Thursday, 28 June 2012

3rd July Green Drinks Ocean 2012

IWT's summer of sustainable seas continued on 3rd July at its monthly meeting of Green Drinks with Mike Walker from OCEAN2012 ( coming to speak about overfishing and the OCEAN2012 campaign. OCEAN2012 is an alliance of organisations dedicated to stopping overfishing, ending destructive fishing practices and and delivering fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.

Mike outlined to the meeting some of the shocking facts and figures associated with overfishing. Currently, 63% of fish stocks in the Atlantic are overfished, 82% in the Mediterranean, and four out of the six stocks for which scientific advice is available in the Baltic. Over 20% of fish stocks are being fished beyond safe biological limits, meaning their very future is threatened. North Sea fish catches have declined from 3.5 million tonnes a year in 1995 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2007, and the larger fish at the top of the food chain are dying out as we literally eat our way through them. For example, North Sea cod reach spawning age at four years old, while the average age of cod caught in the North Sea is 1.6 years, meaning that 93% of cod are caught before they can reproduce. This means that there are virtually no large mature cod left. The difference between the cod caught in the past and the cod caught today can be seen in the two images below

At present, not only is the EU fleet is estimated to have the capacity to fish two to three times the sustainable level, but much of the fishing fleet is sustained by subsidies, meaning we are paying twice for our fish. The EU's Common Fisheries Policy needs to be changed urgently to bring about a sustainable fishing industry. Review of the Policy is underway at present, but vested interests opposing change mean it is vital to keep the pressure on policy makers.

Cod in the past

Cod today

Fish Shape outside Messr Maguires

Monday, 25 June 2012

23rd June Visit to SEALIFE Bray and fish shape

The Dublin Branch went on a tour of the National SEA LIFE Centre in Bray on Saturday June 23rd. This special guided tour of the aquarium with a dedicated SEA LIFE expert brought the group face to face with a Giant Pacific Octopus, sharks and many other creatures. This year’s new feature of the aquarium is a trail of rays featuring Ireland's only Cownose Rays. The tour took about an hour and afterwards IWT members and members of BirdWatch Ireland gathered on the beach for an Oceans 2012 campaign fish-shape photograph!  

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

16th June Visit to Ireland's Eye

Last Saturday 16th June the Irish Wildlife Trust went on a boat trip to Ireland's Eye off Howth in north Co. Dublin. Ireland's Eye is a designated SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and SPA (Special Protection Area). You can learn more about those designations by following the link to the National Parks and Wildllife Service website:

 There was a good turnout for the trip and the weather was cloudy but it stayed dry (mostly). Ireland's Eye is a spectacular island with its own Martello Tower and ruined church, and of course it contains a huge amount of wildlife, especially seabirds. Among the birds we saw were kittiwakes, nesting herring gulls and shags, (unfortunately some of these were dead). IWT's Conn Flynn who was leading the trip also showed the group some of the wild things on the seashore, including little insects that live in the seaweed called sandhoppers and some of the varieties of seaweed.

Conn leads the way through the jungle

Climbing the tower (not for Rapunzel)

Looking at the sandhoppers

Conn talks seaweed

Dead Shag

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

12th June EU Fisheries Meeting a "failure"

The coalition Ocean 2012 consider last Tuesday's agreement reached by the Minister of Fisheries of the European Union (EU) was a "failure". The agreement delays the end of fishing discards and defers the goal of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of resources beyond 2015. Below is a link for a live blogging update and webcast of the meeting:

In the EC's own words: 'Europe’s fisheries policy is in urgent need of reform. Vessels are catching more fish than can be safely reproduced, thus exhausting individual fish stocks and threatening the marine ecosystem'. In many cases, fisheries rules, regulations and enforcement measures are not efficient; fishing capacity and efforts are not sufficiently limited or controlled and scientists’ recommendations for catch quotas that would allow fish stocks to recover are routinely ignored. There is a lack of transparency and traceability, and a lack of implementation/enforcement - the Common Fisheries Policy Reform aims to remedy this but the road ahead is long.

The OCEAN2012 coalition, including representatives from IWT, had formed this fish shape 4 days in advance of the meeting to highlight the need for change in fishing policy

You can see more photos and learn more about it from the following link:

Fish Weeks 2012 Video

OCEAN 2012 the Europe- wide coalition of conservation groups dedicated to ending overfishing and of which the IWT is a member has launched Fish Weeks 2012 with this nifty Video. it succinctly explains the problem we face. 

9th June Killiney Beach Walk

Dublin Branch Ocean 2012 – Killiney Beach Walk – In Celebration of World Ocean’s Day 9th June 2012

After 2 heavy rainy days in Dublin, the IWT Dublin Branch were spoilt by not only a mild dry and overcast day, but also by the leader, Tim Clabon, a marine and wetland expert and volunteer.

We explored the kelp beds and associated rock pools which were well exposed due to the very low tide, and learnt about the different seaweeds, including serrated wrack, sea lettuce, sugar kelp and oar kelp (see photo). A range of different crab species were temporarily caught and stored by Tim in a bucket (see photo).

Sadly litter was found including the plastic rings found on drinks cans and the remains of balloons (see photo). Both of these while looking harmless causes fatalities to wildlife either by ingestion as in the case of balloons and whales or plastic rings that can encircle diving birds.

Several South Dublin rivers enter the Irish Sea along Killiney Beach including the Deansgrange River and the Loughlinstown River. Tim came well prepared to demonstrate the abundant fresh water wildlife of the latter and took several samples of the water. In the net he pulled up a range of aquatic invertebrates, including eel and a very young flounder. 

On the return we explored the coastal vegetation and some brave souls even sampled the edible plants including sea radish and sea rocket (word of warning – only eat after an expert tells you its safe). After two stormy days it was not surprising to see a few fatalities including a female crab with her nest of eggs (see photo). Other wildlife seen today included, sand martins, cormorants a grey sea and some early attendees had even spotted some dolphins off shore.

Many thanks to Tim for a great celebration of World Ocean’s Day.

Rockpool seaweeds

Litter which can kill

Female velvet swimming crab with eggs. Note the paddle shaped back claws which help the crab to 'swim' short distances