The Marine Institute will be exhibiting at the Irish Skipper Expo on the 24th and 25th February 2023 at the University of Limerick. The Marine Institute will have exhibition stands on shellfish assessment and advice and on research projects to understand and help manage the impacts of seafood production on marine biodiversity. The work in both cases is funded by the EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund), its successor EMFAF (European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund) and Irish Government.
The Shellfish team will showcase to industry the work it carries out on data collection, assessment and advice on shellfish. The newly published Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review 2022 will be available in hard copy and online. The industry provides much of the data included in these assessments and it is an opportunity to discuss inputs and outputs into this important programme for the inshore fishing fleet in Ireland. Data are reported for all the major shellfish species that the inshore fishing fleet rely on.
The EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) Marine Biodiversity Scheme team will showcase to industry research work being undertaken to help support the protection and preservation of marine biodiversity and to contribute to the fulfilment of Ireland’s obligations under EU Natura Directives. Marine Institute staff will be available to assist with information on the implementation of the EMFF and the new EMFAF (European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund) Operational Programmes and the projects they support; NATURA and environmental legislation and biodiversity, fisheries and aquaculture impacts and, species and habitat protection and restoration.
Compliance with the Habitats and Birds Directives requires ongoing public investment to identify potential risks from fisheries and aquaculture to designated habitats and species in Natura 2000 sites, to reduce those risks through management or other measures and to monitor and report on these mitigation measures and on the status of protected habitats and species. Likewise, the impact of fisheries on species and habitats needs to be more fully understood in order to inform the implementation of effective mitigation measures under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) programme of measures.
Continuing on from EMFF the new EMFAF has many projects underway, including a project of strategic importance on the management of the crayfish fishery to restore the crayfish stocks and protect critically endangered species. The work programme addresses the by-catch of endangered species, reducing interaction between net fisheries and wildlife (seals, porpoise, dolphin) and contributing to restoration of crayfish stocks so that pot fishing becomes viable.
Speaking about the work undertaken by the Marine Institute to support both marine biodiversity and sustainable seafood production, Ciaran Kelly Director of Fisheries, Ecosystems Advisory Services at the Marine Institute said, “Resolving these issues is not only about the protection of biodiversity but also the restoration of the fish stocks. This Project of Strategic Importance to Ireland and the EU aims to provide solutions to developing a management plan reducing pressures on threatened species while protecting a viable crayfish fishery.”
Ireland’s Programme under the EMFAF Biodiversity scheme to date includes projects
to: Protect and restore vulnerable Elasmobranchs (Skates and Rays) species, to expand Ecosystem data collection on Irish fisheries surveys in support of MSFD, Natura and Habitat mapping; to address data gaps under MSFD indicator 6 on food webs by undertaking Continuous Plankton Recorder plankton analyses. Ireland has also proposed projects to provide appropriate assessments of interactions between aquaculture activities and Natura features (species and habitats) in Special Areas of Conservation. This work underpins the evidence basis for licencing decisions supporting the sustainable development of coastal aquaculture and its interactions with sensitive freshwater habitats and species, such as Atlantic salmon.
The EMFAF Marine Biodiversity Scheme is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime Fisheries & Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 2021-2027. The Scheme is established under Priority 1 (Sustainable Fisheries) and Priority 2 (Sustainable Aquaculture) of Ireland’s Operational Programme (OP) under the EMFAF.