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#GALWAY BAY - Galway residents are voicing fears over pollution in Galway Bay due to alleged increase in outfalls from the city's sewage system.

As Galway News reports, locals in the Claddagh area spotted a discharge of raw sewage into the Claddagh Basin in July, which was confirmed by City Councillor Catherine Connolly to be an outfall.

Such releases are triggered automatically, like a safety valve, in emergency circumstances, such as after heavy rainfall which backs up the system.

Cllr Connolly has expressed her concern over an increase in the number of such releases over recent months, and their potential contribution to the degradation of water quality in the area - especially following the temporary closure of Grattan Beach in Salthill last month due to E.coli contamination.

She has also called for a report from the council on the difficulties experiences at the Mutton Island water treatment plant resulting from the inflow of grease and fats into the system from hotels and restaurants.

Galway News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#FISHING - Environmental campaigners have lambasted the IFA's claims of an "inexplicable delay" in the State's processing of licence applications for fish farms.

In a letter to The Irish Times yesterday, Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment says that the delay – to allow for proper environmental studies to be conducted – "has been explained again and again" by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney.

He was responding to a letter last Friday by Richie Flynn of IFA Aquaculture, who highlighted the "suffering" of coastal communities as a result of processes that "hamper development and delay investment in the hundreds of companies involved in farming salmon, oysters, mussels, trout and other species".

Lowes writes in counter that salmon farming "is a highly polluting industry", and that discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous from aquaculture facilities "can fuel toxic algae blooms, which have cost the shellfish industry dear".

He claims that the proposed salmon farm in Bantry Bay in West Cork would have a nitrogen and phosphorous discharge "equivalent to the sewage of a town 10 times the size of Bantry".

Lowes also alleges that the deep-sea "super salmon" farm in Galway Bay - the licence application for which is undergoing statutory consultation till 2 October - would produce the equivalent effluent of a city more than double the size of Galway.

In addition, he makes reference to the threat to native salmon in Irish rivers through sea lice infestations.

"The EU habitats directive requires baseline studies and environmental impact statements," writes Lowes. "Licensees can be granted only if the project will not have adverse impacts on protected species and habitats."

Published in Fishing

#COASTAL NOTES - The Irish Times reports that Balbriggan Beach was reopened for swimming yesterday 31 August after the latest in a string of E.coli scares around the Irish coast.

The beach at the north Co Dublin coastal town was closed to bathers after a pumping station malfunction caused raw sewage to be pumped into the sea for up to 24 hours earlier this week.

E.coli levels were subsequently recorded at five times the maximum EU safety limit, and as much as 100 times the Blue Flag standard for European beaches.

The incident raised concerns among campaigners opposed to the proposed new water treatment 'super plant' for Fingal.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, worries have been expressed by locals in the towns of Skerries, Loughskinny and Rush about the effects of the planned outfall pipe in their area.

The Balbriggan swimming ban marked the second beach closure in north Dublin during August, after the waters at Rush South were found to be contaminated with E.coli over the bank holiday weekend.

A bathing ban was also imposed on seven beaches in Cork last month due to high levels of the bacteria, while a breach of safe levels at Salthill in Galway last week caused concern ahead of tomorrow's Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTAL NOTES - The bathing ban imposed last week on seven Cork coastal beaches has been lifted, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the seven beaches had been closed to swimming over concerns at elevated E.coli levels in the water, resulting from water runoff after the recent heavy rainfall in the county.

Cork County Council took the decision to lift restrictions after tests this week showed E.coli levels had "significantly descreaed" below the EU mandatory safety level.

The seven affected beaches included three in the Youghal area. Redbarn at Youghal joins Garretsown near Kinsale and Garryvoe in the beaches that can fly their Blue Flags once more.

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTGUARD - The Irish Coast Guard is ill-prepared to respond to any major pollution incident off our coastline, according to a report commissioned by the Government.

As Lorna Siggins writes in The Irish Times on Friday, the report identified weaknesses in communication within the coastguard and in the training of volunteer crews, as well as deficiencies in the Marine Survey Office.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, whose office commissioned the 'value for money' studies, said he would begin an action plan due in October to deal with such issues, which may require "tough decisions" - including the closure of a coastguard radio station at Malin or Valentia.

The studies by Fisher Associates highlighted the lack of a dedicated polluton control team within the coastguard, despite staff having "sufficient knowledge to respond".

Auditing of various pollution response plans was also found to be lax, while problems were also identified in management and training of the coastguard's 1,000 volunteers.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#INLAND WATERWAYS - The Tyrone Times reports that Clogher and District Angling Club has been awarded £1,000 (€1,196) by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for an environmental project with local schools.

The Water Environment Community Awards recognised the club for its work with St McCartan's Primary School in Clogher and Augher Central Primary School to "investigate the signs and impact of pollution in the River Blackwater" over the coming months.

“Clogher and District Angling Club have demonstrated their commitment to protecting and improving their local water environment," said the NIEA's Dave Foster.

"I hope that their efforts over the next few months will inspire others to do their bit too and I would urge people to follow these projects and share what they see.”

Published in Inland Waterways

#NEWS UPDATE - The Irish Petroleum Industry Association (IPIA) has proposed a suite of measures aimed at tackling the problem of illegal diesel washing in Ireland.

In a statement, the industry body for Ireland's fuel industry says that the practice is costing the Exchequer as much as €155 million annually in lost fuel duty.

"While other jurisdictions have to tackle this sort of fraud, the sheer scale of criminal washing of diesel is a particularly Irish disease," it said.

The IPIA's recommendations include the introduction of "a strong regulatory regime" to control the sale of rebated fuel, a new market for off-road diesel that is harder to disguise or remove, the closure of unlicenced filling stations, and a "radical overhaul" of the currently "absurd" penalties for offending retailers.

The Irish Angling Development Alliance (IADA) has fully backed the IPIA's proposals, citing the dangers of toxic waste byproducts from diesel washing operations.

"This toxic waste has been dumped illegally across the country, where it can enter the water table, not only seriously polluting water courses but also clean drinking water supplies."

Published in News Update

#INLAND WATERWAYS - Officials at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are attempting to find the source of a pollutant that resulted in a fish kill on the Threemilewater river in recent weeks.

The Newtownabbey Times reports that more than 120 trout and salmon parr have been found dead on the short stretch of river between Mossley Mill and Doagh Road in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

John Webster of the Threemilewater Conservation and Angling Association speculated that the pollutant may have entered the water from any of a number of pipes that flow into the waterway near the railway line at Mossley Mill.

He described the fish kill as "an absolute diasaster", especially coming as it did at the opening of the fishing season on 1 March.

The Newtownabbey Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#LARNE LOUGH - Larne Council has looked into the concerns of local residents over a proposed £250 million (€300 million) natural gas plant at Larne Lough, the Larne Times reports.

Islandmagee Storage Limited (IMSL) has applied for planning permission for a 500 million cubic metre natural gas storage facility in Permian salt beds almost a mile beneath the lough, which is claimed would satisfy the North's peak demand for gas for over 60 days.

But locals have spoken out with their fears over noise levels, health and safety, pollution and the potential effect on tourism in the area.

Larne Council’s environmental health department carried out its own research into the proposed facility, taking these concerns into consideration.

It found that there was "no huge issue in terms of noise levels" where similar facilities are established throughout the UK and that the effect on tourism would be negligable.

However the department was “not yet happy” with data supplied by IMSL regarding noise levels and would be seeking more detailed information.

The Larne Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#NEWS UPDATE - The Minister for Health has raised concerns over a new water treatment 'super plant' planned for Fingal, amid fears that a malfunction could see huge amounts of raw sewerage pumped into the Irish Sea.

As reported in The Irish Times, Dr James Reilly echoed worries expressed by his north Dublin constituents and members of community group Reclaim Fingal Alliance, noting that the people of Skerries, Loughshinny and Rush are particularly "worried about the effects of the outfall pipe in their area".

The minister said that none of the nine sites being considered by Fingal County Council and Greater Dublin Drainage was suitable for sewerage treatment, and that any waste should be treated to "advanced levels" to make the outfall as clean as possible, thereby avoiding adverse impact on shellfish beds.

As many as 10,000 letters of objection have been lodged against the plan by campaigners including local farmers and environmentalists.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
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