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A £2.5m fund to help marine tourism businesses in Scotland restart operations in 2021 will be open for applications from next week, according to Marine Industry News.

The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund is part of an overall £104.3m support package for tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the fund is aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme, which opens at noon on Tuesday 2 February.

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said.

“Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.

He added: “The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Scotland’s struggling aquatic tourism sector is set to be boosted by a £2.5m pandemic support package from the devolved government, as Marine Industry News reports.

Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland have secured the £2.5m restart grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme.

Operators of visitor moorings and pontoons will also be able to access grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 in the scheme, which opens in January.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government, we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin says.

But he adds that the restart funding is just one of the industry’s ‘three asks’ of the regional government — with the others being “detailed solutions around workable rules” and a “recovery marketing fund”.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is the first ferry firm in the UK to receive a top industry verification for its infection risk management processes.

The operator of Scotland's lifeline services to west coast islands has been found compliant to a high standard for infection risk management, earning the right to use DNV GL's prestigious My Care Readiness Mark.

CalMac's HSQE team worked closely with independent third party risk management and quality assurance experts DNV GL, which has completed a verification assessment of the readiness of the organisation in managing infection risk from emerging pathogens.

All processes were reviewed using the My Care framework, which assesses, manages and mitigates infection risk in management systems, business processes and operations. This was carried out through document review, remote discussions with onboard management teams, and included eight site visits.

Louis de Wolff, Director of HSQE at CalMac, said: "The My Care Readiness Mark provides formal recognition of the high standards of health and safety protection on our routes to reduce the risk of infection.

"This award reaffirms our commitment to ensuring a safe environment for passengers, colleagues and communities, during the current COVID pandemic and beyond.

"The review process was in-depth and rigorous, and I am grateful to CalMac staff for their open and honest insight into our processes and how they are implemented across the organisation."

Aileen Orr, Healthcare Lead at DNV GL - Business Assurance in the UK, said, "Many congratulations to CalMac on this achievement, which is well deserved. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of staff at all levels."

Published in Ferry

Co Antrim’s famous coastal path at The Gobbins is set to reopen next week on Tuesday 1 September. months after it was closed in the initial wave of coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

As RTÉ News reports, the cliff path — which was restored in 2015 after being closed for decades — has had a number of safety upgrades to allow for social distancing and hygiene standards to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Prebooking is also essential to allow for proper management of the popular Islandmagee attraction, renowned for its white-knuckle series of rugged steps, tunnels, caves and bridges.

It is just over a week ago when MSC Grandiosa set sail from Genoa, Italy - with only citizens of Europe's Schengen-area countries and below its 70% capacity limit - it became the first cruiseship in MSC's fleet to return to cruising since spring coronavirus lockdowns halted cruising in Europe.

But it wasn't long before the cruise line's stringent Covid-19 guidelines were breached by a family on a shore excursion in Naples, which MSC says led to them denying those passengers re-entry to the liner.

"In line with our health and safety protocol, developed to ensure health and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we had to deny re-embarkation to a family who broke from their shore excursion (Tuesday) while visiting Naples," an MSC Cruises spokesperson said in an email.

"By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the 'social bubble' created for them and all other guests, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship."

For more reading from Independent.ie on the cruiseship of the 'Meraviglia' Plus-class ship.

The MSC Meraviglia became the largest cruiseship to enter Irish waters when a maiden port of call to Dublin Port took place in 2018.

Published in Cruise Liners

Waterways Ireland’s jetties have reopened at Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Shannon Harbour and Banagher on the Shannon Navigation following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on counties Laois and Offaly.

Meanwhile, visiting moorings on the Grand and Royal Canals, Barrow Navigation and Barrow Line in Co Kildare will remain closed as restrictions remain in place for the county for another two weeks.

Waterways Ireland said it strongly encourages people to strictly observe social distancing measures throughout its network of inland waterways.

“We are asking our users not to congregate, to keep moving, and allow ample space for others to pass in accordance with social distancing protocols,” it added.

Elsewhere, weed cutting operations are under way at Portna and Movanagher on the Lower Bann from today, Monday 24 to Friday 28 August.

Boaters in these areas are advised to approach with caution, reduce speed and follow any instructions or signage.

On Lough Derg, water users are advised to proceed with caution in the vicinity of Goat’s Road as the green E Buoy is currently off station at Bellvue Eoint.

And the public mooring at Leitrim village has been closed for a Garda investigation into a tragic incident in the early hours of Sunday 23 August.

Alternate moorings are available below the bridge in Leitrim village and at Lock 16 on the Shannon-Erne Waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

This year’s Watersports Inclusion Games, which had been set for 5-6 September at Lough Derg Yacht Club, have been cancelled over continued coronavirus concerns.

In a statement, Irish Sailing said that “the current trajectory of the virus spread, coupled with the logistics, people involved and format of the event brought us to this decision”.

Ireland’s national governing body for sailing expressed its thanks to all “who worked so hard in trying to bring this year’s Inclusion Games to fruition”.

Lough Derg YC will instead host next year’s games, being planned for 18-29 June 2021.

The news follows the cancellation of the Women at the Helm Regatta later this month over similar concerns.

Supertrawlers spent almost twice as much time fishing in the UK’s protected waters in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2019, according to an investigation by Greenpeace.

As the Guardian reports, supertrawlers spent 5,590 hours fishing in 19 of the UK’s marine protected areas between 1 January and 30 June this year.

Much of that time overlapped with coronavirus restrictions that saw most of the UK’s regular fishing fleet confined to port with the collapse of their biggest markets.

And the figure also represents a massive increase in the 475 hours in total fishing of protected areas recorded just three years ago, as the Greenpeace data reveals.

The news follows fears of “skirmishes at sea” from Rockall to the English Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit when the Irish fleet moves to asserts its “moral right to greater access to its own waters”.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

RYANI has has issued new guidance which allows for sailing and racing for people from different households in Northern Ireland waters.

The guidance has been developed within the current coronavirus legislation and follows the parameters now also in place in England.

It is based upon an assessment of team sports, feedback from the Sport NI Expert Panel and the mitigations required to lower the risks of virus transmission in multi-crewed boats.

The guidance does not include those at a ‘Learn to Sail’ level, which means only proficient sailors can crew with different households.

The move comes two months after many single-handed or single household sailors got back afloat.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said the governing body “strongly believes that the highest risk will often be before and after going afloat”.

‘It remains vitally important that the boating community continue to take a considerate and responsible approach’

He explained: “The new RYANI guidance on sailing and racing with participants from different households during Covid-19 that has been published today (Friday 14 August) outlines the ways in which skippers and participants should review risk and how they might mitigate against that risk in a team environment.”

The guidance highlights the increased risk of certain on-board activities such as rigging, hiking out or two-person winch operation.

It also recognises that while social distancing of two metres may not always be possible onboard, it should always be possible to maintain a minimum separation of 0.5m and outlines other mitigations that should be considered.

Honeyford added: “It remains vitally important that the boating community continue to take a considerate and responsible approach, assessing the risks and following the appropriate mitigating actions.

“We must all play our part and respect any measures that our clubs deem necessary to put in place to allow multi-crewed craft afloat.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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World Sailing has announced it will hold its 2020 Annual General Meeting and General Assembly online only due to the global challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Abu Dhabi in the UAE had been scheduled to host World Sailing’s annual conference from 24 October, with the AGM and General Assembly concluding the meeting on 1 November.

However, due to ongoing travel restrictions, World Sailing’s board of directors have now resolved to hold the AGM and General Assembly electronically, in accordance with a written special resolution approved by its member national authorities in June.

In addition, all commission, sub-committee, committee and council meetings that would normally take place during the conference will also be hosted electronically.

Abu Dhabi will instead host the 2021 Annual Conference and AGM from 20-31 October next year

Subject to approval by World Sailing’s council, the main decision-making body of World Sailing, Abu Dhabi will instead host the 2021 Annual Conference and AGM from 20-31 October next year.

World Sailing’s election committee is now accepting nominations for the 2020 election of the World Sailing president and vice-presidents.

The deadline for the close of nominations is Sunday 6 September, eight weeks ahead of the General Assembly. A candidate must have five or more nominations to be put forward for election.

Full information on the election of the board of directors is available in Articles 73-76 of the World Sailing Constitution, with the voting system to elect detailed in Regulation 4 of the World Sailing Regulations.

The Election Committee have also produced election rules that govern the conduct of the election to ensure an atmosphere of mutual respect and equality is shown.

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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