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MARINE TIMES PODCAST

The European Fisheries Control Agency has chartered three offshore fisheries patrol vessels which will be brought into service from next month under a two-year contract with Sentinel Marine in Holland. They were built in 2018, are overall length of 62 metres each and sail under the Portuguese flag.

It is also planning for the introduction of a new control regulation requiring fishing boats to carry remote electronic monitoring systems onboard. Pilot schemes are being run in a number of EU Member States, but there has been a slow response from the Irish fishing industry to a request for boats to participate.

The Executive Director of the EFCA is Dr.Susan Steele who is originally from the fishing port of Castletownbere in West Cork. A marine biologist, she formerly headed the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and is now based at the Agency headquarters in Vigo, Spain.

Dr. Steele and the current Executive Chair of the SFPA, Paschal Hayes, spoke to Marine Times Deputy Editor, Tom MacSweeney about the system:

You can read more about this development in the December edition of the MARINE TIMES.

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News 7th December:
Fishermen being left behind by rising tide

Morale in the Irish fishing industry is at an all-time low as rocketing fuel costs, shrinking quotas and the lingering legacy of Brexit are all proving extremely problematic, an Oireachtas Committee will be told later today (Wednesday).

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue said the challenges facing the sector are manifold and although complex, his members have presented and agreed solutions to all of the key issues which are realistic, credible and based on scientific evidence. He emphasised the current situation whereby high-level negotiations are ongoing at year end, meaning fishermen still have no coherent nor clear instruction as to what they can catch - and when - for 2023. Full story here

Halt EU Talks on Norway Bid for Ireland’s Blue Whiting

Irish fishing bodies have asked the EU to suspend talks on Norway’s bid for unfettered access to Ireland’s blue whiting grounds. “It’s alarming that the EU could unilaterally negotiate away rights to our blue whiting,” says Aodh O Donnell, chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO). “Meanwhile Norway, a non-EU member, is offering no meaningful reciprocal arrangement to Ireland.”

O Donnell says Ireland has “rich blue whiting fish stocks worth over €160m. Norway already has 18% of the European and coastal states quota for blue whiting – compared to Ireland’s share of just 3%. But they are now seeking further - and unilateral access - to Irish waters, to catch much of their enormous blue whiting quota in 2023 of over 400,000 tonnes. This is being negotiated by the EU on behalf of Ireland, though no agreement has been reached despite two rounds of talks.” Full story here

News 2nd December:
Busy Friday for Wicklow RNLI volunteers

Wicklow RNLI all-weather lifeboat assisted fishing vessels during two separate callouts today (Friday 2 December).

The first callout came at 08:15am following a pager alert with the all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams slipping its moorings at the south quay and proceeding to the casualties last reported position. Full story here

News 28th November:
Three RNLI lifeboat crews receive award for rescue of fishing crew off Fanad Head

Lifeboat crews from Lough Swilly and Arranmore in county Donegal, along with Portrush in county Antrim, have received an award from the RNLI for a callout in 2019, which saw the rescuers at sea for hours in Force 11 conditions. The actions of the lifeboat crews that night, saved the lives of five people onboard a fishing vessel that was in serious trouble. For their outstanding actions at sea, which were conducted in storm force conditions, the three lifeboat crews have received a Chief Executive’s Commendation from the RNLI.

The lifeboat crews had been requested to launch their all-weather lifeboats by Belfast Coastguard on the afternoon of Saturday 14 December 2019, following a Mayday alert from a 45ft fishing boat. The five men who had been fishing for crab, got into difficulty 20 miles north of Fanad Head, when their boat lost power and encountered steering difficulties, while powerful waves struck their vessel. Full story here

News 25th November:
Fishing Organisations Hopeful Following Tánaiste’s Commitment to Develop Fishing

Fishing industry representatives have welcomed a commitment from the Tánaiste that Fine Gael will take a leading role in transforming the fishing sector. The commitments were secured at a series of meetings at the recent Fine Gael Ard Fheis.

“We now have a clear sense that the government is committed to reversing the decline of the Irish fishing industry over the past 20 years,” said Brendan Byrne, CEO of the IFPEA (Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association. Members of the IFPEA , Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO), and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisations (ISWFPO) attended the Ard Fheis. Full story here

News 22nd November:
New inland lifeboat station now complete and operational at Enniskillen RNLI on Lower Lough Erne

The RNLI’s new inland lifeboat station on Lower Lough Erne is complete and fully operational. The station team is now looking for new volunteers to join the crew in several roles including lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authorities and fundraisers.

After been housed in temporary accommodation for 21 years, volunteers at Enniskillen RNLI were handed the keys to their new state of the art building on the Killadeas Road at Gublusk earlier this month. Full story here

News 16th November:
Tell Norway No Way – Hands Off Irish Blue Whiting
Fishing Bodies Say EU Must Deny Norway Access To Our Blue Whiting

Norway is seeking greater access to fish their annual quotas in Irish waters, while offering no reciprocal arrangement for Ireland to their own seas. Fishing representatives in Ireland are demanding that the EU refuse Norway access to the Irish Box for the lucrative blue whiting catch.

The fishing and seafood sector is appealing to the Minister for the Marine to ensure that the EU blocks Norway, a non-EU member, from gaining unilateral access to our blue whiting grounds. “The EU already threw Ireland under the bus when it came to quota cuts after Brexit,” says Aodh O Donnell, chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO). Full story here

Government Has Failed Completely in Responding to the Fishing Industry in a Time of Real Difficulty - Pringle

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Government has failed to respond to the cost-of-living crisis that businesses are facing, and failed to support the fishing community at this difficult time.

Addressing the Dáil, Deputy Pringle said: “I support the creation of the Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme, developed under the provisions of the EU Temporary Crisis Framework, to support firms struggling with the economic difficulties resulting from the aggression against Ukraine by Russia. Recent months have been very difficult for small business owners, particularly those in rural Ireland,” he said. The deputy said energy costs aren’t the only significant increases they have had to endure. Full story here

News 10th November:
Making Seas Safe for Offshore Wind Energy Development

As the Taoiseach commits to accelerating offshore wind development at COP 27, maritime and shipping leaders gathering at a global conference in Dublin next week will explore the safety issues involved.

‘Navigating to 2050 – a safe and sustainable maritime future’ takes place online and in Dublin Castle on 15th and 16th of November. It’s organised by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and CEO, Yvonne Shields O’Connor says the focus is on safe and sustainable navigation of the seas.

"Our conference is set against the backdrop of COP 27. So, it’s very timely to address the safety issues involved in building a new regulatory framework to enable the development of offshore renewable projects.” Ms Shields O’Connor says this “creates a momentum for our conference which has a full session dedicated to planning for safety of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) developments at sea.” Speakers include leading figures from Irish, European and international maritime bodies and industries. Full story here

News 3rd November:
Ireland has more fisheries inspectors than France and Spain combined - IFPEA
Ireland according to EU list of Union inspectors has 241!

Brendan Byrne, CEO of the IFPEA speaking to the Marine Times states that "On a recent trip to the EU institutions, the EU authorities there were keen to point out that Ireland has the highest rate of inspectors in all of Europe, in fact Ireland, I was told has as many fisheries inspectors as France and Spain combined or looking at it another way Ireland has 21 more inspectors than Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands and Denmark combined.

"I challenged the validity of their claims as I could not believe, what I was being told and I was duly given the List of Union inspectors pursuant to Council regulation (EC) No 1224/2009. Full story here

News 21st October:
Seafood Sector ‘Hopeful’ on Fuel Aid
Industry Expects Minister McConalogue to Announce National Scheme Shortly

Fishing and seafood organisations say they’re ‘hopeful’ that the Minister for the Marine is about to announce a national fuel aid scheme for the Irish fleet.

They believe the Minister now agrees that escalating fuel costs are causing serious difficulties for the industry. EU funding is already in place to support such a scheme, but to date, Ireland had failed to implement one. Full story here

News 14th October:
Minister Must Consult Fishing Industry on Offshore Wind Farms

The Irish fishing industry say they have a right to be consulted about offshore wind farms because it affects their livelihoods. Spokesperson Aodh O Donnell says every industry needs to co-operate to reduce fossil fuels but “co-operation works both ways and we are not being consulted.”

“Fishing interests are affected by both the location and operation of wind farms,” says Aodh, who is chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO). “Available charts indicate that most of the rich Irish Sea fishing area is targeted for turbine development. Fishing vessels could be displaced if there is an untrammelled development of Offshore Wind Turbines. Our industry has already taken too many hits, but proper consultation could allow us all to co-exist.” Full story here

Irish Fish Processors and Exporters (IFPEA) Express Concerns at Rate and Scale of Proposed Off Shore Energy Projects

At the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) held in Dublin on the 12th October, members expressed concern at the rate of new projects for off shore energy being proposed and the massive scale of some of these projects. While at the same time there is absolutely no statutory process to insure adequate public consultation or to afford the rights to the fishing industry that no displacement takes place and jeopardise their livelihoods.

The fishing industry are keenly aware of the need to secure additional energy supplies and increase our renewable capacity as a country, but we must not do this at the cost to the Irish fishing industry or our coastal communities. In fact, the fishing industry themselves are extremely high energy users, that being said we need to be mindful the seas around Ireland are the working place for many, and from these seas over 16,000 fishing industry jobs depend on it. Full story here

News 12th October:
Non-EEA Fishermen in Irish fleet to Become Eligible for Employment Permits

Government has approved the publication of the Review of the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet. This report and its recommendations follow an extensive consultation process with stakeholders involved in the scheme.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue jointly welcome government support for the recommended changes to the employment of non-EEA fishers in the Irish fishing fleet. Full story here

News 6th October:
Ireland’s New Research Vessel RV Tom Crean Commissioned in Dingle

Named the RV Tom Crean, after the Irish Explorer from Kerry who undertook three ground-breaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century, the vessel will enable Ireland to undertake cutting edge scientific surveys that deepen our understanding of the ocean and place the Marine Institute as a leader in marine science.

The RV Tom Crean was commissioned at a special event in Dingle Harbour by Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine; “I don’t need to remind anyone here today that Irelands oceans are vital to our economy, our environment, and many aspects of our daily lives. The RV Tom Crean will undertake essential scientific work, which will support many of the projects outlined in the Programme for Government; including fisheries assessments (so crucial to our coastal communities), food security, offshore renewable energy, marine spatial planning, marine protected areas and assist the State in addressing the challenges of climate change.” Full story here

News 5th October:
Minister presents CFP Review Group Final Report to Government

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. has presented the final report of the Common Fisheries Policy Review Group to the Cabinet.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the European Commission must report to the European Parliament and Council on the functioning of the CFP by the end of 2022. In February 2022, Minister McConalogue established a national Common Fisheries Policy Review Group of relevant stakeholders to examine the issues that arise for Ireland in the context of the Commission’s Review, to advise him on priorities for the negotiations, and to identify strategies most likely to influence the outcome of the review. Full story here

News 3rd October:
Aran Islands RNLI officially opens new Visitor Experience and lifeboat shop on Inis Mór

Aran Islands RNLI officially opened their new shop and Visitor Experience on Inis Mór this weekend, raising vital funds for the charity that saves lives at sea and awareness of the work of the lifeboat crew serving the islands. The sun came out for the grand opening, which took place on Saturday (1 October). The honour of cutting the ribbon fell to mother and daughter, Margaret Gill and Lena O’Connell. Both RNLI volunteers, Margaret is Treasurer of the Aran Islands fundraising branch with almost 40 years of service to the charity, while Lena is the station Lifeboat Press Officer and a fundraiser.

The new shop is located next to the Aran Islands lifeboat station at Kilronan Pier while the Visitor Experience is inside the boathall. The shop offers a wide range of RNLI branded goods, including clothing and accessories, toys and stationery. It is expected to open seven days a week during the tourist season from Easter through to Autumn and will coincide with the ferry timings to and from the island. Full story here

Port of Cork shares its Masterplan 2050 vision for future of Cork Harbour

Signalling further ambitious growth following the successful launch of Cork Container Terminal (CCT) on Friday, September 23rd, the Port of Cork Company (PoCC) plans to share the emerging concepts of its ‘Port Masterplan 2050’. The Port will be hosting dedicated Public Consultation Days in Cork city and county from Wednesday, October 5th to Friday, October 7th 2022, showcasing the concepts of its vision for the future.

The ‘Port Masterplan 2050’, will allow the company to adapt to a shifting landscape in port operations and plan its development as a key global port of the future. Full story here

News 26th September:
Marine Minister Refuses to Draw Down EU Fuel Aid Despite Zero Cost to Irish Exchequer

Fishing industry representatives say they are confounded and disappointed by the Government’s repeated refusal to draw down EU fuel aid. They met with the Minister for the Marine on Friday and urged him to secure the existing EU aid to help with the crippling costs of going to sea.

However, Minister McConalogue failed to meet this demand, although it would incur no cost to the Irish exchequer. Furthermore, a statement issued by the Minister after the meeting on Friday made no reference to the EU fuel aid scheme. Full story here

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