Observers on fishing vessels in Irish waters

EU Member States are required to design annual monitoring schemes for incidental catch of cetaceans on their vessels, in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 812/2004 of 26.4.2004*. BIM and the Marine Institute have funded pilot independent observer programs for 200 days undertaken by UCC and GMIT in 2011 and 2012.

Five GMIT observers carried out a total of 15 fishing trips in 2011-2012(90 days).No cetacean bycatch was observed during any of the fishing trips.The overall coverage achieved was 60% of that targeted. There were difficulties in finding vessels to place observers on which could be attributed to vessels operating from overseas ports and uncertainties as to which overseas port landings would be made in. Other difficulties encountered included shortage of berths and boat operators being unwilling to take observers. To ensure full coverage, it is recommended that specific undertakings to accommodate observers on a boat by boat basis should be agreed prior to the start of each observer study. This should be done in consultation with Fish Producers Organisations and other relevant management bodies.

UCC observers undertook thirty trips on 22 different vessels (111 days). There was no cetacean incidental take observed during the programme. 10 gannets (Morus bassanus) caught in pelagic gear, six of which were released alive, during pelagic fishing for mackerel, horse mackerel and herring.

It is not clear whether an increase in observation effort in pelagic trawls would result in cetacean by catch being detected.

It is up to the Flag State to put observers on Fishing trawlers to monitor by catch.





Minke whale strands on Omey Island, County Galway.

Minke whale strands on Omey island, County Galway, 27th. November 2015 –

Minke whale strands Omey Island

A young Minke whale 6.40 metres in length was stranded on Omey Island, County Galway 25/11/2015.Prior to its stranding a pelagic factory trawler, FV Margiris was fishing off the Galway west coast. In Ireland there is no post mortem scheme to determine the cause of death of whales and dolphins even though such strandings are at an all time high.

Photo copyright Shay Fennelly/Aquaphoto