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Commercial Fishing News from Ireland
Roni Hawe (left) presents the 2018 Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review with Sarah Clarke and Oliver Tully of the Marine Institute at the Irish Skipper Expo in March 2019
Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has appointed Roni Hawe as Registrar General of Fishing Boats with effect from 1 September 2021. Previously principal of the Sea Fisheries Administration, Hawe succeeds Kevin Moriarty as the licensing authority for sea fishing boats in…
Kevin Baird (left) Harbour Master with Berthing Master Ewan Scott and one of 26 cages that will be suspended under the pontoon walkways at Bangor Marina and will be populated with highly prized Loch Ryan Oysters
Did you know that our Native oysters have been an important food source for centuries - the Romans even exported them back to Italy! The first report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in 1780 and…
Work on Ocean Mural in Vilnius Commences
An internationally-renowned team of Spanish artists has been creating a large mural in the Lithuanian home base of the EU Environment and Oceans commissioner this week to inspire action on climate breakdown. The Boa Mistura team of artists have been…
A Workplace Relations Commission Inspector found that fishing is an industry that is subject to some very challenging weather conditions and the safety of fishermen is of paramount importance
The Workplace Relations Commission has directed that over 20,000 euro in compensation be paid to an Egyptian fisherman employed on an Irish vessel for breaches of his working time and payment of wages legislation. Egyptian national Ali Rezk (63) was…
The Aran Islands all-weather Severn class lifeboat
Aran Islands RNLI came to the aid of two fishermen yesterday evening after their vessel got into difficulty off Nags Head in county Clare. The volunteer crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class…
Dublin Port’s main operations on the Northside of the Liffey
The European Union (Minimum Safety and Health Requirements for Improved Medical Treatment on Board Vessels) Regulations 2021 transpose into Irish law European Council Directive 92/29/EEC (as amended) concerning the minimum health and safety requirements for improved medical treatment on board…
Hand brailing herring in Bangor Harbour
It’s been seven years since herring were landed in Bangor on Belfast Lough, but the Fairwind whose home port is Kilkeel on the Mourne coast in south Down, landed its catch in the harbour last week. The crew transferred the…
Killybegs Harbour project is aimed at reducing emissions by allowing diesel engines on trawlers, that would normally be running to heat and provide power, to be replaced by clean mains power while in port.
Killybegs Harbour's new system to allow trawlers to use “shore power” when in port – thereby cutting out harmful emissions from diesel generators – has been welcomed by Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue. Providing electricity to trawlers and ships…
Outline of the Dogger Bank in the North Sea between Great Britain and Denmark
A report in The Guardian says Denmark has accused the UK of reneging on the post-Brexit fisheries deal by pushing for a ban on bottom trawling at the Dogger Bank. Danish boats have fished the area for hundreds of years…
Overhead shot of a pile of oysters
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is now inviting applications from oyster fishers seeking a licence to operate an oyster dredge for the 2022 season. Applications will only be accepted from applicants with boats on the sea fishing boat register of the…
Report of Seafood Sector Task Force
Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue is expected to present a memo on the Government’s seafood task force report to Cabinet this week. Mr McConalogue is requesting that the Cabinet notes the report, while he awaits a review on its recommendations.…
Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue
The Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D. met virtually today with the members of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF). Minister McConalogue welcomed those representatives from the six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums who were attending the NIFF for the…
Blue and white fishing net
The Irish fisheries market both at home and abroad experienced an “extremely fragile” situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Annual Review and Outlook for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Published today (Wednesday 10 November) by…
Stop Finning campaign graphic
An EU-wide campaign against the shark fin trade in Europe is seeking votes from the public to take the matter to the European Parliament. The removal of fins on board EU fishing vessels and in EU waters is prohibited by…
File image of fishing vessels of various sizes in Howth Harbour
The Department of Transport has opened a public consultation as it prepares to publish a revision of its Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels. This Code of Practice sets the standards of safety and protection for all persons on…
At the BIM and Hatch Irish Aquatech Community Day at the RDI Hub in Killorglin: Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM with Kevin Honan, Innovation and Development Director, BIM Wayne Murphy, COO Hatch, Brian Quinn, Wellfish Diagnostics, Tanja Hoel, Innovation Manager at Hatch, Tom Prins, Director of Investment at Aquaspark, Einar Wathne, former CEO of Cargill  Aquanutritio, Terri Smith, Enterprise Ireland and Kate Dempsey, Aqualicense
A total of 9 start-ups with backgrounds in areas including engineering, IT and farming took part in BIM’s Innovation Studio at the RDI Hub in Killorglin this month. The programme, formerly known as BIM’s Aquaculture Accelerator, is run by BIM…

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

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