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There are nearly 17,000 boats on the inland waterways, of which 9,000 are registered on the Shannon, 7,000 on the Erne, and 600 boats on the canals.

New bye-laws to control usage of the waterways are being prepared, which will have to deal with houseboats, and that is likely to be a hot topic.

Waterways Ireland, the North/South body, set up under the Good Friday Agreement, manages the waterways in Northern Ireland and the Republic and has drawn up draft Bye-Laws to replace the three sets of existing regulations controlling their use, some of which are 40 years old.

"About 150 of the boats on the canals are now being used either for full-time living or during the week by students at College"

Paddy Harkin, Inspector of Navigation at Waterways Ireland, has told me that the new Bye-Laws will have to deal with the ‘hot topic’ of houseboats on the canals, in which there has been a considerable increase close to Dublin. Pressure on housing is evident in that about 150 of the boats on the canals are now being used either for full-time living or during the week by students at College.

A public consultation, which closes on October 2, has raised several issues about the use of the waterways, including houseboats and safety and mooring in the harbours.

Listen to Paddy Harkin about the legislation plans in this clip below

You can hear the full interview on the Maritime Ireland Podcast. Details about the consultation are on: waterwaysireland.org

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Waterways Ireland and Dublin City Council have launched a new study that considers the outdoor recreation opportunities of the Grand Canal and its towpaths and land resources in Dublin’s south central area.

The jointly commissioned report by Irish Leisure Consultants, titled The Grand Canal Recreation Activation and Animation: Portobello to Kylemore Road, is informed by the views and knowledge of local communities and stakeholders as well as the ambitions of national and local strategies and plans.

The area in question has limited on-water activity at present, even though it has one of the longest stretches of the canal in the city with no navigation locks.

The Grand Canal and its towpaths represent a significant opportunity to unlock the potential of this inland waterway asset for local communities, Dubliners and visitors to the city.

The consultation process identified positive, strong and diverse connections among residents and communities with this section of the Grand Canal, including recreational uses, environmental stewardship, heritage, and active travel. The report emphasises the importance of balancing of opportunities and responsibilities to increase quality of life and provide for a diverse range of needs and interests.

The report also recommends a collaborative approach, with an initial programme of community-based activities and leadership training to enhance a sense of place and develop perceptions and engagement with the canal, followed by the physical development of a series of links, nodes and zones along the canal.

In spring and summer this year, the project partners say they will work with local stakeholders to pilot a number of on-water activities and explore sustainable initiatives to unlock the potential of the city’s Grand Canal.

Published in Inland Waterways

IPUT Real Estate, an Irish property group has secured a significant coup with global logistics operator Maersk by signing for a total of 252,000sq ft of space at its latest logistics scheme in Dublin.

News of Maersk’s decision to locate its operations in unit 3 (178,000sq ft) and unit 4 (74,000sq ft) at Quantum Logistics Park near Dublin Airport follows international retailer Harvey Norman pre-let agreement last December for unit 2 (91,524sq ft) and DHL’s pre-letting of unit 1 (206,000sq ft) earlier this summer.

The completion of the three deals brings all 549,524sq ft at the north Dublin scheme to full occupancy in advance of its ultimate completion in the second quarter of 2023.

Located at Kilshane Cross and within a short drive of Dublin Airport, the Dublin Port Tunnel, Dublin city centre, and the M50 and wider motorway network, Quantum Logistics Park is being developed to the highest sustainability standards in the market with LEED Gold and BREEAM Excellent ratings.

The Irish Times has more on this commercial property development. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

North station was the popular choice with the coin toss winners for the Dublin Colours Boat Race rowing event. Trinity won the men’s and chose it, with UCD winning the women’s.

 Sean Drea was the man in charge for the coin toss at the Dublin Civic Offices at Wood Quay. The races are scheduled for Saturday week, March 14th.

Published in Rowing
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#Rowing: Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland have backed a new Corporate Regatta in Dublin, the first of a planned series.

The Rowing Ireland event will be held on May 10th in the Docklands. Crews from companies will compete, with the aim of encouraging team spirit. A learn-to-row session, lunch and a drinks and awards presentation are part of the deal.

The next stage of the series is set to be held in Cork in October.

Published in Rowing

Waterways Ireland advises all users of sightings on the Royal Canal at Ashtown of a large invasive rodent species that is highly damaging to river, lake and canal banks.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the coypu — also known as the nutria in the United States — is regarded as a destructive invasive species and pest, posing a threat to agriculture, the stability of river banks and even coastal defences.

The coypu is an EU-regulated species of concern with trade, transport and reproduction restrictions in place (No.1143/2014).

The large river rats can also carry a number of serious diseases communicable to humans and domestic animals.

Waterways Ireland says coypu eradication programmes can cost up to several millions of euro and are not always successful.

Most recently there were sightings of the rodents in Cork city two years ago, after a number were trapped by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in a tributary of the River Lee.

But their presence across the country in the capital raises concerns about their further spread throughout Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland has provided a checklist for how to spot a coypu, which are often confused with common otters:

  • Large semi-aquatic rodent up to 1 meter in head to tail length. Features same in juveniles.
  • It can weigh 5-9kg.
  • It has webbed hind feet.
  • Dark fur often with lighter ends and has a white muzzle.
  • Has long cylindrical tail (not fur tail like otter) and small slightly protruding ears.
  • Distinctive features are large bright orange-yellow incisor (front) teeth usually visible.
  • Coypu are generally found near permanent water.

Do not attempt to engage, trap or harm these animals.

Waterways Ireland appeals for the public keep a lookout along the waterways and especially along the Royal Canal at Ashtown, and report sightings (with photos is possible) to any of the following:

For more information visit species.biodiversityireland.ie.

Published in Inland Waterways

#TallShips - Dublin backed out of its bid to host the 2019 Tall Ships Races after Dublin City Council deemed the €3 million costs too high.

As the Irish Independent reports, the council said in defending the decision that the cost "represents a very significant funding implication for DCC", describing it as bigger than its annual budget for festivals and events throughout the year – including the now annual Riverfest.

Business leaders described the move as "disappointing" in light of the expected €30 to €75 million boost to the local economy from an event that attracted over a million visitors when it was last staged in the capital in 2012.

As previously reported, Galway is already stepping into the breach by mounting its own bid to host the tall ships in the same harbour that welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012 and 2009.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Tall Ships

#Liffey - An emergency operation in Dublin city centre this afternoon (Monday 5 October) saw a body recovered from the River Liffey, as TheJournal.ie reports.

The body of a man was taken from the water around 2pm less than four hours after he was spotted from a bridge near the IFSC.

Emergency response teams from the Dublin Fire Brigade, the Irish Coast Guard, Dun Laoghaire RNLI and more raced to the scene for the multi-agency operation. The Journal.ie has more HERE.

Published in News Update
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#COASTAL ROWING: The third annual Dublin Currach Regatta will take place on Saturday, the 4th of July, between the iconic bridges and in the heart of the city on the river Liffey.
 
Sponsored by Dublin Port Company and Dublin City Council, this is the third year that the east coast has the privilege of hosting a currach regatta included in the national currach racing league.  This year the annual  Dublin currach regatta will take place for the first time ever on the river Liffey in the heart of Dublin city centre.
 
Following many years of forging contacts between east coast currach rowers and teams on the west coast of Ireland, this is the first year that the western teams will come to Dublin to compete in a championship fixture.
 
Currach racing teams from Donegal, Kerry, West Clare, The Aran Islands, Connemara and  Galway will attend. Both women’s and men’s crews will be competing as well as the traditional mixed crew race, Fear agus Ban.  The races will feature qualifying heats following on to senior men’s and women’s finals as well as mixed crew racing.
 
All races will take place between 11:00 a.m. and 16:30  and the heats and competition can be viewed all along the Liffey quays right up to the Jeanie Johnston for the duration of the regatta.

Published in Currachs
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#ROWING: Trinity won all four Colours races on the Liffey today. In the Gannon Cup for senior men, the men in black and white hoops took a small early advantage, stretched it to three-quarters of a length by Capel Street Bridge and won by one-and-a-half lengths. The two novice races were surprisingly one-sided for the Dublin University crews. The best race of the day was the women’s senior contest, for the Corcoran Cup. UCD took an early advantage and led for most of the race. But Trinity were impressively controlled in their rowing and took the lead through the last two bridges. They stretched their advantage to half a length at the finish.

Colours Races 2015, Liffey, Dublin, Saturday, March 14th.

Senior Men (Gannon Cup): Trinity (A Browne, W Doyle, J Magan, M Corcoran, P Moreau, M Kelly, L Hawkes, D Butler; cox: C Flynn) bt UCD 1½ l

Novice (Dan Quinn Shield): Trinity bt UCD, easily

Senior Women (Corcoran Cup): Trinity (G Crowe, H O’Neill, H McCarthy, S Healy, S O’Brien, A Leahy, L McHugh, R Morris; cox: N Williams) bt UCD ½ l

Novice (Sally Moorhead trophy): Trinity bt UCD easily

Published in Rowing
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Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - FAQS

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographically defined maritime areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources. In addition to conserving marine species and habitats, MPAs can support maritime economic activity and reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

MPAs can be found across a range of marine habitats, from the open ocean to coastal areas, intertidal zones, bays and estuaries. Marine protected areas are defined areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources.

The world's first MPA is said to have been the Fort Jefferson National Monument in Florida, North America, which covered 18,850 hectares of sea and 35 hectares of coastal land. This location was designated in 1935, but the main drive for MPAs came much later. The current global movement can be traced to the first World Congress on National Parks in 1962, and initiation in 1976 of a process to deliver exclusive rights to sovereign states over waters up to 200 nautical miles out then began to provide new focus

The Rio ‘Earth Summit’ on climate change in 1992 saw a global MPA area target of 10% by the 2010 deadline. When this was not met, an “Aichi target 11” was set requiring 10% coverage by 2020. There has been repeated efforts since then to tighten up MPA requirements.

Marae Moana is a multiple-use marine protected area created on July 13th 2017 by the government of the Cook islands in the south Pacific, north- east of New Zealand. The area extends across over 1.9 million square kilometres. However, In September 2019, Jacqueline Evans, a prominent marine biologist and Goldman environmental award winner who was openly critical of the government's plans for seabed mining, was replaced as director of the park by the Cook Islands prime minister’s office. The move attracted local media criticism, as Evans was responsible for developing the Marae Moana policy and the Marae Moana Act, She had worked on raising funding for the park, expanding policy and regulations and developing a plan that designates permitted areas for industrial activities.

Criteria for identifying and selecting MPAs depends on the overall objective or direction of the programme identified by the coastal state. For example, if the objective is to safeguard ecological habitats, the criteria will emphasise habitat diversity and the unique nature of the particular area.

Permanence of MPAs can vary internationally. Some are established under legislative action or under a different regulatory mechanism to exist permanently into the future. Others are intended to last only a few months or years.

Yes, Ireland has MPA cover in about 2.13 per cent of our waters. Although much of Ireland’s marine environment is regarded as in “generally good condition”, according to an expert group report for Government published in January 2021, it says that biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are of “wide concern due to increasing pressures such as overexploitation, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change”.

The Government has set a target of 30 per cent MPA coverage by 2030, and moves are already being made in that direction. However, environmentalists are dubious, pointing out that a previous target of ten per cent by 2020 was not met.

Conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment has been mandated by a number of international agreements and legal obligations, as an expert group report to government has pointed out. There are specific requirements for area-based protection in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the OSPAR Convention, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yes, the Marine Strategy Framework directive (2008/56/EC) required member states to put measures in place to achieve or maintain good environmental status in their waters by 2020. Under the directive a coherent and representative network of MPAs had to be created by 2016.

Ireland was about halfway up the EU table in designating protected areas under existing habitats and bird directives in a comparison published by the European Commission in 2009. However, the Fair Seas campaign, an environmental coalition formed in 2022, points out that Ireland is “lagging behind “ even our closest neighbours, such as Scotland which has 37 per cent. The Fair Seas campaign wants at least 10 per cent of Irish waters to be designated as “fully protected” by 2025, and “at least” 30 per cent by 2030.

Nearly a quarter of Britain’s territorial waters are covered by MPAs, set up to protect vital ecosystems and species. However, a conservation NGO, Oceana, said that analysis of fishing vessel tracking data published in The Guardian in October 2020 found that more than 97% of British MPAs created to safeguard ocean habitats, are being dredged and bottom trawled. 

There’s the rub. Currently, there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law, and environment protections under the Wildlife Acts only apply to the foreshore.

Current protection in marine areas beyond 12 nautical miles is limited to measures taken under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives or the OSPAR Convention. This means that habitats and species that are not listed in the EU Directives, but which may be locally, nationally or internationally important, cannot currently be afforded the necessary protection

Yes. In late March 2022, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the Government had begun developing “stand-alone legislation” to enable identification, designation and management of MPAs to meet Ireland’s national and international commitments.

Yes. Environmental groups are not happy, as they have pointed out that legislation on marine planning took precedence over legislation on MPAs, due to the push to develop offshore renewable energy.

No, but some activities may be banned or restricted. Extraction is the main activity affected as in oil and gas activities; mining; dumping; and bottom trawling

The Government’s expert group report noted that MPA designations are likely to have the greatest influence on the “capture fisheries, marine tourism and aquaculture sectors”. It said research suggests that the net impacts on fisheries could ultimately be either positive or negative and will depend on the type of fishery involved and a wide array of other factors.

The same report noted that marine tourism and recreation sector can substantially benefit from MPA designation. However, it said that the “magnitude of the benefits” will depend to a large extent on the location of the MPA sites within the network and the management measures put in place.

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