#Shannon - Passages on the River Shannon in 2013 so far have fallen more than 50% compared to numbers for the same period a decade ago, according to the Irish Waterways History blog written by Afloat's inland correspondent, Brian Goggin.
Using statistics supplied by Waterways Ireland, the site plotted a graph that shows an overall decline in lock and bridge passages on the Shannon in the months from January to May each year since 2003, with a slight spike in 2007 the only buck in the downward trend.
Though the figures do not record all uses of the waterway (such as sailing, angling and other watersports) and do not account for variables such as the weather, they are indicative - the site claims - of "the Shannon's most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business".
Indeed, the figures apparently show that boat hire passage numbers have fallen from 11,440 in January-May 2003 to just 4,781 in the same months this year.
Even private boat passages have been falling from a peak in 2009 to just below their 2003 numbers, if the site's interpretation of the stats is anything to go by.
However, a source close to Afloat.ie says that the falling numbers may be skewed by a growing emphasis on larger-capacity vessels on Ireland's inland waterways, with eight- and 12-berth boats supplanting older four-berth vessels, and families and groups consolidating their recreational boating.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year turns out, and whether the overall numbers from January to December will tell a different story of the state of the Shannon and other waterways.