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One of the theories examined when Ever Given's huge container ship lost control of its steerage and blocked the Suez Canal was whether a cyberattack had disrupted its navigational systems. That had not happened, but the disruption to global trade which was caused has focused increasing attention on the protection of maritime infrastructure against cyberattacks, and the International Maritime Organisation has issued a warning about them.

Kerry-based offshore sailor, lifeboat volunteer, and sea angler Kieran Caulfield is Enterprise Director at the Irish cyber security company, Renaissance. According to him, the threat is very real.

He is my Podcast guest this week and says the developing Irish offshore energy sector, as well as shipping, port operations, fishing vessels, safety and navigation systems, could be targets.

Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Danish designers have urged Irish ports and local authorities to avail of public waterfronts to tackle the housing crisis.

As The Times Ireland reports, Danish company Urban Rigger, which used Lego principles to convert containers into floating homes, says that the ports of Cork, Dublin and Belfast would be well suited.

Using available port quay space takes the cost of land out of the equation at a time when its cost is spiralling all over the world, the company’s chief executive Lars Funding says.

The model of “upcycling” containers for homes is both “sustainable” and involves predictable construction costs, Funding claims.

Urban Rigger was designed by the world-famous architect Bjarke Ingels, who created his floating student village of 72 apartments in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

The riggers draw on surrounding seawater serves as a natural source for heat with the help of low energy pumps; while solar panels work as a clean source of fuel to run electricity; Funding explains.

Danish company Urban Rigger uses Lego principles to convert containers into floating homesDanish company Urban Rigger uses Lego principles to convert containers into floating homes

“We would prefer to work directly with municipalities on lease arrangements which could run for 20 years, and we team up with local developers who want to invest in something which gives a very stable income return,” Funding said.

“There is waterfront available in both Cork and Dublin ports, and we are also targeting the US and Canada, while we also have a project in India,” he said.

Cork port’s deep water development at Ringaskiddy opens up city quay areas for this type of accommodation, he says. 

However, TU Dublin senior lecturer in housing Dr Lorcan Sirr said that while there was always “room for creative housing ideas”, the scale of the Danish idea meant it was more of a “niche solution”.

“Banks may not want to lend for something that is not tied to the ground, and any such developments would have to have access to transport and education,” Sirr said.

“If you take Cork as an example, there are over 4,000 empty houses in Cork city and there is also vacant space above shops which is lying empty because owners can claim 50 per cent of rates back,” Sirr said.

Sirr cited a study by University College Cork’s (UCC) Centre for Planning Education and Research on the potential of city centre living in its historic quarter.

Read The Times here 

Published in Ports & Shipping
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In Q2 2021, Roll/on – Roll/off (or RoRo): RoRo volumes through ports in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) were consistent with those in Q2 2019 (1). Between April and June, 291,437 RoRo units were handled at Dublin, Cork and Rosslare Europort, just 0.2% less than the same period in 2019. However, the configuration of RoRo traffic in terms of route choice and shipping mode has been significantly altered compared to 2019.

The following is a summary of the most pronounced trends that have emerged in the RoRo freight market:

71% of all ROI RoRo traffic is now unaccompanied, compared to 63% in Q2 2019.

One third of all RoRo traffic in the Republic of Ireland now operates on direct routes to ports in the European Union, twice the share held in Q2 2019. In the first 6 months of 2021, ROI – EU traffic is just 7% below its annual total for all of 2020, and Q2 2021 was the busiest on record for these direct routes.

In terms of capacity, Irish importers and exporters have benefitted from a significant increase in the choice of direct EU services in 2021. After responding to a surge in ‘direct demand’, there are now 12 different direct EU RoRo services available to Irish traders, compared to 5 in 2019 (2).

ROI – GB RoRo traffic has declined significantly since January 2021. Volumes in Q1 2021 were distorted by a pre-Brexit stockpile, combined with strict COVID-19 restrictions in January and February. Q2 2021, therefore, provides a more reliable insight into current volumes on ROI – GB routes. In Q2 2021, ROI – GB volumes fell by 20% compared to Q2 2019. For the first 6 months of the year, GB traffic declined by 29% compared to 2019. ROI – GB traffic now accounts 67% of ROI volumes, compared to 84% two years ago.

In Northern Ireland (NI), RoRo traffic in Q2 2021 was the busiest on record, with traffic rising by 11% when compared Q2 2019. Of the three Northern Ireland RoRo ports, Belfast and Warrenpoint both recorded their busiest ever three-month period, with Larne also recording robust growth.

Underpinning all of these trends are the new customs and trading arrangements between Ireland and the UK that came into force on January 1st 2021 after Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Brexit has had a significant effect on RoRo traffic on the island of Ireland. The most prominent impact has been on the use of the UK Landbridge, a term used to describe a route to market that connects Irish importers and exporters to international markets via the UK road and ports network. Demand for the Landbridge has fallen considerably, and this has driven the simultaneous decline in ROI – GB traffic and increase in direct ROI – EU traffic.

In addition to the Landbridge issue, some RoRo traffic has also been ‘transferred’ away from ROI - GB routes and towards NI – GB routes. RoRo services at ROI ports have historically been utilised by many NI hauliers wishing to access markets in the midlands and southeast of England. From early 2021, it was clear that haulage companies based in Northern Ireland had transferred some traffic away from RoRo services in ROI in order to avoid the new customs requirements involved between Ireland and UK ports.

The new Ship to Shore gantry cranes operating at the Port of Cork in RingaskiddyThe new Ship to Shore gantry cranes operating at the Port of Cork in Ringaskiddy Photo: Bob Bateman

Lift/on – Lift/off (LoLo):

LoLo volumes through ROI ports set a record in Q2 2021, surpassing 300,000 TEUs for the first time. Since the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, LoLo traffic has average 5% growth each quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis. Beginning in late 2020, LoLo traffic has returned to volumes that have not been recorded since before the financial crash in 2008.

The vast majority of LoLo services on the island of Ireland are direct to continental EU ports. As a result, many of the factors that have driven a surge in ROI – EU RoRo traffic are applicable to the Irish LoLo market. LoLo volumes have benefitted greatly from the demand from Irish importers and exports to access EU markets directly, without the need to adhere to customs requirements at UK ports since Brexit.

In Q2 2021, LoLo volumes grew by 10% when compared to Q2 2019. Overall, in the last nine months, the substitutability between accompanied RoRo, unaccompanied RoRo and LoLo services has become more pronounced, with increased competition and dynamic capacity evident in each market.

Passengers

As highlighted in the IMDO’s Q1 report, no Irish maritime market segment has been more severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying restrictions than the market for passengers. Tourism / passenger numbers in the Republic of Ireland increased by 43% in Q2 2021 when compared to Q2 2020, a period that encompassed the first wave of travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. When compared to Q2 2019, passenger numbers declined by 87%.

In Northern Ireland, passenger numbers rose significantly this quarter. This was driven predominantly by the easing of restrictions on intra-UK travel when compared to Q2 2020. NI passenger numbers rose by 320% when compared to Q2 2020, and declined by 30% when compared to Q2 2019.

Brittany Ferries departs Cork HarbourBrittany Ferries departs Cork Harbour

(1) As Q2 2020 encompassed the steepest decline in port traffic as a result of COVID-19 economic restrictions, it represents an uncharacteristically low volume of RoRo traffic for Irish ports. 2019 is a more reliable benchmark as it represents the highest annual volume of RoRo traffic recorded through ROI ports.

(2) The RoRo market for both EU and GB services remains extremely competitive and dynamic. As a result, capacity, route choice and frequency have changed frequently as shipping operators adapt to new demand patterns. ­

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Ports and “port cities” from Cork to Dublin to Europe and beyond will play an influential role in redesigning urban centres.

That’s the view of the European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) alliance, involving University College Cork (UCC) and seven other universities.

UCC’s Civic and Community Engagement is hosting a UNIC CityLabs conference on the issue today (Thurs, June 11) as part of Cork Harbour Festival.

Participants will include Associate professor Amanda Brandellero, Erasmus University Rotterdam School of History, Culture and Communication and member of the 'Port City Futures' group in the Netherlands; Lar Joye, Port Heritage Director, Dublin Port Company; Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cork Company; and Feargal Reidy Director of Strategic and Economic Development, Cork City Council.

The discussion, which will be chaired by journalist Lorna Siggins, will open with music by UCC Quercus scholar, student and harpist Síofra Thornton.

The online event will be hosted on Zoom.

Register for free here

 

Published in Irish Ports
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In documents seen by RTÉ News, Ireland is in breach of the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (IHR) on contagious disease control by failing to designate a 'competent authority' at its ports and airports.

The documents also show that Ireland has been non-compliant for approximately a decade, despite high-level discussions on the issue between the Health Service Executive, Department of Health and Department of Transport.

Under the IHR a 'competent authority' at points of entry must be designated to monitor the risk of dangerous contagious diseases entering the State.

Ireland has no such designated competent authority points of entry to the country.

Ireland reported substantial compliance in most other areas of the IHR, which were updated in 2005 to improve international pandemic preparedness in the wake of the 2002-4 SARS epidemic.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that the non-compliance with the IHR does not affect Ireland’s pandemic response at ports and airports in any practical way. The statement said that checks are carried out by health officers under existing domestic law and other regulations.

In the records, released under Freedom of Information, senior HSE staff expressed concern that the failure to designate a competent authority at points of entry was also a breach of EU cross-border regulations, which require IHR compliance.

In a document dated January 2020, Dr John Cuddihy, the Health Surveillance Protection Centre’s interim director, reported that no competent authority existed at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.

The ports of Dublin, Cork, Rosslare, (incl. ferry operations) along with Limerick and Waterford also recorded no designated competent authority.

RTE has much more here on this story.

Published in Irish Ports

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has come to the rescue of Donegal islanders with fishing boats registered in Northern Ireland who were blocked from landing into their nearest port by the Brexit deal.

Northern Irish vessels and boats owned by fishermen in the Republic which are on the British register were informed that they could only land into two designated ports - Killybegs, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork – after January 1st.

The State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) had recently initiated an investigation into “unauthorised” landings into Greencastle, Co Donegal.

However, Mr McConalogue says he has arranged for vessels on the British register to land into five additional ports - Greencastle, Burtonport and Rathmullan in Donegal, Ros-a-Mhíl in Galway and Howth in Co Dublin.

He said he was “ working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from Monday, February 1st”.

Under the new designations, Ros a Mhíl and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal (whitefish) catch from vessels under 24 metres, Monday to Friday from 10 am to 10 pm.

Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Friday, he said.

These designated hours are due to the need for oversight by the SFPA, he said.

He described it as “an important decision which will allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods in a safe manner”.

“Following Brexit, it is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods,” Mr McConalgoue said.

He said that any UK Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and more procedural requirements than before Brexit.

The SFPA had confirmed last week in response to queries about its investigations that UK registered fishing vessels, including those vessels which are registered to addresses in Northern Ireland, are subject to new EU fisheries and food safety controls”.

These “reflect the UK’s status now as a third country,” the SFPA said.

It confirmed Killybegs and Castletownbere as the only two ports allowed to continue to receive landings under two separate designations - the Illegal, Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated – Third Country (IUU-TC) designation and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) regulations.

The development prompted calls last week by a Northern Irish fish industry executive for “Dublin to reciprocate” an arrangement where all seven Northern Irish ports are still open to vessels on the Republic’s register.

The west Cork vessel Rachel Jay was first Irish vessel since the Brexit regulations came into force to land into Lisahally in Derry with mackerel caught off the Scottish coast.

Alan McCulla of the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation said that while he welcomed the Rachel Jay and other Irish landings, he questioned why “when Belfast saw this coming, Dublin did not”.

“The Northern Irish authorities were able to take measures to keep our ports open to Irish vessels, “he said, adding that “the EU still rules Ireland’s waves”.

Under legislation which was controversially amended in 2019, Northern Irish vessels can fish within the Republic’s six-mile limit – but the legislation does not provide for landing.

The Sea Fisheries Amendment Act 2019 formalised in law a “voisinage” agreement which had existed between the Republic and Northern Ireland since the 1960s, and which was challenged by Greencastle fisherman Gerard Kelly.

Published in Fishing
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#Maritime - Is Ireland a model to follow when it comes to maritime strategy?

It is according to Simon Mercieca of the University of Malta, who blogs on the Malta Independent website about the need for his country to take lessons from the Irish experience.

Citing his visit to a maritime history conference at University College Cork late last year, Dr Mercieca is full of praise for Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his department's focus on revitalising Ireland's ports and coastal areas.

That stands in stark contrast to the situation on Malta as Dr Mercieca would have it, describing a country where maritime "is today a non-entity in our political discussion".

"Despite the fact that Malta built its fortune on its geographical position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the country now lacks a serious maritime vision."

The Malta Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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#ports – The Cabinet has approved the draft General Scheme of a new Bill with important implications for Ireland's vital port sector, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has announced. The Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2014 will allow the five designated Ports of Regional Significance in Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow to transfer to local authority ownership at a future date, in line with Government policy to strengthen local government.

These five ports play an important role through tourism, leisure amenity, and regional trade. The Government has decided that their future is best secured under strong local governance.

The draft legislation builds upon Minister Varadkar's ongoing reform of the State commercial ports sector as announced in last year's new National Ports Policy.

"This is an important Bill for the ports sector, which plays a major role in the Irish economy. The National Ports Policy encourages each port, whether small or large, to develop its full potential to ensure that they can all contribute to further growth in the ports sector. Transferring the five regional ports to local authority management at a future date will be the best way to protect their future and ensure good governance," Minister Varadkar said.

Sea-borne freight through Ireland's ports sector accounts for 84% of Ireland's trade in volume and 62% in value terms. Many of Ireland's major exporting sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals and food rely heavily on sea transport.

The Bill will also introduce higher standards for appointments to the boards at Ireland's largest port companies at Dublin, Cork, Shannon Foynes and Waterford. It will set out specific skillsets for potential appointees, introduce term limits and make it a legal requirement for Chairmen-designate to appear before the relevant Oireachtas committee prior to their appointment. This is already a non-statutory Government requirement.

The draft Bill will now be sent to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications for detailed consideration by all its members.

Details of draft Bill

The main purpose of the Bill is to provide the necessary amendments to allow for a later transfer of the five designated Ports of Regional Significance - Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow - to local authority ownership

The Bill provides for flexibility in the form of the actual transfer, which may be a transfer of Ministerial shareholding in the existing company, or a dissolution of the company structure and full integration within local authority structures.

The second major theme of the Bill is to further improve the board selection and appointment process to the Ports of National Significance at Dublin, Cork, Shannon Foynes and Waterford such as by specifying certain required skillsets, introducing term limits and requiring Chairpersons designate appear before the relevant Oireachtas committee prior to appointment.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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#Cruises - Cruise Ireland's members will meet in January to discuss controversial proposals to change the way the organisation is funded.

At November's board meeting of the industry body representing interests in the Irish cruise industry, the Port of Cork's commercial manager Michael McCarthy charged that Ireland's biggest ports in Dublin and Cork should no longer be Cruise Ireland's primary funders.

McCarthy cited the wish for greater contributions from other tourist venues that reap the biggest business from Ireland's cruise traffic.

Echoing his sentiments, Cruise Ireland chair Eamonn O'Reilly noted that the body's current subscription model of 'the bigger you are, the more you pay' was no longer tenable in an increasingly competitive cruise marketplace - in light of plans by Dun Laoghaire, among other ports, to attract cruise liners.

O'Reilly, who is chief executive of the Dublin Port Company, proposed of a flat membership fee of €10,000 - which was objected to by a number of those present.

And though the matter was deferred for further discussion in the New Year, O'Relly shared Dublin Port's position that it would not not commit to funding Cruise Ireland under the current model beyond 2014.

Other matters discussed at November's meeting included a review of Cruise Ireland's marketing strategy at important international trade shows, in order to more effectively sell Ireland as a key European cruise destination.

Cruise Ireland's next meeting will take place on 21 January 2014.

Published in Cruise Liners

#ports – The Competition Authority has today published a study of competition in the ports sector in Ireland which found competition in port services could be improved. The study was commissioned by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, as part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. The study looks at how competition is working between ports and within individual ports in Ireland.

The key findings of the study are:

The characteristics of the ports sector in Ireland mean that competition between ports is always going to be limited - principally for historical and geographical reasons.

Making sure that competition within a port is working well for each service provided within a port is therefore especially important.

The leasing and licensing arrangements for Lo-Lo (load on-load off) terminal operators in Dublin Port are too long and appear to restrict competition.

The current licensing arrangements for stevedore services in Dublin Port also appear to restrict competition.

More data collection and performance measures are needed for effective oversight of the ports sector.

As an island, Ireland is heavily dependent on its ports. Exports have been Ireland's only net contributor to economic growth in recent years. So ensuring that competition is working as well as it can and increasing Ireland's ability to trade internationally is vital. The Authority has made six recommendations aimed at improving competition in the ports sector.

Recommendation 1 – Leasing and licensing of Dublin Lo-Lo terminals: The way that leasing and licensing of Dublin Lo-Lo terminals is managed should be changed to substantially reduce the duration of the leases (sometimes over 100 years) and to change the way in which licences are automatically renewed.

Recommendation 2 – Stevedore licensing: In Dublin Port, at least two new general stevedore licences should be issued. General stevedore licences should be granted to applicants on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis, or through a tendering process. General stevedore licences should not be automatically renewable. Ports should not require applicants to demonstrate that they will attract new business to the port. Self handling licences should be granted by Dublin Port Company on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis. Where stevedore services are provided exclusively by the port directly, this should be clearly justified by the port authorities in question.

Recommendation 3 – Port closure and amalgamation: Policy focus should be on preserving competition and ensuring larger ports are operating efficiently and competing with one another. While port closures may result in lower administrative costs, they are unlikely to enhance competition among ports. The Authority recommends that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport should be required to seek the views of the Authority on any proposed port mergers, or that ports with turnovers below the existing merger thresholds should be designated as a class of merger that must be notified to the Competition Authority regardless of whether it meets the merger thresholds.

Recommendation 4 – Management models: The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport should ensure that effective competition within ports is a key objective for port authorities.

Recommendation 5 – Investment in port-related road and rail infrastructure: It is unlikely that future Government investment in port-related road and rail infrastructure could be justified purely on the grounds of improving competition, and therefore any decision to invest in infrastructure in this context should be carefully considered.

Recommendation 6 – Data collection and performance measures: Data collection and port performance measures are vital in order to analyse the level of competition within the sector and to guide future policy-making. However this study has highlighted a lack of both. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport should prioritise the development of performance measures and data collection for the main ports.

Commenting on the report, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said, "A strong export performance will be crucial to the recovery in the economy and jobs market we are working so hard to achieve. That is why providing better supports and a better environment for exporters is at the centre of our Action Plan for Jobs. As part of this drive, I asked the Competition Authority to carry out a study on how competition in our ports sector can be improved, in order to make it easier and cheaper for our exporters to do business. The report produced today is an excellent piece of work, and Government will study its recommendations in detail and take appropriate action. This will ensure that we continue to improve the environment for exporters and support the growth in jobs and the economy we need".

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD said, "The Competition Authority report into the ports sector is a thorough report and it complements the National Ports Policy which I published earlier this year. When I was in opposition, I was critical of how reports commissioned by the government of the time were published and then left on a shelf. I am determined to ensure this does not happen under the current Government. My Department will now consider these recommendations in detail and within six months will reply to the Competition Authority with a 'reasoned response' stating in each case whether we accept or reject the individual recommendations and explaining why."

Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Competition Authority, said, "This is the first comprehensive study of competition in the Irish ports sector. It should therefore be of benefit to providers and users of ports services and transport policymakers generally. I believe that implementing these recommendations will help to improve competition in the ports sector which plays a hugely important role in contributing to Ireland's competitiveness and economic growth. They will help to improve economic and consumer welfare as Ireland continues its path to economic recovery."

The full report is available to download below as a PDF attachment. 

The Competition Authority is the State body responsible for enforcing Irish and European competition law in Ireland. Our mission is to ensure that markets work well for Irish consumers, business and the economy.

The Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency are to merge to create a new organisation with a dual mandate to protect consumers and enforce competition law. Both organisations continue to operate and perform their statutory functions until the merger is given effect.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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