18th December

Leenane by the sea

Dr Martin O'Farrell

Leenane and Killary Harbour – is there anywhere more beautiful in the world? I worked there during the 1980s on the River Erriff Research Programme, which focused on salmon and sea trout fisheries management.

Thomas (sailor) Flaherty (second left) and crew hauling their draft-net on the Point, Killary Harbour

Thomas (sailor) Flaherty (second left) and crew hauling their draft-net on the Point, Killary Harbour

One of the elements of the programme involved monitoring the draft-net fishermen who operated from the north shore of Killary Harbour between the mouths of the Erriff and Bundorragha rivers. I usually left Aasleagh in the early afternoon – fortified by vittals from the Aasleagh kitchen. These usually included a couple of delicious scones baked by the late Bridgie Keane – which were intended for angling guests!

Read more: Leenane by the sea

The national lobster v-notching and tagging programme

Vera O’Donovan, BIM

Lobster is the mainstay of many small craft fishing around the coast of Ireland. The crevice-filled coast provides an excellent habitat for these prime crustaceans with about 750 tonnes being produced per annum.

The lobster stock is protected by a minimum landing size of 87mm (increased from 85mm in 2002). There is a strong network of associations and Co-ops whose primary activity is v-notching, which is a technical conservation measure used to boost egg production.

In the early 1990s, the Shellfish Research Laboratory in Carna and Údarás na Gaeltachta initiated the measure following successful results from Maine in the USA. The procedure involves a small notch being cut in one of the flaps on a female lobster’s tail. When a lobster is marked in this way, it is illegal to land, possess or sell such a lobster.

A certain percentage of the population is therefore retained for breeding, thus boosting egg production and in turn recruitment to the stock.

Funded through the NDP, the National V-notching and Tagging Programme began in 2002. The aims were not only to boost egg production by v-notching, but also to monitor and quantify the effects.

Together with BIM and Údarás na Gaeltachta, the industry is putting resources into this scheme. Fishermen are keeping voluntary logbooks to provide information on catch rates of v-notched lobsters, legal lobster and undersize lobster.

Many of the v-notched lobster have also been tagged, and valuable growth data has been generated by recording the size before release and again when recaptured at sea.

Observers go to sea to validate logbook information and generate additional data. The record of undersize catch can indicate recruitment and future harvest. To date, members of up to 30 co-ops have v-notched 30,000 lobsters, 23,000 of which were also tagged.

This programme will run for another three seasons. At the end of the programme, we will be able to demonstrate trends in CPUE (Catch per unit Effort) data over six years; the status of v-notched lobster as a proportion of the legal catch, pre fishery abundance in relation to v-notching efforts and ancillary moult increment and frequency data, from the wild.

With the development of species-based management plans, this type of information is crucial so that the right decisions can be made to ensure a healthy future in lobster fishing.

The co-operation of the participating, fishing Co-ops, associations and groups is acknowledged as well as the financial assistance of the National Development Plan and the EU FIFG fund through the Supporting Measures Programme.

Survival and quality of brown crab depends on maintaining high standards along the supply chain

An AquaReg-backed study that aims to improve the survival and quality of live crab during holding and transportation to markets shows that today’s technology is limited, and in some cases high mortality can occur.

The tri-lateral project involving researchers in Trødelag (Norway); BMW (Ireland) and Galicia (Spain) aims to reduce transportation costs and open new markets worldwide for crab.

Project co-ordinator, Erik Kartevoll of INAQ Management AS, told Inshore Ireland that the traditional markets for live crab were “almost saturated” due to strong competition from other seafood and more convenience foods. “This is a driving force for developing new markets and new processing products,” he said.

Read more: Survival and quality of brown crab depends on maintaining high standards along the supply chain

The current status of Irish crab stocks

Concerns that the viability of brown crab (Cancer pagurus)− the third most important species of fish landed in Ireland, having a first-sale value of almost €12m– is under threat from over-fishing were firmly played down at Crab Conference 2005 held recently in Galway.

Outlining the current picture for the brown crab fishery, BIM’s Fisheries Development Manager, Michael Keatinge, was optimistic that despite significant gaps in the statistical information available to fisheries scientists, “things were improving.”

Read more: The current status of Irish crab stocks

Framework for shellfisheries

Oliver Tully, BIM Inshore Fisheries Coordinator

Two milestones have been achieved this year in the progression towards sustainable management of shellfisheries, writes Oliver Tully, BIM’s Inshore Fisheries Development Co-ordinator

On February 11, the Marine Minister, Pat the Cope Gallagher, launched the Policy Framework for Shellfisheries, which identified the committee structures and processes to be used to manage shellfisheries.

Read more: Framework for shellfisheries

Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

The proposed leachate discharge point will be on the north shore of Rossmore. Photo Marine Institute/Compass Informatics Ltd

The proposed leachate discharge point will be on the north shore of Rosmore, just over 2 km west of Newport and due south of the Burrishoole channel. Image: Marine Institute/Compass Informatics Ltd

& Gery Flynn

Shellfish producers in Clew Bay have told Inshore Ireland they are extremely concerned over proposals by Mayo County Council to discharge leachate from its Derrinumera landfill into Newport Bay.

“The proposed discharge point is less than half a mile from several native oyster beds in the estuary of one of the country’s finest salmon rivers, the Burrishoole,” Alan Stoney, secretary of the Clew Bay Oyster Co-operative said. According to Stoney, the intended mechanism to render the effluent ‘safe’ is to dilute it sufficiently with the water in Clew Bay.

Read more: Threat to premier west coast shellfish ground

Spread the News

Brexit uncertainty dominates talks at annual fisheries council
 Marine Institute delivers the 2017 Stock Book
Sequential application of penalty points for fishing infringements ‘not possible’ says marine department
Coastal states unite in single voice on Brexit
Brexit uncertainty dominates talks at annual fishe...

Ireland’s fishing industry has generally welcomed the outcome of annual talks that set total allow [ ... ]

Marine Institute delivers the 2017 Stock Book

Ahead of the meeting of Europe’s fisheries ministers to discuss TAC and quotas for 2018 (December  [ ... ]

Sequential application of penalty points for fishi...

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has told Inshore Ireland that based on advice fro [ ... ]

Coastal states unite in single voice on Brexit

Communities along Ireland’s coastline sustained by a €1.1bn fishing industry and 11,000 jobs it  [ ... ]