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#IrishPorts - A leading EU official overseeing a key element of the CEF ‘Motorways of the Sea’ project has confirmed that Ireland will have increased funding opportunities under the programme after plans for it were rewritten to take into account of Brexit implications here.

Speaking at a seminar writes the Limerick Post on ‘Understanding the Opportunities from the EU’, hosted by Shannon Foynes Port Company in Limerick on Friday, European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea Brian Simpson also told Irish ports and maritime officials “you’re pushing an open door with me”.

The “Motorways of the Sea” concept, which has significant funding available, aims to introduce new inter-modal maritime-based logistics chains in Europe, which should improve our transport organisation within the years to come.

And in another vote of support for Ireland, a second leading EU official, European Coordinator for the powerful TEN-T North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor and former Commissioner for Regional Policy Professor Peter Balazs, told the seminar that Ireland is a special case and solutions need to be found.

For further reading on the conference, click here.

Published in Irish Ports

#Brexit - Irish shipping firms are making plans to bypass ports in Britain for direct routes to the continent to avoid any potential Brexit complications, as the Irish Independent reports.

While freight traffic between Ireland and the UK will continue, a number of companies have already launched direct sea connections between Dublin and ports in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

This is in spite of assurances by Westminster that future trade between the UK and EU would be frictionless.

The news comes as Irish ports shared concerns of isolation from the European shipping network post-Brexit, while ports in Wales could be adversely impacted by customs and border checks on routes across the Irish Sea.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Brexit - The European Commission has published notices to stakeholders in maritime transport and in seafarers’ certificates in preparation for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

These notices are intended to facilitate preparation by EU-27 Member States and by wider stakeholders for the contingency that on 30 March 2019 the UK leaves the EU without a deal on a transitional period having been agreed (ie the no deal, disorderly Brexit scenario).

Draft legal text on a transition period, extending to 31 December 2020, is currently being negotiated with the UK. If, as part of the withdrawal process, this text is agreed and approved by EU member states and the European Parliament, many of the elements reflected in these notices will only become relevant at the end of the transition period.

However, in cases where UK ‘leading authorities’ conduct risk assessments, examinations, approvals and authorisation procedures under EU law, a leading authority in an EU-27 member state will need to take over from the UK authority from the withdrawal date (29 March 2019).

UK leading authorities currently provide product authorisations for certain medicines, pesticides, biocides, chemicals (REACH) and plant varieties. The commission has begun engaging EU-27 technical experts to seek to ensure that product authorisation processes transfer from UK leading authorities in the smoothest manner possible.

Full details are included in Marine Notice No 07 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the European Sea Ports Organisation has developed a position paper calling on Brexit negotiators to prioritise maritime transport in the second phase of negotiations.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed hosted the 13th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) yesterday, Thursday 22 February.

The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore fishing sector.

Minister Creed announced that he expects to publish a consultation paper to review the options for more restricted access for large fishing vessels fishing by means of trawls inside Ireland’s six-nautical-mile zone.

This issue has been the subject of scientific and economic reports by the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and some preliminary engagement with fisheries representative groups, including the NIFF.

“I recognise that this issue has been raised by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum since its inception and that there are concerns about the relatively open access for large trawlers to our inshore areas,” said the minister. “The inshore fisheries sector, including coastal and island fisherman, is dependent on inshore fish stocks.

“I am open to looking at the benefits, from an economic perspective for the inshore fleet of introducing some restrictions on large vessels. This could also have a positive biological impact on fish stocks and biodiversity.

“I am awaiting a paper from the department setting out the issues, possible benefits and options to inform my consideration of the issues and possible impacts, both positive and negative. I am planning to undertake a public consultation on the options and to hear and understand the diverse interests of stakeholders to ensure that any new measures introduced are fair and balanced.”

Minister Creed and the NIFF also discussed feedback on recent public consultations on conservation measures for brown crab and razor clams.

The consultations were held following recommendations from the NIFF and the measures are under consideration for their potential benefits to protect fish stocks in the long term. The minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector.

In addition, the NIFF updated the minister on its progress in preparing a sector-specific strategy for the first time.

Supported by BIM and a steering group including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Marine Institute; and the SFPA, consultants are facilitating the preparation of an Inshore Fisheries Strategy on behalf of the NIFF.

Steps taken to date include preliminary consultation, a workshop with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and feedback sessions with the Steering Group.

Minister Creed welcomed the news that the next expected output is a draft strategy document for public consultation.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - The Netherlands has demanded certainty for Europe’s fishing industry after the UK’s withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy, as The Guardian reports.

Dutch fisheries minister Carola Schouten called on UK environment secretary Michael Gove to provide a formal proposal for arrangements between the British and European fishing communities post Brexit.

Gove and UK fisheries minister George Eustace have been critical of the CFP quota system but the UK has yet to put forward an alternative, Schouten argues.

Lough Foyle on Ireland’s North Coast is one of many outstanding issues that need to be resolved upon Britain’s exit from the EU and its policies, as Tom MacSweeney mused earlier this month.

“It is one sea, we have to share it,” she said. “I think it is proven that the [quota] system works.”

A promised white paper on the UK’s fisheries failed to appear before the end of 2017, prompting criticism from Scotland’s fishing community in particular.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#ExportersBrexit - Exporters from Ireland that go through Britain to get their produce to mainland Europe or further afield should still be able to do so after Brexit, the Revenue Commissioners expect, writes The Independent.ie

Michael Colgan, head of Revenue's Brexit Unit, said it is the body's "working assumption" that the UK land bridge for firms would still be available.

Two-thirds of exporters go through Britain, and expectations of continued use of the land bridge will come as a huge relief.

Currently, the common transit procedure of the EU is used for the movement of goods between the 28 EU member states, the EFTA countries, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

The rules are effectively identical to those of the Union transit.

According to the European Commission, these are used for customs transit operations between member states and are applicable to the movement of non-Union goods for which customs duties and other charges at import are at stake, and of Union goods, which, between their point of departure and point of destination in the EU, have to pass through the territory of a third country.

To read more click the link here.

Published in Dublin Port

#DUPtradefigures - The Democratic Ulster Party (DUP) has been unable to substantiate its "72 per cent" statistic in relation to trade between Northern Ireland and Britain.

As The Irish News  writes, for months the party has been using the figure to support its arguments against calls for an Irish Sea border post-Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said "72 per cent of trade from Belfast Harbour is with Great Britain", while deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said Britain "is the primary marketplace for local produce, accounting for over 72 per cent of trade flows".

However, when asked to explain the exact meaning of the figure and provide its source, the party did not respond.

It has also emerged that official government statistics differ significantly from numbers used by Conservative MP Owen Paterson in his claims that trade between the UK and Republic is "really quite small".

The former secretary of state, an adviser to the Leave Means Leave campaign group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's five per cent of Northern Ireland exports. It's 1.6 per cent of the Republic of Ireland's exports."

According to Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) figures, sales to the Republic actually account for 16 per cent of Northern Ireland's external sales.

Sales to Britain make up 58 per cent, according to the statistics for 2015 which include services and tourism. The rest of the EU is nine per cent, and 17 per cent for sales to the rest of the world.

It appears Mr Paterson's five per cent figure actually represents sales to the Republic as a proportion of Northern Ireland's overall internal and external sales activity.

Although it has been used in different ways, the DUP's figure appears to only relate to trade directly through Belfast Harbour, rather than the north's overall external sales or exports.

When asked about the claim, Belfast Harbour declined to give a formal response.

For more on the story, click the newspaper's report here. 

Published in Belfast Lough

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed signed into law conservation measures concerning Irish velvet crab stocks as he hosted the 12th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) today, Wednesday 27 September.

The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include the NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore fishing sector.

As well as moved to protect Irish velvet crab, the minister also introduced measures to regulate fishing activities affecting Natura 2000 sites at Hook Head and the Saltee Islands.

Regulations signed by Minister Creed today will introduce a Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) of 65mm for velvet crab that will apply to Irish sea fishing boats from 1 January 2018.

This measure was initially developed by the West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum (RIFF) with advice from the Marine Institute. The proposal was brought to the minister last year by the NIFF, and a public consultation on the measure was held at the end of 2016.

Velvet crab are fished all year, but mainly in the March to October period, and they are predominantly a by-catch in the lobster fishery. Landings of velvet crab into Ireland were 406 tonnes in 2015, higher than any year since 2004, and were valued at just under €808,000. Over 80% of velvet crabs are landed by vessels less than 10 metres in length.

Additionally, a Fisheries Natura Declaration signed by Minister Creed today will restrict fishing using dredge and trawling gear for scallop fishing to protect certain sensitive habitats in Natura 2000 conservation sites off the southeast coast of Wexford from 30 November.

The Natura 2000 sites include the Hook Head and Saltee Islands SACs (Special Areas of Conservation). The declaration also sets down monitoring and notification requirements for boats fishing using dredge and trawling gear within these habitats.

These gear and monitoring measures were developed through industry members working with the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to address risks to sensitive habitats in the Hook Head and Saltee Islands SACs. The risks were identified by the Marine Institute in a 2014 risk assessment report of sea-fishing activities in Natura 2000 sites in the Irish Sea.

Industry members – including individual scallop fishermen, members of the Southeast RIFF and representatives of the Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation (ISEFPO) – met with the Marine Institute and BIM through 2015 and 2016 to develop risk mitigation proposals for the fishery. A public consultation on the resulting Mitigation Response Plan was carried out in 2016.

These measures are being introduced following full consultation with the Inshore Fisheries Forum structures.

“Heading into their third year, the forums have taken a lead in tackling conservation issues and changing practices with a view to long-term sustainability,” said Minister Creed. “I welcome the support these measures have received from the Forums which reflects the mature approach this sector is taking in dealing with its own challenges.”

Minister Creed and the NIFF discussed the implementation of the new measures and the status of other measures under review for important stocks such as lobster, brown crab and razor clams.

The minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector and the UK’s intention to withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention, which governs access to waters inside the 12-mile limit.

Commenting on issues arising for the sector from Brexit, Minister Creed noted: “While the implications of Brexit are far from clear at this point in time, I will continue to highlight Irish fisheries concerns on the EU agenda and work with other impacted EU member states and the Barnier team to ensure that fisheries are not isolated in the overall negotiations on a new EU/UK relationship.”

Published in Fishing

#ports&shipping -A majority of Irish exporters, more than 9 out of 10 trading with the UK writes The Irish Examiner need some sort of help in next months budget to cushion the effects of Brexit, according to the Irish Exporters’ Association.

Calling for “strategic” investments in infrastructure, its survey said exporters based in rural areas complained that poor quality broadband and roads were hampering their efforts to do business.

Capital investments would help both Irish-owned firms and boost levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), said the association, which also wants the Government to provide compensation for firms struggling to deal with the slump in the value of sterling since Britain voted last year to leave the EU.

FDI levels would likely also be hit by housing shortages and skills shortages, according to the survey.

For more the newspaper has a report here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Brexit - What will Brexit mean for Britain’s marine industry?

That’s the question that was posed by MoneyWeek to leading figures in the sector on the eve of the Southampton Boat Show, which continues this week.

There is broad agreement that the weaker pound has been beneficial, especially against the dollar for boat sales to the US – a much bigger market for some boat builders than closer to home.

Britain’s marine leisure sector has also experienced a boost from overseas visitors and a growth in domestic tourism, to match the return of confidence to the boat sales market.

Employment is another matter, as around a fifth of the industry is currently staffed by EU citizens from outside of the UK.

Policy and trade are also a concern, as Brexit means the UK would no longer have a direct influence over EU directives pertaining to regulation of the marine industry.

MoneyWeek has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Trade
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