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News from the coast and inland waterways

€2.20/£1.90 Bi-Monthly


August/September 2011 Vol 7 Issue 4

IRELAND’S HIDDEN DEPTHS  PAGES 20-21 Aerial and ground mapping - Tellus Border 13 News...................................... page 2-4 Your View ................................ page 6 Fisheries Update ............... page 10-11

pages 8-9

Tall Ships 2011 .................. page 16-17 Marine R&D ...................... page 22-27 Coastline News ...................... page 30

Driving the marine agenda requires ‘adding value not complexity’

– a conference is told Gery Flynn


reland is uniquely positioned to target opportunities within the trillion dollar global marine sector with its technical expertise, a major international industryorientated workshop on information and communications technology has been told. The 2nd SmartOcean Conference Driving New Business Opportunities at the Interface of ICT and the Sea – hosted by the Marine Institute explored the new commercial and innovation opportunities emerging from Ireland’s hi-tech marine products and service sector. Over two days delegates analysed market-led opportunities for the development and deployment of distributed sensing, communication and information technologies in global markets including offshore energy, marine environment, transport and security.

The workshop is seen as an important step forward from the SmartBay initiative which the Marine Institute has been piloting since 2008. New techNologIes Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute told SmartOcean delegates that in order for the sustainable economic development of the marine environment to take place, next generation information and communications technologies (ICT) were needed now: “As a source of food, transport and energy, the Marine is our greatest natural resource and, as a country with a strong expertise in ICT, Ireland has significant potential to be a world leader in the provision of ICT-enabled decision support tools to the global marine sector.” He reminded delegates that to date, more than 50 companies operating here were already providing ICT solutions to the global marine sector. »

continued on page 2

The UK flagged gaff schooner Johanna Lucretia follows the Columbian Navy’s STV ARC Gloria down the line Photo: G Mills






inshore ireland august/september 2011


wrapping up the workshop, a proposal by micheál Ó cinnéide who chaired the final session, to formulate a 2nd galway declaration was enthusiastically carried:

That this 2nd SmartOcean Workshop recognises the progress achieved by the Marine Institute as a catalyst for the marine technology sector in the past decade: We call on Government to recognize and support the strategic role of marine technology as a key driver in the future development of the marine sector. 150 delegates attended the 2nd SmartOcean conference » from page 1

“Irish research expertise is now being applied to developing unmanned, autonomous and remotely-operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) at the Mobile Marine Robotics Research Centre, UCL; advanced computer simulation of marine data from the company RealSim; and real-time acoustic monitoring of marine mammals such as whales and dolphins by Biospheric. embrace chaNge Yvonne Shields, Director of Strategic Planning and Development Services at the MI told delegates that SmartOcean would succeed only if those involved in it were prepared to welcome new and sometimes unusual ideas: “SmartOcean is very much about sharing ideas and opportunities – but more than anything it’s about innovation. It’s also about looking at areas we don’t necessarily work in on a daily basis and it’s about being open minded, and not afraid to take on board new ideas that suddenly come out of left field,” she remarked.

She added that about one third of the delegates were new to this Group which was established about twelve months ago. “I estimate therefore we have about 180 people involved in some way or another in SmartOcean activity, and I get the feeling that people want to stay connected and involved with this initiative.. And I would just encourage people to find our Group on LinkedIn, the business related social networking site because we’re using it to actively share information and to communicate our ideas,” she said. maturIty roadmap As for the so-called SmartOcean ‘roadmap to maturity’, Shields said it had five phases ranging from (1) initial/ ad hoc innovation through to (2)sporadic innovation; (3) defined innovation; (4)managed innovation and (5)systemic innovation. “We believe we are now somewhere around level 3 on that roadmap. And in terms of managing the SmartOcean initiative towards full maturity, I’m glad we have full commitment from the various

Aengus McMahon Photography

State agencies, industry and academia. The challenge now is to move from the level of ‘defined innovation ‘ into ‘managed innovation’ – and we all know that’s going to be a difficult challenge. “Nevertheless it’s going to be up to each and every one of those constituencies to see how they can play their part in terms of making that move.” She revealed that the next significant next step would be the formation of a “strong SmartBay company” to drive the initiative forward. “We’re already in the process of recruiting a general manager for that company and will also be recruiting a team of five, along with putting a strong board of directors in place.” INNovatIoN stImulatIoN Concluding, Ms Shields said that ultimately, this was all about trying to stimulate innovation, and to anchor high-value R&D activity in Ireland, and to support jobs and economic development. “We realise for that to work we must add value and not complexity – and that’s the

We welcome the ongoing progress towards an integrated Marine vision to mobilize government departments, state agencies and the private sector. We call on Government to endorse the crucial strategic planning and development role of the Marine Institute, and to provide appropriate resources for the next phase in this mission.

Micheál Ó Cinnéide challenge because this is a complex area. It spans many different domains…and it’s going to be difficult not to get into complexities. We are going to need help to keep things as simple as possible”. Presentations at the workshop ranged from updates on

Photo: David Ruffles

the development and use of intelligent machines for underwater inspection to the use of wireless technologies to enable offshore developments and environmental monitoring, as well as offshore aquaculture development, wave energy generation and marine security.

Ireland fears transfer quota system would result in privatisation of some fisheries Gillian Mills


reland’s minister for the marine Simon Coveney has tabled concerns over mandatory application of an Individual Transferable Quota system (ITQ) and the methodology to address fish discards. He was speaking in Brussels following the publication of the Commission’s reform proposals of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“I agree with and welcome many aspects set down… in particular those in regard sustainable levels; retention of the 12-mile access limit; increased used of longterm management plans; eliminating the wasteful and greater integration of process.” Nevertheless, Minister Coveney said he had Commission’s approach on

other elements. The Commission contends that an ITQ system would restrict the transfer of quotes to ‘within each Member State’ and that it involved the retention of quotas in public ownership. Ireland however believes the proposal would result in the quotas and their concentration in the hands of multi-national Ireland’s coastal communities. “I consider it will be

safeguards that prevent transfer of quotas outside of the quotas are transferred to such international companies, it will increasingly lead, in my view, to landings of Irish quotas abroad with the resultant loss of jobs in Irish coastal communities,” the minister declared. Minister Coveney contends the Commission’s proposal to introduce a ban incrementally between 2014-2016, to be

to result in the concealment of the practice than a change in behaviour”. He added he was “absolutely committed” to addressing the problem in a “practical and progressive manner” The proposal covers all aspects of the CFP involving access to waters, conservation and management of the organisation and consultation

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‘Merci La France’: seafood jobs creation initiative months with a progress report on the development of these partnerships.” According to BIM, increasingly high fuel prices means it may be more vessels to land here rather than in their home ports. ‘Coupled with well thought-out strategic alliances, higher value output with reduced costs for all parties can be achieved,’ the agency contends. “The world is changing. There is unprecedented volatility coupled with unprecedented opportunity. In order to deal with this new act strategically. Today is a

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD; Cllr John Loughnan, Mayor of Clonakilty; Jacque Pichin, Head of ANOP, major French fish producer; Jason Whooley, CEO BIM and Isabelle Thomas , French politician responsible for seafood in Brittany at BIM’s offices in Clonakilty.


n initiative to bolster Irish seafood processing hinges on agreement by French fishing organisations to land a greater percentage of their catch in Ireland. Key representatives from over 850 French Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine with a view to agreeing strategic partnerships between Irish and French seafood interests. in the waters around Ireland are currently valued at ¤1.2 billion; Ireland’s share is 18% in volume terms, worth some ¤200 million.

‘ is being caught by French vessels, French vessels landed an increased percentage of their catch in Ireland,’ according to BIM. BIM estimates that for catch here for processing, an be created. Minister Coveney said the initiative could have great potential for both Irish and French seafood businesses. “It offers great opportunities for increased economic activity and job creation in coastal communities around Ireland. The Food Harvest 2020 strategy highlights that shared resources through strategic initiatives, including other

Ireland confident of increase in Celtic Sea cod quota


ollowing scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), marine minister Simon Coveney has joined with his French colleague, Minister Bruno Le Maire, to seek an increase in quotas for Celtic Sea cod for the autumn season. “We have received good news from the fisheries scientists that tell us that the abundance of cod in the Celtic Sea has increased substantially as a consequence of an exceptionally good 2009 recruitment. “As a result of the welcome upsurge in the abundance of the stock, our fishermen cannot

member states, will be central to economic development.

avoid catches in the mixed fisheries in the Celtic Sea and are being required to dump marketable cod”. According to Minister Coveney, Commissioner Damanaki has confirmed she is prepared to positively examine the position. “She said she will want these or similar measures to apply to vessels of all countries in these fisheries before proceeding with an increase. I am confident we will be in a position to agree a package of measures at Council… involving an increase in the cod quota in the Celtic Sea combined with the introduction of measures to allow juvenile fish to escape from the net alive,” he said.

According to BIM, the aim to identify opportunities for Irish and French companies quality, reduce costs and ensure sustained supply to an even larger customer base.

“Ireland could benefit greatly if French vessels landed an increased percentage of their catch in Ireland” landed and processed in Ireland it will reach mainland a format demanded by the ‘ route to market will form mutual competitive advantages, the agency contends.

Marine Institute  Foras na Mara

Do thairseach chuig taighde mara, monatóireacht, forbairt teicneolaíochta agus nuálaíocht Your portal to marine research, monitoring, technology, development & innovation

Marine Institute Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway +353 91 387 200 +353 91 387 201

Foras na Mara Rinn Mhaoil, Uarán Mór, Co. na Gaillimhe


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Study finds entrepreneurship and ingenuity at heart of fishing community Gillian Mills


n economic assessment of the status, development and diversification of Killybegs as a fisheries-dependent community, concludes that the greatest challenge will be to transfer the ‘entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity’ that sustained the fishing industry to other economic sectors ‘ripe for exploitation’. Prepared on behalf of the EU Commission, the report acknowledges the ‘vibrant, resilient and resourceful community’ but highlights the trends and dangers facing the fisheries sector and the wider economy: ‘The area is very reliant on the pelagic sub-sector, both catching and processing, but also whitefish and shellfish activity due to the historical strength of fishing but also

the lack of development on non-fishing activities.’ WELL POSITIONED Noting the problems endemic within the fishing industry of rising operating costs, falling quotas and global forces in the marketplace, the report however contends that Killybegs is in a ‘pivotal position’ to diversify and utilise the ‘extraordinary natural resources which are within reach.’ Based on its ‘excellent geographical location’ and existing fishing, processing and ancillary industries, the report adds that Killybegs is ‘ideally placed to create and maintain sustainable jobs in value-added seafood, enhanced ancillary services, tourism, marine leisure and green/renewable energy industries’. Notwithstanding, the report however notes that the new pier is not currently


ttending the launch, Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said it was clear that significant job creation potential existed, “provided there is a focus on the natural resources that are obvious in the region”. Unveiling a pilot jobs initiative aimed at creating 250 jobs in the region by 2014, the Minister said he was “conscious there needs to be greater integration and ‘joined-up thinking’ from State agencies and stakeholders…if this potential is to be achieved.” The minster confirmed he was establishing a “focused” expert group [see right] to identify a “direct series of actions” that he believes can deliver 250 jobs in the region over the next three years. Central to jobs creation will be the seafood industry and adding value to the natural resource on Killybegs doorstep. BIM, in co-operation with Donegal County Enterprise Board, will shortly commence a course ‘Developing a Seafood Business’ to assist existing seafood businesses to become more competitive and efficient, and to develop smart business strategies that add value to their activities and innovate on new products and practices.

delivering the expected benefits despite investment of €55m in public funding to develop the pier and harbour area. ‘The community is very keen to ensure that some small but vital additional steps are taken to support its better use.’

These include improved harbour management; appointment of a business development manager; 24/7 facilities and a border inspection post to facilitate landings from foreign vessels. A dry dock, helicopter pad and fuel storage tanks are also

identified. POSITIVE POTENTIAL The report concludes: ‘Given the necessary government and EU encouragement, Killybegs can and will move forward to a bright future.’

Expert group The expert group comprises Sean, O’ Donoghue (KFO) and chair; Jason Whooley (BIM) Seamus Neely, Donegal County Manager; Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny IT; Conor Fahy, EI, Niall O’Gorman, representing the Donegal Fish Merchants Association; Jim Parkinson, representing the offshore energy and ancillary industries and Cecil Beamish, DAFM with BIM providing the secretariat. This group will complete its work by the end of September 2011 and report to the Minister on their progress and on the identified potential for job creation. “The Group has been very active in defining tasks and issues and I am very confident…we will meet the high demands set by Minister Coveney to deliver a jobs strategy …by the end of September. I am convinced that the integrated approach adopted will be shown to be the way forward in job creation not only for Killybegs but also for other coastal fishing communities,” remarked Sean O’Donoghue. KEY AREAS IDENTIFIED: • promoting seafood value added activity • enhancing ancillary services • developing offshore supports • promoting tourism and marine leisure • promoting green/economy-renewable energy.

Campaign to save lives in one of the most hazardous professions


n inter-agency initiative has launched aimed at fishermen to highlight the importance of wearing a lifejacket. BIM, Irish Water Safety and the RNLI have joined forces to roll out a promotional awareness campaign over the coming months via radio, online communications and a BIM safety team who will liaise directly with fishermen. According to statistics from the Health & Safety Authority and BIM, the fatal accident rate in the general working population in Ireland over the last five years was 1.8 per 100,000 employed. The comparable fatality rate for Ireland’s fishing sector however

is 88, making it 48 times more hazardous than other occupations. Wearing a suitable lifejacket is ‘the single most effective measure’ a fisherman can take to increase survival if involved in a man-overboard accident at sea, the group contends. Speaking in Howth, Minister Coveney said that Irish fishermen often operated in hazardous weather conditions and that the nature of the job meant they were much more likely to be exposed to life-threatening situations at sea. “Despite legislation in place since 2001 however, the fact remains that many fishermen choose not to wear a lifejacket and this situation cannot continue. The reality is that

wearing a life jacket could either save a life or in a worst case scenario mean a body is more likely to be found. Fishermen need to think about their families and friends when going out to sea and to wear a lifejacket. Current RNLI statistics suggest that less than 35% of fishermen regularly wear a lifejacket. Many fishermen feel that wearing one inhibits their mobility and makes working on deck much more difficult. Part of the campaign will be to showcase lifejackets to suit all purposes. The Department of Transports, Marine Survey Office, the RNLI and Irish Water Safety, have published information for fishermen on the selection of PFDs (Personal Flotation Device).

Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine launches the safe at sea campaign in Howth, Co Dublin rNlI safety information: bIm will shortly launch a dedicated safety page on

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Reasons to be cheerful…part one!


Gery Flynn


wo recent but separate conferences have succeeded in lifting the cloud of pessimism and gloom by focusing on that part of Ireland not readily visible – our ocean territory – despite it being ten times larger than the land mass we inhabit. The subject matter of both conferences centred on the major economic potential of the marine in general. At both events, the main question was whether Ireland could address major global challenges and avail of through our unique ocean resources. II May) Delivering Ireland’s Ocean Energy Targets

SmartOcean strategically positioned on the western periphery of the EU, abutting the important Gulf Stream… [ ]… separating important southern and northern commercial world’s greatest hotspots for offshore wind and wave energy. This unique position makes Ireland an ideal location for a European and Global Centre for ocean research, technology and innovation never

Ship sinking off Rathlin Island gives up tales of the Great War


ms drake. rathlin Island shipwreck by Ian wilson (rathlin Island books) tells the story of that fateful october day in 1917 when the ship was torpedoed five miles off rathlin Island, to later sink in church bay. The book not only chronicles that epic day which lead to the largest wreck close to shore in Irish waters, but stories of the Great War heard for the first time. “This is a well researched and engaging read,” remarked Brett Cunningham, retired HM Coastguard Coastal Safety Manager for Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland who launched the book. From Bangor, Co Down, author Ian Wilson has a lifelong interest in Ulster maritime history. He believes this book is not the end of the story as more tales about the ship and her crew were likely to emerge. His published works include: Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast and Donegal Shipwrecks. The cover painting is an original

artwork that was commissioned for the book, painted by maritime artist, Kenneth King ( excerpts:

‘A light westerly breeze is lifting early morning mist over calm waters... Kapitänleutnant Rohrbeck observes with sudden excitement a cruiser through his periscope. She has four tall funnels and two masts... Manoeuvering U 79 to the correct angle for attack, he is only 600 metres from the British ship’s starboard side when he gives the order to fire...’ ‘...the islanders watching all this in amazement from the cliffs and the settlement at Church Bay, could see the Drake finally reaching her intended sanctuary a few hundred yards offshore at just about the same time the Lugano was sinking from view beneath the waves four miles to the west. Near her, the mutilated silhouette of the

Inshore Ireland is published by IIP Ltd

Brisk was being approached by two of the many armed trawlers on hire to the Admiralty, Seaton andVale of Lennox. There might have been another twenty ships in Rathlin Sound. Was there ever a scene like it round the Irish coast?’ ‘Captain Stephen Radcliffe was the last to leave his ship. He stepped aboard the Delphinium, ordering her CO to anchor nearby to await the tugs. His report concludes: ‘...nobody except the dead remained on board the Drake when I left her for the Delphinium: the mess decks, boiler rooms, engine rooms had all been searched and reported clear. Ship was abandoned at 2.05 p.m...’” the book is for sale on rathlin Island and in ballycastle, and signed copies can be purchased directly from the publisher (www. the 112 page book (including 16 pages of photographs) is priced at £8.99.

Competition to win a signed copy Question: In what county is Rathlin Island located?

Answers to: Rathlin Island Books, 4, Church Bay, Rathlin Island Co. Antrim BT54 6SA or e mail: and include your answer, name, address and contact telephone number by August 31st 2011.

Good Luck! Congratulations to Ray Spain, Athy Road, Carlow, winner of a week sailing around the Greek Isles courtesy of Sailing Jollies (


Features Editor



Gillian Mills

Gery Flynn

Durgan Media

01 235 4804

091 844822

Gillian Mills Gery Flynn

074 91 94477

The publishers do not accept responsibility for the veracity of claims made by contributors and advertisers. While care is taken to ensure accuracy of information contained within Inshore Ireland, we do not accept responsibility for any errors or matters arising from same.


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Inshore Ireland and its publishers do not accept responsibility for the veracity of claims made by contributors. While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information, we do not accept responsibility for any errors, or matters arising from same. Contact the editor at

Offshore finfish farms – a game breaking opportunity? developed around this popular

The concept behind this

Donal Maguire


ith the backing of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, and in line with the actions set out under the department’s visionary ‘FOOD HARVEST 2020’ strategy, BIM and the Marine Institute are embarking on an ambitious project to fast-track development of one or more, large-scale offshore marine finfish production units off the west coast of Ireland. It is envisaged that these production units, which will each eventually generate annually, will be located outside of any Natura 2000 designations, in areas with remote from any possible negative interactions with invisible from the land. In the Minister’s words, the the development of Irish aquaculture”.

therefore more and more salmon is needed. Thus, the sites is now about to dawn for the rest of the salmon farming world.

DRIVING FORCE space, Ireland’s tiny industry and its determined practitioners actually lead the way. Proof of concept has already been achieved in places such as Clare Island; what has not yet been capitalised upon is the very high assimilative capacity of these high energy locations. BIM has conducted both and has run projections of emerges from these studies is a clear and rather startling If offshore salmon farming is level of production (10,000 tonnes per annum minimum per unit), then the unit cost of production is very competitive, despite the high capital cost required to safely occupy such sites at an acceptable level of

is to identify one or more suitable production locations where such large-scale salmon farming could be environmental impact; achieve local community ‘buy-in’; secure the necessary licences and operating permissions

would be deeply involved at planning stage and would be

occupational health and safety

terms of direct employment and long-term commitment to social development. Although challenging from a wave climate point of view, locations of this sort do

the component technologies have been fully developed and

water quality is consistently

foreign direct investment to bring about this development by private operators.

infestation pressures are much lower (better for sea


from wild host interaction or horizontally from one farmed

A single production node generating 15,000 tonnes of output would create employment for 250 staff directly and a further 350 indirectly in goods and ancillary services. It would also form the basis for a major centre of seafood production, which in turn would generate development for smaller satellite seafood companies. These companies would processing and landing logistics necessary for the main production unit. From the outset it is intended that local communities adjacent to these farms and their service points

be novel will be combining them together in large scale and in the right location

temperatures and salinity are also more stable and less which characteristics promote and top quality production. In short, these sites are tough on the human operator but of view. Having said that, modern salmon farming technology such as automated remotelycontrolled feeding barges; large well built service vessels; remote monitoring and advanced telemetry and oil industry style rostering and operational practices


Preliminary studies carried out by BIM and the Marine Institute indicate that three such locations that could be bought into production using currently available technologies with immediate effect. Some large international salmon farming companies are already showing interest and even the most casual perusal of their balance sheets indicates they investments needed to bring It all hinges however on Ireland creating the right business climate to encourage them here for the long-term communities.

be a highly ambitious plan, it is not at all as far-fetched Ireland has long pioneered salmon farming in high Clare Island, Co Mayo and close to Deenish Island in Co salmon farming operations globally. The hard won lessons learning to operate these sites is now set to be invaluable for salmon farming worldwide.


Growth of salmon farming in Norway has been spectacularly successful where annual output is currently in however the fjords are now effectively full. The same is largely true of Chile where the is located in the very far south of the country close to Antarctica. This part of the world is utterly remote, very to service and operate. Consumer demand for salmon continues to grow as more and more product forms are being

Highly automated offshore production nodes with fish cages and service platforms for personnel to transform Irish aquaculture Photo: Artist’s impression, BIM

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€250m development plan proposed for Dún Laoghaire Harbour Gillian Mills

Public opinion favour full integration of harbour with the town


ún laoghaire harbour company is preparing a masterplan to address a changing emphasis from a commercial to a recreational harbour and to ensure its medium to long-term sustainability. the harbour is widely recognised as one of the finest man-made harbours in the world. Subject to approval and planning permission being granted, an estimated 2,800 fulltime jobs will be created during the ten-year roll-out phase (1,400 on site, 600 via suppliers and 800 in the wider economy in retail/ services). When fully operational, businesses have the potential to employ 1,400 full-time persons, according to DKM Economic Consultants who are part of the Project Team. publIc INput An initial survey of pier users and an on-line questionnaire attracted over 500 responses which answered questions on themes including tourism, marine leisure, heritage conservation and the environment. Main concerns centred on: improved toilet facilities; better tourist-friendly approach; introduction of bicycle lanes; refurbishment or removal of the baths; live music events; improved public access to sailing activities; cheaper car parking and clean-up of pet fouling. The Project Team, comprising environmental consultants, planners, architects and designers, will take into consideration the retention of the physical harbour (including the many protected structures); protection and enhancement of the natural features; appropriate development (e.g. cruise ships, tourism initiatives etc); relationship between the harbour and Dun Laoghaire town centre; meeting the objectives of the Dún Laogahaire/Rathdown Development Plan (2010-2016) and the potential for renewable energy and other green initiatives.

cultural/herItage ImportaNce Separately, a heritage management plan for the harbour has been commissioned. While it is a ‘stand alone’ plan, its principle purpose is to guide management on the significant cultural heritage in the context of current and future challenges and changes. It comprises three elements: description of the historic and current character to provide an understanding of the nature and origins of the cultural heritage existing and likely/potential future challenges that threaten the cultural heritage significance of the harbour a series of heritage management policies to enhance and protect the cultural heritage while acknowledging that DLH is a living, dynamic place that has been and will continue to change over time. proposed redevelopmeNt plaN to INclude: A Diaspora Museum on the Carlisle pier A berthing dock for cruise liners Marine service companies to support sailing and boating activities Food and drink outlets Three-hundred apartments Increased waterfront access Leisure and culture activities Retail outlets

‘save our seafroNt’ submIssIoN In a statement, the SOS action group contends that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is ‘at a crossroads’ whereby commercial usage, which it says funds 70% of the harbour’s income, ‘may not be available to the same extent in the future’.

In adds that ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure has created financial problems for the harbour company and that the harbour ‘cannot survive as a commercial entity unless changes are made.’ respoNse While the SOS welcomes many aspect of the plan, such as the Diaspora Museum; leisure and cultural activities; marine services; sporting events and potential job creation, it ‘seriously questions’ and in some cases ‘out rightly opposes’ a number of elements: ‘The plan needs to be placed in the context of the McCarthy report, the EU/IMF deal and the government’s plan to review all 10 state owned harbours’, in particular the ‘absolutely unacceptable’ recommendation in the McCarthy report that “privatisation of some or all of the ports should be considered”. The SOS questions whether to develop the harbour ‘to serve the needs of the people of both the country and of Dun Laoghaire and maintain it as a fully public entity, or allow inappropriate commercial development that will change the nature of the harbour forever.’ ‘This is a major development that will affect the future of the harbour for the next hundred years.The proposal for a developer-led plan repeats all the mistakes of the Celtic Tiger era.The proposal to finance the redevelopment through a PPP deal is not the way forward,’ the group contends. It adds that the 300 private apartments proposed to pay for the public element of the plan ‘are not only unrealistic in the current economic climate but are also totally inappropriate to the redevelopment of the harbour as a public amenity. The inclusion of any private developments will change forever the nature of the harbour’ The Group believes that any plan ‘must be integrated with proposals for the more general redevelopment and revitalisation of Dun Laoghaire town as a whole, to allow for a more efficient development that meets the needs of the town as well as the harbour users.’

While it welcomes inclusion of some waterside outlets it is concerned that any retail or shopping component ‘might take business from the town centre adding to the difficulties that traders already endure’. SOS contends that a proposal to provide berthing for very large cruise liners to attract 100,000 visitors per annum to be a ‘highly ambitious target’, citing that in 2010 the total number of cruise liners visiting Ireland was 202, carrying 204,000 passengers. It adds that no overall costs to dredge the harbour or create berthing facilities have been provided, ‘neither do we know the impact of such a large-scale development on the ecology of the harbour’. proposals Acknowledging that an integrated plan for the harbour and town is needed, the group suggests that it must be preceded by ‘robust environmental impact assessments that take into account rising sea levels and impact on marine ecology and biodiversity. The Harbour Company should also seek to designate Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a National Monument and seek national funding to maintain and develop it.’ Other proposals include: finding a replacement ferry operator that will utilise the existing facilities to provide a revenue stream for ongoing harbour maintenance development of the Carlisle Pier for publicly run cultural and tourism projects, including the Diaspora Museum and genealogy centre providing facilities for existing rowing clubs and small boat users utilisation of an existing building to create a ‘marine cluster’ for engine repair, sail making, small boat repair, riggers and marine engineering workshops development of a boatyard with landing and berthing facilities promotional event (e.g. boat shows / maritime festival etc) to attract business to the harbour commercial and sporting fishing sector should be included in the development. creation of a waterfront forum involving yacht clubs, commercial users, leisure and sporting clubs, local residents

and public interest groups. (A submission by the combined Dun Laoghaire sailing clubs has outlined the benefits of such events and the sport of sailing to the local community.) SOS contends that any plan to shape the harbour for the 21st century must protect and retain the ‘fundamental and unique character and heritage of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a public amenity and working harbour for all harbour users’. tImetable: 18/7: Closing date for receipt of comments on the consultation masterplan 3/8: Publication of draft masterplan, draft heritage management plan and the SEA (on display at DLHC for 4 weeks) 31/8: Closing date for receipt of comments on draft masterplan, draft heritage management plan and the SEA 12/9: Publication of masterplan, heritage plan and SEA chug submIssIoN Among other submissions is one from the Coal Harbour Users Group (CHUG) – a body composed of concerned local individuals representing many maritime interests who have been campaigning many years now for a set of guarantees by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company covering public access to and use of these facilities. CHUG argues it its submission that the Coal Harbour area is now and for some years has been the only remaining section of Dublin Bay with efficient launching facilities available to the public for entrance to the Bay waters. The rest has been ‘privatised’ in earlier ‘land grabbing exercises’. CHUG’s main point is that the retention and continued maintenance of the Coal Harbour boatyard and its surrounding waters ‘for public use’ should be a specific and clearly stated point of principle in the proposed Development Plan. Otherwise, CHUG is fearful that existing undertakings and agreements in this regard might easily be swallowed up in the major developments involving future decisions.

A Diaspora Museum is proposed for the disused Carlisle Pier


inshore ireland august/september 2011

ENVIRONMENTAL RETROSPECTIVE The following is an abridgment of a presentation made by Liam Cashman, Legal Affairs and Cohesion, DG Environment to a Coastwatch seminar in Dublin last spring.

Commission enforcement of EU Environmental legislation in Ireland – a 20 year retrospective


reland’s membership of the European Union broadly coincides with the emergence and development of a European environmental acquis. Despite this, Ireland’s environment has benefited only belatedly or incompletely from the safeguards put in place at EU level. The period since the 1970s has been marked by, amongst other problems, a serious decline in the extent of pristine water bodies; widespread bacteriological contamination of drinking water; lack of timely compliance with urban waste-water treatment requirements; inadequate protection of wildlife sites, and endangered species and impact assessment rules that are left without a meaning in practice. THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT The period since accession has been one of agricultural intensification. Many environmental pressures stem from the presence of high livestock numbers. During the 1980s, fragile and unstable upland peat soils came to be severely eroded as a result of very heavy stocking with sheep. Changing patterns of husbandry, in particular winter livestock housing, have generated large volumes of slurry for landspreading. This, combined with more intensive forms of grassland management – involving greater levels of fertilisation – has increased nutrient run-off into rivers and lakes. Aside from agriculture, afforestation and peat extraction are activities that have had major surface area impacts from the middle of the 20th century to date. Other activities with a significant transformative impact include quarrying and aquaculture. As for settlements and infrastructure, Irish land-use policy – or, perhaps more accurately, practice - has favoured dispersed settlement in the countryside. One-off houses figure prominently in new construction over the past twenty years. The significance of oneoff houses is evident in

an estimated 400,000 septic tanks - and in the number of small drinking water supplies, which run to several hundred. Widespread bacteriological contamination of the groundwater relied on by many of these supplies makes the provision of safe drinking water a considerable challenge. Over the past twenty years, Ireland has sought to catch up with other Member States, making major investments in roads, drinking water supplies, waste water collection and treatment and waste facilities. Linear infrastructure such as new motorways has crisscrossed the landscape. Very significant low-density urban expansion has been noted by the European Environment Agency, especially in the hinterland of Dublin. DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED BY THE COMMISSION It was only in 1999 that the first ECJ judgment against Ireland was handed down, but the preceding period was marked by significant exchanges, with Commission interventions being a factor in several Irish reforms. By the late 1990s, however, it was apparent, that under several headings, insufficient progress was being made. QUALITY OF NATIONAL IMPLEMENTING LEGISLATION As an initial Commission focus on the form of transposing legislation gave way to a more critical focus on content, Ireland became more reluctant to respond with legislative change. In particular, a willingness to replace circular letters with primary legislation or (more commonly) statutory instruments was not matched by a similar willingness to revisit binding legislation once this was adopted. Many of the nonconformity difficulties have related to national rules that leave the intended scope of European provisions without a meaning in practice. Such rule-making might be considered to follow a “business-asusual” rationale. The need

Jamestown Canal, River Shannon. The period from the 1970s has been a marked by a decline in the extent of pristine water bodies. Photo: G Mills to transpose is respected in terms of there being a rule to satisfy the requirements of outward form, but the rule as designed carries no practical consequences for the sectors ostensibly addressed: it is hollow. The first judgment in 1999 was followed by others until Ireland became subject to one of the highest number of ECJ decisions on the environment. Ireland is not, of course, the only Member State to allow Commission nonconformity proceedings to take their course, but amongst new Member States in particular there is now a marked tendency to try to resolve non-conformity problems in the pre-litigation phase. RELUCTANCE TO RECOGNISE AREAS NEEDING SPECIAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT Four ECJ rulings against Ireland relate to a failure to recognise areas for environmental management purposes. The ruling of 11 September 2001 in Case C-67/99 concerns Ireland’s failure to propose a meaningful set of sites for the conservation of Europe’s most endangered habitat types and species under the Habitats Directive. Ireland’s contribution was due in 1995 but remained the most nugatory of any Member State when the Commission court

proceedings were lodged. Unlike almost all other Member States, Ireland did not have a territorially significant existing network of national parks and protected nature sites to begin with. Put bluntly, Ireland since independence showed scant interest in protecting its natural heritage. An inventory of areas of scientific interest – modelled on Britain’s sites of special scientific interest – was compiled during the 1970s by an environmental research body, An Foras Forbartha, but the expected national statutory regime to protect the sites concerned never materialised. The status of the inventory fell victim to judicial review because of lack of landowner consultation and An Foras Forbartha was abolished during government cutbacks in the 1980s. A later effort to create a statutory network of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) also faltered, with the only NHA orders to date being adopted to help resolve an ECJ ruling The establishment of an Irish contribution to Natura 2000 therefore had little to build on in terms of a preexisting statutory network or a recognised need to protect. Using Community funds, Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) reviewed the earlier inventory and compiled a new one but formalisation of this encountered the

same factors that had militated against any meaningful national protection – landowner mistrust and resulting political caution. The Irish authorities sought to achieve domestic acceptance by, on the one hand, instituting a non-statutory appeals mechanism for landowners and, on the other, targeting European agri-environmental payments at the selected sites. However, the process dragged on for over a decade. Similar factors were at work in case C-418/04, which, to a significant extent, concerns a failure to classify SPAs under the Wild Birds Directive. Despite the fact that the duty to classify was supposed to have been met in 1981, Ireland still had the tiniest and most incomplete SPA network of any of the EU-15 Member State when the ECJ pronounced in 2007 - indeed, nearly all of the Member States that acceded in 2004 had already by then surpassed Ireland in classification coverage. There were corresponding delays in recognising areas for purposes of better controlling water pollution. At the time that the Commission made its referral in Case C-391/96, Ireland was the only Member State not to have recognised any part of its territory as requiring mandatory control measures under the Nitrates Directive. Ireland’s approach

inshore ireland august/september 2011



reflected a wider reluctance to impose mandatory environmental measures on the farming sector. Case-418/05 reflects the mismatch between Ireland’s development of a shellfish industry and its willingness to recognise areas used for shellfish culture in order to prevent or reduce water pollution.

has meant that unsuccessful environmental litigants have been exposed to adverse cost orders that have no equivalent in their severity elsewhere in the EU. The unlikelihood of any preliminary references in environmental cases is a feature of the Irish system and lack of use of this calibrating mechanism

water pollution: slurryspreading in winter has been prohibited and major investments have been made in farmyard waste storage an important network of protected nature sites has been established. Site protection is assisted by the availability of agri-environmental payments, afforestation

Parts of the acquis of special relevance Impact Assessment Directive, 85/337/EEC and Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, 2001/42/EC - seek to incorporate an element of environmental foresight into decision-making across a very wide range of project types and plans. Access to Information Directive, 2003/4/EC provides for the disclosure on request, and in some cases the active dissemination, of environmental information held by public authorities. Wild Birds Directive, 79/409/EEC - covers all naturally-occurring wild bird species. It requires Member States to control hunting, establish a network of special protection areas (SPAs) for migratory species and listed resident species and adopt conservation measures in the wider countryside. Habitats Directive, 92/43/EEC - foresees the creation of a Europe-wide network of protected nature sites called Natura 2000. Drinking Water Directive, 98/83/EC, previously 80/778/EEC - sets standards for the drinking water supplied to consumers, including a requirement that drinking water be completely free of bacteria.

Shannon River. Ireland’s protection of wildlife sites are under threat from pollution

Photo: G Mills

Although the matter was ultimately resolved without need for a Court judgment, Ireland was initially reluctant to recognise a significant number of sensitive areas for purposes of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. Environmental infrastructure deficits The Urban Waste Water Directive requires Member States to collect and treat urban waste water by set deadlines related to the sensitivity of the receiving water and the size of the settlement. So far as Ireland is concerned, the first deadline expired at the end of 1998, the second at the end of 2000 and the final one at the end of 2005. OBSTACLES TO AN EFFECTIVE ROLE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY Ireland’s exceptionalism in this area has been pronounced: Ireland is the only Member State out of twenty-seven not to have ratified the Aarhus Convention. Ireland was the only Member State to introduce participatory fees for members of the public wishing to participate in development consent procedures. A Commission ECJ challenge to this failed in respect of Directive 85/337/ EEC before it was aligned with the Aarhus Convention through Directive 2003/35/ EC. The loser pays principle

means that it is left to the Commission to bring important matters of interpretation arising in Ireland to the ECJ’s attention. Following Commission legal action against Ireland, the ECJ ruled that legislative transposition was necessary for the cost provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive STATE OF PLAY Over the past twenty years, Commission enforcement has been characterised by two fundamental objectives. The first has been to secure outcomes that, at a strategic level, protect or improve the state of the environment in accordance with the acquis. The second has been to make the governance structure in Ireland as dependable as possible and so reduce the longterm need for Commission intervention. Measured against these objectives, the current picture is a mixed one. So far as the state of the environment is concerned, improved air quality in Dublin represents an early success investments in waste-water treatment have alleviated water pollution pressures in many parts of the country Ireland’s decision, in response to an ECJ ruling, to take a whole-territory approach to the Nitrates Directive has strengthened safeguards against diffuse

has been ended in protected peatlands, sheep overgrazing has been made subject to sophisticated control measures across the estimated 400,000 hectares of commonage that were adversely affected. Taken as a whole, Ireland’s network of landfills is better managed than during the 1990s and – although flytipping remains a problem significant-scale clandestine landfilling appears to be a thing of the past. Drinking water supplies benefit from a set of greater safeguards, including chlorine alarms that alert operators to treatment malfunctions. LOOKING AHEAD At EU level, the environmental directorategeneral of the Commission has in recent years entered into a programme of cooperation with European organisations representing national judges: the latter have expressed a keen interest in improving awareness of the environmental acquis amongst their membership. This cooperation has led to seminars on specific topics such as EU nature conservation and environmental impact assessment legislation. In some jurisdictions, judges have assumed a greater role in upholding the acquis, thus alleviating part of the burden that falls on the Commission

Nitrates Directive, 91/676/EEC - aims at reducing nitrate pollution from agricultural sources. Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, 91/271/EEC - complements the Nitrates Directive by requiring that larger human settlements collect and treat urban waste water – the other main source of nutrient pollution. Water Framework Directive, 2000/60/EC and precursor instruments - creates an overarching system - involving water quality objectives, monitoring, river basin management plans, programmes of measures and stakeholder involvement – aimed at ensuring that all water bodies enjoy good water quality. Its water pricing provisions have a particular topicality. Waste Framework Directive, originally 74/442/EEC, now 2008/98/EC - establishes a basic set of rules for the safe disposal and treatment of waste. Landfill Directive, 99/31/EC - complements the Waste Framework Directive by setting detailed standards for the operation of landfills. and the ECJ. A trend in that direction in Ireland would certainly be welcome but, based on past experience, it seems safe to say that, without the ECJ, the future for Ireland’s natural heritage is very uncertain – and very bleak in the case of active raised bogs. Of course, it is not possible to predict with certainty how the ECJ will address the environmental acquis in the future. Jurisprudential tides come in: they also go out. Against this background, the following are suggestions on how Ireland’s implementation of the acquis might be improved: • Greater recognition of the underlying purposes and objectives of EU environmental

legislation • Greater care and foresight in the drafting of implementing legislation. • Creativity in the design and deployment of implementing measures. • Greater emphasis on long-term strategic approaches and tools such as strategic environmental assessment. • Greater coherence and targeting of implementing measures • An emphasis on outcomes in enforcement action • Further improvements in oversight of and assistance to local authorities. • Further improvements in relation to role of civil society


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Protected species of sharks, skates and rays in Irish waters

Gary Hannon, SFPA


harks, skates and rays are collectively known as elasmobranchs (pronounced ‘elasmobranks’). They are generally slow to reach maturity and usually produce few offspring which makes them very vulnerable to fishing pressure. Fishing has resulted in a drastic decline of many species of elasmobranch in European waters. Historically, 39 species of shark and 19 species of skates and rays have been recorded from Irish inshore waters. Some of these are common, such as the lesser spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula), and some are more rare such as the mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus). This article is an overview of the various species that no longer can be landed by commercial fishing vessels from Irish waters. LANDING PROHIBITED For many years, many elasmobranchs have been on the prohibited list for commercial fishing. These include: the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias); the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and the common skate (Dipturus batis). The latter has been recently re-classified as two separate species, which have tentatively been named the flapper skate (Dipturus cf. intermedia) and the blue skate (Dipturus cf. flossada). These species can stay in the same area for many years, and may live to 100 years. There are a few refuges for both species of common skate off the Irish coast, and they may be encountered by the fishing industry. To help fishers distinguish them from the various skates and rays that may be landed, the SFPA has issued an Industry Advice Note on Common Skate, copies of which can be obtained free from SFPA offices around the coast or alternatively from the website at There are three other

species of skates and rays that may not be landed. These are the undulate ray (Raja undulata); Norwegian skate (Raja (Dipturus) nidarosiensis) and white skate (Rostroraja alba). In 2009, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and quota made it a legal requirement to report and land seven species of skates and rays separately. To help fishers identify these, the SFPA provided the industry with the Shark Trust A4 Skates and Rays Identification Guide in which the SFPA noted all the species that can and cannot be landed, and those that are required to be logged separately. LATEST RESTRICTIONS The 2011 TAC and Quota legislation (EC Regulation 57 of 2011 and S.I. 68 of 2011), added a number of new species that cannot be landed. These include: Spurdog (Squalus acanthias); porbeagle (Lamna nasus) and guitarfishes (Rhinobatidae). Guitarfishes have never been recorded in Irish waters. The spurdog was once a very common species in Irish waters, and was often encountered in shivers numbering many thousand. Their numbers however have declined so much that they are now classified as critically endangered in the northeast Atlantic and have a zero TAC. In addition, deep-sea sharks have a zero TAC; however a maximum bycatch of 1.65 tonne – 17 species are listed as deep sea sharks. The angel shark (Squatina squatina) known to zoologists as the true monkfish, is critically endangered and is also a prohibited species. Catches of prohibited species must be promptly released unharmed to the extent practicable. In the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) areas, the following species cannot be landed: bigeye thresher sharks (Alopias superciliosus); hammerhead sharks of the family Sphyrnidae (except for the

bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) and oceanic whitetip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus). Only one of these three species – the bigeye thresher – was reliably recorded from Irish waters in 1995. In terms of the various hammerhead species, only one was ever recorded in Irish waters - this was in the 1960s, and included a smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena). The species was not landed and was therefore never reliably confirmed however six have been recorded from British waters. An oceanic whitetip shark was reported to have been sighted off St Ives in the English Channel during June this year; however, again its identity was not confirmed. If you encounter any species of shark, skate or ray and are not sure if the species is allowed to be landed, please release it immediately. If you are a commercial fisherman and require further information, please contact your local SFPA office or Gary Hannon at or on 087 948 5453.



Historically, 39 species of shark and 19 species of skates and rays have been recorded from Irish inshore waters


1& 2: Spurdogs look similar to smoothhound sharks (Mustelus spp.), but have a large dorsal spine at the front of their two dorsal fins. They are a relatively small dogfish shark. The front of the first and second dorsal fins on a spurdog each has a pointed spine 3&4: Porbeagles are very similar to Mako shark) and have sharp pointed teeth and a large eye


inshore ireland august/september 2011


FISHERIES A guide to...

The Waterford Coast


Novel ingredient applications set to add value to seafood products


ighteen seafood companies attended a recent workshop organised by BIM’s Seafood Development Centre in association with two UK ingredient suppliers. The workshop aimed to increase knowledge of novel ingredient applications such as Transglutaminase (TG) which would add value to seafood products and novel crumb and glazes for seafood. Pat McDonagh of the Healy Group explained that TG was naturally occurring and widely distributed in nature. “When applied to seafood products it forms a link between the protein components, glutamine and lysine, and the resulting products are strongly bound together, thus allowing maximum utilisation of raw material.” He added that previously discarded, but perfectly edible offcuts could be reformed into “higher value products” for example fish cakes. John Fagan, BIM SDC added that sourcing and solving ingredient technology problems including sauce separations, batter/crumb formulations, optimising brines and marinades etc “are important value adding elements for the seafood sector. Interest in these technologies is at an all time high and the SDC is dealing with 50+ seafood companies wishing to add value using these technologies.”

n Friday August 12, Seascapes talks to Chef Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House, Wexford, on seafood traceability and the treasures that exist in our waters. Kevin tells Marcus Connaughton about his passion for seafood and his fish smoker, and of the many reasons to celebrate Irish food. Seascapes will also be speaking to author Declan McGrath about his recently published book, Coast of Waterford on Friday 19th August, which is a guide to the rich coastline, flora and fauna of the county that is renowned for its maritime heritage. The programme will also be previewing the Euro Surf Championships in Bundoran and will include regular reports from the islands with Olwen Gill; Inland Fisheries Ireland with Paul Bourke; The Irish Sailing Association with Rachel Solon; Inland Waterways Association of Ireland with Colin Becker;

Open Water Swimming with Ned Denison and the RNLI on the lifeboat service. Later in August on Friday 26, Seascapes meets Michael Byrne who was recently appointed to run Sail Training Ireland. Tune into Seascapes on RTÉ Radio 1 -Friday nights @ 10.30pm and on RTE Choice @ 12.30 on Saturday, or listen back on radio1/seascapes.

Declan McGrath

Declan McGrath’s ‘Coast Of Waterford’

Left: Seascapes is Presented and produced by Marcus Connaughton. Right: Chef Kevin Dundon

Learning navigation and vessel stability from the home


BIM E-Learning course commencing in October and targeted at fishing vessel operators, highlights the basic principles of navigation and the risks that structural modifications may have on a vessel’s stability and overall crew safety. E-learning is now a readily accepted means of delivering knowledge based learning direct into the home or workplace. On successful completion of this course, a FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council) record of achievement is awarded. Accumulation of additional modular records of achievements can over time lead to a FETAC certificate that is recognised throughout the European Union.

Frequently asked questions: Q: Do I have to be good with computers to learn on line? A: Not really, but some computer skills would be an advantage. Q: How long will the course take to complete? A: The course runs over a period of 15 weeks with two weeks between each course unit. This provides ample time to study the course material between fishing trips. Q: Is there an exam at the end of the course? A:Yes, a short review must be completed at the end of each two week unit to ensure the student is keeping up to-date with the studies. At the end of the course there is a supervised exam conducted at the National Fisheries College, Greencastle, Co. Donegal. Q: What topics are covered in the course? A: Compass; tides and meteorology; chartwork; collision avoidance; electronic navigation aids and fishing vessel stability. Further information from: National Fisheries College, Greencastle, Co. Donegal Tel: 074-9381068 E-mail:

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) aims to promote compliance with sea-fisheries and food safety law by supporting and helping the industry to understand their legal obligations under this legislation. The SFPA will continue working in cooperation with the industry to further develop a culture of compliance to ensure the growth of a sustainable, profitable, and world class fishing industry in Ireland. The SFPA is the independent statutory body, legally charged with the State’s sea-fisheries law enforcement functions. Confidential Line: 1890 767676 Fax: +353 (0)23 8859300 E: W:


inshore ireland august/september 2011


The lure of salmon keeps Zoe lands an eight the angler returning time pounder on her after time‌ sixth birthday


ough Conn in April can be testing for the best of anglers let alone for a 6-year-old who was spending a day fishing with her dad Mark and grandpa, Sandy.

Brendan Connolly


almon are the regal rulers of the river. Streamlined bars of shimmering silver that mysteriously appear from the sea, they ascend the rivers, slicing effortlessly through rapids and vaulting over waterfalls.


BANK CASTING The lure to land a salmon can mean hours on the river bank

A fine specimen of a 6 lb wild salmon

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Land and airborne mapping of border counties to reveal physical properties A

two-year project to survey the rocks, soils and streams of the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland using modern scientific methods is underway. Simultaneously, a Twin Otter aircraft flying at 56m will fly over Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan and Louth to collect information about various physical properties. The plane flies along a network of parallel lines, spaced 200m apart, taking readings every second. The €5m EU-funded Tellus Border project also extends the analysis and application of existing data resulting from the original project which ran from 2004-2007 throughout Northern Ireland. It will ensure the continued delivery of benefits to the region. Launching the initiative, Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said the project would provide “crucial baseline information to ensure the sustainable use of Ireland’s natural resources”. Dr. Patrick O’Connor, Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland added that data collected would benefit the benefit the environment and economies north and south of the border. “This project is an important reminder of just how important our natural resources are and how we can’t afford to take them for granted.” Mike Young, Director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland said it was “extremely important” that the people living and working in the region were aware of the project and to appreciate its value.


The Tellus Border project was conceived in the 1990s by the two Geological Surveys of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the intention of mapping the whole island of Ireland with the most up-to-date geoscience techniques. The first phase of the work, the Tellus Project over Northern Ireland, was completed between 2004 and 2007. Analysis of these results will continue as part of the Tellus Border project. Tellus Border will extend the mapping of the original project so that the entire northern region of Ireland can

be analysed. The region is recognised to contain some of the most interesting and diverse geology of any area of Europe and is a focus for research in many areas of the earth and environmental sciences. Supporting the GSI and GSNI are Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB). DkIT will undertake research into the wetlands of the border region while QUB will research the extent and characteristics of peat and the extent to which peat stores atmospheric carbon dioxide.


Launching the initiative, Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said the project would provide “crucial baseline information to ensure the sustainable use of Ireland’s natural resources” In a second research project, QUB will examine the potential sources of contamination of ground water, a valuable but often overlooked natural resource. Tellus Border is funded by the INTERREG IVA programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed in Ireland and Northern Ireland by the Special European Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project is co-funded by the Department of Environment (NI) and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (RoI). The data will be compiled into maps and freely available to stakeholders, local authorities and the public in general and will help scientists and planners to better understand the makeup of the border’s natural resources.

1&2: Samples being taken from Northern Ireland streams 3&4: Leaks of water contaminated with brine or chemicals can form ‘plumes’ that disperse and may ultimately reach the water table





inshore ireland august/september 2011


Islands AGM warns minister that cuts in critical services will adversely affect livelihoods Rhoda Twombly CoE


he representative organisation of Irish islands, Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann (CoE), held its AGM on Clare Island, Co Mayo June 11. In his opening remarks, chairman Padraic O’Malley noted that due to financial cutbacks over the past two years, Comhdháil now faced the challenge of operating on a voluntary basis. He added that due to widespread funding cuts, Comhdháil members were under increased financial and time pressures, making it difficult to progress their work programme. “Tackling depopulation is key as this affects other island issues such as medical services,

education and employment. Unfortunately, the government’s ‘one-sizefits-all’ attitude to policy implementation just does not work in the islands’ case. We have a very different set of geographical and socioeconomic factors that don’t fit into mainland structures,” he explained. Mr O’Malley urged the government to ‘island-proof’ their policies to ensure they are relevant and workable. “Comhdháil has had a good working relationship with the Department of Rural, Community and Gaeltacht Affairs and we are confident this will continue with the new department and minister. It is a credit to Comhdháil that its hard work has earned the organisation status with the department and access to the Minister and his staff,” he added.

PROACTIVE APPROACH Notwithstanding, Mr O’Malley felt that Comhdháil, as well as islanders generally, needed to be more proactive in initiating change: “And I hope the government will develop beneficial and realistic new initiatives.” Welcoming Minister McGinley and department staff to the meeting, Mr O’Malley congratulated the minister on his appointment to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. “As a man with island connections, I am sure you have an understanding of the problems we face.” “I am delighted with my portfolio especially as my family originates from Gola Island, Co Donegal. I have seen many changes over the years, but am saddened that so many children still must leave the islands to be educated. He added that funds spent on access improvements over the past 10-15 years was “right and proper” but that much work needed to be done to increase enterprise and employment, “especially as traditional industries of fishing and farming are in decline”. DEPARTMENT COMMITMENT Stating he planned to visit as many islands as he could, Minister McGinley encouraged communities to voice their problems, “regardless of the state of the department’s finances. You must hold on to what you already have and work towards getting services that are on a par with those on the mainland.” The Minister thanked Comhdháil for its work on island policy development, which provided a link between islanders and his department. While he added he didn’t know what financial help his department could offer, he said staff would be available to help solve difficulties particular to islands.

With no wind to move this Achill Yawl, Saoirse used the currents to best advantage during a recent race off Photo: S Cullen Achill Beg.

CRITICAL NURSING SERVICES A key concern raised with the minister related to nursing services. Mary Lavelle of Comhar na nOileáin stressed that funding for out-of-hours nursing services was due to

be cut or lost completely. “You can imagine the level of fear this creates for islanders,” she said. “Most islanders are hours away from mainland hospitals. In the case of Inis Bofin, for example, the lifeboat has to come from Achill, a journey of 40km by sea. The threatened loss of nursing services makes a difficult situation intolerable,” she said. Stating he was unaware of this situation, Minister McGinley assured the meeting he would speak to the Minister of Health, about finding a solution. Other concerns raised centered on the extra cost of farming; red tape

involved in applying for grants; the potential loss of schools on small islands; proposed changes in funding structures for island community development programmes and the loss of many vital services. “It appears that cuts to services are being introduced by stealth, and this adversely affects not only current residents but will hamper efforts to attract people to island life,” Padraic O’Malley concluded. Minister McGinley said his department would look into these issues and that he looked forward to exploring practical solutions to these problems.

(l to r:) Simon Murray (Inisbofin); Dan Reilly (Sherkin); Máirtín Ó Méalóid (Oileáin Cléire); Micéal Ó Céatagáin, (Oileáin Cléire);Padraic O’Malley and Donal O’Shea (Clare Island); Minister Dinny McGinley; Cliona O’Brian (Heritage Council); Bríd Ní Chonghaile (Pobal); Beirti O hAinmhire (Pobal);

Simon Murray (Inis Bofin); Padraic O’Malley and Donal O’Shea (Clare Island) enjoying a break during the AGM.

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Inshore Ireland is a marine and freshwater bi-monthly newspaper produced by Gillian Mills and Gery Flynn and is available six times a year in newsagents throughout the island of Ireland (11,000 copies circulated in the RoI and NI). In news, feature and advertorial format, Inshore Ireland reports from the coastal rim and inland waterways under the headings:


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Clew Bay island welcomes back past pupils Rhoda Twombly


ollanmore Island, Clew Bay, was the venue for a recent reunion of former pupils of the island’s national school. Foul weather didn’t deter the party of approximately fifty people – a mix of past pupils, their relations and friends – from travelling to the small island for a day of shared remembrances, laughter and music. The tiny schoolhouse – open from 1887 to 1957 is now privately owned and used as a holiday-home – retaining the original fireplace and stone work. Laughter filled the one-room school as past pupils shared their memories. Traditional musicians provided the perfect atmosphere for step-dancing and singing, and everyone praised Joe Jeffers of Inishgort and Michael Malloy of Westport for organising such a memorable event.

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Gloria passes by Duncannon Fort en route to the start line of the Tall Ships race last month Photo: G Mills



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inshore ireland august/september 2011





Celtic Mist


Irish Navy’s L.E. Aoife

Sun shines on spectacle of sail off Hook Head Gillian Mills


ver 40 barques, brigantines, full rigged ships and smaller craft participated in

the 2011 Tall Ships race which departed from Waterford on July 3, bound for Greenock and then Lerwick, Stavanger and finally Halmstad where they are expected to arrive this week.

All photos: G Mills

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Europa and tug Bargarth

Photo: J Ashmore

Christian Radich



Irene of Bridgewater


Lord Nelson




inshore ireland august/september 2011


Seaweeds as a gastronomic food resource in a sustainable and healthy diet

Stefan Kraan Ocean Harvest Technology Ltd


ertain seaweeds have a relatively high level of the amino acid L-Glutamate, specifically the Laminaria species, which are brown seaweeds popularly called kelp, or certain red seaweeds like Porphyra commonly called Nori, sloke or laver and which are used to wrap sushi. Apparently, our taste buds on the tongue and other regions of the mouth have receptors for this specific amino acid and can detect it as a specific taste described as meaty or brothy with a long lasting, mouth-watering and coating sensation over the tongue. This savoury taste is known as umami.

BasiC taste

Umami has a mild but lasting after-taste difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a furry sensation on the

tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth. Umami is one of the five recognised basic tastes, together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is a Japanese word invented by Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University in 1908 meaning ‘pleasant savoury taste’, comprising two words: umai meaning ‘delicious’ and mi meaning ‘taste’. Professor Kikunae also discovered that glutamate is responsible for the Umami taste, derived from kombu seaweed. It took a long time before umami was recognised as a basic taste; however in 1985 at the first Umami International Symposium in Hawaii, the term umami was officially recognised as the scientific term to describe the taste of glutamates and nucleotides. Now it is widely accepted as the fifth basic taste. Umami represents the taste of the amino acid L-glutamate and 5’-ribonucleotides such as guanosine monophosphate (GMP) and inosine monophosphate (IMP). Umami has the ability to balance taste and round the total flavour of a dish.

FermeNted Fish sauCe

Using glutamate is not new and has a long history in cooking. The best example is the fermented

fish sauce (garum) – rich in glutamate, in ancient Greek and Roman times. The sauce was generally made by crushing and fermenting the innards of various fishes such as mackerel, tuna, eel, in brine. In 1913, a student of Professor Ikeda, Shintaro Kodama, discovered that dried flakes of Bonito (a small relative of the tuna) contained another umami substance. This was the ribonucleotide IMP. In 1957, Akira Kuninaka realised that the ribonucleotide GMP present in shiitake mushrooms also conferred the umami taste. His most important discovery was the synergistic effect between ribonucleotides and glutamate. When foods rich in glutamate are combined with ingredients that have ribonucleotides, the resulting taste intensity is higher than the sum of both ingredients. This synergy of umami provides an explanation for various classical food pairings, starting with why Japanese make dashi with kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes. The optimum umami taste depends also on the amount of salt present in the dish. Low-salt foods can maintain a satisfactory taste with the appropriate amount of umami. In fact, low salt soups taste better when the soup contains umami, whereas low-salt soups without umami are less

pleasant. In addition, to enhance deliciousness, umami compounds can substitute sodium chloride in foods to some extent. Thus, by integrating seaweed into processed foods and meals, human consumption of salt (sodium chloride) can potentially be decreased with the associated health benefits of doing so.

Why reduCe saLt iNtake?

Salt intake has become quite a problem in Europe, with Europeans consuming roughly twice the recommended daily limit, causing widespread high blood pressure and placing millions at risk of heart attack and stroke. These conditions cause many deaths and cost billions of Euros in healthcare expenses. Only ca. 10% of sodium in our diets comes from saltshakers while the remaining 80% is added to foods before they are sold. Over recent years food industry in Europe has voluntarily reduced added salt in their products with some degree of success. In the U.K, salt is already reduced by roughly 40% in some packaged and restaurant foods . In contrast however, salt levels in Irish processed foods remain high, and in the current economic climate, many businesses no longer regard reducing salt levels as a priority. The Food Safety

Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is disappointed the food industry has lost interest in its voluntary salt reduction programme, especially in view of the fact that Irish people continue to consume far too much salt. The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 2.3g for most adults; however in Ireland we consume closer to 5-6g per day. Some food products, such as delimeat sandwiches pack more than the recommended daily intake of sodium in one serving. But much of the salt in diets is masked in breads, muffins and other foods that don’t taste salty.

sodium aLterNatives

Developments in food technology, including alternatives to salt and other sodium-based ingredients, manufacturing and distribution chain processes, and acceptable food safety testing, will all be necessary to ensure progress, as will rebalancing product flavours to maintain consumer acceptability. This is where the umami taste from seaweeds could play a major role. Seaweed is still an underutilised constituent of the Western diet; however it has long played a key role in the food cultures of the East. With its umami compounds and their proven beneficial nutritional composition, seaweeds now have the potential to become an increasingly important part of a more healthy, tasty, sustainable and low-salt diet in the West.


Finely ground Laminaria powders as an alternative for salt?

Gracilaria seaweed, which might be a good species for salt replacement while offering the umame taste

Marketing of seaweeds and their integration within our food culture will not only contribute to a healthy and well-tasting diet based on local ingredients, but also support sustainable food production and increase business opportunities for local seaweed farmers and food industries. Creating foods and meals with seaweeds that appeal to the consumer require gastronomic innovation at all levels of the food sector – from high-end restaurants to the retail food industry. The success of seaweed as a new food resource also requires increased consumer awareness of the health benefits of consuming seaweeds and how to use seaweed products in cooking. ocean harvest technology Ltd has developed several salt replacement and tasteenhancing mixtures that could be utilised by food product developers and the food industry generally to create a whole new market for novel food products while reducing salt levels in the diet.

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Edenvale, grant-aided by BIM and operating in Wexford Harbour

Oyster farming at Dungarvan

Reflections on aquaculture in the south east Brian O’Loan, BIM


hen I began as BIM’s aquaculture officer in the southeast in 2000 ‘someone’ made ominous remarks that thankfully didn’t come true. The first of these was that it would be impossible to get bottom mussel culture licences in Wexford Harbour, and secondly that I would only last two minutes at my first Dungarvan Harbour CLAMS meeting! Little did that person know that thanks to 29 years growing up in Belfast I was accustomed to working and living in conflict zones. In time and through a concerted effort, Wexford bottom mussel licences were granted in 2002, and the Dungarvan Harbour CLAMS group not only worked with me but together we set the standard and still do for all other CLAMS groups nationwide. The challenges however continue, so much so that I sometimes feel I am half aquaculture ‘explanation’ and half ‘development’ officer’ for the southeast. So what in fact is there to explain and to develop? The shellfish industry (bottom mussels and gigas oysters) in the region is spread over seven bays from Wexford Harbour in the east to Ballymacoda in east county Cork.


A brief tally of the production figures reveals the scale of the contribution with oyster production running at 40-50% and bottom mussel production at 30-40% of the national picture. This major contribution represents 28% and 17% of the national workforce respectively. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, include the quality of the product and one sees

just how outstanding the southeast shellfish sector really is. I am constantly impressed by the calibre of the industry in the southeast. Bannow Bay oysters are of exceptionally high quality; in fact they are world class. I have often sampled and assessed oysters to have meat yields around 30% from Bannow. In other words, they are completely full of meat! Personally speaking, I think that a new class of oyster should be created on the market to reflect such quality. Although not all bays in the region are blessed with such a bountiful food supply, quality has definitely risen throughout the southeast – through farm optimisation and hard work. Waterford Estuary not only has the largest single oyster farm in the country but it also has a crucial, half-grown oyster sub-sector of incredibly dedicated producers supplying the Irish industry with quality shaped oysters ready for fattening and finishing.


Wexford Harbour, which had its first commercial relay of seed from the Irish Sea in 1974, has been and continues to be a stalwart production area in the bottom mussel sector. Inevitably, rationalisation of the industry has evolved over the years with some producers not being able to meet new boat regulations. Nevertheless, three of the seven new dredgers grant-aided by BIM some years ago, operate in the southeast. Others were able to upgrade their boats to the required Certificate of Compliance standard and keep going that way. Either way, these significant investments were made on the strength, reliability and potential of the mussel industry in the southeast, and of course crucially they have the licensed ground needed for relaying and on-growing operations.


The southeast shellfish sector is also synonymous with innovation. Labour saving devices (e.g. trestle lifters, on-site/off-site bag cleaners; on-site mechanised trailer offloading/unloading equipment) were all developed locally. Further innovations are currently ongoing and will hopefully come on stream soon. It has to be admitted however that some oyster farms back in 2000 looked similar to anti-invasion beach defences from a World War II movie. The CLAMS process in Dungarvan Harbour in particular, and to a lesser extent Bannow Bay, presided over a large-scale clear out of old and abandoned trestles and a oversaw reconfiguration of trestles within farms in such a way that easy and regular lifting of trestles was made possible. This improved farm management practice has spread right across the oyster sector in the southeast. An elevated view of the production areas now reveals precisely laid out well structured farms. With the addition of Special Unified Marking Schemes (SUMS) in Dungarvan Harbour, where they were pioneered, and subsequently in Bannow Bay and ongoing in Waterford Estuary, effective farm marking has gone beyond departmental requirements. This has been greatly assisted by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the Marine Survey Office and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).


Water quality and hence microbial shellfish classification, is still a big issue with producers. Thankfully this year there has been no proposed downgrading of classifications in the

southeast; however the industry is never complacent. It is their belief that defined, consistent class ‘A’ areas, are currently attainable within certain production areas, and with proper functioning wastewater systems, the situation would improve even more. The industry will be focussing on these issues in more depth as the financial gains to be had of exporting from an ‘A’ area are too big to ignore.


Some regional industry members have expressed interest in developing a gigas oyster hatchery and nursery. Applications are also with the department for seed settling projects in the east coast, and there is also interest in the on-growing of sea urchins. Further applications await approval for new grounds or extensions to existing production areas. With the benefit of long operating experience, the negative effects of some licences being located too far down the intertidal zone, combined with the growing awareness of how useful and productive the upper intertidal zone actually is to oyster farmers, has led to new applications of the shore to improve on-farm efficiency and stock performance. Summer oyster mortality is a big shadow over the industry nationally. If we can get to grips with this or even keep it at manageable levels we can then avail of a stronger position in the marketplace. BIM and MI have been monitoring test batches throughout the region for the last year. ‘Appropriate Assessment’ of farms located within Natura 2000 designated areas is a new challenge,. Although the industry is knowledgeable and confident of how their farms are in harmony with local habitats and wildlife, they are concerned they

might lose ground or face new operational restrictions.


In recent conversations with DAFM personnel I have noticed a welcome growing awareness that aquaculture is not just about neat shapes or lines on a map but is also about effective productive farms and valuable jobs in the coastal communities. I am glad there is now a greater understanding and a more ‘common sense’ approach being taken within the department. This development is very welcome, and it is my hope it will prevail throughout the process of carrying out the Appropriate Assessments of aquaculture units in the region. Scope exists for further development and job creation. I have no doubt that if more licences are granted to the right farmers, then aquaculture in the southeast will not only consolidate its leading position but will also bring greater prosperity to the region. Along with the industry, I hope that in the coming years, concerns over renewals and new applications will be a thing of the past and that the southeast shellfish industry will be a booming success story. The great privilege of working with the industry is that they are not just a statistic in a report or a name on a database. You get to know each person and their business individually, and to appreciate how much fish farming means to local lives. It is heart-warming to see a son or daughter or nephew taking on the family farm – and it gives me great satisfaction to be able to pass on the skills and knowledge I have developed working with the industry on the shore and in the boats farming the bays of the sunny southeast.


inshore ireland august/september 2011


The little-known world of shallow waters is a colour sensation T


he latest publication from Sherkin Island Marine Station is a showcase of intriguing and fascinating creatures found in the shallow waters around Ireland’s coast. Ireland’s Hidden Depths by nature photographer, Paul Kay, is a feast for the senses, with over 100 high resolution images and commentary. ‘Even in the twenty-first century the undersea world remains a hidden one,’ say the publishers. ‘Although Ireland’s coast particularly in the west, offers some of the clearest temperate waters in Europe, the sea surface is a visual



barrier which is hard to see through, making it difficult to appreciate the beauty of the plants and animals that live below the waves.’ The book follows on from Ireland’s Marine Life – A World of Beauty, published by Sherkin Island Marine Station in 1992 and has a similar aim: ‘To showcase the stunningly beautiful marine world which surrounds Ireland and which is all too often overlooked. It benefits from advances in our understanding of the marine environment and its inhabitants, as well as in the technology of underwater photography.’

Paul Kay’s interest in the marine world began when he worked as a volunteer at the Sherkin Island Marine Station in the early 1980s. Since then he has dived extensively around the coasts Ireland and Britain, in other temperate areas and in the Tropics. ISBN: 978-1-870492-53-8; softback (with French folds); 277 x 227 mm; 200 colour photographs Price €17.99 & €2.00 p&p. Order directly from Sherkin Island Marine Station 028 20187;;

inshore ireland august/september 2011


BOOK REVIEW 1. When viewed close up, Jewel Anemones reveal themselves to be intricate, highly coloured and very beautiful little creatures. 2. The Dahlia Anemone is actually quite a common anemone but is only seen by those who are prepared to look for it in deep pools (generally pools at the bottom of the shore.) 3. Small fish can live amongst the stinging tentacles of jellyfish. Here, safe from many predators, two small whiting swim amongst the protective tentacles of a Compass Jellyfish 4. Dublin Bay prawns live in burrows excavated in seabeds that have mud of a suitable consistency. 5. Although some of these Bloody Henry Starfish really are bloodred in colour, their colour can actually be quite variable, ranging from yellows through oranges to reds and purple as shown here. 6. Male Cuckoo Wrasse are both inquisitive and territorially aggressive.


Photos: Paul Kay


Three copies have been generously provided as competition prizes: Q: In what year was the Sherkin Island Marine Station established? Answers by August 31, 2011 with name, address and contact details to: or 3 Hillview Cottages Pottery Road Dun Laoghaire Co. Dublin



inshore ireland august/september 2011


Joint mission to film marine life at three kilometres depth John Joyce


ndiscovered ‘alien’ life forms that thrive without sunlight in temperatures approaching boiling point may soon come to light thanks to a groundbreaking Irish-led marine research mission aboard the national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer. In collaboration with scientists from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, the researchers sailed from Galway for the mid-

Atlantic Ridge in the early hours of the July 16. The voyage is being filmed for the National Geographic Channel for inclusion in an upcoming series about the ocean. The mission, led by Dr Andy Wheeler of University College, Cork (UCC), will be investigating life at 3,000 metres below the surface of the sea on the ‘45o North MAR hydrothermal vent field’ using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Holland 1. Hydrothermal vents occur where cracks in the Earth’s crust allow seawater to penetrate downwards into areas of subterranean volcanic activity. Here the seawater

is not only heated to boiling point, but also permeated with dissolved minerals and suspended solids from the molten rock. This heated seawater then gushes back upwards into the ocean, giving rise to ‘black smokers’ and ‘white smokers’ – similar in appearance to miniature erupting volcanoes.


The ‘45o North MAR hydrothermal vent field’ being investigated by the mission was first discovered in 2008 by scientists aboard the UK research vessel RRS James Cook through the pinpointing of a plume of heated water

The VENTure Team in front of the ROV Holland 1 in Galway Docks (Left to Right): Gary Johnston; Dr Bram Murton; Dr Peter Heffernan; Dr Jon Copley; Darryl Green; Jon Thomas; Chris King; Verity Nye; Kirsty Morris; Adrian Glover; Andy Wheeler; Mark Coughlan (kneeling); Jens Carlsson; Boris Dorschel; Alice Antoniacomi; Aarron Lim

emanating from the seabed. The VENTure expedition will deploy ROV Holland 1 to precisely locate the source of the heated water and then film and sample around the hydrothermal vent field. Patrick Collins from NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute will lead Ireland’s marine biological team investigating this unique ecosystem which could tell us not only about how life might have evolved on other planets but may also be a rich source of new biochemical processes with valuable medical and industrial applications. “This expedition offers us the first opportunity to investigate mineral deposits and vent animals in this unexplored and important part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,” remarked Dr Bramley Murton of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), who first discovered the location of the vents on an expedition aboard the UK research vessel RRS James Cook in 2008, and who is now leading the mineralisation study on the expedition. “Nothing is known about the hydrothermal vents, their mineral deposits or the life they support on the MidAtlantic Ridge between the islands of the Azores to the south and Iceland to the north. Because this part of the ridge is trapped between these islands, vent animals may have evolved in isolation and be quite unique from elsewhere,” he added.


The ROV Holland 1 and mini-ROV on board the RV Celtic Explorer

Patrick Collins, in collaboration with Jon Copley of the NCOS, will catalogue and characterise the species found at the vents. “We hope to find a whole community of previously unknown species, thereby increasing our understanding of deep sea biogeography. There is potential here to put Ireland on the global map as a serious player in deep sea science. This is all the more timely with the exploitation of deep sea and hydrothermal vents for precious metals and rare earth minerals now a reality,” explained Patrick. Another objective of the mission is to investigate the rich deposits of deepwater corals on the Porcupine Bank’s

‘Moira Mound’, which has already been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). These corals, which are very delicate and grow extremely slowly, are highly susceptible to damage by deepwater trawling and mineral dredging operations.


Dr Andy Wheeler, chief scientist of the Expedition, is a veteran of four previous ROV surveys to coldwater coral mounds. Like their tropical counterparts, deepwater (or coldwater) corals are colonies of simple animals resembling sea anemones that secrete calcium carbonate to protect themselves, forming extensive and delicate reefs. Over millennia, these reefs build up to form ‘carbonate mounds’ on the seabed which can be detected using sound waves. Because their delicate nature makes coldwater coral reefs susceptible to damage from dredging or deepwater fishing, and because they form unique ecosystems offering shelter to a wide variety of marine life, many coldwater coral reefs around the Irish coast have been declared SACs. The VENTure expedition will map the coral reefs on the western Moira Mounds and deploy the ROV Holland 1 to estimate the abundance and density of live coral. This mission is supported by the Marine Institute under the 2011 Ship-Time Programme of the National Development Plan. “This project is a perfect example of how strategic funding can pump-prime world-class marine research led from Ireland into new and exciting areas with tremendous potential for future sustainable development,” Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute explained. The research is also supported by the National Geographic Society. The mission carries geochemists, marine biologists, marine geologists, marine geneticists and technicians from Ireland and the UK as well as a three-person TV crew from National Geographic. They will spend 25 days at sea and will be posting a regular blog on http://scientistsatsea.blogspot. com

inshore ireland august/september 2011



ECOKNOWS saving salmon by numbers Bayesian statistics specifically address uncertainty and links between different sets of knowledge. The process of using data from the different information sources – such as wider published literature and direct observation – can be analysed and applied together to support year-class size estimates over time. For example, the assessment of Irish salmon stocks will benefit from knowledge gained from existing European databases established by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), Baltic and Atlantic stock assessments and a recent study of biological characteristics as predictors of abundance.

Nets being released from RV Celtic Voyager to catch salmon smolt in Irish waters Jonathan White, Eimer Doyle and Cushla Dromgool-Regan


he Marine Institute, in collaboration with 13 research organisations from across Europe and North America, has been involved with the EU-funded project ECOKNOWS (effective use of ECOsystem and biological KNOWledge in fisherieS), which aims to improve the use of biological information in fisheries science and management. The project, funded in 2010 by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme, aims to develop models for assessing the management of several fish species including salmon in the Atlantic and Baltic Sea as well as herring in the Baltic and in the North Sea; European anchovy in the Western Mediterranean and the adjacent Atlantic; mixed stock fisheries in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas; Northern Atlantic stock of European hake and Northern shrimp in Skagerrak and Norwegian Deep.


Traditional stock assessment methods and an over reliance on traditional gathering of statistical information has resulted in uncertainties in current fisheries models and the information given to many stakeholders. But by undertaking an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, which

takes a broader look at the application of available information from a wide range of stocks, fisheries scientists hope to reduce uncertainty in fishery management. ECOKNOWS aims to solve this technical estimation problem by using up-to-date methodology supporting a more effective use of data. Using the mathematical Bayesian methodology as the backbone of the project will allow scientists to integrate important knowledge about biological processes as well as applied statistical inference methods in stock assessment to give realistic estimations of uncertainty. While classical statistical methods are based on the testing of hypotheses they are restrictive in how the data being examined can be combined with similar information from related studies. Bayesian calculus combines prior knowledge (existing information and data gathered from publications and data sets as well as from experts including fishermen and scientists) with new data to provide an updated understanding of stock assessments. Therefore, if a particular set of stock assessment data is missing any information, the Bayesian method automatically fills in gaps with information from other studies and recalculates the uncertainty in the data. This is done without assuming the parameters are exactly known, in a way that accommodates biological and sampling variation. The method therefore enables quantities that can

never be directly observed to be systematically estimated by using statistical inference from the quantities that are observed.


Salmon have experienced a drastic decline in numbers over the past 40 years. National and international salmon stock assessments are based on estimates of the abundance of returning fish derived from fish counters and catch data with estimated exploitation rates. These are assessed against estimated abundances necessary to sustain river, regional and national populations. With a need to create a model that can be used to estimate the basic dependencies for all important salmon stocks, it is scientifically challenging to accurately estimate salmon population sizes owing to their transitory and migratory behaviour, the large sea areas covered and variable life histories. For example, Atlantic salmon populations are known to be river specific with identifiably discrete genetic stocks in each and over 140 populations recognised in Ireland alone. In Ireland, the Marine Institute are developing the Bayesian approach to the life cycle of Atlantic salmon. Using the next generation of salmon stock assessments, information is being developed using the Bayesian framework based upon salmon life stages, to better gauge where uncertainties in survival arise and how they can best be managed.


ECOKNOWS is using prior information at an inter-species level from the largest existing fish database called FishBase, to provide and organise probabilistic information for stock assessment purposes. FishBase includes published biological information that can be used together with

Salmon fry

models, to estimate more accurately the risks for managed populations. The estimates obtained from existing databases for most commercial fish species (pelagic, demersal, shellfish) can be used for management purposes to strengthen catchdata sets. This is often true for bycatch species, whose importance is growing owing to the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management. The length distributions and age structures of the bycatch species can be linked to other biological knowledge by the probabilistic models created in the project which gives clues to the likely impact of fishing on the population. The purpose of scientific advice on stock status is to inform what the impacts of human activities or natural processes on a resource will be. Therefore, the ECOKNOWS project and its application to salmon management will translate knowledge and risk factors into practical advice that is easily understood and can be used to further develop future assessment methods. For further information see:

Photos: Marine Institute


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Chemical testing to replace mouse bioassay screening of shellfish within three years Gery Flynn


he EU Commission’s decision to replace the mouse bioassay with chemical testing methods to screen for marine biotoxins from July of this year will be welcomed by shellfish producers and processors, consumers and animal lovers alike, as being both a major step forward and a more humane way of safeguarding public health. Biotoxins naturally accumulate in shellfish, and maximum limits are set down in EU legislation to ensure consumer protection. Various screening methods are available and up until recently, regulations specified that the mouse bioassay (MBA) should be the reference test method.


Critics of the mouse bioassay say it is too nonspecific (meaning it could be positive due to the presence of any one of a group of toxins and that on its own it does not identify the actual toxin present). They say it is also non-quantitative (meaning it is only negative or positive - with no indication of the level of toxin present) and that it raises the ethical question of testing with live animals. The MBA test requires that three mice are injected with an extract from the digestive glands of shellfish. If two or three mice die within 24 hours the shellfish are considered

unfit for human consumption, and the area from which they were harvested is shut down. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has long contended that the MBA is unsuitable as a control tool for routine monitoring of biotoxins. In 2009, the Commission proposed to amend the rules by adopting proposals to change the regulation. The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has actively supported this proposal, and contributed extensively to the Commission’s Technical Working Group which guided the drafting of this legislation to ensure appropriate consumer protection within a legal framework that facilitates Ireland’s shellfish production industry.


In the past decade, Ireland has been to the forefront in developing and applying modern chemical detection methods - specifically Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry. These methods have inherent advantages including sensitivity to detect lower levels; specificity to show which toxin is present; quantification of the level present and reliability through quality assurance procedures. Joe Silke, Section Manager Shellfish Safety at the Marine Institute told Inshore Ireland that chemical testing would not only impact positively on shellfish producers but would also assure consumers that Irish shellfish was even safer to eat now:

“Naturally, food safety is the ultimate goal of our testing programme here at the MI, and I firmly believe that chemical methods offer better food safety testing because it is more accurate and sensitive. For the industry too, the ability now to detect trace amounts of biotoxins in shellfish well below levels, which are likely to create a health risk, will allow decisions to be made as to whether to harvest or to leave shellfish where they are until a potential risk subsides.”


According to Silke, another benefit of chemical testing will be the speed at which results will be available: “With chemical testing there is a naturally faster turnaround of about one day. That means we will be able to get results out in about two days from the time we receive samples at the Marine Institute lab. This means of course there will be less risk of anything toxic getting to market, and therefore the overall quality of Irish shellfish will benefit from that.” Acknowledging the ethical angle Silke says it shouldn’t be ignored: “For many consumers it is very important to know how their food has been produced and tested. Therefore, the elimination of the mouse bioassay over the next three years throughout the EU is sure to be welcomed – and this too is bound to benefit the shellfish industry in the end,” he says.

Chemical testing will see results in roughly one day

Marine renewables association challenges negative findings of latest economic report Gery Flynn


review of Ireland’s energy policy that casts doubt on the economic benefits of ocean-based technologies in the foreseeable future has been criticised for failing to grasp the potential of this embryonic industry, adding it could stop development in its tracks by giving negative signals to the wider ocean energy sector. Peter Coyle, chairman of the Marine Renewable Industries Association (MRIA) – the

all-island body that represents Ireland’s wave and tidal energy community – said in a statement he had “serious concerns” with the Economic and Social Research Institute’s (ESRI) conclusion that ‘because of its high level of intermittency, tidal generation is unlikely to be economic in the foreseeable future. Thus, for these technologies the economics suggest that they should not play a major role in Ireland before 2020 at the earliest.’ CrItICAl elements Although welcoming the ESRI report as “a valuable contribution to a key debate” Coyle nevertheless noted it failed

to grasp three critical aspects to ocean energy in Ireland: “Ireland has the most energy intensive wave resource in the world as well as a notable tidal resource. This natural advantage has been built on by the development of the world’s best research and development facilities for ocean energy such as the new full-scale device test site off Belmullet, Co Mayo; the existing quarter-scale test facility in Galway Bay; testing tanks and other facilities at MERC in Cork, and the facilities in Queens University Belfast.” He added that the creation of the world’s largest single ocean energy research community at

UCC was a “further feature” of the Irish scene and that Irish companies like Wavebob, Ocean Energy and Open Hydro accounted for a substantial portion of the international ‘Premier League of ocean energy companies. “Irish device developers like these, even at the developmental stage of the technology, have raised substantial equity funds in the private markets,” he declared. PotentIAl eConomIC ImPACt Pointing to the 2010 SQW report on ocean energy, which was commissioned jointly by the Belfast and Dublin Governments,

Coyle claims that the ESRI report fails to take account of the potential economic impact of the sector which SQW indicates could create 50,000 extra jobs and many billions of extra income by 2030. “Ocean energy differs from wind energy in one crucial respect. There is a strong prospect that [with it] Ireland could build a world beating position in R&D; device development and manufacture; operations and maintenance, whereas the huge spin-off economic benefits of wind energy have already been won elsewhere such as in Denmark and Germany,” he claimed. He added that no significant

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Networking - key role in developing marine ICT


peaking at the SmartOcean workshop, Dr Barbara Fogarty, co-ordinator of the National Marine Technology Programme (NMTP) declared that the ultimate aim of the programme was to support development of next generation technology solutions for marine-related sectors and their delivery to global markets. “One of my key responsibilities is to consolidate and build Ireland’s current capacity in the area of marine technology, specifically sensing, information and communication systems. A key element involves actively networking with research groups, industry and government agencies

cost would be imposed on the State or the consumer by REFIT support for Ocean Energy “for many years to come” as the technology was not expected to reach commercial maturity and scale until about 2017. ” The bulk of research costs to date have been met by the private sector,” he explained. Coyne cautioned however it would be reasonable to expect the cost of electricity generated from wave and tidal to fall. “This is proven with onshore wind as economies of scale kick-in, and particularly if exports prove to be viable.” Nonetheless, the MRIA chairman contends that a decision about REFIT for ocean energy “cannot be taken solely on energy grounds” but must take into account the potential job creation element and the prospect that Ireland could become a world leader in this sector based on an indigenous resource.

nationally and internationally to support the development of a critical mass of activity [regarding] ICT solutions for marine related sectors,” she said.

researchers to target appropriate funding to resource new activities. I also monitor the progress of projects funded directly by the Marine Institute and other organisations, and act as a national contact point for national activity in the area of marine technologies,” she explained. According to Fogarty, Ireland’s “small geographical area” gives it a strategic advantage when forming research clusters by facilitating valuable networking and collaborative opportunities for industry, researchers and government. This she contends also “puts the country in a position to leverage its technical expertise in the “trillion dollar” global marine sector identified by the Marine Institute. “Ireland also has many of the players from across the value chain of global ICT and marine -related sectors, including offshore energy; environmental monitoring and shipping security. This

allows us to identify end-user requirements and associated research and development opportunities, and to engage a range of expertise from development of sensor hardware through to software solutions required,” she explained.

ESSENTIAL STATE SUPPORT As for the role of State agencies in advancing subsea technology, Dr Fogarty indicated their involvement was essential: “We have a range of specialist government organisations including the MI, SEAI, EPA, the Naval Service, national utility companies and others who provide operational services and cutting-edge research activities, and are also willing to support industrial and academic researchers to develop new technologies by providing access to specialist expertise and infrastructure,” she said. She added that a significant proportion of this activity

was supported by national industrial development and research funding agencies, and builds on a legacy of strategic national investment in marine science and ICT. “From an economic and environmental perspective, government also has a crucial role to play in the development of marine enterprise by establishing a supportive policy framework that enables sustainable economic development of marine enterprise while ensuring protection of the natural marine resource.” As for the future, she highlighted the key role of the MI, in terms of research and facilitating small and large companies. “I certainly trade on the well-recognised brand of excellence of the MI. It opens a lot of doors for me, which hopefully in turn will open a lot of doors for those working in this sector. A very good example of this is our recent participation in the Ocean Technology Expo event,” she said.


According to Dr Fogarty, this is currently achieved by facilitating targeted networking sessions, workshop and working groups to identify key areas of opportunity for Irish-based companies and academic researchers. “We are specifically focused on raising awareness of current activities and expertise; identifying new project development opportunities and research partners, and facilitating industrial and academic

It would be reasonable to expect the cost of electricity generated from wave and tidal to fall Despite these criticisms Coyle, has welcomed the ESRI Report as a “valuable contribution to a key debate” adding that the MRIA looked forward to opening a dialogue with the report’s author, Professor John Fitzgerald. But he warned that implementation of the report’s views “would stop the industry in its tracks in Ireland” as it would give a very negative signal to all involved with Irish ocean energy.




NOAA Ship, Okeanos Explorer,


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Irish seafloor geology compilation and harmonization

Areas of European minerals & aggregates resources: Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Ireland, Denmark

GSI and INFOMAR participate in European marine geoscience projects Alison Robinson, Compass Informatics


reland may have lost face in Brussels given the recent economic downfall; however when it comes to marine research and seabed surveying, Ireland punches way above its weight. The Irish contribution to marine research is well respected in Europe and for some time has been leading the field. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) is involved in a number of European marine projects where the territorial waters of interest stretch from the Bay of Biscay as far north east as Estonia and the Gulf of Finland! ProjeCt PArtnershIP Spring 2011 saw the official coming together of the EU projects team as part of the GSI Marine and Geophysics Programme. The GSI is currently engaged with geological research institutes across Europe and is a committed project partner in a number of European projects. From this involvement, the GSI has brought together expertise from various disciplines, all related through the common theme of marine geoscience. The European projects team is multidisciplinary, comprising a marine geologist, marine geoscientist, GIS specialist with support of a web services and metadata specialist. The team is tasked with the research, collation, and creation of spatial data sets that represent the full extent of the Irish designated seabed zone across a range of themes including seabed sediments and rate of accumulation or sedimentation; sea-floor geology including age, lithology and origin; geological boundaries and faults; rate of coastal erosion; geological events and event probabilities including

information on submarine landslides, volcanic activity and earthquake epicenters; seismic profiles; minerals and aggregates including oil and gas. suBmArIne ProCesses An understanding of the seabed and characteristics of European shelf seas has been the focus of institutions and marine laboratories in Europe for several decades. Studies on submarine processes have been undertaken during nationally funded research programmes or within the various European Framework Programmes. Whilst information on seabed characteristics exists for local and regional areas, this output data can be considered relatively heterogeneous. In other words, whilst various seabed substrate classifications and seabed sediment lithologies exist, no standardised geographical extent, map scale or projections are used. The aim of European projects such as the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNet) and GeoSeas is to support the dissemination of harmonised and interoperable standardised marine data via the web using OGC web service technologies where the responsibility for the final data delivery output of a specific data themes is spread across appointed European member state work package leaders. joInt venture The GSI’s European projects team is currently preparing Irish seafloor geology; sediment and substrate mapping and coastal erosion datasets for submission to the respective work package leaders. Much of the supporting data for these datasets was captured during the Irish National Seabed Survey and more recently the INFOMAR mapping programme. This initiative is a joint venture between the GSI and the Marine Institute.

In addition to generating these data themes, the GSI is also the lead partner on the minerals and aggregates work package which aims to identify and map areas of minerals including aggregates, oil/gas and metalliferous minerals in each of the partner countries based on spatial and non-spatial information available. Data layers will be compiled in a GIS and the production output will be delivered to the OneGeology_Europe (http:// data portal via web service technologies. The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has identified an overarching requirement for a European Marine Observation and Data Network. EMODNET is providing data on scales defined by the regions

The GeoSeas project has more of a research and development focus and the GSI’s involvement allows for the advancement and testing of new technologies at the cutting edge of marine data modeling.

and sub regions of the MSFD and comprises four lots: hydrographic data; marine geological data; chemical data and biological. mArIne dAtAsets The GSI is a project partner for lots 1 and 2. The project is being implemented through 11 work packages, each led by organisations with experience in the specific fields. The GSI, along with the geological surveys and research institutes from several European countries is one of fourteen project partners in EMODNET, the objective of which is to assemble previously fragmented marine datasets and improve the availability of high quality data. The GeoSeas project is a pan-European Infrastructure for Ocean and Marine Data Management and is an Integrated Infrastructure Initiative of Research Infrastructures Programme within the EU FP7. The GeoSeas partnership comprises 30 organisations of which 26 are data centres. The project aims to expand the existing SeaDataNet ( infrastructure to include marine geological and geophysical data held by the GeoSeas partners. The GSI is involved in several work packages involving development of standards of formats for the transport and visualisation of geological and geophysical data; development of software components for providing high resolution geophysical data viewing services in 2D and 3D; exploration of the use and coupling of international, opensource software plug-ins for modeling and visualisation. new teChnologIes Whilst the EMODNET project is strongly focused on the creation and dissemination of hard data, the GeoSeas project has more of a research and development focus and the GSI’s involvement allows

for the advancement and testing of new technologies at the cutting edge of marine data modeling. Recent trends towards increased data access across the globe has been facilitated by the development of web services such as CSW – a web catalog service publishing metadata about data products; WMS – web map services that allow the user to view the data extents and attributes in a map format, and WFS– web features services that enable data downloading. All of these web services are implemented via online data portals where increasingly, OGC and ISO standardisation is being adopted to ensure data harmonisation and interoperability. Free downloAd Marine and terrestrial geological data is freely available from the GSI website and has a worldwide user audience. This audience will expand as a direct result of the GSI’s submission of data to European data portals. For example, should you wish to discover, view or download Estonian minerals; Norwegian gas fields; Irish submarine landslides; Lithuanian coastal erosion rates or French hydrocarbons individually or all at the same time, this will be possible when EMODNet and OneGeology come on stream on completion of the European projects roadmap. The GSI plays an integral role in participating and contributing to these projects in terms of data availability and expertise acquired in the delivery of Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme INFOMAR. Irish graduates along with their knowledge and experience are also being utilised to make significant scientific contributions within the European geoscience community which can only continue to consolidate the GSI and the broader Irish sciences sector within Europe.

inshore ireland august/september 2011



Safety at sea and marine conservation at centre of major mapping project

The GSI survey vessel, RV Keary passes Duncannon, following a recent survey of Waterford Harbour André Cocuccio, MCA Hydrography Manager and INIS Hydro Project Director, explained that reliable bathymetric datasets are critical for safe navigation and effective stewardship of the marine environment. “We [MCA] are looking forward to working with our project partners from across the UK and Ireland and together map these little explored areas off our coastline. Once completed, the data will be available for free download via the Internet.” Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill said the work was a “key element in the spatial planning approach” to the sustainable management of fisheries and marine resources.

G Mills


three-year project to survey 1400 km2 of seabed areas to the east of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the west coast of Scotland, has been launched by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and six partner organisations. The objective of the INIS (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland) hydrographic project is to produce standardised hydrographic survey specification and accurate high-resolution

bathymetric datasets. The areas selected have high environmental significance and are currently poorly surveyed whereby some of the nautical charts still include data from the mid 19th century when depth was measured by lowering lead lines to the seabed at wide intervals. The project will thus improve safety at sea, and provide supportive data to enable effective marine conservation and management, relating to fisheries, marine protected areas and marine renewable energy development.

UNTAPPED RESOURCES Howard Keery from the Special EU Programmes Body added that the data would help the region benefit from natural resources still widely untapped: “The coastal and marine area between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland is uniquely positioned and offers access to a wide range of resources. The work developed by this project should make an extremely important contribution towards initiatives in the areas of tourism, renewable energy and marine conservation, which are priority areas identified by the INTERREG IVA Programme,” he said. INIS Hydro will receive £3.2 million from the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, to survey the Firth of Lorn and the SW Islay Renewables; Dundalk Bay (shallow and deep); Carlingford Lough and

Approaches; Dundrum Bay and parts of the Mourne coast in Northern Ireland using multibeam sonar technology. The project will be delivered the MCA and theAgri-food and Biosciences

Institute Northern Ireland; the Geological Survey of Ireland; the Marine Institute, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Northern Lighthouse Board and the UK Hydrographic Office.


inshore ireland august/september 2011


The bay at Port St Johns on the Wild Coast where sardines would pass as they migrate northwards

All Photos: G Mills

A world phenomenon that continues to confound the experts Gillian Mills


he sardine run of southern Africa occurs from May through to July when billions of sardines - or more specifically the

Southern African Pilchard Sardinops sagax - spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the Kwa Zulu Natal coastline of South Africa. Their sheer numbers create a feeding frenzy along the

coastline. The run, containing millions of individual sardines, occurs when a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique where it turns eastwards towards the Indian Ocean. In terms of biomass, researchers estimate the sardine

run could rival East Africa’s great wildebeest migration; however, little is known of the phenomenon. It is believed that the water temperature has to drop below 21°C in order for the migration to take place. In 2003, the sardines failed to run for the third time in 23 years, while 2005

saw a good run and 2006 marked another non-run. Sardines group together when they are threatened. This instinctual behaviour is a defence mechanism, as lone individuals are more likely to be eaten than large groups.

The shoals are often more than 7 km long, 1.5 km wide and 30 meters deep and are clearly visible from spotter planes or from the surface.

Typical shoal at a glance Sardine biomass: Whales: Dolphins: Gannets: Sharks: Billions of sardines form shoals over 7km long.


10m 500 23,000 100,000 1,000

inshore ireland august/september 2011



A group enjoying the winter sun at Leopard’s Rock overlooking the Umzimkulu River.

Ski-boat fishing on the Hibiscus Coast

The mighty Umzimkulu River as it enters the Oribi Gorge

The first nettings produced 25 baskets of sardine at Hibberdene and can fetch up to R600 (â‚Ź60) per basket.

Beach fishing at Shelly Beach

The famous Splash Rock at Port Edward


inshore ireland august/september 2011


Added-value to seafood products delivers much needed jobs boost in coastal regions


ighteen companies are set to benefit from €1.7m in grant aid as part of a total investment of €7.4m in the seafood processing sector. 158 jobs will be created over a three-year period, giving a “huge boost to local economies in many rural coastal communities,” remarked Simon Coveney, Minster for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. At a glance, Fastnet Mussels Ltd in Cork will be investing in new capital equipment to produce value-added cooked mussel products. In Donegal, Atlan Fish Ltd are developing a value-added processing area to increase production and broaden their product range, while Rockabill Shellfish Ltd in Dublin plan to increase production of value-added prawn products and improve efficiencies by installing energy efficient equipment. In total 158 new jobs will be created around the country and will be a huge boost to local economies, many in rural coastal communities.” Visiting Castletownbere, Minister Coveney also announced a ‘Special Assistance for Young Fishermen’ scheme. Fishermen under 40 years-ofage who have not previously owned a fishing vessel can


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avail of grant aid up to 15% (to a maximum of €50,000) of the acquisition cost of a second-hand whitefish vessel. “This scheme is a positive stepping stone for future entrepreneurship within the fishing industry and will assist and enable young fishermen who have a proven track record within the sector to set themselves up as managers of their own vessels, set their own targets and goals, and hopefully impart their knowledge to those they take on to work with them’” remarked Minister Coveney. The Minister has also requested BIM to conduct a comprehensive economic survey of the Castletownbere area to determine the level of seafood activity and establish its economic importance for the region. “This report will provide hard economic evidence on the dependence and economic importance of seafood in the region, and will help inform future policymaking at local, national and EU level,” he said. BIM suggests an additional €50m in valueadded seafood sales can be created by 2012 For more information on the Seafood Value Adding Scheme visit

Compet Competitive Pricesitive Prices

pt PPrroom mveprty DDeelliivery

6 Day Pe6rsDoanyal PSersonal Seerrvviiccee

Suppliers of fuel to the marine industry

Tel: (027) 74555 Mobile: 086 605 8444

Minister Simon Coveney; Donal O`Sullivan, Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-Op and Noel Harrington TD inspecting the catch at Castletownbere Fishermans Co-Op Seafood Processing Business Investment Programme 2011 Grants Company Name

Total Investment Grant

Nature of Project

Fastnet Mussels Ltd.



New packing system.

Murphys Irish Seafood Ltd.



New ice flow machine, chill rooms and fish pump.

Connemara Seafood Frozen Ltd.



New labelling machine, conveyor belt, control system and barnacle remover.

Keohane Seafood Ltd.



New portioning machine and other improvements to existing facilities.

Earagail Eisc Teo.



Installation of new packing, printing, tempering and chilling equipment. Upgrading of existing facilities.

Premier Fish Products Teo.



2 new automated weigh head lines.

Ballycotton Seafood Ltd



Improvements to existing manufacturing facilities.

Kilmore Fish Co. Ltd.



New processing room and new cold storage facility.

Daly’s Seafoods Ltd.

€ 68,000


New tray sealing machine.

Dunns Seafare Ltd.



New packing, portioning, mixing, seasoning and labelling machines. New factory management system.

Rockabill Shellfish Ltd.



New refridgeration, labelling and sterilisation systems and new prawn washer.

Sean Ward (fish exports) Ltd



New cold store and associated equipment.

Arctic Fish Processing Ltd.



New smoking and packing equipment. Upgrading of existing facilities.

Shellfish de la Mer Ltd.



Upgrades of existing product packaging and labelling facilities.

De Brun Iasc Teo



Upgrading of fish smoking and defrost areas and new slicing machine.

Simro Ltd.



New shellfish traetment system, including backup generator and monitoring system.

Atlan Fish Ltd.



New processing area and membrane sealer.

O Cathain Iasc Teo.



New filleting machine and two automatic fish intake feeding systems.



inshore ireland august/september 2011



MSC certification: who should bear the costs? Brian O’Riordan, ICSF Brussels Office Secretary.

The figures are startling,” says Rupert Howes, chief executive of the MSC. “In Britain, consumers have increased their spend on sustainable seafood by 154 per cent. These findings suggest that consumers are actively looking for certified and labelled fish, and that they are remaining true to their values – even in times of recession.” Revenue from sales of fish labelled as sustainable, rising from £70m in 2007 to £128m in 2008 and to £178m in 2009, according to the Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism 2010 Report. In parallel, supplies of ‘ethically labelled’ seafood have burgeoned considerably, both for people and their pets.


Nearly 80 per cent of fisheries using the MSC label were certified during the period 2008-2010 when many other labels also came onto the market, including retailers, many of whose claims have been challenged. It is therefore debatable how much increased consumption of seafood labelled as ‘sustainable’ derives from active consumer search, and how much is just down to supermarket shelves overflowing with product. MSC staff seem to be unable or unwilling to answer this simple question: Are consumers really selecting fish labelled as ethical, or are they just being supplied with it? And the other side of the question is: Why should fishermen be interested in subscribing to the MSC, given the associated costs, and are there any economic benefits in doing so? Recently, the South West Mackerel Handline Association decided that the costs outweighed the benefits – that paying £12,000 plus VAT was simply not worth it, especially considering the impact of the mackerel dispute further north over access to the North East Atlantic stocks. Jeremy Percy, CEO of the UK’s (England and Wales) New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) recognises the positive contribution of the MSC and the clearer focus as to what constitutes a sustainable

fishery, and the need for an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, provided by MSC principles. “An immense cost is involved however, especially for smaller groups to obtain accreditation, and the apparent lack of tangible commercial benefits in so doing,” he outlined.


Paul Joy, chairman of the Hastings Fishermen Protection Society believes that for the Hastings Dover sole gill net fishery, the MSC brings prestige rather than tangible economic benefits: “Generally, people want fish that is certified as sustainable, but they don’t want to pay more for it”, he explains. “If our local authority was not prepared to bank roll us, we could not afford MSC certification. We don’t make enough from the fishery to pay for it ourselves.” The enhanced status and the reputation of MSC certification delivers benefits not just for the fishery but the entire Hastings community. This is why the Hastings Borough Council is happy to underwrite the costs and has agreed to finance the re-certification process for the Dover sole fishery. A worry however is that low quotas forces them to discard large quantities of valuable by-catch, and fishermen fear they may not get MSC certification this time round. The initial certification process in Hastings cost around £70,000 (preassessment, full assessment, chain of custody assessment and so on), with annual audit costs in tens of thousands of pounds. According to a source associated with an MSC certifying body, depending on the fishery concerned, a full

assessment costs somewhere around €25-30,000 and pre-assessment/annual surveillance roughly €1,500€3,500 each. The source doubts the majority of fishermen see much direct economic benefit from MSC certification in terms of a better price; in their experience of fisheries undergoing assessment, either they are under pressure from buyers or they have got someone else to pay for it. “Fishery science is a detailed and specialist business,” believes MSC deputy CEO Chris Ninnes, “and the costs reflect that reality”. Indeed, some European Member States are subsidising MSC sustainability assessments for their fishing sectors.


According to Paul Joy, the MSC is a bit like a prestigious club: “Expensive to join, but with many spin off and intangible benefits.” He admits that some initial positive economic benefits were generated in Holland after they had obtained MSC certification but that these soon faded when Dutch sole gill netters also obtained MSC certification thereby driving down prices. Like other aspects of fishing, the first entrants may profit initially, but as others enter, initial advantages are eroded. So it is with the MSC. Any price advantages for fishermen are likely get further eroded if the MSC standard is adopted as the norm by supermarkets across Europe. As price advantages get eroded and as the recession bites further, who in the fishing sector will be able to afford certification? Not the fishermen, that’s for sure.

Retail fish market in La Coruňa.

Handlining for mackerel in Cornwall.

Photo P Lockely

Photos: B O’Riordan

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Inshore Ireland Vol 7 nr 4 Aug-Sep 2011  
Inshore Ireland Vol 7 nr 4 Aug-Sep 2011  

News and views from the coast and inland waterways of Ireland