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A South Antrim MLA says fisheries staff in Northern Ireland have not been given enough time to prepare for the safe return of angling in the region, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Alliance’s John Blair was responding to the decision by DAERA Minister Edwin Poots to allow the gradual reopening of public fisheries to local anglers from tomorrow, Monday 18 May as part of Northern Ireland’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ plan.

The move, which comes two weeks after a limited return to fisheries began in the Republic, has been welcomed by angling representatives in the North.

But Blair says the announcement “came out of the blue” and has left “major questions” to be answered over maintaining the health and safety of both anglers and fisheries staff.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

The Loughs Agency’s elicence website is now back online and anglers can purchase licences for the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

Anglers are individually responsible for compliance with their government’s advice and guidance. Anglers should keep up to date with the latest advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland.

Loughs Agency offices remain closed and the normal licence distributor network is also still under lockdown conditions. Therefore, anyone wishing to purchase a licence should do so through the elicence website.

For anglers requesting carcass tags when they purchase a licence online, these will be posted to your address. Anglers should take this into account when purchasing.

For anglers purchasing a Loughs Agency endorsement licence, please ensure you have already purchased a full season licence or concession licence from DAERA or a full season or district licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Loughs Agency carryout checks with our colleagues in DAERA and IFI to validate licence purchases.

If you require a Loughs Agency permit for Foyle, Finn or Greenbraes, please contact the Loughs Agency on +44 (0) 2871 342100 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

Illegal fishing or pollution concerns can be reported through the Loughs Agency’s Waterwatch reporting tool online or through the 24-hour response line on +44 (0) 2871 342100.

If you require any further assistance, call the Loughs Agency at the above number during normal weekday office hours or email [email protected]

Published in Angling

Anglers in Co Antrim have expressed their anger after more than 1,000 wild brown trout were killed in a pollution incident at the weekend.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, members of the Glenavy Conservation and District Angling Club spotted a number of distressed fish gasping for air in the Glenavy River on Friday (8 May).

An initial count of some 500 dead fish was later doubled to over 1,000, linked to what the angling club suggests was a pollution incident close to the Gobranna Road in Glenavy.

“Hundreds, possibly thousands” of other, smaller fish such as stone loach were also “wiped out” in the fish kill, says club chairman Anthony McCormack.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

In Northern Ireland, the Loughs Agency has been working in partnership with the Woodland Trust, NI Water, angling clubs, landowners and others to plant in excess of 20,000 native trees to help improve fishery habitats.

Native tree planting is a great way of improving land and aquatic habitats as it delivers many benefits, says the agency for the Foyle and Carlingford fishery areas.

Tree root systems stabilise uplands and reduce the risk of landslides into water courses. Rainfall is intercepted by trees which slows river flows and flood damage is reduced. Debris from fallen trees protects against bank erosion and provides cover and food for fish and invertebrates.

Most importantly, riverside planting keeps rivers cool and protects salmon and trout during hot droughts.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive, said: “The threat from climate change to river ecosystems cannot be ignored.

“Trees, shrubs and other vegetation create valuable shade, reducing the temperature of our waterways and deliver a range of other ecological benefits. Loughs Agency are continuing to find innovative ways to mitigate against the effects of climate change to keep our rivers cool for freshwater wildlife.”

In recent years, the Loughs Agency has conducted several large-scale, native tree planting projects. Thousands of saplings have been planted at the Reelan and Cronamuck rivers in the Finn catchment, the Glenedra and Burntollet Rivers in the Faughan catchment and the along the River Roe.

And the Loughs Agency says it is always eager to develop collaborative projects with local partners. If you belong to an organisation which is interested in protecting and improving local aquatic habitats, contact [email protected]

Published in Angling

All DAERA angling waters in Northern Ireland have been closed with immediate effect in efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, as the Newry Times reports.

The confirmation comes from Edwin Poots, Stormont’s Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who said: “The message is clear to our anglers, many of whom are in the older age group, stay safe – stay home.”

While NI Water supports the minister’s stance for angling waters under its purview, the Loughs Agency has not yet moved to close the Foyle and Carlingford areas to local anglers.

But it said anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners in advised to adhere to UK Government and Public Health Agency advice and new regulations under which no one may leave their home without ‘reasonable excuse’, such as shopping for food and medicine, or travel for key work.

Sailing and Cruising NI is RYANI’s newest affiliated body, and over the last two years has established what’s been described as a “one stop shop run by sailors for sailors” in Northern Ireland.

In a new interview with RYANI development officer Mary Martin, founder Chris Cardwell sings the praises of the predominantly online club — an impactful, open platform which “provides immediate access to the largest group of sailors in NI”, currently comprising more than 2,000 menders.

These members come from all the sailing clubs in Northern Ireland, keeping everyone in the loop on upcoming meetings and events, crewing opportunities and buy/sell deals.

But many are based further afield, in Ireland and across the UK. And the group is also open to members with various marine-related interests, from kayakers and cruisers to fishermen and emergency crews.

“We encourage members to post their activities on the group to inspire others,” says Cardwell. “This is particularly true over the winter period when many are out of the water.”

RYANI has more on the story HERE.

Co Down woman Danielle Rooney has started her “dream job” as harbour master at Kilkeel, as The Irish News reports.

The 28-year-old is believed to be the first woman to hold such a role within the Northern Ireland Fisheries Harbour Authority.

She succeeds Michael Young, who has moved down the coast to Carlingford Harbour in Co Louth.

Rooney will be sharing her harbour duties with her existing role as station officer for Kilkeel Coastguard.

Safety is a big priority for me so combining that with my great passion for the water hopefully will bring success for the harbour,” she says.

The Irish News has more on the story HERE.

Tagged under

A sudden and violent rip current may have been the cause of a tragedy at a Northern Ireland beach in which one woman drowned, an expert has said.

Two women, part of a group of experienced cold water sea swimmers, got into difficulty off Ballycastle on the North Coast in Co Antrim yesterday morning (Monday 9 December).

One of the women died in the incident, and was later named as local community midwife Deirdre McShane. The other was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine with suspected hypothermia.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, physiology expert Professor Mike Tipton of the University of Portsmouth suggested that experienced cold water swimmers are unlikely to put themselves in danger — meaning that a sudden rip current could have taken the two victims by surprise.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim

Belfast Coastguard in Northern Ireland is appealing for the owner of a kayak found washed ashore at Millisle in Co Down.

The discovery of the green-and-black inflatable kayak yesterday morning (Monday 25 November) prompted a search operation in the area of the Ards Peninsula south of Donaghadee.

Searches by Bangor Coastguard, the Donaghadee lifeboat and a specialist dog search team were stood down yesterday evening, and now Belfast Coastguard is appealing to return the vessel to its owner.

Published in Kayaking

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 2 of 27

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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