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Sword of Damocles

Is Brexit "the sword of Damocles hanging over the European fishing industry?" As the British Government seems to be giving mixed messages about how it will control its fishing waters after Brexit.

In this edition of the Fisheries Podcast, Marine Tines Deputy Editor, Tom MacSweeney. discusses the issue with Francis O'Donnell, Chief Executive of the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation.


When Donald Trump was elected President he did so on a crest of accusations of 'fake news' and lies by the traditional media. When challenged by factual-based questions, or accusations, he would simply reply that this was 'more of the media's lies and fake news'. It is a strategy of answering by accusation rather than answering by way of substance.

So says noted Fisheries Solicitor Dermot Conway writing about 'The Danger of Spin' in the September edition of the MARINE TIMES. He says that it is "nothing short of appalling to watch TD's accept at face value all sort of nasty assertions being peddled about the fishing industry, without any questioning" and "a disgrace to see public representatives forming opinions based on 'fake news'.

"The fishing industry, in my opinion," he writes "is currently facing an onslaught of 'fake news' accusations which is nearly impossible to deal with. I refer to the recent media coverage of the employment of Non-EEA Fishermen and the work permit system. On the 4th of July a Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting was told:

"There are only 42 permits today in existence today for an industry that has more than 1,500 migrant workers". My office alone has renewed over 123 such permits in 2017 alone. Where did 42 permits come from?



Returning Irish holidaymakers impressed by European seafood, but did it come from Irish waters and could it be part of BIM's figures for increased landings, but not by Irish boats?

The topic of this edition of the FISHERIES PODCAST by Marine Times Deputy Editor,
Tom MacSweeney

Saint Rosa at Killybegs - Photo by Mark Mc Carthy, Editor, Marine Times Newspaper.

The Fisheries Podcast

Tom MacSweeney

The new MARINE TIMES Podcast Service
(click on photo to listen)

"Sword of Damocles"
Is Brexit "the sword of Damocles hanging over the European fishing industry?" As the British Government seems to be giving mixed messages about how it will control its fishing waters after Brexit.

In this edition of the Fisheries Podcast, Marine Tines Deputy Editor, Tom MacSweeney. discusses the issue with Francis O'Donnell, Chief Executive of the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation.

THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme is produced with the support of the Marine Times. Listen to the latest programme here.


Kilkenny, though known as the 'Marble City,' would not be considered a maritime city, but it was from there that a husband-and-wife made a major lifestyle change when they moved to Kilmackillogue in County Kerry to grow oysters. It has been tough, challenging, but rewarding they say as they tell their story on this edition of the programme which also has some of the most amazing underwater sounds ever recorded. They are part of the 'Song of the Humpback Whale,' and they herald the arrival of the whale season in Irish waters. The programme also has the astonishing report of public disregard for water safety on the beaches of County Clare.

As always, intriguing and interesting stories on THIS ISLAND NATION, the maritime programme for MARITIME IRELAND.

The programme is presented here by
Marine Times Deputy Editor, Tom MacSweeney

New visitor attraction overlooking Kenmare Bay to celebrate Ireland’s mussel industry
BIM launch the ‘The Mussel House’ as part of ‘Taste the Atlantic- a Seafood Journey’

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, in partnership with Failte Ireland, today (Tuesday, 12th September) officially launched a new visitor attraction on the ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ trail to celebrate Ireland’s rope mussel industry. ‘The Mussel House’ overlooking the stunning Kenmare Bay tells the story of an industry which began in the early 1970’s which is now valued at €6.5 million. The modern and sustainable rope-grown mussel industry is concentrated in the South West of Ireland and produces almost 10,000 tonnes of mussels grown on special ‘long lines’ for both the Irish and export market each year.

Is The Sea Fisheries Amendment Bill Incoherent?

This week the Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed, made a major attack on the British Government, describing its approach to Brexit negotiations as "incoherent."

The Minister was very strong in his comments about the official British attitude. The Government there had "no coherence" around their strategy, he said.

His comments have not been particularly well received in British Government circles. They came at the same time as his policy towards the fishing industry in the context of the Sea Fisheries Bill was described as "unbelievable" as he continues with efforts to try to get it through the Seanad where it is at the Committee Stage.

"It is unreal that this is still going ahead," said the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation.

Could this be an "incoherent" policy approach by the Minister, or is it being forced upon him by his officials?

Those questions are being raised within the fishing industry because of the widespread repercussions which are feared as a result of the content of the Bill which, according to legal advice, could widen considerably access by all EU vessels within the 0-6 miles territorial limits. With British withdrawal from the EU and though the Government maintains that the Bill is an agreement only with Northern Ireland, that could be successfully legally challenged and used to apply to all other EU boats as the Irish Government will have no rights to make separate agreements with the UK and what is now being done in the Bill could be used to demand widen access to Irish waters for all EU fishing vessels.

This week's FISHERIES PODCAST examines the term "incoherent" as it might apply in the context of the Sea Fisheries Amendment Bill.

Fiction and Facts - It's Time the Fishing Industry Took A Stand

On the 4th of July this year the International Transport Federation and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland made a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Jobs and Enterprise about the alleged widespread abuse of migrant workers within the Irish Fishing Industry. According to Francis O'Donnell, Chief Executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO), the Fishing Industry was dragged through the gutter once again and all kinds of allegations were made under the protection of privilege against the Irish Fishing industry and various agencies such as the WRC and the Gardai. The latter two are charged with policing the permit system for migrant workers.

€1.6m in EMFF Grant Awards for Aquaculture Investment and Research

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., has announced the award of a further €1,574,611 in grants to 11 aquaculture enterprises and 4 third level research institutions in 8 different counties under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme for the seafood sector. The grant awards will support total investment of €3 million in capital investment and applied research in the aquaculture sector. The grants are co-funded by the Exchequer and EU and subject to terms and conditions.

Minister Creed said, “I am pleased to announce a continued and increasing level of capital investment in our aquaculture sector which will underpin our ambitions to significantly grow our production in the coming years. I am delighted also to see recent efforts by my Department and BIM to encourage our third level institutions to become involved in the research agenda for the sector coming to fruition with three of our best third level institutions receiving approval for applied research to assist our sector in innovating and developing new technical knowledge to support the sustainable growth of the sector, together with two further industry research projects. This government is committed to building opportunities for those in coastal communities and the seafood sector”


BIM - Taste the Atlantic - 2017 from Bord Iascaigh Mhara on Vimeo.

September 2017 Issue - Vol 30 No.04

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Harvest Moon Celebration for Culture Night at Hook Lighthouse

Hook Lighthouse is set to host its second annual Harvest Moon celebration this Culture Night, September 22nd 2017. Visitors can enjoy watching the sunset and the harvest moon rise over Hook Peninsula beneath the protective beam of the world’s oldest intact operational lighthouse.

According to Manager at the Lighthouse, Ann Waters, “The tip of the Hook Peninsula is the ideal spot for watching the slideshow of nature in the skies. During sunrise, sunset, moonrises and on starry nights the Hook Peninsula offers incredible vistas. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone for the Harvest Moon Celebration and we know it will offer ample opportunity for great photographs so we will host a photographic competition during the event and a prize for the best Harvest Moon at Hook Lighthouse photograph is also up for grabs.”

From 6pm the Lighthouse Visitor Centre will open especially late, and invites visitors to come along and find a spot on the straw bales around the fire-pits on the lighthouse lawns and watch nature at its best during the autumn equinox, enjoy some treats from the Hook Lighthouse Barbeque and some Hook Pilsner and sample the brand new Hook beers and a harvest brew from Arthurstown Brewing Company which have all been brewed from the harvesting of locally grown malted barley.

Musician Brendan Keane will be playing some songs from his forthcoming album, 'Dreaming in Parallel'. Keane has opened, in a solo acoustic capacity, for some of Ireland, and the world's, biggest acts including Status Quo, Rod Stewart, the Christians, multiple Grammy-winner, Albert Lee, Mundy, Jack L, Juliet Turner, Declan O'Rourke, Nina Hynes, Ezio, Don Baker and Mary Black to name but a few. He will be joined by fellow singer-songwriters, Shane Kenny and Jimi Cullen. Kenny, who was signed to an American record label and shared stages with some of Ireland's foremost international stars, will be performing songs from his latest album while Cullen, who will be showcasing material from his three albums, to-date, has been described as 'what you might get if Bob Dylan had a baby with John Prine and fostered it out to Neil Young and Woody Guthrie'. The Hooks and Crookes sea shanty singers will also be on hand to perform some favourite sea faring songs.

A photography competition also forms part of the celebration event, anyone who wishes to have their image considered for the competition can email their image with their details to info@hookheritage.ie by 5pm on September 25th

For those wishing to climb the tower a limited number of €30 tickets will be available for the Sunset Tour Experience, offering visitors the opportunity to take a guided tour up the 115 well-worn steps of the medieval tower and step onto the top floor outdoor balcony to take in the 360degree sweeping views of the Southeast of Ireland. Tours culminate with the spectacular panoramic views as visitors savour Irish mead, prosecco, fresh tea and coffee along with Ballyhack smokehouse smoked salmon on homemade brown bread, a selection of homemade canapés in the lighthouse watch-room and balcony while the sun sets. Tickets can be booked in advance by calling 051 397055 and for further details see www.hookheritage.ie

The celebration of the harvest moon originated in Europe. They rejoiced in the fact that just when days were getting shorter, the harvest moon in the fact that just when days were getting shorter, the harvest moon arrived to extend the hours that harvesting could be done.

The harvest moon is the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. This usually falls in September, but it can also fall in October. Usually, the moon will rise around 50 minutes later than it did the night before. But during the harvest moon, it rises around the same time every evening. Sometimes it feels as though there is a week of full moons.

Eight separate fish kills last year as a result of farming activity

Inland Fisheries Ireland has issued an appeal to farmers to remain vigilant during the summer months when harvesting silage and spreading slurry to avoid water pollution and the loss of nutrients to water. There were 31 separate fish kills across the country last year, with eight of those directly attributable to agricultural activities.

The eight fish kills caused by agricultural practises in 2016 occurred in Meath (x 1), Kilkenny (x 1), Cork (x 3), Kerry (x 1), Sligo (x 1) and Galway (x 1). Fish killed in these incidents included brown trout, atlantic salmon, eel, stone loach and stickleback. In addition to the agricultural related kills, two fish kills were as a result of municipal works and one by industrial works. In four instances, the exact cause of the fish kill was difficult to ascertain while 16 incidents of fish kills were as a result of disease and natural causes.

As agriculture was the largest identifiable and avoidable attributing factor to fish kills last year, farmers are reminded of the importance of managing their silage operations correctly. Silage operations are ongoing all summer and silage effluent has the potential to cause devastating pollution in streams and rivers. Silage effluent is a significant polluting substance, starving fish and invertebrate life of oxygen, resulting in potentially massive fish kills if it enters a watercourse. With some rivers low during summertime with little dilution capacity, the effect of a small leak can cause huge damage.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is advising farmers to follow its simple six point plan to ensure good farmyard management and reduce their risk of polluting:

Use round bales as the most environmentally friendly way to store silage.
If a silage pit is being used, ensure it is properly sealed to prevent leakage from under the slab.
Carry out slurry spreading in dry weather and never when heavy rain is forecast.
Never spread slurry close to a watercourse, be aware of the slope of land to the watercourse.
Do not clean tanks beside any watercourse, stream or a river.
Do not allow any effluent or washings to enter any rainwater gully.
Dr Greg Forde, Head of Operations at Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “Inland Fisheries Ireland is grateful to the farming community for their continued consideration and vigilance. Good farmyard management can help to prevent accidental runs of polluting substances and protect the local environment. This will have a significant and lasting positive impact on valuable wild fish populations in an area.”

Inland Fisheries Ireland manages a wide range of environmental issues which can affect the fisheries resource with over 22,000 environmental inspections carried out in 2016 across industrial, forestry, engineering, water treatment and wind farms sites. There were 1,553 inspections across farmyards to help identify any risks and prevent damage to the local aquatic habitat.

Inland Fisheries Ireland has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing – 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.

Dermot Conway

The Danger of Spin
Fisheries Solicitor Dermot Conway writes that it is “nothing short of appalling to watch TD’s accept at face value all sort of nasty assertions being peddled about the fishing industry, without any questioning” and “a disgrace to see public representatives forming opinions based on ‘fake news’.

Art Kavanagh

Unity is the Key
BIM held their Annual National Seafood Conference in Galway on 29th June and there was a good attendance. Overall it was a good day and there was general agreement at least from those I spoke with that the atmosphere was good and positive.

We need to talk about super trawlers ...
Liadh Ni Riada, MEP

"In an effort to highlight the seriousness of what may be about to happen as a result of the “so called” public consultation on reviewing our fishing boat licence policy, a number of us fishermen have decided that we can no longer remain silent while PO’s, governments and state agencies continue to mismanage Ireland’s fishing industry for the benefit of a small number of players in return for political advantage."

Rogues Gallery is back - see page 30 of our September 2017 issue to see if you made the cut ;0) Photo above courtesy of William Power

"Sea Strike" by MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy

MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, in Cork recently released a short fun animation with a message of significant impact, reminding us about our engagement with the ocean. With the opening statement "what has the sea ever done for us?" the film reports on 'the sea threatening to take strike action and was last seen heading to the moon disillusioned by how it was being treated on Earth'


Highlighting the importance of learning more about the ocean, Ciaran Kelly, policy, innovation and research manager at the Marine Institute congratulated the project team on the short film. "It is a novel animation which reminds us of how we all enjoy the benefits from the ocean both socially and economically, directly and indirectly; yet the film also provides a stark reminder of the fact that the ocean is not an infinite resource".

As an island nation, Ireland has a marine area that is ten times the size of its land area above the sea, and the majority of Ireland's population lives with 50km of the ocean. With a humorous element added to the short film, it demonstrates how we rely on the ocean for food and that over 50% of the oxygen we breathe came from marine plants in the ocean called phytoplankton. The ocean also supports many industries from fishing, aquaculture to energy and is a means for trade and transport, as well as providing us with the benefits of social and leisure activities generating a significant tourism trade.

Shared via social media, the film simply conveys information on complex scientific issues such as climate change and marine pollution it engages its audience in a way that relates to their everyday lives around the world and in Ireland. "To 'bring back the ocean', the film reminds us of our rich maritime heritage in Ireland. It promotes how taking small actions can create big impacts, from getting involved in beach cleans, to being aware of how we shop, as well as supporting research and innovation, can all improve the impacts on the ocean resource," Kelly further said.

Supporting the national government strategy Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – an integrated marine plan for Ireland, along with the objectives of the EU Blue Growth Strategy and EU Strategy for the Atlantic focusing on ocean literacy, the Marine Institute has provided modest grants to a number of organisations to complete film projects about the ocean. The 2016 pilot media award grants for producing film pieces relevant to ocean literacy were also provided to:

Dearcán Media - John Philip Holland Documentary, English translation
Scannáin Inbhear - Bringing the "Atlantic" documentary to the classroom
University College Cork - Oceans of Life Animation
The animation "Sea Strike" was made with the support from the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy and a Marine Institute Ocean Awareness Grant.

The Marine Institute is Ireland's national research agency for marine research, technology development and innovation, and is responsible for promoting the sustainable development of Ireland's resource through coordinated and focused research, leading to sound and accurate management advice for the Government, industry and the EU.

Scientists develop new technology to predict how marine life will fare in warmer seas

Using a novel system to conduct warming experiments in real marine habitats, scientists in Plymouth have demonstrated that seawater warming of the magnitude already experienced during ‘marine heatwaves’ causes major changes in underwater communities of microbes and animals.

Understanding the responses of populations and communities to climate change is a major focus of contemporary ecology. Most studies on the effects of ocean warming are based on observations in the natural world or on experiments conducted in highly controlled laboratory conditions. A research team, led by scientists at the Marine Biological Association (MBA) in Plymouth, designed and developed a system that allows for precise control of seawater temperature in situ, in order to experimentally examine the effects of warming on a diverse range of marine organisms in their natural setting.

Heated panels were suspended in coastal water and were colonized by a range of marine life. The scientists looked in particular at marine microbes (bacteria and protists), and at larger attached invertebrates such as sea squirts and bryozoans. The ‘heated settlement panel system’ successfully controlled seawater temperature in a marine habitat for 40 days, and the responses of marine microbes and invertebrates was examined. Seawater warming of 3°C and 5°C caused major changes in the diversity and abundance of the marine organisms studied, showing that complex communities are potentially highly sensitive to increased temperature.

Dr Dan Smale, Research Fellow at the MBA said “the surprising finding of the study was how very different groups of organisms, ranging from bacteria to sea squirts, responded similarly to the warming treatments. This shows how important temperature is in driving the structure of communities and suggests that temperatures experienced during extreme warming events alter biological diversity in coastal habitats.”

Study Finds Microplastic Pollution is Increasing on Irish Continental Shelf

NUI Galway researchers provide the first assessment of microplastic pollution in marine sediments from the Irish continental shelf

Friday, 8 September, 2017: Researchers from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway have conducted the first study that investigates microplastic pollution of marine sediments on the Irish continental shelf. The study was published this week in the international journal Scientific Reports.

Pollution from plastic entering into the ocean is a global issue that impacts marine life at all trophic levels as well as economically important ecosystems. Microplastics (plastics smaller than 0.5mm) are widely dispersed throughout the marine environment. An understanding of the distribution and accumulation of this form of pollution is crucial for gauging environmental risk. In this study the researchers provide the first assessment of microplastic pollution in sediments and bottom waters collected from the Irish continental shelf. More specifically, this study investigated the history of microplastic deposition on the seafloor and examined how sedimentation regimes, proximity to densely populated areas, and maritime activities may impact microplastic pollution and deposition in marine sediments.

The results demonstrate that microplastic contamination is present along the western Irish continental shelf regardless of proximity to densely populated areas. The study found that a shallow layer of microplastics has formed along the Irish seafloor within marine sediments and their overlaying bottom waters. It also found a statistically significant trend of a rapid decrease in microplastic abundance with sediment depth within the fisheries near Galway Bay, which supports the assumption that microplastic deposition is increasing over time in this area. All recovered microplastics were classified as secondary microplastics as they appear to be remnants of larger items; fibres being the principal form of microplastic pollution (85%), followed by broken fragments (15%). The range of polymer types, colours and physical forms recovered suggests a variety of sources that may originate from plastic polymer fishing gear or land based contributions from nearby industry, water treatment plants, or households.

Dr Audrey Morley, senior author of the study and lecturer in Physical Geography at NUI Galway, said: “The pervasive presence of microplastics on the Irish Sea floor bares significant risks for economically important Irish fisheries, for example the Galway Bay Prawn (Nephrops Norvegicus). A previous study from Scottish fisheries has shown that prawns tend to ingest high concentrations of microplastic fibres when exposed to this type of pollution.

“Our results show that the Galway Bay Prawn fishery may be experiencing high exposure to this form of pollution with potential detrimental repercussions for this species, including reduced fitness and potential reproductive failure. However, more research is needed to understand the mechanisms influencing interactions of microplastics with individual species and ecosystems.”

This research was an NUI Galway student-led investigation by Mr Jake Martin, a graduate of the Masters Programme in Marine and Coastal Environments: Policy and Practice within the Discipline of Geography. For his achievements he has received the Professor Micheál Ó Cinnéide Award for Academic Excellence and is the lead-author of this publication.

This research was funded by a GSI Short Call from the Geological Survey of Ireland and a grant-in-aid for Ship-time on the RV Celtic Voyager from the Marine Institute of Ireland.

To read the full paper in Scientific Reports, visit: http://rdcu.be/vECw

Recent Archives

Investment of over €400,000 for 13 Coastal Community Projects across Louth, Meath and Dublin

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D. joined BIM, Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency and the North East Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) in the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin to announce grant aid of €219,310 to 13 distinctive maritime projects across coastal communities in counties Louth, Meath and Dublin that will deliver a total investment of €434,337.

FLAG West Fisheries Local Action Group Strategy announces support for 33 distinctive community projects across Clare & Galway to the tune of €411,099

Seán Kyne T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs, and Digital Development today, Friday 14th July, travelled to Inis Oírr on the Aran Islands to announce the West Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) support for 33 projects along the Atlantic coastlines of counties Clare, Galway and the Aran Islands.

29 Local Community Projects to Deliver Investment of over €645,000 under EMFF South East Fisheries Local Action Group Programme

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D. announced the latest tranche of funding under the Southeast FLAG, Fisheries Local Action Group programme at a reception in the Arklow Bay Hotel in the coastal fishing town of Arklow in Co Wicklow this morning Monday 10th July.

South West FLAG Strategy - 10 Fisheries Local Action Group Projects to Deliver Investment of €162,000

Newly appointed Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport with special responsibility for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. announced the South West FLAG, (Fisheries Local Action Group) Strategy at a seafood breakfast in the award winning Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant in Cromane, Killorglin, Kerry.

153 Successful Projects Worth €3.6 million Under EMFF Fisheries Local Action Group Scheme

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D. visited the renowned Ballycotton Harbour today (Thursday 8th June) to announce a range of successful projects that will deliver a total investment of €3.6 million under the innovative and inspiring Fisheries Local Area Action Group (FLAG) Strategy for Ireland’s 7 coastal regions. The FLAG Scheme is co-funded by the Exchequer and the EU under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme 2014-20. Over the duration of the EMFF programme, the FLAG Scheme will deliver €12 million in funding to Ireland’s coastal communities.

President Higgins Supports the Island Communities
News from the offshore islands from
Rhoda Twombly,
Secretary Comhdháil Oileán nahEireann

Summer is always a busy time and there is plenty of activity from the smallest to the largest of our Islands. But first off, I'd like to thank President and Mrs Higgins for the wonderful garden party they hosted in June at Áras an Uachtaráin for 400 Islanders.

SeaFest 2017 nets 101,000 visitors

SeaFest sees 68% growth in visitors numbers in one year