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Displaying items by tag: Strangford Lough

#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
The latest product from sonar technology company Tritech is a mammal detection system for use around underwater turbines.
According to the manufacturers, the Gemini SeaTec system uses a multi-beam sonar and image detection software to provide real-time monitoring and warning of sea mammals in the vicinity of subsea turbines, allowing operators to take corrective action.
The system also logs valuable data that may be used for environmental assessment in any sea turbine development project.
Tritech's system is already installed on the SeaGen tidal turbine in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. The system also has future possible applications in cable lay survey operations and general subsea monitoring.
For more details visit the Tritech website.

The latest product from sonar technology company Tritech is a mammal detection system for use around underwater turbines.

According to the manufacturers, the Gemini SeaTec system uses a multi-beam sonar and image detection software to provide real-time monitoring and warning of sea mammals in the vicinity of subsea turbines, allowing operators to take corrective action.

The system also logs valuable data that may be used for environmental assessment in any sea turbine development project.

Tritech's system is already installed on the SeaGen tidal turbine in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. The system also has future possible applications in cable lay survey operations and general subsea monitoring.

For more details visit the Tritech website.

Published in Power From the Sea
Serious sailing competition and serious fun are most definitely on the cards as Strangford Lough gears up to host the largest sailing weekend in the North of Ireland from the 24 – 26 June.

As local boats on the Lough launch their boats in preparation for the 2011 sailing season, entries continue to come in from all around the UK and Ireland, making the 2011 event the most exciting ever. From big names in big boats to the small two person Squib class, there will be fantastic racing for everyone on the championship courses around the stunning waters of Strangford Lough. Whether you wish to sail in IRC, One-design, PY or a more relaxed 2-Sail we have a class to suit.

Competitors can look forward to plenty of prizes and a lot of fun. Whilst Principal Race Officer, David Young, puts all his efforts into making sure the on the water activities run smoothly, a dedicated team will be making sure that off the water competitors, crews and visitors will not be short of entertainment. Based in Killyleagh Yacht Club, an extensive programme of bands and live acts will ensure everybody participating has a great weekend as well.

For more information on this event please visit www.slrw.org

Published in Boating Fixtures

NI environment minister Edwin Poots has appealed to the public for information on marine animals following the suspicious deaths of five seals in Strangford Lough last week.

The grim discovery comes only weeks after a wave of fatal corkscrew-like injuries to seals in the same region.

The UK Department of Environment confirmed to the BBC that one of the seals had similar corkscrew imjuries, while another had been shot.

Minister Poots told BBC News: "Despite warnings from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in the media, there are still people who have no qualms about carrying out this inhumane practice."

He added: "Now, in the light of the latest deaths, it is even more important that we find out who is behind this and put a stop to it."

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 7 of 8

Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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