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Funding amounting to £120,000 has been awarded to six proposals from Belfast’s creative and digital businesses, artists and innovators to develop innovative visitor experiences to animate and enrich the city’s Maritime Mile and which over the year's has included a festival.

They will collaborate with heritage organisations and communities along the Maritime Mile to develop prototypes which use technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, to encourage more visitors and local people to explore the historic area which connects attractions, sculptures and viewing points on both sides of the River Lagan.

The projects are being supported by the Belfast HUB-IN (Hub of Innovation) programme, developed by Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office in partnership with the Maritime Belfast Trust and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative, to explore how digital innovation can help to sustain, enhance, and preserve the Maritime Mile’s rich and unique heritage.

Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Christina Black said: “HUB-IN is helping to nurture exciting new relationships between Belfast’s heritage and creative industries sectors, communities, and businesses along the Maritime Mile, and supporting people to develop valuable entrepreneurial and digital innovation skills.

“I’d like to congratulate the successful applicants for their creativity and commitment to this vision. I can’t wait to see these proposals come to life along the Maritime Mile in the months ahead.”

Jenna Crymble, Marketing and Digital Content Officer, Maritime Belfast Trust added: “We are always looking at innovative ways to animate the Maritime Mile to tell the story of our rich maritime heritage. We are delighted that HUB-IN is supporting and enabling new, exciting collaborations between creative industry partners and existing communities and we have been blown away by the interest and calibre of the applications. These projects will give local people and visitors even more reasons to visit the Maritime Mile in 2024 and be part of our journey in developing and delivering an iconic waterfront for Belfast.”

The successful applicants are being supported to develop a series of prototypes which can be consulted here

Published in Belfast Lough

The proposed National Watersports Campus for Dun Laoghaire has received a major boost in the form of a €410,000-plus top-up grant under the Large-Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF).

Sport Minister Catherine Martin and Minister of State Thomas Byrne made the announcement on Wednesday (6 December) of some €37.6 million in additional funding that will benefit 27 individual projects.

The new funding is being provided in response to delays experienced by grantees arising from the pandemic and construction inflation, following engagement with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform.

Dun Laoghaire’s planned watersports campus gets an additional €410,952 on top of its original €441,893 allocation under the LSSIF in 2020 to fund a feasibility study, for a total of €852,845.

In other watersport-related projects, the National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra, Co Cork receives a top-up of €66,562 after its initial allocation of €613,049.

The ministers have also confirmed that a new round of the LSSIF will open for applications in the first half of 2024.

And for the first time there be a requirement for all successful applicants to publish their Similar Access Policies, in respect of men and women having access to the facilities on similar terms, in order to be eligible for a “top-up” allocation drawdown.

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Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is to provide more than €1 million in new grants to support fish and their habitats in rivers nationwide.

IFI’s Habitats and Conservation Scheme funding call for 2024 is now live and expressions of interest can be made up to Friday 15 December.

Since 2016, IFI has given more than €6 million in grants to over 280 projects throughout the country under the programme.

Barry Fox, head of operations at IFI said: “The conservation and protection of Atlantic salmon and sea trout is an integral part of IFI’s progressive and sustainable fisheries management operations.

“This funding will improve fish habitats and increase juvenile abundance of salmon and trout. A total of €1,050,000 is being allocated in 2024.

“We are investing in transformative conservation projects that have a strong focus on outcomes.

“Priority will be given to proposals that rehabilitate damaged river habitats, improve water quality and help fish traverse physical in-stream barriers, like weirs.”

Replenishment of spawning gravels in a drained channel near Partry, Co Mayo — one of the projects supported by IFI in 2023 | Credit: IFI Replenishment of spawning gravels in a drained channel near Partry, Co Mayo — one of the projects supported by IFI in 2023 | Credit: IFI

IFI’s Habitats and Conservation Fund comprise two schemes — the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund, and the Midlands Fisheries Fund. These competitive initiatives are financed from salmon and sea trout angling and commercial fishing licences in Ireland, as well as the sale of fishing permits.

In 2023, the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund provided a total of €99,273 to 24 projects in counties Cork, Offaly, Donegal, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Kildare, Sligo, Mayo, Meath, Wicklow and Westmeath.

Up to €50,000 is available through the Midlands Fisheries Fund to support angling and sustainable development works in the midlands fisheries group permit area.

Eligible angling clubs, fishery owners and other stakeholders are invited to express their interest in applying for funding. Full application details and comprehensive information can be found on the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling

The Our Shared Ocean funding programme, specifically designed to build strategic research partnerships between Ireland and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), has launched a suite of competitive calls to support capacity building in eligible SIDS partner countries in the areas of oceans and climate action; inclusive and sustainable blue-economy and marine Policy; and ocean governance.

The multi-annual collaboration launched last year, funded by Irish Aid and administered by the Marine Institute, will provide €3.8 million over the next five years to facilitate partnerships on ocean-related issues.

Our Shared Ocean is part of Ireland’s response to the challenges facing many SIDS, recognising that our fellow islanders are on the front line of the impact of climate change and vulnerable in particular to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

It also recognises the important role of SIDS in relation to global ocean governance and their capacity to develop innovative responses to these challenges.

The programme, the first of its kind by Ireland to engage strategically with developing island states, aims to leverage existing national marine research capabilities and expertise to empower the SIDS with the skills and opportunity to tackle local marine issues.

Following an extensive stakeholder consultation which included conversations with representatives and research scientists in over 20 countries from the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, the project team now invite joint research applications (Irish and SIDS partners) to develop MSc scholarships, research fellowships or project awards. Also on offer are travel and mobility grants to facilitate eligible SIDS student participation in international conferences and workshops.

Our Shared Ocean research topics reflect stakeholder feedback and are focussed on the most relevant challenges and opportunities facing our oceans today. These include, but are not limited to, blue carbon; coastal engineering; climate resilience; coastal and marine management; ocean economy; digital technology; and marine education and communication.

The grants are intended to provide research training opportunities for scientists in oceanography, marine engineering and related marine science, social science and humanities disciplines. The Our Shared Ocean Team can also discuss your research and how it addresses the challenges identified in the programme. Contact [email protected] or @OurSharedOcean on Twitter for more information.

Minister for International Development and Diaspora, Sean Fleming said: “Our Shared Ocean reflects Ireland’s commitment to deepening our partnership with Small Island Development States and ensuring we are championing responses to the issues they face. This important programme builds strategic research partnerships between Ireland and Small Island Developing States on issues related to oceans.”

Paul Connolly, chief executive of the Marine Institute added: "Without a shared understanding of the challenges facing the marine environment, there cannot be shared solutions.

“We are privileged to have spoken to inspiring scientists around the world, from multiple research disciplines, who are making a real difference to how we think about, use and manage our shared ocean space on a local and regional scale.

“We have listened to these critical ocean stakeholders, to become aware of the unique set of environmental and economic pressures these small islands face, but more importantly to hear their proposed solutions. We are confident our call topics match that ambition.”

Published in Marine Science

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has announced the 24 projects awarded a total of €999,272 from the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund.

The competitive fund, administered by IFI, supports sustainable development initiatives to ensure native salmon and sea trout can survive and thrive, and overcome challenges they face in the wild.

The transformative new fish conservation projects in 12 different counties include:

  • Riverside fencing and solar pasture drinking pumps in Co Offaly to minimise pollution by livestock encroachment in water.
  • A major fish barrier removal scheme in Co Wicklow to help improve river connectivity for migratory fish and eel.
  • A project to curb the spread of the invasive plant species, rhododendron, on river catchments in Co Mayo to benefit in-stream habitat quality.
  • Spawning enhancement and habitat restoration works in the River Boyne catchment in Co Meath.
  • Surveillance measures, using environmental DNA, to monitor the presence of invasive pink salmon species in Irish rivers nationwide.

Announcing the projects on Friday (26 May), Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan said: “I welcome the nearly €1m in funding which IFI is investing in projects across Ireland to improve and protect our incredibly important freshwater fish and their habitats.

“Our rivers are like the nature and biodiversity arteries of the country. Since the 1980s we have seen a significant deterioration in their water quality, putting our freshwater fish and their habitats under considerable stress.

“It is crucial to protect and future-proof our natural resources and this funding helps to do that. It is particularly encouraging to see applicants to the scheme taking on the stewardship over their local natural amenities.”

The Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund has provided over €3.75m to different groups and fisheries development experts since 2016.

Barry Fox, head of operations with IFI said: “The Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund is made possible through fishing licence income. Conserving and protecting fish species, like Atlantic salmon and sea trout is an integral part of IFI’s progressive and sustainable salmon management operations.”

Grants will be provided to initiatives based in Offaly (€80.5k), Cork (€140k), Donegal (€3.5k), Galway (€78k), Clare (€42.7k), Kerry (€18k), Kildare (€6.3k), Sligo (€34.3k), Mayo (€124k), Meath (€104.2k), Wicklow (€115k), Westmeath (€73k), and national projects (€180k).

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has announced details of its 2023 Sponsorship Programme today, with applications open until mid January.

Angling clubs, groups and associations all over Ireland are being invited to apply for sponsorship funding before the 20 January deadline.

In 2023, the €30,000 fund will have a particular focus on initiatives aimed at beginners and young anglers, as well as events that promote sustainable angling tourism in rural areas.

The sponsorship programme is one of the main funding mechanisms used by IFI, the State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats and the promotion of recreational angling.

IFI awarded funding to 50 angling events and initiatives across the country in 2022.

These included national or international competitions and festivals that showcased Ireland’s angling resources and contribution to local economies; coaching and juvenile outreach events were also supported, to help increase participation in the sport, along with public awareness events and angling-related initiatives.

Anglers pose at a long table with trophies and prizes at an event sponsored by Inland Fisheries IrelandThis could be your angling competition in 2023, if your club submits an application for sponsorship support before the 20 January deadline

Launching the call, Suzanne Campion of IFI said: “Understandably, COVID-19 has had a big impact on the staging of events over the last couple of years.

“As we look ahead to 2023 with greater optimism, our top priority is supporting projects and events that encourage more young people and beginners to try angling sustainably, as well as initiatives that help grow sustainable angling tourism here in Ireland, especially in rural parts of the country.

“Our teams are seeing greater levels of interest in angling, especially when you consider the associated health and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors. For example, nearly one in five Irish adults are ‘likely’ to try angling in the future, according to Amárach Research.

“In addition to supporting those who would like to go fishing for the first time, we also have a unique opportunity through the Sponsorship Programme to highlight the importance of biodiversity, conservation and sustainable angling.”

Applications for funding from the Sponsorship Programme are now invited from angling clubs, associations or any local group organising an angling initiative in 2023.

The programme will remain open for funding applications until Friday 20 January. Meanwhile, applications for equipment, staff support and biosecurity assistance can be made to IFI throughout the year.

If your club or organisation would like to apply for support from the IFI Sponsorship Programme in 2023, you can find out more on the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) supports the ambitions of the European Green Deal, the Paris Agreement, and welcomes the inclusion of the maritime sector in the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS).

For European ports, the greening of shipping is a priority. Significant investments will need to be made in the coming years to enable the green transition of the maritime sector, including investments in port infrastructure, connection to the grid, energy storage, and the deployment of renewables in ports.

It is for this reason that the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has joined a coalition of the maritime stakeholders in a call for dedicated funding for ports under maritime EU ETS. The joint maritime industry statement can be found at the bottom of this press release. Dedicating ETS revenues for investments is necessary to deploy much needed infrastructure for low- and zero-carbon fuels required for the greening of shipping.

“We need all hands on deck to deliver the greening of shipping. ESPO joins the wider maritime industry in calling for maritime ETS revenues to be used to support investments both on-board vessels and in ports. The creation of a dedicated fund which supports the deployment of infrastructure for low- and zero-carbon fuels both on-board the vessel and at shore is crucial to reach the aims the EU ETS is designed for” says Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary-General.

Dedicated funding for maritime and ports must be the result of ongoing trilogue negotiations to ensure that the maritime EU ETS provides the sector with the tools to go green.

European ports look forward to helping find an agreement on a maritime ETS that is fit for purpose.

The joint statement is available here as a download.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Irish Rail has been awarded €2.5 million for supporting studies for the development of a rail freight system connecting Ireland’s busiest seaports and establishing transfer points for freight between rail and road.

It’s one of a number of projects to benefit from a total of €13 million in co-funding for transport projects in Ireland under the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), announced today (Wednesday 29 June) by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton.

These also include an award of €2.8 million to Wexford County Council to support its work in the planning and design phase of the N11/N25 between Oilgate and Rosslare Harbour.

The Connecting Europe Facility is a key EU funding instrument which aims to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level.

Published in Ports
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The Minister for the Environment has welcomed new funding to 34 projects in 14 counties under the Habitats and Conservation Scheme 2022 awarded by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Under two separate funds — the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund and the Midland Fisheries Fund — eligible angling clubs, commercial fishermen and fishery owners were invited to apply for financial assistance to support fisheries conservation projects in their local areas.

A total of €1,053,390 in funding for 34 projects has been approved so far this year, going to projects based in Cavan (€35k), Cork (€12k), Donegal (€90k), Dublin (€12k), Galway (€115k), Leitrim (€6k), Limerick (€116k), Louth (€45k), Mayo (€130Kk), Meath (€224k), Monaghan (€30k), Westmeath (€66k), Wexford (€30k), Wicklow (€9k) and a national project (€135k).

Examples of awards granted fisheries conservation funding include:

  • planning and assessment reports to find appropriate solutions for fish passage on barriers
  • construction of rock ramp passageways to make it easier for fish to migrate upstream and downstream of impassable weirs
  • carrying out catchment-focused feasibility studies, habitat management plans and environmental assessments to focus on appropriate and specific measures to benefit river habitats and species
  • improvements to water quality and river habitats by installing fences and providing solar powered water pumps to minimise agricultural impacts, thus encouraging natural riverbank regeneration and climate resilience of the watercourse
  • instream restoration works on spawning and nursery habitats for salmon and sea trout and introducing native Irish trees and shrubs along exposed riverbanks to benefit the long-term management of rivers
  • research to inform and improve national management strategies around salmonids

The announcement has been welcomed by Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. “The funds awarded this year in the Habitats and Conservation Scheme will go towards a combination of work focused on conserving our freshwater fish and their habitats,” he said.

‘Healthy rivers and lakes are critical to a healthy ecosystem’

“The €1m fund will support angling clubs and fishery owners to improve habitats, water quality and fish passage in their immediate areas, while also supporting IFI personnel to deliver projects at a national level.

“Healthy rivers and lakes are critical to a healthy ecosystem and the works and studies supported by the scheme will also benefit the surrounding environment and the restoration of our natural resources.”

Since 2016, IFI — the State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats — has made more than €5 million available through its various funding schemes.

“Conservation and protection are at the heart of the work we do and ensuring fish species like Atlantic salmon and sea trout get the best chance possible to thrive in our inland waters,” IFI’s Suzanne Campion said.

“The Habitats and Conservation Scheme is made possible through fishing licence income and promotes groups all over the country to be able to work on projects and measures that benefit the conservation of salmon, sea trout and their freshwater habitats.”

Financial assistance under the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund (SSTRCPF, total of €1,003,390) is generated by the sale of salmon and sea trout angling licences and commercial fishing licences in Ireland. The Midlands Fisheries Fund (MFF, total of €50,000) is financed through contributions from permit income, received through the Midlands Fisheries Group permit area.

To be eligible, applicants to the SSTRCPF must have purchased a valid salmon and sea trout angling licence or a commercial fishing licence or, for the MFF, hold a current Midlands Fisheries Group permit.

IFI says further allocations of funding may be announced later in the year.

Published in Angling

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has reported strong take-up of a new support scheme to help fishing boat owners adjust their businesses in a post-Brexit market.

Under the scheme, depending on the size of their boat, grant aid of between €2,700 and €4,000 is available for fishing vessel owners on completion of a tailored training programme. This includes a variety on online business and marketing modules.

The new scheme, administered by BIM, is based on recommendations contained in the final report of the Seafood Task Force established last year by Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue.

Another scheme recommended by the report — to mitigate the impact of Brexit by promoting the blue economy in coastal communities — was announced by the minister in recent days, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Ireland’s inshore fishing sector comprises about 1,800 vessels, which catch a range of fish and shellfish species and usually operate in waters close to the coast.

The sector had exported up to 90% of its catch. However, the effect of Brexit and associated new fishing agreements has had an impact on export trends because accessing or transiting through the UK market is now more complex.

BIM’s chief executive Jim O’Toole has warmly welcomed the strong sign-up of a large amount of inshore fishing vessel owners to the new scheme.

Speaking at this weekend’s Irish Skipper Expo in Limerick, he said: “We are delighted to see such significant support and interest in the scheme. These numbers have been growing exponentially in recent days, so we urge everyone to register on the BIM website before next Thursday’s deadline of March 31st.

“The training modules to be undertaken ahead of receiving the grants include digital skills, sourcing alternative market opportunities and developing new business ideas and plans. We believe they will better equip this sector to face and deal with the challenges they are encountering.

“I would like to commend how resilient the sector has been in the last two years, and despite the many obstacles ahead, they are determined to overcome them. Supports like this are currently crucial.”

To register for the Brexit Inshore Support Scheme or see further information, visit the BIM website HERE.

Published in Fishing
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