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Displaying items by tag: Inland Fisheries Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed that it is to develop a medium to long-term management plan for the Western Lakes.

The State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats has been formally asked by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to proceed with its proposal to develop an evidence-based management plan for the seven lakes and to submit timelines for the plan by the end of this month.

The news comes just says after it was confirmed that a controversial fisheries bye-law that covered the Western Lakes will be withdrawn, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The Western Lakes grouping comprises Lough Corrib, Lough Mask and Lough Carra in the Galway fishery district, Lough Cullin and Lough Conn in the Mayo district, Lough Sheelin in Limerick and Lough Arrow in Sligo.

IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell said the plan will focus on key areas such as biodiversity and whole ecosystem conservation as the basis for the protection and development of wild salmonid stocks such as brown trout.

“From our research to date, it’s clear that the Western Lakes are under threat, and we must take action underpinned by best available scientific data to protect and conserve the unique status and importance of these salmonid waters in the long-term,” he said.

“The new management plan should inspire a positive vision for the future of the Western Lakes and serve to protect them as they are topographically distinct waters in terms of salmonid habitat.”

Development of the management plan is likely to include catchment-wide surveys to identify fish population dynamics, salmonid habitat deficits as well as water quality pressure points.

Where feasible, habitat restoration and development projects will be carried out as well as vegetation management on land and water adjacent to the lakes, IFI adds.

The management of invasive species, such as various coarse fish and curly waterweed, will also be an important feature of the plan.

And an emphasis on stakeholder engagement between State bodies, public representatives, angling clubs, conservation groups and local communities is also expected to be a key component.

O’Donnell added: “These lakes are among some of the last remaining wild brown trout fisheries in Western Europe, so it’s critical that the plan is subject to rigorous environmental governance and that it takes ecological and socio-economic impacts into account.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s annual sponsorship programme will support 38 angling projects in 2021, it has been announced.

The State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats and promotion of angling received proposals from community groups, clubs, associations and other bodies earlier in the year.

Now a total of €17,450 has now been allocated by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to 38 projects.

These including a fishing programme to promote better mental health in Dundalk and North Louth, an initiative introducing women to fly fishing in Limerick, a novice angling day event in Galway and a youth boat angling competition held on Lough Swilly earlier this month.

Making the announcement today (Monday 30 August, Suzanne Campion of IFI said: “More than 320,000 adults in Ireland already enjoy angling and 18% of those who haven’t tried it before are likely to try it in the future.

“This demonstrates that there’s significant potential for sustainable angling in this country, which could bring many health and economic benefits.

“Through Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Sponsorship Programme, we want to encourage people to try angling sustainably and we also want to encourage more beginners, especially girls and women into the sport.

“The projects that are being supported this year showcase a wide appeal for angling events, coaching and competitions. These 38 projects and initiatives will create a greater awareness of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea angling resources and the importance of conserving and protecting these precious resources.”

The programme supports novice or ‘beginner’ anglers and the development of sustainable angling tourism in Ireland, which could grow in popularity, particularly in rural and peripheral areas.

According to a recent survey by Ipsos MRBI, comissioned by the ESRI and funded by IFI, over 327,000 adults in Ireland consider themselves an angler. In another survey, undertaken in 2021 by Amárach Research and also funded by IFI, some 18% of adults that had never been fishing before said that they are “likely” to try angling in the future.

The full list of events and initiatives supported can be found on the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling

Seventeen projects in 11 counties are being awarded more than €770,000 under Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Habitats and Conservation Scheme 2021.

Under two separate funds — the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund and the Midland Fisheries Fund — eligible angling clubs, commercial fishermen and fishery owners were invited to apply for financial assistance to support fisheries conservation projects in their local areas.

A total €774,000 in funding for 17 projects has been approved so far this year, going to projects based in Carlow, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Mayo, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow.

Examples include the construction of rock ramp passageways to make it easier for fish to migrate upstream and downstream of impassable weirs, enhancement of spawning and nursery habitats for salmon and sea trout, and installing fences to stop livestock from entering rivers.

The announcement has been welcomed by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, who said: “The Habitats and Conservation Scheme 2021 is a great example of proactive conservation and protection of habitats.

“The scheme will support angling clubs, commercial fishermen and fishery owners in improving habitats, water quality and fish passage at a local grassroots level. The works and studies supported by the scheme will also result in wider benefits for the environment.”

Since 2016, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has made more than €4 million available through its various funding schemes, including the two 2021 funds.

Head of business development Suzanne Campion said: “Protecting and conserving fish species, like Atlantic salmon and sea trout, is critical to the overall health of our ecosystem. Threats like water pollution, climate change and invasive species are all having a damaging impact.

“Under the Habitats and Conservation Scheme, made possible through fishing licence income, groups all over the country will be working on projects and measures that benefit the conservation of salmon, sea trout and their freshwater habitats.”

Financial assistance under the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund (SSTRCPF total of €744,326) is generated by the sale of salmon and sea trout angling licences and commercial fishing licences in Ireland.

The Midlands Fisheries Fund (MFF total of €29,778) is financed through contributions from permit income, received through the Midlands Fisheries Group permit area.

To be eligible, applicants to the SSTRCPF must have purchased a valid salmon and sea trout angling licence or a commercial fishing licence — or for the MFF, hold a current Midlands Fisheries Group permit.

Further allocations of funding may be announced later in the year and the full list of projects can be seen at the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed the presence of pike in Aughrusbeg Lough in Connemara, Co Galway.

IFI research staff made the discovery during a fish stock survey earlier this week. It is the first official record of pike being present in the freshwater lake.

The State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats is investigating if the pike was “introduced” to the lake through human activity, by the illegal movement of fish between watercourses.

The introduction of pike to small low-complexity lakes such as Aughrusbeg Lough could be devastating to resident fish populations.

New introductions are also potentially a carrier of fish disease and parasites, the State agency has said.

IFI chief executive Francis O’Donnell said: “Ireland’s inland waterbodies are ecologically important ecosystems, which support significant recreational fisheries for native and established fish species.

“‘Introductions’ of new species threaten these ecosystems that they support, potentially in unforeseen ways, and are a major cause for concern for Inland Fisheries Ireland.”

He added: “Unfortunately, a similar introduction of pike into the upper sections of the Owenriff catchment in Co Galway over 10 years ago caused the virtual collapse of what had been a very important salmonid fishery in the West of Ireland.”

To help assess the scale of the problem, IFI researchers are currently analysing samples from the latest fish stock survey to establish the age and distribution of the pike population discovered in the lake.

In the meantime, IFI is appealing to all anglers to protect Ireland’s fisheries by not moving fish between watercourses, for any reason.

To report suspicions around the illegal movement of fish between watercourses, anglers and members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24, which is open 24 hours a day.

Published in Angling

Two people have been fined and sentenced to prison for illegal netting of salmon on the River Barrow last summer in prosecutions taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Michael Malone, of Taghmon, Co Wexford, received a sentence of five months’ imprisonment and a €2,000 fine and was ordered to pay €1,245 in court costs at Kilkenny District Court on Monday 12 July.

Also in Kilkenny District Court on the same date, James Malone, with an address in Graiguenamangh, Co Kilkenny, received a sentence of three months’ imprisonment and a €1,500 fine and was ordered to pay €1,245 in court costs.

The court heard from IFI how both men had been observed in the act of illegal netting on the River Barrow, attempting to capture salmon.

As a statutory consequence of the conviction for use of a boat contrary to Section 285 (A)(1) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959, the boat that was seized by IFO is now automatically forfeited.

The breaches of Fisheries legislation occurred on 21 July 2020 on the River Barrow, in the townland of Bauck, Co Carlow and Kilconnelly, Co Kilkenny.

Evidence in relation to the offence was given before Judge Brian O’Shea, who proceeded to convict the defendants on all charges under Section 96, 97, 65 and 285A of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959. The case has been appealed to the Circuit Court.

IFI recently revealed that a total of 250 illegal fishing nets, measuring 13,158 metres in total, were among the 1,287 items seized by the agency on its patrols and inspections in 2020, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a serious fish kill incident at Barnagrow Lake near Shercock in Co Cavan, within the Annalee River and Upper Erne catchment area.

Environmental and fisheries officers from the North-Western River Basin District were alerted to the incident by a call from a member of the public this past Tuesday (27 July).

And the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats estimates that there could be in excess of 5,000 fish mortalities, including species such as bream, roach, perch and pike.

Fish samples have been taken from the lake and removed for further analysis. Initial investigations indicate that a severe algal bloom, combined with high water temperatures and low oxygen levels recorded in Barnagrow Lake, are the likely causes of the incident.

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District with IFI, said: “Unfortunately, this is a very significant fish kill affecting several year classes of coarse fish and is the largest reported fish kill nationally to date in 2021.”

He added: “During the recent heatwave, very high water temperatures were noted at several angling locations, with temperatures of over 26 degrees [Celsius] for example recorded in Lough Sheelin, Co Cavan.

“In the days preceding the fish kill at Barnagrow Lake, a severe algal bloom was noted by Inland Fisheries Ireland staff, which together with very high water temperatures recorded locally, which were 22 degrees [Celsius], likely resulted in this serious fish kill event due to reduced oxygen levels in the water.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has revealed that over 13km of illegal nets were seized by its protection officers and inspectors around the country last year.

Some 250 illegal fishing nets, measuring 13,158 metres in total, were among the 1,287 items seized by the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats on its patrols and inspections in 2020.

Other items seized by IFI included spear guns, hand lines, traps, illegally caught fish and stroke hauls which are large-weighted hooks used to impale a fish.

Unless licensed, it is illegal to use a net for catching fish in freshwater due to the ecological damage they cause to fish populations and habitats, such as those of wild Atlantic salmon, sea trout and sea bass.

Due to the severity of the offence and the environmental impact caused by illegal fishing, IFI has a policy of bringing cases involving illegal nets directly to court. Those convicted can face fines and even prison sentences.

Dr Greg Forde, head of operations at IFI, explains: “In the course of our inspections and patrols last year, Inland Fisheries Ireland seized over 1,200 items, including 13km of illegal fishing nets from poachers. To put that figure into perspective, that’s enough illegal netting to line the runway at Dublin Airport five times over.”

He added: “Illegal fishing has a detrimental effect on our fish population, doing untold damage to this precious resource and in particular to wild Atlantic salmon stocks at this time of year. Thanks to the public’s help in reporting incidences of illegal fishing, we’re able to better protect and conserve fisheries for future generations and prevent loss of fish to poaching.”

An illegal fishing net seized by IFI at Inisdooey Island in Co Donegal in 2020 | Credit: IFIAn illegal fishing net seized by IFI at Inisdooey Island in Co Donegal in 2020 | Credit: IFI

A recent court case involving the use of an illegal net for fishing came before Judge David Waters at Listowel District Court on 1 July this year.

Tom Allen, with an address of Lixnaw, Co Kerry, was convicted under Section 96 of the Fisheries Acts 1959 – 2017 on a charge of possession of a net along the River Brick in 2020. Allen was fined €700 and was also ordered to pay €947 in court costs.

Assistant Inspector at IFI, Darren Halpin gave evidence in court outlining how he was responding to a report from a member of the public, which led to the seizure of the illegal net.

In another court case this year involving illegal fishing nets, Gareth Fennel of Kilrush, Co Clare was convicted on 20 July under Sections 96 and 97 of the Fisheries Consolidation Act 1959.

Appearing before Kilrush District Court in Ennis Courthouse, Fennel was fined €500 and ordered to pay €530 in costs for possession and use of an illegal net for the purposes of taking salmon. Ray Byrne, a fisheries officer with IFI, gave evidence in court.

Commenting on the recent convictions, David McInerney, director of the Shannon River Basin District at IFI, said: “Salmon poaching is a highly damaging environmental crime which has devastating effects on salmon stocks. The continued commitment of the fisheries officers to protecting salmon and their habitat must be commended.”

To report suspicions of illegal fishing, or sightings of illegal nets, members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24 which is open 24 hours a day.

Published in Angling

Anglers in Ireland are taking part in a unique ‘catch, tag and release’ programme to help Irish and international scientists learn more about the largest tuna in the world — the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Under the Tuna CHART (CatcH And Release Tagging) programme, recreational anglers on board 22 authorised charter vessels the successfully applied to join the scheme this year will catch bluefin tuna and skippers will be tagging and releasing them back into the sea, alive, from this month to mid November.

The data collected on board authorised vessels will then be used for scientific assessment to improve knowledge of population structures, fish size and how bluefin tuna is distributed in Irish waters and throughout the North Atlantic.

Migrating through North Atlantic waters, bluefin tuna frequent Irish coastal waters to feed. Bluefin is an iconic sports-angling species and can grow up to 1,500lbs (around 680kg).

Under strictly controlled conditions, 685 bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, measured and released through the Tuna CHART programme in 2020. All bluefin tuna were caught by anglers in Irish coastal waters and then tagged by skippers. The fish is always kept in the water to ensure correct handling and tagging.

The largest tuna tagged in Ireland in 2020 was 2.75 metres long, estimated to weigh over 800 lbs (approximately 360 kgs).

Now in its third year, Tuna CHART is a collaborative scientific programme between Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute in partnership with the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department for Environment, Climate and Communications.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “The 22 angling vessels authorised by my department will contribute substantially to essential Bluefin tuna data collection as they migrate along the Irish coastline.

“The recreational fisheries sector is crucial in the delivery of this data collection programme and we look forward to continue working with all the State agencies involved.

“I want to acknowledge the key role of the authorised charter skippers and their crews who are bringing their unique expertise to bear on providing valuable data for scientific purposes, and the ‘citizen scientist’ anglers who will catch the fish. The fact that 685 fish were tagged last year with no mortalities recorded is a great achievement by the skippers.”

‘This programme also provides our coastal communities with access to a highly desired angling market that will bring a new demographic of tourists to our spectacular Wild Atlantic Way’

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue welcomed the continuation of the programme for 2021.

“As a Donegal man, I have a keen interest in the bluefin tuna data collection programme,” he said. “I am delighted at the ongoing success of this programme as it allows our scientific partners in the Marine Institute and Inland Fisheries Ireland to collect valuable data and improve our understanding of the migratory patterns of bluefin tuna in Irish waters in a tightly controlled environment.

“This programme also provides our coastal communities with access to a highly desired angling market that will bring a new demographic of tourists to our spectacular Wild Atlantic Way.

“I am particularly pleased with the large increase in data collected in 2020, despite the restriction in place as a result of Covid and am anticipating an even more successful season this year thanks to our experienced skippers who have received authorisations for 2021.”

This year’s authorised vessels will operate out of ports in Donegal (Killybegs and Bundoran), Sligo (Rosses Point and Mullaghmore), Galway (Cleggan and Rossaveal), Clare (Carrigaholt and Kilrush), Cork (Courtmacsherry, Kinsale, Ballycotton, Union Hall, Great Island in Cobh, Baltimore and Youghal) and Waterford (Dungarvan).

All skippers have been fully trained while vessels have been fitted with a customised GPS device. Data is collected by skippers digitally by means of a specifically designed app.

Anglers looking to fish for bluefin tuna in Irish waters may only do so from an authorised charter vessel from now until 12 November 2021. The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Inland Fisheries Ireland are undertaking inspections and patrols around the coast to ensure that no unauthorised vessels are targeting or catching bluefin tuna.

Both organisations have also confirmed that any person engaging in fishing for bluefin tuna on a vessel which is not appropriately authorised, would be in breach of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction (Bluefin Tuna) Regulations 2019 (SI No 265 of 2019) and would face prosecution.

Like last season, skippers will have to adhere to any local or national COVID-19 public health guidelines that may be put in place. A full list of authorised skippers and vessels for the Tuna CHART programme in 2021 can be found at www.fisheriesireland.ie/bluefin.

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is appealing for the angling community and general public to report any sightings of Pacific pink salmon after a specimen was caught in Co Mayo this week.

Also known as ‘humpback’ salmon, pink salmon were very rare in Irish waters until 2017 and are believed to have originated from stocking programmes in Russia.

Scientists at IFI are concerned that if there are large numbers of the non-native species in Irish rivers, this may have negative impacts on Ireland’s salmon and trout populations in the future.

Dr Paddy Gargan with IFI says: “If Pacific pink salmon become established in Irish rivers, they will be competing with Irish salmon and trout for food and space.

“Pink salmon also display aggressive behaviour towards native fish and a large invasion of pink salmon could push out Atlantic salmon and trout from holding pools into smaller channels.”

IFI has published a guide on its website to help the public identify Pacific pink salmon, which have large oval black spots on their tails. Males also develop a pronounced ‘humpback’.

Appealing for help from the angling community and general public, Dr Gargan adds: “There is only limited information currently available to assess the threat from Pacific pink salmon, so we are asking the angling community and general public to report any sightings to Inland Fisheries Ireland by telephoning our 24 hour confidential hotline on 1890 34 74 24.”

The first reported catch of a Pacific pink salmon in Ireland this year was in the Ridge Pool at the Moy Fishery in Co Mayo on Sunday 27 June.

Anglers across the country are also being asked to report any further catches of Pacific pink salmon to IFI and to assist with research efforts by following these steps:

  • Keep the Pacific pink salmon and do not release it back into the water, even in rivers that are only open for ‘catch and release’ angling.
  • Record the date and location of capture, and the length and weight of the fish.
  • Take a photograph of the fish and keep a copy of the image.
  • Tag the fish and please report it to Inland Fisheries Ireland as soon as possible by telephoning 1890 34 74 24.

IFI will arrange collection of Pacific pink salmon catches for further analysis and will also promptly issue replacement tags to anglers.

Published in Angling

Two young poets from Tipperary and Carlow respectively have scooped the top prizes in this year’s Something Fishing national poetry competition, organised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in conjunction with the Blackrock Education Centre.

Orlaith Timmons, a fifth-class pupil from Moycarkey National School in Thurles, and Aoibhé Kieran, a sixth-class pupil from Ballon National School in Carlow, each won the top prize in their categories for their nature-themed poetry.

Earlier this year, primary school students around the country were challenged by IFI to create an acrostic poem, where the first letter of each line spells out the word ‘STREAM’ (for an English-language poem) or ‘SRUTH’ (for an Irish-language poem).

Announcing the winners, Environment Eamon Ryan said: “These are gorgeous poems that really capture the joy these young people are experiencing spending time in nature. I’d like to congratulate all our budding young poets on their achievements this year.

“Through this environmental competition, primary school children have shown huge enthusiasm for nature, fish, other wildlife and the world around us. Improving our children’s knowledge and understanding of biodiversity, through initiatives like this one, will be an important part of our climate action efforts.”

The competition is part of the wider Something Fishy Educational Programme, aimed at primary school pupils aged between 10 and 13. It educates students on the importance of biodiversity and on having sustainable habitats, fish and angling.

Despite school closures during the 2020/2021 academic year, online content was still available to pupils and teachers through the official website at somethingfishy.ie including lesson plans and activity sheets based on the theme of the life cycle of salmon — bradán as Gaeilge.

From over 100 entries, the judging panel also selected runners-up from Ballon National School and Bennekerry National School (Carlow), Scoil Mhuire National School in Corofin (Galway), Scoil Cholmcille in Greencastle (Donegal) and St Canice’s Girls National School in Finglas (Dublin).

Praising the young winners and their schools, Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development, said: “By researching and writing about fish, wildlife and rivers from an early age, primary school children are learning really important lessons about biodiversity and how we all have a role to play in protecting and conserving our environment.

“Congratulations to all our winners and our thanks to everyone who took part in this year’s competition. I’d also like to thank all the teachers, principals and school staff who supported the Something Fishy programme and competition over the last year.”

The overall winners will receive a fishing kit to the value of €100 and runners-up will receive an outdoor field trip kit to the value of €50. Third-placed winners and special category winners will receive goody bags.

“This year we received fantastic entries from budding poets and nature enthusiasts. With a total of 114 entries in the competition for its second year running, it is encouraging to see the interest amongst young people across Ireland,” said Dr Susan Gibney, director of the Blackrock Education Centre.

“Competitions like this not only help with student’s literacy skills but also expands their knowledge of the biodiversity that exists around them in our lakes and rivers.”

All winning poems from the 2021 Something Fishy national poetry competition can be read at somethingfishy.ie/schools

Published in Angling
Page 8 of 37

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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