In This ISLAND NATION this week .. Protect yourself against Eastern European boat thieves .... EU shambles as hundreds get free monkfish in Kilmore Quay ... Limerick invention for disabled sailing .... $31m. dollars paid for ship damage to a reef .... Coast Guard called to answer in battle for coastal radio stations' survival .... Marconi Heritage Weekend in Clifden...
SURVIVING A BREAK-IN TO YOUR BOAT
To find your boat broken into, smashed apart inside, treasured items destroyed, to discover what has been stolen, what had been a home on the water reduced to a debris-littered site of destruction, mounts up to a personal blow that can be heart-breaking. That happened to me when SEASCAPES my Sigma 33 was broken into, robbed and badly damaged on its mooring at Crosshaven. So the warning from the President of the International Association of Marine Investigators should be taken seriously – Eastern European criminal groups are targeting Ireland and are prepared to travel thousands of miles to rob Irish boats and steal maritime equipment.
Simon Lofting was quite blunt at the meeting of the Association in Cork where he said that these groups first reconnoitre an area they intend to target and then move in. Sgt. Liam Grimes of the Garda Water Unit echoed this warning, advising Irish boat-owners to improve their security to prevent marine equipment.
The theft of outboard engines has become highly organised, with the more powerful, expensive ones being particularly targeted. Crime groups, according to Simon Lofting, have created fake serial numbers for stolen engines and boats, some of which were later used in other criminal activities including drug-smuggling. Boat-owners have been advised to ensure they have photographs of their boats, engines and other equipment, with serial numbers recorded and, of course, don't keep those numbers aboard the boat itself.
After my boat was robbed the Gardai in Cobh recovered some of the items stolen and I was told that a gang had been active in Cork Harbour. Quite a lot of other equipment was recovered but, while I could identify what had come from my boat having kept records, it was not clear that other owners could do the same. I never did hear what eventually happened to those who had been apprehended and charged by the Gardai, but at least the keeping of records proved effective.
The sight of hundreds of people on the quayside at Kilmore Quay taking free monkfish underlined the shambles of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy. To land the fish broke the quota regulations imposed by desk-bound bureaucrats in Brussels who have never felt a deck heave under them on the fishing grounds. This is one of the problems with the EU. Those imposing regulations do not have sufficient practical fishing experience. Stocks must be protected. That is also in the interests of fishermen. If there are no stocks they have no future. A number of existing protection programmes were devised and implemented by fishermen. But there has not been enough public support or attention given to the industry which is more highlighted in the media at time of tragedy. The background of some of the anti-fishing industry environmental lobbying organisations should be questioned as strongly as the fishermen and fishing organisations are and their credence and level of support authenticated. While the landing of the expensive and highly-valued monkfish was a breach of the fishery laws, the reaction of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority was predictable – prosecution of Irish fishermen. Why is the same level of prosecution not evident in other EU countries?
There is surely, another aspect of criminality – that which is against human interest. The EU has forced the dumping of fish at sea. Fish do not choose the nets they are captured in, though there can be questions about the type of nets and the location of fishing. However, the EU has talked nonsense for years as fishermen pointed out the absurdity and abuse of stocks by the forced dumping of fish and proposed systems where what is caught would be landed, with appropriate controls applying for the disposal or sale of the landings.
EU policies on fishing are a shambles, the failure for which those responsible should be brought to account. There are so many regulations damaging the fishing industry rather than helping it that they are too numerous to be even able to record them all. The Spanish industry has had too much influence, some would claim even control, of EU fishing policies for too long. The French ignore the EU and do things their own way. Once again, it is Ireland which does what the EU tells it to do.
As a renowned Irish rugby international once put it to his team in public: "Where is your pride....???"
Interview with the skipper on RTE Morning Ireland here
LIMERICK INVENTION FOR DISABLED SAILING IN EUROPEAN AWARDS
A new invention by a 23-year-old University of Limerick student to give independence to disabled sailors has been included in the global semi-finals of the 2012 James Dyson award. The 'Thadeus' chair-system enables disabled sailors to get in and out of sailing dinghies safely, independently, with more ease and dignity. 23-year-old Harry de Stacpoole who has completed a Bachelor Degree in Product Design and Technology at the University of Limerick invented 'Thadeus' after working as an instructor with disabled sailors. He felt that the only time wheelchair users were completely independent was on the water but that existing systems removed that independence. So he worked on devising a system that would provide safe transfer from a wheelchair into a sailing dinghy without assistance.
The Thadeus disabled sailing invention
"Whilst lowering themselves in the 'Thadeus' seat their legs extend and can be placed into the dinghy once the seat has been fully lowered. For reversing the process, the principles remain the same."
A number of Irish sailing clubs offered Harry the use of their facilities, dinghies and pontoons to develop his concept. Once his invention reached prototype stage, he carried out testing with sailors who had disabilities. "Their feedback was critical to the final success of Thadeus." It was on display at the London Paralympics and received a lot of interest. "The aim of Thadeus is to improve the appeal of sailing for the disabled to a wider and more inclusive range of people. I hope it will be instrumental in sailing gaining the leading edge in sport for "all-inclusiveness".
Thadeus is one of three Irish inventions that have beaten off stiff competition from over 500 entries worldwide to make the global semi-finals of the prestigious James Dyson award. It will go before an international judging panel on October 18 to select fifteen finalists from which the overall winner will be chosen on November 8.
I am told that Captain Chris Reynolds, Director of the Coast Guard, is expected to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee on October 24. It appears that Senator Mark Daly has succeeded in getting a hearing about the proposals by Coast Guard management to close Valentia and Malin Coastal Radio Stations and centralise the service in Dublin, where it was also suggested that a support station to the main Dublin centre would be located in the constituency of the Minister for Transport in Blanchardstown. With a political row on-going about the location of health facilities in the constituency of the Minister for Health - though the reasons for this are different – and concern about the downgrading of rural areas, this whole affair could assume major proportions. However it has to be said that the national media is not giving it enough attention. There are serious issues about safety at sea involved.
As far as I remember the last time the Coast Guard had to defend a proposal in this manner was back in July 2008 when Minister Noel Dempsey, then responsible for the marine and Coast Guard management were also then trying to shut down the coastal radio stations.
That was a bit of a turning-point in that proposal which was shown to have a number of shortcomings - the basis for the proposal and the facts quoted became public issues. Eventually Noel Dempsey and Coast Guard management were faced down and had to admit defeat. It will be interesting to see what happens this time, but what has been disclosed of the background to the current closure attempts through freedom of information requests raises many questions about the management proposals. October 24 should be an interesting day at the Transport Committee.
$31m. SHIP COMPENSATION TO NEW ZEALAND
Daina Shipping, a subsidiary of Greece-based Costamare, along with its insurers have agreed to pay the New Zealand government up to $31.5 million for clean-up costs after its cargo ship, Rena, ran onto the Astrolabe reef near Tauranga on a calm night last October. It spilled hundreds of tons of oil and killed thousands of sea birds in what authorities described as New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster.
The reef is near popular swimming and surfing beaches. $22.9 million is for oil clean-up costs incurred so far and another $8.6 million if the shipping company doesn't remove pieces of the wreck still on the reef. The New Zealand Government claims that the disaster has cost it $38.9 million. Maritime laws limited Costamare's financial liability.
MARCONI HERITAGE WEEKEND
Marconi Heritage Weekend will take place this coming weekend in Clifden, Co.Galway. It will start on Friday, October 12. The programme will include lectures and discussions about the Clifden Marconi Research Station Project, visits and walks around the locations associated with the history of the development of wireless transmissions from Clifden and reveal new insights into the little-known Letterfrack Receiving Station. The Radio Officers' Association is supporting the weekend.
Email your comments on maritime matters to : [email protected] or @TomMacSweeney on Twitter