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Displaying items by tag: Strangford Lough

#RNLI - Portaferry RNLI rescued a windsurfer who got into difficulty off the Co Down coast yesterday (16 April).

The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat before 5pm yesterday evening to go the aid of the injured windsurfer reported to be in the area of Pig Island, a small island in Strangford Lough close to Newtownards Sailing Club.

The weather at the time was described as blowing slight to moderate winds with good visibility.

The crew was on scene at 5.15pm where they found the man on Pig Island accompanied by two other men. The windsurfer, who was suffering from a shoulder injury, was transferred to the lifeboat and made comfortable before being taken to the sailing club, where he was then transferred into the care of the coastguard and passed to the ambulance service to be taken to hospital.

Speaking after the rescue, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: "As the charity that saves lives at sea, we will always respond to any call for help where someone is in danger.

"Strangford Lough is a popular destination for a wide range of water sport enthusiasts and it is important that they take all necessary precautions when using the lough.

"As we are all aware, accidents can and do happen and it is at such times that the work carried out by the volunteer crews of the RNLI is so important."

Elsewhere in Co Down yesterday, Bangor and Donaghadee RNLI assisted a fisherman whose 28ft commercial fishing boat experienced engine failure.

The crew quickly located the disabled boat one mile west of the Copeland Islands at the mouth of Belfast Lough yesterday morning after 11.15am.

With the vessel drifting closer to the island shores and the wind gusting gale force eight, a tow line was quickly rigged and passed to the fishing boat. Bangor RNLI was escorted by Donaghadee RNLI's all-weather lifeboat as it towed the fishing vessel to the safety of Bangor Harbour.

Bangor RNLI volunteer helm Peter Scott, who was involved in this rescue, said: "Engine failure close to shore could lead to a life threatening situation. We always urge everyone going to sea to make sure their electrical systems and engine are well maintained and in good working order. A good anchor and chain should always be carried as part of essential safety equipment.

"We are glad the skipper of this vessel is now safely ashore," he added.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI’s always-on-call lifeboat crew had to abandon their buckets and sponges during a fundraising car wash at the weekend to respond to an emergency at the Co Down town’s harbour.

The RNLI volunteers were busily soaping and rinsing cars for their annual Easter fundraiser on Saturday when they were alerted to a woman in trouble in the freezing water a few yards from one of the piers.

The car wash was immediately abandoned and within minutes the inshore lifeboat Aldergrove II was launched and rushed to the woman’s aid.

At the same time, crew member Shane Rice grabbed a lifebelt from the pier and jumped into the water to assist the woman. He kept her afloat while the Aldergrove II came alongside.

The woman was helped into the rescue inflatable, wrapped in blankets to prevent hypothermia, and taken back to shore where an ambulance was waiting to take her to hospital.

Newcastle RNLI’s deputy launching authority Clifford Moorehead said afterwards: "The lifeboat crew are always ready to respond in an instant to any emergency. It is fortunate that the car wash was in progress at the time and the crew members were on hand to swiftly deal with this case.


"After the rescue the crew members came back to the harbour and resumed their car wash. It’s just all in a day’s work for the RNLI."

It wasn't the only callout of the weekend for the RNLI in Co Down, as Bangor RNLI assisted a lone sailor who got into difficulty on a sailing dinghy Easter Sunday.

At 1.10pm the volunteer lifeboat crew received an urgent request from Belfast Coastguard to launch the lifeboat and rescue one person from a 17ft dinghy. 

The sailing dinghy had reportedly gone aground on ‘Cockle Island’ off Groomsport Harbour on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.  
  


Upon arrival at the scene, the volunteer crew found that the occupant onboard the dinghy had been assisted by another boat owner and the vessel had been safely tied to a mooring buoy.  
 

Meanwhile, last Wednesday evening Portaferry RNLI was launched to reports that red flares has been sighted on Strangford Lough off Kircubbin in Co Down.

They were joined by a coastguard team that searched the shoreline and after some time recovered a spent flare casing. The inshore lifeboat and its volunteer crew were stood down after a number of hours with the callout proving to be a false alarm.

Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: "A member of the public acted in good faith ... alerting the emergency services to what they understood to be a distress flare on the lough."

He reiterated that flares "should only be used in emergency situations".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Fifteen RS 400s, from as far South as Glandore and as far North as Cushendall formed the main appetiser for the latest RS Ireland traveller series event. A smaller group of RS200s and RS Fevas also battled it out over the two days of the RS Northern Area Championships on glorious Strangford Lough. The racing came courtesy of the most hospitable of hosts at Strangford Lough Yacht Club and their team headed up by Emily Smith and Charlie Horder.

Saturday's racing was a blustery game of snakes and ladders with the RS 400 fleet continually trading blows and producing a different winner in each of the three races.

In the RS200's Heather Craig advised Trevor Fisher on how to do it, as they led overnight with three straight bullets.

In the Feva class, local boys Robbie and Peter Gilmore came good to lead overnight with an impressive score of 1, 3, 1.

The evening brought some "sensible drinking" and fine dining courtesy of event sponsors www.MashDirect.com . Rumours of some out of tune singing also circulated the following morning with some labelling it as Karaoke.

Sunday dawned a bit wet, but as the sun came out, it got even wetter for the back half of the RS 400 fleet as a whooping 30 knot right handed squall cuffed those taking too long to reach the windward mark in race 2, with entertaining variations on how not to bear off, hoist, gybe, stack it etc. Those who did set kites, (which was all but one) where treated to a somewhat out of control reach, (in which most helms would agree, they played very little part) as the mild mannered 400s decided they would steer themselves safely at 20 knots to the downwind position some 200 metres to the right of the last mark. Much swimming was done. There was a welcome rest whilst the PRO rearranged the course for the final race, in lovely sunshine, with some cheeky puffs that allowed all to arrive ashore nicely enthralled by the day's activity.

In the final mix, the Ballyhome duo of Bob "The Laser" Espey and Michael "The other Laser" Gunning took top spot by in RS400 class. Five different winners in six races showed that it was no push over for the lads.

In the RS200 class Heather Craig and Trevor Fisher had the luxury of discarding a second place, the only blot on an otherwise perfect score card to round out a clinical win.

In the Feva class Robbie and Peter Gilmore continued with Saturdays fine form with a 2,1,1 score to take a decisive victory. Perhaps Santa might have to squeeze an RS200 down the Gilmore chimney this year!

Next up for the Irish RS Classes is Greystones and the Sothern Championship on 6th and 7th of October. The local contingent will no doubt be ready to repel the Northern invaders, who are currently very much growing in strength and numbers.

Published in RS Sailing

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA) has indicated the possible presence of Japanese sea squirt on the bed of Strangford Lough, as the Press Associaton reports.

Experts are attemping to confirm the identity of the invasive organism that has posed a threat to mussel and scallop populations across the Irish Sea in north Wales.

The sea creature, Didemnum vexillum, spreads like a blanket across the seabed and other surfaces, smothering shellfish and other marine life in the process. It is often transported over large distances on boat hulls and fishing equipment.

It was discovered late last year in Holyhead marina, and Welsh athorities spent £250,000 on an extermination project to prevent its spread into the Menai Strait - at the heart of the region's shellfish industry.

Dr Rohan Holt, a senior scientist from the Countryside Council for Wales, has now been called in to advise on how to manage the threat should it indeed be confirmed as the Japanese sea quirt.

Meanwhile, members of the public have been urged to report any possible sightings of Japanese sea squirt with photos through the 'Alien Watch' section of the Invasive Species Ireland website.

The Press Association has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - A meeting of the Northern Ireland Marine Task Force (NIMTF) last week brought together interests from across the spectrum to discuss the new Marine Bill and ensure it will "deliver for all sea users".

The workshop at Castle Espie on Strangford Lough last Thursday 22 March saw politicians sit down with environmentalists, fishermen and wind farm developers, and engage with those responsible for drafting the proposed legislation.

According to a statement from the Ulster Wildlife Trust, which is a member of the NIMTF, the bill "provides for the creation of a network of marine protected areas to protect marine wildlife" as well as a roadmap for a more joined-up approach to the North's marine resources.

NIMTF spokesperson Ricky Devlin said: "We now need to ensure that [the bill] addresses the full range of environmental, recreational and commercial interests such as fishing, diving, electricity generation and aquaculture."

A full report of the meeting will be available shortly from www.nimtf.org

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Northern Ireland faces a whopping £8 million (€9.6 million) fine from the EU over its failure to protect horse mussels.

According to BBC News, "little has been done" to protect horse mussel reefs in Strangford Lough despite promises from two government departments as far back as six years ago.

Last year Afloat.ie reported on a study from Queen's University Belfast that revealed the extent of damage to horse mussel reefs in the lough by fishing activity.

Strangford Lough is officially protected as a Special Conservation Area and a Marine Nature Reserve, as well as an Area of Special Scientfic Interest, but as BBC News states, "in reality there has been little protection put in place".

Horse mussels are pivotal to the lough's ecosystem, as some 100 other species rely on the reefs formed by the mussels in the seabed for their habitat.

NI officials now have just a few months to persuade the European Commission that they are taking strong action to protect the species, otherwise they will be charged with breaking EU directives.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#COASTAL NOTES - Northern Irish director Terry George has returned to a hero's welcome in his native Co Down following his Oscar win for short film The Shore, the Irish Echo reports.

The film, which was set on Coney Island near Killough on the egde of Strangford Lough, tells the story of a man who returns to his coastal community after 25 years living in the USA.

“It’s great to come home and to visit everyone who made the film possible, the people who were in it, go back and see our neighbors,” said George on landing in Belfast. “You kind of hope that you’ll bring back the awards here to Ireland.”

The Shore is also a family effort, as it was produced by the director's daughter Oonagh George.

Published in Coastal Notes

#RESCUE - BBC News reports that the search for a cargo ship crewman missing in the Irish Sea has been scaled down.

The 22-year-old from Slovakia was reported missing yesterday morning from the Fehn Sirius, which was en route from Belfast to Portugal, as it headed past Arklow, Co Wicklow.

According to The Irish Times, he was last seen on the cargo ship around 10pm on Monday night as it headed south of the entrance to Strangford Lough.

Lifeboats from Portaferry and Newcastle in Northern Ireland and Arklow joined the search and rescue operation, which was assisted by the RAF helicopter based at Prestwick in Scotland and an Irish Coast Guard helicopter.

However, most rescue services have now been stood down as the Fehn Sirius continues to backtrack in the Irish Sea, with assistance from the Naval Service vessel LE Ciara.

Only three days ago the body of another mariner was recovered from the Irish Sea off the north Dublin coast, more than a month after he went missing.

Published in Rescue

#FISHING - Proposals to close substantial areas of Strangford Lough to fishing vessels have been met with strong criticism by Northern Ireland's commercial fishermen.

In a recent letter to the News Letter, Paul Leenan writes asking Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill to clarify the government's position following a complaint to the European Commission by the Ulster Wildlife Trust regarding the protection of horse mussel reefs in the lough.

While recognising the importance of the lough's marine ecosystem, Leenan writes: "The notion that substantial areas of the lough could be closed to fishing vessels is of serious concern to fishermen, at a time of great economic difficulty.

"Any hasty action could put livelihoods at risk and threaten the viability of the whole fishing industry here."

In response, the Ulster Wildlife Trust claims that "the management of certain aspects of the fauna and flora within the lough has caused... much concern over the past two decades."

Joe Furphy of the trust writes: "If we are to secure a truly sustainable future for the lough, its environment and diverse wildlife, upon which sustainable fisheries rely, then we need to ensure that adequate ‘non-disturbance zones’ are put in place."

Published in Fishing
A new study from Queen's University Belfast has revealed the extent of damage to horse mussel reefs in Strangford Lough, the Bray People reports.
The report highlighted a lack of action on the part of the NI government departments responsible for the lough, which is designated as a Special Conservation Area and a Marine Nature Reserve.
According to BBC News, previous studies in the late 1990s showed that many of the mussels were dead, and urged regulatory action to protect the remainer that did not come to pass until earlier this year, when two non-disturbance zones were declared to reduce pot fishing in the reef areas.
On top of the continued ban on mobile fishing gear, the new study recommends "total protection" in areas of the lough where fishing activity is affecting the recovery of horse mussel reefs, and notes that "signs of natural recovery might be expected within 20 years... provided there is no further disturbance".

A new study from Queen's University Belfast has revealed the extent of damage to horse mussel reefs in Strangford Lough, the Bray People reports.

The report highlighted a lack of action on the part of the NI government departments responsible for the lough, which is designated as a Special Conservation Area and a Marine Nature Reserve.

According to BBC News, previous studies in the late 1990s showed that many of the mussels were dead, and urged regulatory action to protect the remainer that did not come to pass until earlier this year, when two non-disturbance zones were declared to reduce pot fishing in the reef areas.

On top of the continued ban on mobile fishing gear, the new study recommends "total protection" in areas of the lough where fishing activity is affecting the recovery of horse mussel reefs, and notes that "signs of natural recovery might be expected within 20 years... provided there is no further disturbance".

Published in Marine Wildlife
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