18th December

Irish albacore tuna fishery worth €6.4m annually

Ireland's albacore tuna fishery of 2,367 tonnes quota (2016) is well underway and remains open until the end of September. 

Spain continues to be the main market, accounting for 88% of exports valued at €5.6m in 2015, while France accounted for 9% of exports, valued at €500,000. Total exports increased by 29% on 2014. 

 BIM Business of Seafood

Ireland's albacore tuna fishery began in 1990 when vessels steamed to the Bay of Biscay. Vessels now wait until the albacore migrate closer to the Irish coast, thereby using less fuel and applying a more sustainable approach. Irish boats land into Castletownbere, Baltimore (Co Cork) and Dingle (Co Kerry); the vast majority (88%) are landed into Castletownbere.

A rich source of complete protein, selenium and Vitamin B12, albacore tuna grow to 140cm and can weigh up to 60kg. While one of the smaller tuna species, its pale coloured flesh with firm meaty texture is moist and delicate and is a highly sought-after product.

As a very seasonal fishery, supply can be an issue for seafood processors and retailers. To overcome this challenge, Irish seafood companies, such as Shine's Seafoods, have developed value-added products.

"I was a fisherman for 20 years and have lived in Killybegs, Co Donegal, for the past 30 years. As a result, I am more familiar with the variety of fish caught in our waters. Irish albacore tuna is in my opinion Ireland's best kept secret," remarked John Shine, managing Director.

To create greater awareness on the domestic market, Shine's Seafood has developed a tuna product preserved with olive oil and salt, Shine's Irish Caught Tuna. 

"This allows us to sell this amazing and highly nutritional product all year", available in SuperValu nationwide and in selected gourmet food stores and restaurants.

Ireland's albacore tuna fishery is an example of lesser-known fisheries highlighted in BIM's Business of Seafood - a Snapshot of Ireland's Seafood Sector. Irish seafood is a €1bn GDP industry where mackerel and prawns are the most valuable fisheries.

Further reading: http://www.bim.ie/media/gBM2312_BIM_Report_FULL_FA_LowRes.pdf

Mourne herring fishery opens September 1

Licences for the Mourne herring fishery will be available from September 1, (excluding weekends), restricted to boats not exceeding 40ft (12.2m) in overall length using drift nets with a minimum mesh size of 54 mm, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland. 

mourne herring fishery

Fisheries minister Michelle McIlveen visits Milligan Cold Stores, Ardlglass, Co Down, to view their new facilities

The Mourne herring quota for British registered fishing vessels in 2016 has been set at 30 tonnes. A further 59.7 tonnes will be available if required. 

Applications are available from local fishery offices and must be accompanied by a copy of the current Certificate of Registry isused under The Merchant Shipping Act, 1995.  

POST Brexit: implications for Ireland's fishing industry

“This is not going to be business as usual; there will be extremely complex and difficult negotiations,” remarked Sean O’Donoghue, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation.

O’Donoghue was speaking at a hastily convened breakfast briefing before BIM’s national seafood conference in July, along with Barry Deas, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Cecil Beamish, ASG, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, chaired by broadcaster Olivia O’Leary.

Brexit Briefing Olivia OLeary

Brexit briefing and Our Ocean Wealth conference moderator, broadcaster and journalist, Olivia O'Leary

Under current arrangements, ‘Coastal States’ of Norway, the Faroes and Iceland, negotiate with the EU on the annual mackerel quota.

“In future, I will be sitting opposite Barry Deas because the UK would be a Coastal State. The UK has made it clear – and I would do the same in their shoes ― they will be looking for a larger share of these stocks. If that happens, the big losers will be Ireland, because we would have the largest mackerel share in the EU,” he added.

Read more: POST Brexit: implications for Ireland's fishing industry

National Inshore Fisheries Forum consults with Ireland's new fisheries minister

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has met with the six regional chairs and vice-chairs of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, to hear proposals on the future development of the sector. NIFF 2016

Minister Michael Creed hosts his first meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum

"I am pleased that there was a focus in the discussions on priorities to ensure a positive long-term future for this sector. This government has committed to the development of the inshore sectors," he remarked.

He added that to deliver on this objective, it was "essential" to hear the views of the stakeholders through the NIFF.  

"With European Maritime Fisheries Fund now available, there are opportunities to secure sustainable inshore fisheries and [to] enhance incomes in rural, coastal communities."

Topics discussed included access to herring stocks and proposals to develop national conservation measures for velvet crab.

The inshore sector (comprising fishing boats of less than 12 metres in overall length) make up more than 80% of the fishing fleet and are predominately active within six nautical miles of the Irish shore.

The NIFF was established to facilitate the development of a coherent inshore sector 'voice' by encouraging inshore fishermen to discuss issues and to generate commonly-supported initiatives.

A network of six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFF) around the Irish coast bring forward proposals to the NIFF for wider industry discuss. Regional members include inshore fishermen, environmental interests, marine leisure, marine tourism and other marine stakeholders. 

The structures also provide opportunities for collaboration between the inshore fishing sector and their communities on sustainable strategies to optimise the income opportunities afforded by the coastal resource.


European Court of Justice rules on safety tonnage applications


The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice has ruled (June 14) to reject an appeal by the Commission to annul the General Court’s decision of 2014. The General Court had annulled the Commission’s decision of 2010 rejecting some applications for Irish safety tonnage by members of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation. This is the third time that the safety tonnage applicants have been successful in the EU Court of Justice; the first time in 2006, followed by 2014.

This is a long-running saga which commenced almost fifteen years ago. The Court’s decision was to reject the Commission’s appeal and order the Commission to pay costs. The Court ruling also notes that the applicants had the right to bring an action for damages against the European Union relying on the illegality of the Commission’s initial decision. Safety tonnage, which relates to the volume of the vessel not to tonnes of fish, covers enhanced safety measures on aboard a fishing vessel such as shelter decks, raised wheelhouses,  increasing the freeboard and improvements to crew accommodation.

The Chief Executive of the KFO Sean O’Donoghue said on hearing the ruling:-

“I am delighted but not surprised in light of the Advocate General’s opinion given in January 2016 that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice has ruled to reject the Commission appeal to General Court’s decision of 2014. I wish to congratulate the owners on the outcome and for the courage to appeal the Commission’s flawed decisions in the first instance, and to continue this long and very arduous battle relating to their safety tonnage applications.

I also wish to thank the excellent legal team of Eileen Barrington SC and Noel Travers SC and DP Barry & Company Solicitors for a job well done,"  remarked Sean O'Donoghue, chief executive of the KFO.

"This has gone on far too long - almost fifteen years with the Commission continually trying to find ways to thwart and delay the very necessary and legitimate safety tonnage applications. I am now calling on the Commission in light of this third ruling by the Grand Chamber against them to immediately rectify the situation to satisfaction of the applicants.”

Government order charged as being contrary to natural justice

InshoreIreland email

At the time of going to press, ‘white smoke’ had not emerged from Leinster House to herald the make-up of the 30th government since 1919. And while it is therefore unknown whether Simon Coveney will return as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, what is known is the unease within the fishing industry that is simmering beneath the surface and is close to eruption.

Not for a very long time – perhaps not since I first became involved with the marine sector in the mid -1990s ― have I sensed the level of palpable frustration and disillusionment being vented by the fishing industry. And rightly so, they would say.

Read more: Government order charged as being contrary to natural justice

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