Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Commercial Fishing News from Ireland
Former Defence Forces chief of staff Mark Mellett
The Russian military exercises which had been due to take place within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone ( EEZ) raise some serious questions, according to former Defence Forces chief of staff Mark Mellett. Mellett believes the Russian Federation’s original plan was…
The International Transport Workers' Federation says it is handing in a study Maynooth University conducted on migrant fishing crew to a Government review today. The study by Maynooth University’s law department on the experiences of non-EEA workers in the Irish…
Map showing the area (in red) where Russia planned to conduct military manoeuvres
Ireland has the legal right to say “no” to Russia or any other state seeking to conduct military exercises within an exclusive economic zone, an international maritime law expert has said. As The Times Ireland edition reports, Prof Clive Symmons,…
Cuvier’s beaked whale
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it supports the call for a moratorium on military exercises within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Both the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters…
Ros a Mhíl - A Strategic Hub for the Development and Support of the Offshore Wind Industry on the West Coast of Ireland will benefit from a new deepwater quay
A 25 million euro deepwater development of the Connemara fishing port of Ros-a-Mhíl is due to be announced today by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue. Construction of a 200-metre deepwater quay at the State-owned harbour and island ferryport may also…
Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said that “Irish fishermen got their diplomatic game on! “
The EU’s fisheries commissioner has paid tribute to Irish fishermen for their role in shifting the location of Russian military exercises outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In a tweet, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said that “Irish fishermen got their…
CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan interviews Patrick Murphy and Alan Carleton live on air
Cork fishermen have gone viral after appearing on a worldwide news broadcast to discuss Russia’s planned offshore military drills. CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan — who hails from Kerry — tweeted a clip of the interview he conducted with the fishers…
The six-metre fishing vessel Myia (pictured right) from which fisherman Tom Oliver was dragged over the stern in a fatal accident in November 2020.
The Department of Transport has issued a reminder of a number of Marine Notices regarding safety at sea, following the recommendations of a report into a fatal incident involving a fishing boat near Galway city 15 months ago. As previously…
Map showing the area (in red) where Russia plans to conduct military manoeuvres from next week
Two fishing industry organisations have sought to clarify what they describe as “confusion” in some media outlets over their talks with Russian ambassador Yuriy Filatov on the forthcoming Russian military exercises off the south-west Irish coast. Irish South and West…
The Russian “spy ship”, the Yantor, which turned up off the Donegal coast last August.
The Russian Embassy in Ireland has described as “constructive” and “positive” the outcome of discussions with two Irish fishing industry organisations in relation to proposed Russian military exercises next week in the Porcupine Seabight off the south-west Irish coast. Irish…
Loughros Beg Bay in Co Donegal
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is seeking submissions in relation to a proposal to restrict the commercial salmon draft net season on the Loughros estuary in Co Donegal in 2022 to fishing between 1 and 21 July. The proposed changes are…
Russian Ambassador Yuriy Filatov
Irish fishermen planning a peaceful protest over Russian naval exercises off the south-west Irish coast have been invited to talks by the Russian Ambassador to Ireland. Ambassador Yuriy Filatov asked members of the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation…
Ireland’s inshore fishing sector is made up of some 1,800 vessels, that catch a range of fish and shellfish species while typically operating in waters close to the coast.
A scheme to support Ireland’s inshore fishing sector to adjust their business to the post-Brexit market has opened for applications today following the announcement by the Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. on January 14. Ireland’s inshore fishing sector…
Hauling a survey catch on the RV Celtic Explorer during the Irish Groundfish Survey
Fisheries research undertaken by Marine Institute scientists features in a new short documentary from Europe's leading international news channel. Produced by Euronews, ‘Where’s the catch? The fishery surveys keeping our seas sustainable’ follows the RV Celtic Explorer during the annual…
The beam trawler Mary Kate was bought in the Netherlands by CJ Gaffney of Arklow, Co Wicklow and his father in 2007
Independent Senator Victor Boyhan has given his backing to a skipper’s battle for redress over the purchase of a fishing trawler that proved to be dangerously unstable, according to The Fishing Daily. As previously reported on Afloat.ie, CJ Gaffney and…
File image of a Cuvier’s beaked whale
Irish fishing crews are planning to peacefully disrupt the planned Russian military exercise off the Cork coast next month, as RTÉ News reports. Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, said he told an…

Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating