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#MarineWildlife - The Galway Atlantaquaria is currently caring for an extremely rare slipper lobster found in Galway Bay off the Aran Islands in recent days.

According to the Marine Institute, this is the first recorded landing of the warm ocean species at this latitude in the North Atlantic, after previous reports Kerry and Cork in the last decade.

The latest find was landed by skipper John Connolly of the fishing vessel Connacht Ranger from Kilronan on Inis Mór, and landed into Rossaveal, where it was later identified by Terlich Smith of the Marine Institute.

"My nieces and nephews were very excited about the slipper lobster, and named it Tréan, which is an old Irish word for hardy and brave and usually associated with warriors,” said Connolly.

“The fact it was so small, came so far north, and survived being towed up in a big net full of spurdogs, stones and prawns does make the name seem pretty apt.”

The Galway Atlantaquaria is now caring for the 72mm exotic lobster, which is progressing well after a week in quarantine.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#FastestCrossing – A newly acquired passenger-only ferry is to offer the fastest ever crossing time to the Aran Islands, when Doolin Ferry introduce a highspeed craft just one month after the seasonal service resumes, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Speaking to Afloat at Holiday World Show, Dublin, Liam O’Brien, Director of Doolin Ferries, commented that the 200-passenger ferry, Doolin Express will from April, offer the fastest crossing time to the Aran Islands in just 15 minutes. The new ferry will considerably reduce the journey passage by shaving off 20 minutes from the old 35 crossing time on the Doolin Pier-Inis Oírr service.

The west Clare based operator acquired the fastferry, Blanche Hermine from France operator, Vedettes du Golfe. The craft had served islands in the Golfe du Morbihan, an almost enclosed sea near Vannes in southern Brittany.

Doolin Express will sail at a minimum speed of 19 knots on the service to Inis Oírr, the smallest but closest of the three Aran Islands to the mainland. Neighbouring islands are also served by the company to Inis Meáin and further west Inis Mór, the largest of these Atlantic isles off Galway Bay.

A rival operator also serves from Doolin along with those running from Rossaveal, Connemara and a freight-only link from Galway Port.  

When the new ferry, Doolin Express enters service, she will become the largest of the fleet to carry passengers. Tranquility takes 100 passengers and Queen of Aran, a veteran on the west coast service with almost the same capacity.

Doolin Ferry (O’Brien Line) a family run business founded in 1970, also runs excursion trips by Cailin Or with 72 passengers to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. This location is one of the many highlights dotted along the western seaboard.

In recent years the rugged coast stretching from counties Cork to Donegal has been branded as the Wild Atlantic Way. This has assisted in boosting tourism numbers and notably by targeting overseas visitors.

Published in Island News

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that University College Dublin is running a scientific wave measurement campaign deploying a bed mounted ADCP at Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands s of yesterday (Saturday 28 January).

The ADCP, or acoustic Doppler current profiler, is deployed in a seabed-mounted frame at a depth of around 40 metres, with a ground line between the frame and a clump weight also rested on the seabed.

The purpose of the deployment is for measurement of waves and currents of the coast of Inis Meáin. This is a temporary deployment and it is proposed that the ADCP will be recovered before 15 May this year.

Co-ordinates and a map showing the deployment location are included in Marine Notice No 2 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#AranIslands - Galway Bay FM reports that a new contract for the decades-old aeroplane service to the Aran Islands has been signed.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the long-awaited PSO contract will see flights continue between the Galway Bay islands and the mainland at South Connemara till at least the end of 2020.

The agreement follows months of uncertainly over the future of the air link due to costs on the route.

Only two weeks ago, local Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh queried the contract’s imposition of additional fees for passengers on unscheduled flights.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#AranIslands - Issues remain with the new contract for Aran Islands air services, according to one local senator.

As Galway Bay FM reports, Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh says the new PSO agreement imposes additional fees on flights not specified on the schedule.

The situation means that passengers on an extra flight for a funeral or in other exceptional circumstances might have to pay more than €30 extra for their seat.

Only three weeks ago, residents in the Galway Bay islands – who have also recently faced the prospect of losing their winter ferry service – were given certainly that their air link to the mainland would continue till at least the end of 2020.

But O’Clochartaigh says Gaeltacht Minister Seán Kyne can still act to make arrangements so that islanders are not left out of pocket. Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#AranIslands - The deadlock over Inis Mór’s winter ferry service appears to be over, after the ferry operator agreed to continue absorbing the costs of the council-imposed passenger levy.

According to Galway Bay FM, Island Ferries Teo’s proposal to reduce the levy both retroactively to 2012 and from 2017 onwards has been approved by Galway County Council.

The operator had halted services to the largest of the Aran Islands at the end of November, citing “negative fiscal conditions” that it said were a consequence of the 80c passenger levy.

It’s now emerged that half of the company’s €500,000 debt to the council will be written off, not counting upwards of €450,000 in court costs.

Sailings were restored within days on a temporary basis as talks between the company, Galway County Council and the Department of the Gaeltacht resumed earlier this month.

It’s now expected that winter sailings to and from the island will continue beyond the revised 4 January end date.

Published in Ferry
Tagged under

#AranIslands - While Inis Mór’s winter ferry link with the mainland remains in question, Aran Islands residents at least have an answer to their air service woes.

According to Galway Bay FM, Aer Arann Islands has been selected as the State’s preferred tender for the long-running route to the islands in Galway Bay.

The new PSO contract for the islands to Na Minna airport near Rossaveal runs from 1 January 2017 to the end of 2020, confirming continued flights for another four years.

The move follows several extensions to the existing contract that saw the State and Aer Arann at deadlock over costs on the route, as well as a controversial tender in 2015 to replace the decades-old airplane route with a helicopter service.

Meanwhile, an Oireachtas committee was addressed last week by a group representing Inis Mór residents as the dispute over the island’s winter ferry service continues.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#AranIslands - Talks are to resume on Friday writes Galway Independent in a bid to ensure the continuation of the ferry service to Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 

The Island Ferries service ceased last Wednesday and was due to remain out of action until 17 March next year after the family-run company said it “had been left with no further option but to take such drastic action”.

The service however resumed on Friday evening, following talks between the company, Galway County Council and the Department of the Gaeltacht. The service will now remain in place until 4 January 2017, in “a gesture of goodwill to the Islanders”. This date will be kept under review as discussions continue.

Kevin Kelly, Acting Chief Executive of Galway County Council, said the talks, which centre on passenger levies, are complex but there is a “meaningful engagement process in place”.

“We are working as good as we can to conclude this within the timeframe. It is important that there is progress being made and that all parties feel that the overall approach has the possibility of reaching a successful conclusion.”

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Ferry services to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands will resume this evening, while talks continue to find a long term solution with regard to a year-round service.

The Connacht Tribune writes that Island Ferries, Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and County CEO Kevin Kelly met for talks this morning as Inis Mór residents faced into a second day without a ferry service. 

The Island Ferries service ceased on Wednesday, and was due to remain out of action until March. 

Last evening, County Councillors gave CEO Kevin Kelly a mandate to meet with Island Ferries on their behalf.

Today’s meeting was also attended by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and as Afloat previously covered he had called for the Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents.

In a statement to NewsBreak, Galway County Council has confirmed that Island Ferries, as a gesture of goodwill, will resume its service to Inis Mor from 5 this evening until January 4th.
In the interim, talks will continue in a bid to ensure a year-round service for islanders and visitors.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Ferry services to the mainland from the largest of the Aran Islands will be suspended till March from tomorrow following a last-ditch effort to extend winter sailings.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Inis Mór residents were guaranteed their ferry till the end of today (Wednesday 30 November) pending a Galway County Council meeting this week to discuss a long-running dispute over passenger levies.

However, ferry operator Island Ferries Teo has now confirmed to Galway Bay FM that it will withdraw the island's winter service to from tomorrow (Thursday 1 December) till 17 March next year, citing “negative fiscal conditions”.

Published in Island News
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