BIM works with aquaculture groups to Improve Navigation and Safety for Marine Users

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) today (Thursday 27 February) 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, CEO, Irish Lights said,

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

L-R: Joanne Gaffney, Regional Environmental Officer, BIM, Yvonne Shields O’Connor, CEO, Irish Lights, Jim O’Toole, CEO, BIM and Captain Catríona Dowling, Navigation Services Manager, Irish Lights