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Barry Conwell from Killybegs, Co. Donegal is the National Maritime College of Ireland Best Bachelor Degree Student and the Best Honours Degree Student is Ian Ray Heffernan from Crosshaven, Co. Cork.

CIT's Dr Barry O'Connor, Registrar and Vice President for Academic Affairs, congratulated the students on their outstanding academic achievements across undergraduate and postgraduate level programmes which are nationally, internationally, and professionally accredited.

Published in Jobs
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is holding a public meeting in Belfast on Thursday 3rd March 2011, about the proposed Coastguard modernisation programme.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for the community around the existing Belfast Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to hear more about the proposals, ask questions of MCA representatives and air their views.

The meeting at Marine Court Hotel, 18-20 Quay Street, Bangor. BT20 5ED will be independently chaired and begin at 7:30pm. The meeting is expecting to draw to a close by 9:00pm.

The proposals for Coastguard modernisation, together with the consultation documents, can be found on the MCA website at www.mcga.gov.uk  and www.dft.gov.uk

Published in Coastguard
18th February 2011

Now There is None

I remember the pride I felt when describing on television the Parade of the Tall Ships down the River Suir from Waterford in 2005. Three Irish tall ships led it. First was ASGARD II, Ireland's national tall ship; followed by the DUNBRODY from New Ross and then the JEANIE JOHNSTON from Kerry.

What a magnificent sight it was as the three Tall Ships, each flying the Tricolour, headed the fleet of the gracious ships of sail from all over the world.

How different it will be in July when the world's Tall Ships again parade down the Suir. There will be no Irish national sailing ship to lead the parade. A number of private Irish entries are expected at Waterford from June 30–July 3 amongst the 70 vessels from around the world when the city has the honour starting the race. In 2005 about half-a-million people visited the city while the Tall Ships were there.

The lack of a national tall ship is another example of governmental maritime neglect, directly due to the decision of former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, T.D. After the sinking of ASGARD he publicly committed the Government to its replacement, but after receiving insurance compensation money for its loss, he put the money into coffers of the Department of Finance and closed down the national sail training programme. There was a big difference between what he promised and what he did, a disregard for the maritime sphere which it is hard to forgive. I also recall how former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not visit Waterford during the 2005 race, when it was the biggest tourist event in the country. When I broadcast my report expressing astonishment at this snub government sources and Fianna Fail didn't like it. Truth in the news can be painful!

The organisers made contacts about the DUNBRODY, which continues to earn income at the New Ross quayside where it is moored as a tourist attraction and with the JEANIE JOHNSTON, moored at the Dublin Docklands.

However, neither will be taking part, the organisers have confirmed, tough they said that it was expected that about 100 young Irish trainees would sail aboard tall ships in the race, half of them with funding support from local authority, business and other sources. A group of Irish sailors have also indicated they are making arrangements to charter a UK-registered vessel the JOHANNA LUCRETIA for the event.

Once again the Irish Government has sunk to the bottom where maritime matters are concerned.

It was announced this week in Waterford that Fáilte Ireland has made a significant financial and marketing commitment to this year's event, though the financial figure was not disclosed .A free festival programme will feature street acts; comedy; international and home-grown artists, nightly fireworks, an artisan food village and an atmosphere which the organisers say "will thrill people of all ages and nationalities."

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
To further assist the development of the marine sector, responsibility for maritime policy will, as far as is practicable, be concentrated in one department. That's according to the Labour Party 2011 General Election manifesto and it's the clearest indication yet from any political party that the Department of the Marine could be reinstated.

Fine Gael has told Afloat.ie details of its marine policy will be published in its manifesto tomorrow. If that's the case things are looking up for anyone interested in seeing Ireland develop the valuable waters that surround it.

After searching for references to 'sea', 'marine' or 'maritime' only the Labour party has so far made the only significant written commitment to the marine sector in its programme for government. Its manifesto acknowledges that Coastal Communities, Fisheries and the Marine face major challenges in the years ahead, but it is also an area of major economic potential.

Fianna Fail merely says on page 21 of its manifesto that it will ensure that 'an inter-departmental strategy is in place to improve the leisure potential of our harbours and increase marine tourism'.

The Green Party 'Renewing Ireland' document says it will promote the creation of marinas and youth and child friendly water sports to encourage activity and awareness of our maritime country. It also says Ireland will participates in the North Seas Offshore Grid Plan.

There is no reference to the marine in the Sinn Fein 'There is a Better Way' manifesto.

Four party manifestos are available to download below.

Labour's priority will be to develop Ireland as a European hub for seafood processing, which will create sustainable, value-added jobs in coastal communities.

Labour will also develop an Irish seafood strategy to grow the market profile and demand for Irish seafood products. We will support the development of sustainable aquaculture and fish farms by streamlining the licensing process and reducing, as much as possible, the associated bureaucracy. To further assist the development of the sector, responsibility for maritime policy will, as far as is practicable, be concentrated in one department.

Labour will establish a Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment based on consultation with all major stakeholders. This report will be brought before the Dáil on an annual basis before EU fisheries negotiations commence, and will ensure that there is a regular evaluation of Irish fish stocks and the effectiveness of current policy and quotas.

Labour is open to the experience and expertise of those whose livelihoods depend on maritime activity. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will engage in an ongoing structured consultation with industry representatives, the marine scientific community and other stakeholders to enable them to contribute to national maritime policy.

Finally, safety at sea and decent working conditions must underpin the development of the fisheries sector. Labour in government will ensure that the Irish Coast Guard has access to an Emergency Towing Vessel.

Dun Laoghaire People before Profit candidate Richard Boyd Barrett who has campaigned under a 'Save our Seafront' banner in the last council elections, is holding a meeting tomorrow night in Dun Laoghaire, the country's largest boating centre to protest against the possible 'privatisation' of the town's harbour.

We're tracking the progress of maritime affairs in the general election and posting details on afloat.ie. Whether you're a candidate or a vote please get in touch with your #ge11 marine news. Contact us via facebook, twitter or our website.

Published in News Update

There are those who don't like sailing – and even some in the sport itself – who have described watching a sailing race as "about as interesting as watching paint dry. While exciting pictures have been available from the Volvo Round the World Race and match racing has proved watchable, these were exceptional highlights compared with the more mundane aspects of yacht racing. Raising public interest in the sport has been a permanent difficulty.

The Olympic Games have fared no better. The last Olympics in China were difficult for sailing where the racing was not regarded as of sufficiently high quality, courses were perceived as often poor and there were even difficulties in finding enough clear water at times due to silting and other problems.

With tickets due to go on sail in two month's time for the London Olympic Games in 2012, controversy is flaring over a decision to impose charges to watch sailing.

The 2012 Games will be the first in Olympic history to charge spectators for sailing races, with temporary seating being provided for up to 4,600 paying customers at Weymouth's Nothe Gardens, a local beauty spot which overlooks one of the racing areas at Newton's Cove. Weymouth and Portland Council received official notification about the plan a week before Christmas. This was more than two months after the London organising committee, Locog, announced ticket prices for the Games, including sailing.

The spectator experience at previous Games has been confined to a glimpse of sails through a pair of binoculars, but by bringing the action close to shore, Locog believes it can turn sailing into an exciting spectator sport.

They are hoping that ticket sales will be encouraged by the introduction of new events such as women's match-racing — a series of 20-minute head-to-head races between two boats. This will begin with a round-robin phase before turning into a knockout competition and is intended to form the core of the programme on the Nothe course. It will be supplemented by races involving two of what are regarded as spectacular classes - including the 49ers and the windsurfers.

In the second week of the Games, the course will play host to the final medal races in all boat classes.

This concept of bringing the sport to the fans onshore has the full backing of the International Sailing Federation, which will be hoping for capacity crowds in the temporary stands, where spectators will be asked to pay up to stg£55 each to watch the sailing.

However, local people in Weymouth and Portland are angered by the intention to turn their public park into a ticketed venue. The Council has accused the organisers of not discussing their plans in advance and local councillors claim people are outraged that they will be barred from the park for several weeks.

Locog has defended its decision to sell tickets, saying that, for the first time, sailing will be presented as a true onshore spectator experience, which the International Sailing Federation is keen to develop. The organisers also cite safety concerns, with a ticketed venue allowing them to predict crowd numbers. They insist the move is not motivated by financial gain, but that is, clearly, being questioned.

For those unwilling to pay, there will still be one or two free vantage points near Newton's Cove as well a free site with a big video screen and stage on Weymouth Beach.

Sailing competitions will take place on five courses but only at Newton's Cove will spectators be able to watch from land with the naked eye. Tickets, which will go on sale in March, will range from stg£20 for preliminary races to stg£55 for medal races. Discounts will be offered for children and over-60s.

Locog said councillors were invited to a meeting about Nothe Gardens in October. It added that there would be a public consultation later this year prior to submitting a formal planning application for the use of the park for charged viewing. It will be interesting to see how the Council reacts to that application!

One thing the controversy is doing is, at least, is to highlight the sailing events!

• An interesting sidelight about public interest in sailing is that, while sailing has difficulty in getting television coverage, a total of 506,000 people watched USA TV personality, Oprah Winfrey and the star of the film, 'Master and Commander,' Russell Crowe when they presented a sailing programme from Sydney Harbour.

  • This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation

I had to read the figures twice to make sure that I was seeing them correctly. The second reading made me even more angry than the first.

They were, at last, a definitive figure of how much the stupidity of Irish politicians and the ignorance and disregard of the maritime sphere by the Government have cost this nation – over a billion Euros in one year.

There is no way the Government can weasel its way out of this revelation, nor any excuse the un-named civil servants responsible can make to avoid the accusation that this is a massive economic waste.

The Marine Institute is the Government's own respected authority on maritime affairs, the voice of the State on marine research and it has valued the total available catch of fish off Ireland last year at €1.18 billion, for a total of 994,155 tonnes.

That is an enormous figure, indicating huge potential wealth for this cash-strapped nation in the middle of an economic disaster. But of this total value of seafood, Ireland was only entitled to catch €0.19 billion. Foreign fishing fleets had exclusive rights to take the rest of the fish from Irish waters.

No wonder I had to read the figures a second time to make sure I was seeing them correctly at a time when the value of our food exports has been shown to be one of the top earners for the nation. How much more could have been earned if Irish fishermen could catch all that fish and have it processed in Ireland, creating onshore jobs in ancillary businesses as well as at sea?

The total value for 2010 could be even higher than €1.18 billion because the Institute prepared its figures in advance of the annual fisheries negotiations in Brussels in December. Ireland as a nation and the country's fishing industry in particular are likely to have lost out even more heavily to other EU countries.

Effectively, Ireland handed over around €1billion of its natural economic resources to other EU countries. Mark McCarthy, Editor of The Marine Times, the national fishing industry paper, described the figures as "truly frightening."

"This is a nation with some of the richest fishing grounds in the world where the coastal communities are being financially starved and frustrated through their inability to catch their own fish, because they are not allowed to do so."

It is hardly any wonder that Irish fishermen, forced to tie up their boats at the quaysides of Irish fishing ports and watch as foreign vessels unload into those ports, are bitter and frustrated.

Ebbie Sheehan of Castletownbere, Chairman of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation, asks why fishermen are "so badly treated when we look at the economic situation today?"

The Marine Institute, our national maritime scientific and research organisation, says that its estimate of the value of fishing opportunities in Irish waters is "conservative" and that, in order to prepare the figures in early December, it based them on 2009 values

That would make the total value even higher and the Institute pointed out that of the total catch of 994,155 tonnes, Ireland's fishermen were entitled to take only 18 per cent of the catch. This was only 16 per cent of the total value.

"These figures exclude valuable inshore fisheries, such as lobster and whelk which are not currently managed by total allowable catches within the Common Fisheries Policy," the Institute pointed out.

As Mark McCarthy described it, when one considers the importance of using our natural resources for the benefit of Irish people and the failure of our political leaders to see and understand this, what has been revealed is "truly frightening".

  • This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation

Ireland has the largest maritime area-to-land mass in the European Union, but derives only 1% of GDP from the maritime sector. At a time when the economy needs every benefit it can get this figure is startling, particularly when compared to countries with other extensive coastlines, such as Norway where the figure is 20%, Denmark where it is 11% and even the UK which has increased its figure to 5%.

Despite being an island nation with a strong dependency on the sea, the Irish maritime economy is still in its infancy, both in terms of investment and of recognition.

Once again the importance of the sea was shown in the pre-Christmas weather problems. When air transport again failed the public, the ferries continued to operate. When road transport needed salt for gritting to keep roads open, it was ships which brought the salt to Ireland.

How many times do I have to challenge the ignorance and stupidity of the State, of Government, towards the sea? How many times do I have to remind the public of how dependent we are on the sea as an island nation?

Though still considered a low priority by Government, the maritime sector is worth €3 billion to the nation and supports 440,000 direct and indirect jobs. According to the Marine Institute in the "SeaChange Programme," this could be increased by at least 50%.

In Cork the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre which is part of UCC's Environmental Research Institute and has been working out of the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island has changed its name and is planning to move to a new maritime research facility. It has become the "Coastal and Marine Research Centre".

For over ten years the CMRC has been promoting the use of integrated coastal zone management as a means of achieving sustainable development in the use of coastal and marine resources, including marine ecology, seabed mapping, coastal processes, remote sensing, geology and geomatics.

A new maritime research facility is planned at Ringaskiddy, adjacent to the National Maritime College, part of the announced intention to establish a Maritime and Energy Research Campus and Commercial Cluster. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Bord Gais and the UCC Glucksman Foundation contributed funding, together with €7.5m. from the Higher Education Authority. As part of the National Ocean Energy Strategy, it will "bring together on one site the people, their ideas and the infrastructure to support the development of ocean energy," according to MERC Chairman, Peter Coyle. "Our aim is to produce innovative technical solutions to support the development of the Irish maritime sector."

This will include ocean energy opportunities, such as wave power where Irish companies have been leading the way. Shipping, logistics and maritime transport, marine recreation, maritime security research and maritime space applications are amongst other aspects of research work to be undertaken in Ringaskiddy.

Valerie Cummins, who led the Coastal Marine Resources Centre over past years has been appointed Director of MERC and is being replaced as Director at the newly re-named Coastal and Marine Research Centre by Jeremy Gault.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
The annual 'Follow The Fleet' Schools Eassy Competition is open to all schools that are registered to take part in the Follow the Fleet project. The 2010/2011 competition is running an essay competition centred around three key themes: Maritime History, Maritime Trading In Ireland –Life of a Container and Maritime Technology and the Master Mariner.

Schools can register details by logging on the webite where a username and password will be provided. All details with essay guidelines, entry forms and competition details and rules are available on www.imdo.ie/followthefleet/news.asp

Published in Ports & Shipping

City Quay in the centre of Dublin can be a cold place when the wind whips upriver from the open sea.

There was a 'bite' in the wind as I stood there in late November last year, recording the sounds of remembrance. Men, women and children stood in front of a monument where, on most days, traffic pours past and the great majority of people in those vehicles may not realise they are passing a hallowed spot which remembers men without whom this nation would have ground to a halt. This nation may be in a state of "economic war" at present, it was in a real state of war when those men died.

Every year, on the second last Sunday of November, this gathering takes place, when the men of the Irish mercantile marine who lost their lives at sea during the Second World War are remembered. Mass is celebrated in the City Quay Parish Church. Then there is a short walk to the Seamen's Memorial where wreaths are laid. That is followed by tea, coffee and a chat in the parish hall where it is a time of memories for former seafarers and their families. Friendships are renewed as the "family of the sea" gathers. In the afternoon, there is another Memorial Service St. Patrick's Cathedral.

These are poignant occasions which, in recent years, have been extended to embrace, remember and honour all Irish seafarers who have died at sea. The Maritime Institute of Ireland organises the event. Its Cork Branch also holds a remembrance service in November.

The month of November is an important one in the history of Irish maritime affairs.

It was on November 14, 1984 that the then Irish Government, a Fine Gael/Labour Coalition delivered a shattering blow to the Irish maritime industry. They put the national shipping company, Irish Shipping, into liquidation.

Those who took that decision have since put distance between themselves and the maritime sector. Garrett Fitzgerald was Taoiseach; Alan Dukes was the Minister for Finance in the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government which made that controversial decision, putting the first Irish State company into liquidation. Seafarers who had rallied to the call to help save the nation when the company was set up in World War Two were abandoned to their fate. Politicians did not want to remember that, at a time when neutral Ireland was being denied vital supplies by warring nations, seafarers saved the nation from disaster. The politicians who ruled the nation in 1984 abandoned them.

Shortly after they abandoned Irish Shipping, the Government was quick to rescue Allied Irish Banks and protect shareholders over the consequences of rash investment in insurance. Banks were more important than seafarers. It seems that not a lot has changed today in the attitude the Government takes towards banks, in comparison with the way it treats the people of this island nation.

• The Annual National Commemoration Services for Irish Seafarers will be held at 11.30 am this Sunday, November 21, in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, City Quay, Dublin. Wreaths will be laid afterwards at the Irish Seaman's National Memorial on City Quay. There will also be a memorial ceremony of Evensong at 3.15 pm in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

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Published in Island Nation
12th November 2010

An Irish Maritime Foundation

I wonder whether there might be interest in forming an Irish Maritime Foundation?

I raise the question having discussed the possibility with those who run the UK Maritime Foundation and whose views about the sea about the sea impressed me when I met them in London. The Foundation traces its history back to 1981 when shipowners, senior retired naval officers and people involved in the financial industry reacted to changes in British Government policy that were regarded as failing to protect the importance of the UK maritime industry. It is a registered charity with the purpose of promoting and raising interest in the maritime sector amongst the public, the media and Parliament. To do so it is involved in assisting development of maritime education, training and research.

The British are a magnanimous people in my view. It was an honour to accept the Desmond Wettern Award from the Foundation. Desmond Wettern was a distinguished UK maritime journalist for over 30 years and the awards were established in his name. This year the Society for Nautical Research joined the awards project.

In responding I used one of my favourite descriptions - "the Family of the Sea," which I have used on radio. It drew a lot of interest from those present. I believe there is a "family of the sea" which spans oceans and seas, linking those who appreciate the sea as essential to human survival.

"Everyone who has an interest in the sea would recognise that there are and will continue to be, increasing pressures on its use and on the exploitation of its finite resources, but also a number of opportunities," according to Rear Admiral Christopher Perry, Chairman of the UK Marine Management Organisation. Those views and others I discussed with some of those amongst the 200 attending the function, who came from various parts of the world. Professor Richard Harding of the Society for Nautical Research which is marking its centenary, expressed this opinion: "There is a disturbing sense of sea-blindness in the British Government, amongst the general public at large and in the media."

There is certainly sea-blindness in our Government and in much of the media, though I am hopeful that there is growing awareness of the importance of the marine sector amongst the general public. If Ireland had an organisation like the Maritime Foundation, I would be very pleased.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
Page 8 of 9

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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