Search our Archive


BIM works with aquaculture groups to improve navigation and safety for marine users

Improving navigation and providing efficiencies for fish farmers

BIM works with aquaculture groups to improve navigation and safety for marine users

Pictured at the launch are Joanne Gaffney, Regional Environmental Officer, BIM, Yvonne Shields O'Connor, CEO, Irish Lights, Jim O’Toole, CEO, BIM and Captain Catríona Dowling, Irish Lights

Donegal companies involved in the aquaculture and seafood sectors will welcome the new development launched today to help simplify and improve local navigation markings for the safety of all marine users.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, in association with the
Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) have launched a new standard operating procedure.

BIM has been working with members of the aquaculture industry around the coast to install simplified navigation marking systems that provide an effective visual guide for anyone navigating a bay or harbour.

Reducing the overall visual impact of the markers and simplifying the boundaries for other users is the aim of Special Unified Marking Schemes (SUMS) by getting all aquaculture producers in an area to incorporate their sites boundary marks into one marking scheme.

The standard operating procedure for the unified marking systems clearly outlines the steps
local producers need to take to engage with the Scheme. Previously each farm in a bay or
harbour had its own marks indicating the boundaries of the site, often resulting in a large
amount of markings, making navigation more difficult.

Unifying the sites under one scheme has the dual advantage of improving navigation of the harbour and providing efficiencies for the fish farmers. In addition, the marks deployed are of a much higher standard, have a longer lifespan and work in all types of weather.

Speaking at the launch of the new operating procedure, Jim O’Toole, chief executive, BIM
said: “Getting aquaculture producers to work together locally with schemes such as the
Special Unified Marking Systems pays dividends for all concerned.

"It highlights their commitment to working together in harmony with the local environment and other marine users, putting safety at the centre of what they do. An example of where SUMS has made a
remarkable difference is Dungarvan Harbour.

"Working together we have reduced the number of markers to 10 poles and 11 small buoys, as opposed to the original proposed 160 poles, drastically reducing the visual impact and simplifying things for everyone.”

Yvonne Shields O'Connor, chief executive, Irish Lights added: “The launch of the Special Unified Marking Scheme with BIM marks a positive step change in delivering improved navigation and safety in areas of aquaculture activity.

"Irish Lights is delighted to support this initiative, which ensures the safe and efficient marking of
zones to international standards, resulting in a positive impact on the local environment.

To begin engaging with the Scheme, producers contact their local BIM officer who will work
with them to survey the production area. Consultation then takes place with the
Commissioner of Irish Lights and the Marine Survey office to determine the location and
specification of markers.

Once approved, BIM will work with local farmers to ensure that the new markers will be produced and installed at the approved locations.

This project is co- funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union under Ireland’s European Maritime Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for the seafood sector.

For more details or to download a copy of the full Special Unified Marking Systems standard
operating procedure, please go to

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.