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Boat Building, Maritime Plans, Salmon Catch, Dublin Bay and Scrapping Ships

13th July 2012
Boat Building, Maritime Plans, Salmon Catch, Dublin Bay and Scrapping Ships

# ISLAND NATION –  The boat builder who sailed a spinnaker on the Grand Canal in Venice, the government's maritime plan, more than 1,000 salmon caught on just two Irish rivers in one week, the polluted air of Dublin Bay, fishermen frustrated over the ban on discards, deep-sea mobile stations, a US prosecution for dumping at sea and less money for scrapping ships are amongst my topics this week.


There is a legendary story in sailing about the Cork yacht Silver Shamrock which won the Half Ton World Cup Championship at Trieste in Italy in 1976. The crew celebrated by sailing the boat up the Grand Canal in Venice with a spinnaker set. It was some sight and one of the crew aboard was a young Crosshaven sailor at the time making an impression in the sport. Killian Bushe added many more sailing successes to his list before moving onto building boats as well as racing them.

The Bushe family is synonymous with boat building, tracing its achievements from Baltimore in West Cork to encompass Ringaskiddy, Rochestown and Crosshaven in Cork Harbour where George Bushe was a legendary figure. His son, Killian, is now a top builder of ocean racing yachts, having been involved in building the last four successive winners of the Volvo Ocean Race.

When Damian Foxall from Kerry, helmsman, sail trimmer and crew manager of the French yacht, Groupama, which won this year's Volvo Race waved the trophy from the winners' podium to the huge crowd watching in Galway, the thought in my mind was that this was a dual Irish international success.

While Damian sailed the yacht across 39,000 miles Killian Bushe was the lead consultant for the building of Groupama. That followed his construction of the three previous Volvo Race winners – the Swedish Ericsson, the Dutch ABN Amro One and the German Illbruck. That is a tremendous record, so it surprised me that most media reports did not mention him.

He lived in Crosshaven until 1979 and has a string of international successes as a sailor to his credit from which he turned to boat building and is now resident in Ljungskile, Sweden, where he has been called on as the boat-builder of choice, favoured by leading designers and top skippers alike whenever a high-powered strongly-resourced international challenge is taking shape. That included the Swedish challenge for the Americas' Cup, Artemis.


Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has indicated that the government's Marine Co-ordination Group is currently drafting the promised national maritime programme. It is due to be launched this month. It has been indicated that the Taoiseach is taking a personal interest in the programme which is described as "Actions that will deliver an integrated marine plan for Ireland." 191 submissions were made during a consultation period.

It will be interesting to see how the programme integrates State and private sector maritime activities. The State must give decisive leadership, making it clear that the marine sphere is a national priority.


Salmon are back in big numbers, with well over a thousand caught in the past week. More than 800 salmon were taken on the River Moy in what Inland Fisheries Ireland, the State organisation, says was "another extraordinary week for an Irish river," reaffirming the Moy as Ireland's premier salmon fishery. Fish were taken on worm, spinner and fly, with notable captures on the fly in particular. Amongst salmon catches reported by IFI are 26 on the Ballina Salmon Anglers' water, over 40 at Mount Falcon, 32 at the Foxford Fishery.

There have also been good catches of salmon in the Limerick area, 200 caught at Ballisodare and catches on Lough Beltra, Carrowmore Lake and the River Feale.

The ban on drift-netting remains a divisive issue for coastal communities, but it seems the leisure and tourism angling sector has benefited.


The Chinese are planning to follow space stations with a nuclear-powered mobile deep-sea station where a crew of 33 will spend up to two months at a time beneath the waves. It will have huge propellers for ocean movement and its main goal will be to search for and mine precious elements.

The China Ship Scientific Research Centre has been doing test dives of manned vehicles. Its Jiaolong model reached a record-breaking 7,020 metres at the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest in the world.


While the public has welcomed the ban on discarding fish caught at sea, fishermen's representative organisations are critical. It seems that the umbrella organisation which represents all the groups, the Federation of Irish Fishermen, is not happy with the Marine Minister and his officials. There are allegations of lack of consultation. Fishing organisations claim they had alternative and more effective proposals and that the Minister and his officials reacted to high-profile celebrity chefs and environmental organisations.

The official view is that all catches should be landed, while fishermen say they should not be taken in the first place and that control measures should focus on that. They have described the new ban as "dumping ashore what was dumped at sea."


The captain of a Panama-flagged cargo ship, found guilty of obstructing a US Coast Guard inspection after allegations that he ordered the discharge of hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean, is to be sentenced on August 15.

38-year-old Captain Prastana Taohim of the mv.Gaurav Prem was found guilty by a jury in Mobile, Alabama. The inspection took place last September.

Witnesses had testified that Captain Taohim ordered the ship's chief officer to throw hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean and not record the discharge in the ship's garbage record book. The plastic pipes had previously contained insecticide and were used to fumigate a grain shipment. The discharge of plastic into the sea is prohibited under the International Convention to Prevent Pollution from Ships, MARPOL.


An increasing number of ships, particularly older ones which cost more to operate because of fuel prices, are being scrapped by the world's shipowners, but for less money. The biggest number are the Panamax vessels, the largest to transit the Panama Canal. Fifty-six of these were sold for demolition in the first half of this year, compared with 38 a year earlier.

There is an oversupply of vessels to serve declining world trade due to the current economic difficulties of many countries. Resultant unprofitable charter rates are prompting owners to demolish vessels at a record pace. Overall tonnage sold for scrapping rose 25 per cent in the first half of this year compared with last.

A 34 per cent surge in fuel prices over the past two years has spurred scrapping as older vessels tend to consume more oil than newer ones and are considered too dear to operate. But scrap prices for ships have plunged 13 per cent. Prices have also been cut by the rupee's plunge in the past year, the worst amongst Asian currencies. India vies with China as the world's largest market for shipbreaking.


"I rolled my considerable frame off the starboard bunk, struggled to make myself half decent and dragged my protesting body up on deck for a mouthful of freshly polluted Dublin sea air."

That introduction is headed "The Sleep Beast" and begins the book which Crosshaven sailor Rom Hyde launched on Monday night in the Port of Cork offices about his sailing career. Born in February of 1947 he claims to have had his "first sailing experience in July of the same year, but I am fairly vague about it." The book is called "What's that hanging from the starboard bow?" You don't have to be a 'yachtie' to read it!

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