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Plenty of Maritime News from Fish Ireland, Volvo Ocean Race and Round Ireland

29th June 2012
Plenty of Maritime News from Fish Ireland, Volvo Ocean Race and Round Ireland

#islandnation – The FISH IRELAND Exhibition in Killybegs, the Volvo Race in Galway, the Round Ireland Race at Wicklow, commemorating an Arctic hero in Courtmacsherry and where is the summer for sailing? That's quite a mix of maritime material for one week. At least the Volvo is generating more attention to the marine scene in the general media. It is a regrettable that the same attention is not continued throughout the year.

WICKLOW - FISH, YACHTS AND DENNIS NOONAN

Looking out the window of the Race Office perched high above the quay wall at Wicklow, Dennis Noonan recalled his days of sailing Enterprise dinghies at Baltimore in West Cork:

"They challenged your ability. A mistake at a gybe mark and you could end up in the water. You needed to concentrate, but they were a great way to learn sailing," and he chuckled at the memory, then pointed at the cruisers rafted up at the quayside, tugging at their moorings, seeming anxious to get away: "Offshore racing is a different type of sailing, but no less challenging when you take on the coast of Ireland, no matter what the size of the boat."

Dennis is the doyen of the Round Ireland Race which he was describing to me.

"I've stepped back a bit now," he said, waving at the busy office team putting the final arrangements in place for the start of the race when we talked on the evening before the start. The following day he sent 37 yachts off on their 704-mile voyage. "I have to live by the sea," he told me.

Sailing needs determined people like Dennis who, from his time as a boat builder, continues to build lovely model boats.

MORE FISHING BOATS AT WICKLOW

I noted the number of inshore fishing boats tied up at the quayside in Wicklow, as I am sure crews on the yachts gathered for the Round Ireland start also did. It seems that there is good whelk fishing off Wicklow which has attracted the boats and that the port provides better landing facilities than Arklow which had been the dominant fishing port on the Wicklow coastline.

in boat

FISH IRELAND KILLYBEGS

These are tough times for the fishing industry and I have been hearing many stories of those difficulties at THE MARINE TIMES FISH IRELAND EXHIBITION in Killybegs. The problems are extensive – from limited quotas to the massive amount of regulations and it is not good to see fishing boats tied up at the quayside prevented from going to the fishing grounds by EU regulations. There are few industries where the official approach is to stop men from working. All this while foreign vessels continue to fish in Irish waters because their quotas are so much larger than those of Irish vessels. There is no doubt that politicians have made a complete mess of the fishing industry.

The small Irish fishing fleet could not have fished Irish waters to the low state of some stocks at present, but this fact is ignored by sensationalist commentaries in the general media where the facts of fishing and maritime life are not understood and there is insufficient expression of an opposite viewpoint. To see areas of Killybegs shuttered which should have viable fish-related industrial activities is disappointing and some of this is due to the attitude of Irish government officials who have frustrated development and stopped proposals which would have created jobs by imposition of unreasonable rents and regulations. It makes me wonder about the government's commitment to job creation.

There are other issues to be addressed, such as the differing reports from environmentalists, scientists, fishermen and leisure anglers about cod stocks. While environmentalists and scientists claim cod has disappeared from Irish waters, anglers report catching more than ever before and fishermen, who are controlled in catching them say the waters are alive with cod. So who is right – those who go out and see for themselves or land-based opinion?

in patrickkeohane

KEOHANE TO BE HONOURED IN COURTMAC

A project is underway in Courtmacsherry in West Cork, I am told, to honour the role of local man Patrick Keohane in Arctic exploration. He was one of those who located the bodies of Robert Falcon Scott and others from the Discovery Expedition of 1901-1904 near the South Pole. The location for a memorial to him is likely to be within view of his birthplace at Barry's Point on the route of the Seven Heads Walkway. A local committee is raising finance for the memorial. Unveiling day is likely to be Sunday, August 19. Well done to the people of Courtmacsherry.

This is an artist's impression of the sculpture.

ARCTIC

According to the Research Council of Norway the Arctic may contain more than a fifth of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas. Increasing pressure on the region is indicated by shipping cargoes which will reach their highest level through the area this year as companies cut costs and fuel consumption by avoiding the Suez Canal. A thousand tonnes of fuel, costing over $600,000 dollars, can be saved. The environmental importance of the Arctic has been shown by the discovery of a 60-mile bloom of phytoplankton beneath the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic, regarded as "astonishing" by scientists. Phytoplantkon is the essential food of marine life.

WHERE IS IRISH AWARENESS?

Seafarers' Awareness Week, an annual campaign by the biggest charity helping seafarers in need – Seafarers UK – has just concluded. The charity works to raise awareness of Britain's dependence on seafarers and gives annual grants of more than stg£2 million to help seafarers, their families and dependants across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets and the Royal Navy. What a pity there is not something similar in Ireland.

CONCORDIA CAPTAIN CHARGE WITH MANSLAUGHTER

Captain Francesco Schettino who commanded the cruise liner Costa Concordia is now charged with multiple manslaughter, causing the accident and abandoning ship prematurely. Italy's top appeals court has held that he should face the charges, indicating that he was unfit to command.

AMAZON NOW UNDER THREAT

Twenty-two hydro-electric schemes are planned to be built along the Amazon River and its tributaries. Environmentalists and indigenous rights campaigners claim this will alter the environmental and social balance and that the rain forest and tribes which live there will be permanently damaged as locals are removed to for construction work in remote areas. The power schemes are required to meet Brazil's burgeoning demand for electricity as the country develops economically.

in enda

IMERC HONOURED BY TAOISEACH

I was delighted to see that IMERC, the Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster at the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy, whose work I have praised previously, was awarded this year's "Public Service Excellence Award" by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The award highlights the opportunities for job creation and economic growth in the marine sector and the importance of realising the economic potential of Irish marine resources. IMERC was chosen from 190 projects. It is a tripartite alliance between the Naval Service, UCC and the Cork Institute of Technology Development. This is the first time a maritime project has featured in the awards since they were initiated in 2004.

Val Cummins directs the team which is developing the world's largest marine renewable energy research facility at Ringaskiddy. Congratulations to them on their well-deserved award.

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