McConalogue, visited Killybegs for a day of engagements with the fishing industry on Friday 23rd July.

The Minister started the day visiting the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master, lead officials on works to the harbour and the SFPA. In May the Minister announced almost €9m in funding for work to Killybegs Harbour including €6.5m for phase two of the Smooth Point Pier Inspection which he visited on his tour of Killybegs.

Throughout the day the Minister met with the IFPEA, the KFO and inshore fishers including NIFA and NIFO representatives and boarded a vessel and visited a processing factory.

Commenting on the visit, Minister McConalogue noted: "I had a constructive day of meetings with fishers and fisher representatives throughout my visit to Killybegs. It was great to also take an opportunity to view the ongoing infrastructure projects to the harbour and to see progress on these projects."

Published in Fishing
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The Minister for Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has undertaken a series of visits to some of Ireland’s main fishing ports. The Minister has met with fishers, processors fishing organisations and other stakeholders, as he visited Howth, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East and Killybegs earlier this month. The visits will continue with a trip to Union Hall and Castletownbere later this week, with further visits to fishing ports planned.

In Howth, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced €8.3m in funding for work to Howth and he visited ongoing infrastructure work. The Minister met with fishers on the Pier to discuss fishing matters and the group included fishing representatives from ISEPO, FLAGs NIFF and NIFA & NIFO. He also met with local businesses including Kish Fish and processors including OceanPath.

In Kilmore Quay, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced over €200k in funding for work to Kilmore Quay. The Minister also met with fishers on the Pier, with the group including fishing representatives from ISEPO, NIFF and NIFA & NIFO.

In Dunmore East, the Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master and lead officials on works to the harbour. In May the Minister announced over € 2.4 m in funding for work at Dunmore East. The Minister also met with fishers on the Pier, with the group including fishing representatives on the Pier to discuss fishing matters and the group included fishing representatives from ISEPO, NIFF and NIFA & NIFO.

In Killybegs, The Minister visited the Harbour Centre and met the Harbour Master, lead officials on works to the harbour and officials from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority. In May the Minister announced almost €9m in funding for work to Killybegs Harbour including €6.5m for phase two of the Smooth Point Pier Inspection which he visited on his tour of Killybegs. The Minister also met with the IFPEA, the KFO and inshore fishers including NIFA and NIFO representatives and boarded a vessel and visited a processing factory.

Commenting on the visits, Minister McConalogue said: "I have had constructive meetings with fishers and fisher representatives during my visits and I thank everyone for meeting me and for discussing important matters to their community. It was great to also take an opportunity to view the ongoing infrastructure projects at all four harbours and to see progress on these projects."

Published in Fishing

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has rejected a plea for help from an Irish skipper who bought a beam trawler in the Netherlands which proved to be dangerously unstable.

As The Sunday Independent reports, skipper CJ Gaffney (49) of a well known Arklow fishing family has incurred substantial losses over the purchase of the vessel which had been certified as safe by German authorities.

The Gaffney family have five generations of service with the RNLI lifeboat.

Research by Gaffney’s legal representatives and naval architect established that at least nine other vessels of similar design in Europe could have safety issues.

The European Commission, which gave the family a hearing over the issue back in 2011, says it is outside its remit as the vessel is under 24 metres in length and falls under member state legislation.

However, it had indicated to the Gaffneys that Irish authorities could draw on EU funds to assist them.

The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands by CJ Gaffney of Arklow, Co Wicklow and his father in 2007, borrowing 620,000 euro for the purchase.

The vessel was registered under the German flag, and was certified by Germanischer Lloyd Classification Society.

When CJ Gaffney began fishing the vessel in January 2008, he noticed that it was significantly more unstable than his previous older boat and says that " on one or two occasions the boat almost turned over”.

Tests showed 20 tonnes of unaccounted steel were in the hull, and the family opted to lengthen it to make it safer.

The family initiated legal action against several German companies and the German Marine Safety Authority.

However, jurisdiction could not be established.

Ireland’s Marine Survey Office (MSO) would not allow the boat fish initially but issued a stability certificate in 2009 when it had been modified.

The Gaffneys had run out of money to buy an additional license at this stage.

A potential sale to Britain fell through as the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency would not allow it to be registered – in spite of Irish certification to show it was seaworthy.

“The banks subsequently sold the Mary Kate in a fire sale leaving the family with a massive loan of almost €2 million, which is still outstanding,” Gaffney says.

The case has been raised at EU level by a number of Irish MEPs and was referred to the European Parliament’s petitions committee.

It has been raised in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD and fisheries spokesman Pádraig MacLochlainn and by Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Mr McConalogue has said it is a private commercial matter, and that safety is the responsibility of the Department of Transport.

Ms Whitmore, who attended an online meeting hosted by Mr McConalogue with the Gaffneys late this week (Fri July 16), said she was calling on the marine minister to work with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on the issue.

“C J Gaffney did everything he could, and he has been a whistleblower for safety,” Ms Whitmore said.

“There are obvious regulatory gaps at European level that need to be addressed.”

The German ship safety division, the vessel designers and Mr McConalogue declined to comment.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has accepted a business case from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) for the development of a new Sea Survival Training Unit at BIM’s National Fisheries Training College in Greencastle, Co Donegal. The Department is working with BIM on how the project will be delivered as early as possible. Speaking during a visit to the Greencastle College, Minister McConalogue said:

“I am delighted to announce today that I have approved a business case from BIM for the provision of a dedicated Sea Survival Unit at the Greencastle fisheries training college. The project involves an above ground pool, upgraded modern changing rooms together with a new navigation simulator and a radio suite for the new centre.”

The total estimated cost of the proposed BIM project will be approximately €1.1m. The Minister continued: “The new Sea Survival Unit at Greencastle will significantly build upon the professional level of maritime training which BIM currently offers to the Irish seafood sector. It will also facilitate development and expansion of BIMs training programmes over the coming years. The provision of a fit-for-purpose pool, together with new, modern training equipment will also result in a high-quality national asset that will deliver a centre of excellence to support essential training for fishers, providing the instruction needed to equip seafarers with current and future skills needed to pursue varied careers in the seafood sector.”

Following confirmation by BIM that the new facility will be among the nation’s only ‘Green energy pools’ the Minister added: “I welcome BIMs proposal to fit a “green pool” by including an appropriate renewal energy source to fund the pumps, heating and filtration system which is in keeping with national policy and ensure that running costs will be sustainable for the future. I am delighted that the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) will be assisting BIM in ensuring the delivery of a sustainable facility including the provision of necessary advice prior to the procurement process. “

In response to the Minister’s announcement that the project is under active consideration subject to availability of funding, Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM said: “Safety is an essential part of training for all those embarking on a career in the seafood sector who intend working at sea. With 2,030 registered fishing vessels in Ireland and 2,881 adults working in the fisheries sector, it is important that we continue to prioritise the provision of high quality safety training for the crew of vessels. This new facility will encourage those who wish to pursue life long rewarding careers in the seafood industry and most importantly ensure that safety at sea and on the water is prioritised”.

The Minister concluded; “I am confident that this project when completed will provide a high quality training facility which will ultimately help to save lives and support this important industry which is so crucial to the economies of coastal communities in particular. My ambition is to have the facility fully operational by the end of the first half of 2022”

Published in Fishing
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Page 7 of 68

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - FAQS

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographically defined maritime areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources. In addition to conserving marine species and habitats, MPAs can support maritime economic activity and reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

MPAs can be found across a range of marine habitats, from the open ocean to coastal areas, intertidal zones, bays and estuaries. Marine protected areas are defined areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources.

The world's first MPA is said to have been the Fort Jefferson National Monument in Florida, North America, which covered 18,850 hectares of sea and 35 hectares of coastal land. This location was designated in 1935, but the main drive for MPAs came much later. The current global movement can be traced to the first World Congress on National Parks in 1962, and initiation in 1976 of a process to deliver exclusive rights to sovereign states over waters up to 200 nautical miles out then began to provide new focus

The Rio ‘Earth Summit’ on climate change in 1992 saw a global MPA area target of 10% by the 2010 deadline. When this was not met, an “Aichi target 11” was set requiring 10% coverage by 2020. There has been repeated efforts since then to tighten up MPA requirements.

Marae Moana is a multiple-use marine protected area created on July 13th 2017 by the government of the Cook islands in the south Pacific, north- east of New Zealand. The area extends across over 1.9 million square kilometres. However, In September 2019, Jacqueline Evans, a prominent marine biologist and Goldman environmental award winner who was openly critical of the government's plans for seabed mining, was replaced as director of the park by the Cook Islands prime minister’s office. The move attracted local media criticism, as Evans was responsible for developing the Marae Moana policy and the Marae Moana Act, She had worked on raising funding for the park, expanding policy and regulations and developing a plan that designates permitted areas for industrial activities.

Criteria for identifying and selecting MPAs depends on the overall objective or direction of the programme identified by the coastal state. For example, if the objective is to safeguard ecological habitats, the criteria will emphasise habitat diversity and the unique nature of the particular area.

Permanence of MPAs can vary internationally. Some are established under legislative action or under a different regulatory mechanism to exist permanently into the future. Others are intended to last only a few months or years.

Yes, Ireland has MPA cover in about 2.13 per cent of our waters. Although much of Ireland’s marine environment is regarded as in “generally good condition”, according to an expert group report for Government published in January 2021, it says that biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are of “wide concern due to increasing pressures such as overexploitation, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change”.

The Government has set a target of 30 per cent MPA coverage by 2030, and moves are already being made in that direction. However, environmentalists are dubious, pointing out that a previous target of ten per cent by 2020 was not met.

Conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment has been mandated by a number of international agreements and legal obligations, as an expert group report to government has pointed out. There are specific requirements for area-based protection in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the OSPAR Convention, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yes, the Marine Strategy Framework directive (2008/56/EC) required member states to put measures in place to achieve or maintain good environmental status in their waters by 2020. Under the directive a coherent and representative network of MPAs had to be created by 2016.

Ireland was about halfway up the EU table in designating protected areas under existing habitats and bird directives in a comparison published by the European Commission in 2009. However, the Fair Seas campaign, an environmental coalition formed in 2022, points out that Ireland is “lagging behind “ even our closest neighbours, such as Scotland which has 37 per cent. The Fair Seas campaign wants at least 10 per cent of Irish waters to be designated as “fully protected” by 2025, and “at least” 30 per cent by 2030.

Nearly a quarter of Britain’s territorial waters are covered by MPAs, set up to protect vital ecosystems and species. However, a conservation NGO, Oceana, said that analysis of fishing vessel tracking data published in The Guardian in October 2020 found that more than 97% of British MPAs created to safeguard ocean habitats, are being dredged and bottom trawled. 

There’s the rub. Currently, there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law, and environment protections under the Wildlife Acts only apply to the foreshore.

Current protection in marine areas beyond 12 nautical miles is limited to measures taken under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives or the OSPAR Convention. This means that habitats and species that are not listed in the EU Directives, but which may be locally, nationally or internationally important, cannot currently be afforded the necessary protection

Yes. In late March 2022, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the Government had begun developing “stand-alone legislation” to enable identification, designation and management of MPAs to meet Ireland’s national and international commitments.

Yes. Environmental groups are not happy, as they have pointed out that legislation on marine planning took precedence over legislation on MPAs, due to the push to develop offshore renewable energy.

No, but some activities may be banned or restricted. Extraction is the main activity affected as in oil and gas activities; mining; dumping; and bottom trawling

The Government’s expert group report noted that MPA designations are likely to have the greatest influence on the “capture fisheries, marine tourism and aquaculture sectors”. It said research suggests that the net impacts on fisheries could ultimately be either positive or negative and will depend on the type of fishery involved and a wide array of other factors.

The same report noted that marine tourism and recreation sector can substantially benefit from MPA designation. However, it said that the “magnitude of the benefits” will depend to a large extent on the location of the MPA sites within the network and the management measures put in place.

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