Fisheries & Ecosystems

Fisheries and Ecosystems Main Image. Photographer Ciaran O'Donnell

Fisheries & Ecosystems

The fisheries resource is the bedrock of the Irish seafood industry. The waters around Ireland contain some of the most productive fishing grounds and biologically sensitive areas in the EU. Annually in excess of 1.2 million tonnes of fish are taken by the fishing fleets of EU member states from the waters around Ireland (ICES Sub-areas VI & VII). The main fish species caught are mackerel, horse mackerel, boarfish, blue whiting, herring, cod, whiting, haddock, saithe, hake, megrim, anglerfish, plaice, sole and Nephrops.


Fish stocks (excluding the Inshore stocks) are managed by the EU under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The main instrument of the CFP are Total Allowable Catches (TACs) supplemented by various technical measures (e.g. effort control; mesh size). The provision of timely and accurate fisheries advice on the resource base underpins the management framework of the CFP. Inshore fish stocks (e.g. whelk, cockle) are managed nationally and the Marine Institute works closely with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) through the inshore management. The Inshore Fisheries Atlas provides details of fishing activity in the inshore waters (up to 10 miles from the Irish coast). 

Fisheries Overview. Photographer Thomas Szumski
Fisheries Overview
The Marine Institute's Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) assess many of the key commercial fish and shellfish stocks around Ireland. The overall aim of fisheries science is to provide information to managers on the state and life history of the stocks. This information feeds into the decision making process. Fisheries science, economic, social and political considerations all have an impact on the final management decision.
Ecosystems Overview. Photographer Colm Lordon
Ecosystems Overview
Ecosystems are composed of living animals, plants and non living structures that exist together and ‘interact’ with each other. Ecosystems can be very small (the area around a boulder), they can be medium sized (the area around a coral reef) or they can be very large (the Irish Sea or even the eastern Atlantic).
Interactive Marine Archive
Interactive Marine Archive
The Marine Institute's Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) and the Oceanus Library collaborated to digitise and make available two important historical collections from the Marine Institute archive: Sea and Inland Fisheries reports from 1852-1987, and the Scientific Investigations collection which spans from 1901-1926. You can explore these important series, which contain baseline habitat data for oysters and other species through our Interactive Timeline, Oyster Habitat Map, Scientist Trivia and Vessel Information.. 
Working with Industry. Photographer Paul Kaye
Working with Industry
Working with industry is a key aspect of the Marine Institute programmes. Engagement with industry takes place at many levels.  The Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership (IFSRP) involves industry representatives and scientist from both Marine Institute and BIM and meeting on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss scientific work programmes and priorities.  In the ports and at sea Marine Institute staff rely on the co-operation of individual skippers to provide invaluable samples required to conduct scientific assessments and investigations. Collaborative stakeholder engagement is a cornerstone of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM).
Total Allowable Catches. Photographer David Branigan
(TACs) Total Allowable Catches
Within the European Union, fisheries are managed through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which includes a system of Total Allowable Catches (TACs). These are established by regulation each year for most stocks in the waters around Ireland. TACs are negotiated at the Council of Ministers meeting each December in Brussels. Member States are then allocated a proportion of TACs which become the national quota. For full details of the most recent Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and quotas please see the European Commission website. 
Fish Stock Assessment and Advice. Photographer Paul Kaye
Fish Stock Assessment & Advice
Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) research, assess and advise on the sustainable exploitation of the marine fisheries resources in the waters around Ireland and on the impacts of fisheries on the ecosystem.
Sampling and Data Collection. Photographer Joe O'Shaughnessy
Sampling & Data Collection
Fisheries information is collected through various sampling programmes and the data are used to provide advice on the sustainable management of fish stocks, upon which the industry depends.
Fisheries & Ecosystems Surveys. Copyright Marine Institute
Fisheries & Ecosystems Surveys
The Marine Institute has a large number of fisheries surveys on R.V. Celtic Explorer, RV. Celtic Voyager, and commercial vessels throughout the year.  These fisheries surveys provide critical information on the status of fish and shellfish stocks.  This information is used to assist with sustainable management of our marine resources.
Biologically Sensitive Area. Copyright Defra JNCC Marine Institute BGS
Biologically Sensitive Area
The Marine Institute, working closely with DAFM and Industry, compiled information on the distribution and abundance of eggs and larvae, juvenile and adult fish in the waters around Ireland and presented these data to the EU Commission. This presentation was powerful evidence of the biological importance of this area.
Atlantic Salmon Seatrout and Eels. Photographer Ger Rogan
Atlantic Salmon, Seatrout and Eels
Salmon, sea-trout and eels belong to the group of fish which live part of their lives in freshwater and part in the ocean. In the case of salmon and sea trout, these fish migrate from the seas where they have been feeding and return to spawn in the rivers in which they themselves were spawned. In contrast, eels spawn in the ocean, returning to rivers and lakes to feed and grow.

For information on past and ongoing research, please see the Projects Database.

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