The capture of spatial data relating to bird use in inshore and offshore environments and interpreting these data as it relates to various anthropogenic activities is important in implementing management actions. Specifically, the capture of data and subsequent analysis will aid in understanding the interactions between bird species of special conservation interest (SCI) in Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and aquaculture and fisheries activities. This is an important requirement to the management and mitigation of these industries in Natura sites and more widely.
Consistent with sub-article 6.2 of the Habitats Directive (EC 92/43/EEC), which requires member states to take measures to avoid deterioration of protected habitats, Ireland will undertake a further mapping survey of offshore reefs in 2019 to evaluate status and introduce conservation and management measures in proportion to status and pressures from fishing. This study has been identified as highest priority by DAHG for the marine environment and is based on a letter by DAHCG to DAFM (attached).
Static net fisheries are known to pose a potentially widespread risk of capture to a number of designated species including grey seal, harbour seal and small cetaceans (i.e. porpoises and dolphins).
This study investigated the possible effect of towed dredges during winter and spring fisheries for oyster and scallop on the potentially sensitive Zostera beds and the quality of Zostera in the following summer. A before and after control impact study (BACI) was established; seagrass plots were sampled for seagrass rhizome using SCUBA in mid-winter.
The razor clam (Ensis siliqua) fishery in the north Irish Sea is distributed in a continuous band of activity from Dundalk Bay in the north to Malahide in the south at depths from 2-15m. Fishing activity has increased significantly since 2013 in response to strong market demand for product. The fishery uses hydraulic dredging to extract razor clams and disturbs sediment to a depth of 25cm.
Over 90% of active fishing vessels in the inshore fleet use pots and nets to target crustaceans. Non-retained by-catch in these fisheries are significant especially in the static net (tangle net and gill net) metier. Commercial and non-commercial finfish are also captured in pots and some of this may be retained for bait.
A very extensive data set exists in the Sea and Inland Fisheries Reports from the 1870s to 1987. In addition, data for the period 1900 to 1920 are available in the Fisheries Ireland Scientific Investigations series. These datasets could act as essential baseline information on the state of the Irish marine environment in the pre- or early exploitation era.
This project aims to set up a monitoring programme to increase our knowledge of bluefin tuna migrations with special reference to their residency in Irish coastal waters and specific use of these habitats, reasons for their presence after more than a decade of near absence up to 2015 and establish whether they are likely to remain as persistent migrants in coming years. This project will contribute to the National reporting obligations for management of large pelagic fish species in Irish waters and to assess MSFD and OSPAR indicators for exploited deep-water species.
Ireland has obligations under the EU’ Marine Strategy Framework Directive to deliver food web indicators under Descriptor 4. Specifically certain elements must be met for at least 3 trophic guilds. This project will allow for collection and analysis of data to support the implementation of the MSFD Improved data provision to assess the impact of fisheries on biodiversity.
Vessel position reporting is mandatory for vessels under 12m carrying hydraulic dredges and fishing for razor clams in Irish waters. The number of vessels requiring iVMS increased in 2016 as new razor clam fishing areas were opened and as fishing effort in the north Irish Sea increases.
The definition of marine habitats as ordinated biological community complexes can allow variations in structure and prevalence of species to be used to show change that may be linked to environmental pressures. To date, the inshore intertidal and subtidal reef has not been the subject of the same degree of focused surveys as the offshore. As a result, Ireland’s knowledge of the communities that occur here is qualitative and patchy.
Through awareness of information collected on Marine Biodiversity this project will enable engagement with stakeholders with an interest in Ireland’s marine resource.
The assessment of ecological risk associated with marine industry activity and development is a key issue in providing advice to licensing authorities and planners in the marine environment. The project would take existing quantitative frameworks for risk assessment and add functions to incorporate effects of applying and withdrawing pressures over short time steps and to enable modelling of population responses to these pressure schedules. Developing these methods will allow us to incorporate them into decision support tools to allow for a more robust comparison between temporally and spatially explicit management measures.
As part of the data collection framework, the Marine Institute conducts ten annual fisheries research surveys at sea to provide fisheries independent data for stock assessment.
The Biologically Sensitive Area (BSA) is situated off the west and south coasts of Ireland and is considered to encompass an area of high biological sensitivity. It contains important spawning and nursery grounds for exploited north east Atlantic fish species. This project will produce a report which details the biological basis for the BSA and the effectiveness of the designation as an instrument to afford protection to the area.
This project will establish a fish species list, including the marine and diadromous species, study their diet and establish the relative energy inputs (Carbon and Nitrogen) from both freshwater and marine sources. The project will provide baseline information on a vulnerable habitat (coastal lagoon) classified as an Annex I priority habitat (“in danger of disappearance”) under the EU Habitats Directive (EU, 1992). Also relevant to Descriptor 1 in the MFSD, setting a baseline for species and habitats identified under national and international legislation, such as the Clew Bay Complex SAC.
Data is a key input into the advice which drives fisheries management but access to it is often restricted to scientists. This project provides tools for a number of different audiences to discover and explore the fisheries data that is collected within Ireland.
Crayfish stocks are heavily depleted in Irish waters. This depletion has been driven by over exploitation since the introduction of tangle netting in the 1970s. The restoration potential relies on acquiring better data on crayfish essential habitat, information on migration and stock structure and in managing fishing interactions.
Skates are a branch of the shark family, we sometimes called them flat-sharks. Some of these flat-sharks or skates are extremely rare with Ireland holding some of their last remaining European populations. The main refuges for these species are Tralee and Galway Bay.
Many of the stocks which are caught by the Irish commercial fishing fleets are considered to be data-limited or are not assessed at all. These include a number of key stone species (like sprat, gurnards, saithe, pollack, ling) and species sensitive to the impacts of fishing (like rays and skates, john dory, brill and turbot).