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Displaying items by tag: conservation

#Angling - The 2015 Salmon Conservation Fund (SCF) and Midland Fisheries Fund (MFF) are now open for applications, Minister Joe McHugh has announced yesterday (Wednesday 15 April).

In total, €240,000 is available to conserve and develop the inland fisheries resource from funds generated through the sale of salmon licences and Midland Fisheries Area permits.

The schemes administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IF) will facilitate clubs, fishery owners, commercial salmon fishers and other organisations to undertake works to improve habitat, stocks, access, invasive species management and angling, under the supervision and direction of IFI.

The works undertaken are important in maintaining and improving capacity within the inland fisheries resource, which is estimated to contribute €755 million annually to the Irish economy.

Announcing the schemes, Minister McHugh said: “I am pleased to be able to support IFI in making these funds available to fisheries interests to allow for ground-up, managed sustainable development of the inland fisheries resources.

"Some wonderful projects have been supported since these funds have been established and I encourage all those interested in fisheries to investigate the possibilities under the various schemes to conserve, develop and promote their local fisheries.” 

The Salmon Conservation Scheme has been in existence for eight years and has allocated funding to 184 salmon projects all around Ireland. €200,000 is available for distribution under this scheme in 2015.

The Midland Fisheries Fund, which is now beginning its third year, has seen 17 projects undertaken in the midlands area developing angling resources, supporting scientific research and conserving fisheries habitat. A further €40,000 is available under this scheme for 2015.

Full details and application forms are available on the Midland Fisheries Fund HERE.

Published in Angling

#hyc – Howth Yacht Club's Pat Murphy presents the life of Asgard, this famous yacht in Irish history from her launch in 1905 to her current conservation in Collins Barracks Museum and the 100th commemoration in 2014. The venue for the special talk is Howth Yacht Club this Wednesday, 18th February at 20:00. The lecture is open to all inlcuding non–yacht club members.  

'Asgard's' 23 day voyage to collect the guns and ammunition for the Irish Volunteers and their landing in Howth in July 1914 is described in detail with unique photographs. Also covered will be the landing of Conor O'Brien's 'Kelpie' in Kilcoole.

Donations, no matter how small, will be welcomed on the night for the Howth 17s Heritage Fund.

Published in Howth YC

#Lobster - Ireland's Marine Minister "is displaying no scientific understanding, and leaving older lobsters in the sea to die" in his new measures to protect lobster stocks, according to an inshore fisheries leader.

As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, Minister Simon Coveney signed into law new conservation measures that introduce a new maximum landing size of 127mm, in order to preserve larger lobsters and enhance the reproductive potential of the stock.

The move follows the introduction earlier this year of an enhanced 'V-notching' programme to mark lobsters that should not be re-caught. And the minister has allowed for a two-year transition for lobstermen to avail of financial assistance to V-notch oversize lobsters and return them alive.

But Eamon Dixon, chair of the North-West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum, told The Irish Times that fishermen would be put out of business by the "crazy" new landing size limit, well above the 89mm previously proposed.

Dixon added that the changes "will do nothing to protect the stock, and will only anger fishermen who had asked [the minister] to defer any change until the new regional inshore fisheries forums were up in action."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#lobster – The Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., has signed into law, conservation measures as part of an integrated package to protect the long-term sustainability of lobster and shrimp stocks.

Lobster & Shrimp stocks are vital stocks for the important inshore fisheries sector and these stocks have been under increased fishing pressure requiring a number of conservation measures to ensure their sustainability.

In May, the Minister announced that the rate of financial assistance provided to fishermen for v-notching lobsters was increased to 75% of the market value. Figures from BIM, which administers the lobster v-notching programme, indicate that the number of lobsters v-notched in 2014 was more than double the numbers of recent years, with some €250,000 of funding supporting the return of more than 30,000 berried female lobsters to the sea this year.

As part of the Minister Coveney's announcement in May he also published the results of an extensive consultation process on lobster and shrimp management and announced that he had approved plans to revise conservation measures for these stocks. Following the success of the enhanced v notching programme for Lobsters and the completion of the consultation exercise the Minister is now enhancing the conservation measures further as part of an integrated approach. Under the new protection measures for lobster, a maximum landing size of 127mm is being introduced to support the reproductive potential of the stock. The retention of very large Lobsters in the Lobster stock are known scientifically to greatly enhance the reproductive potential of the stock and help to ensure its future sustainability.

Minister Coveney said, "I am greatly encouraged by the upsurge in v-notching conservation activity since my announcement in May. Lobsters are one of the most important species to the inshore sector and we need to work to ensure the long-term future of this valuable stock."

To ease the introduction of the new measure, during the first two years of this new measure's operation fishermen can avail of financial assistance for v-notching 'oversize' lobsters and returning them alive to the sea as a conservation measure. In the case of the shrimp fishery the new measures will see an earlier closing date of 15 March, instead of 1 May, commencing in 2015. This will improve stock protection during the critical shrimp spawning period.

Published in Fishing

#Turlough - TheJournal.ie reports that waste water from a whole town in Co Galway is being piped into a Special Area of Conservation.

According to an investigation by Ireland's national trust An Taisce, sewage from the town of Glenamaddy, home to some 700 residents in the north-east of the county, is being discharged in a local turlough - a lake that appears and disappears as the water table rises and falls - from which is has contaminated a nearby spring.

An Taisce described the town's present sewage unit as "primitive" and said: "It has been a subject of internal discussions within various public authorities for the best part of at least 20 years, yet the hazard continues to this day.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#MaritimeBorder - Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has signed a new agreement that establishes a fixed maritime boundary between the UK and Ireland's offshore areas, as The Irish Times reports.

Gilmore put pen to paper on the deal with British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that finalises a single boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and continental shelves of both countries.

The agreement is expected to ease development of offshore energy projects, as well as improve fisheries protection and marine conservation in the EEZ, which lies above the continental shelf between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the coast.

However, despite the new deal, Ireland and Britain's differing claims over Rockall in the North Atlantic remain.

The small rocky islet, 228 nautical miles northwest of Donegal, is also claimed by Denmark and Iceland.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - UK environmentalists have expressed their disappointment at the British government's slow progress on developing its promised network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The consultation period was for the proposals was set to end on Sunday 31 March - amid fears among conservation groups that were realised some months ago with the news that just 31 out of a potential 127 sites would be designated as protected for marine wildlife and plantlife by the end of this year.

It's being reported that Environment Minister Richard Beynon is blaming budget cuts and the high cost of scientific assessment for the slowdown in progress on the government's side.

"I want to do as many zones as we can for as little as we can," he told the BBC. "People have waited many years for this; we will designate the first tranche in September and will announce the next lot for consultation then."

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said in December that it was "encouraged" by the British government's "sensible" phased approach to the MCZ plans.

However, conservationists like Jolyon Chesworth from the Wildlife Trusts argue that their interests are being asked "to compromise on a compromise".

Chesworth added that the original 127 zones "were only nominated after very long discussions with anglers, sailors and the fishing industry".

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RYA - The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has said it is "encouraged" by the British government's approach to designating Marine Conservations Zones (MCZs) around the coastlines of England and Wales - the details of which have disappointed environmental groups.

RYA planning and environment advisor Caroline Price commented: “The phased approach that government is proposing appears on the face of it to be very sensible.  
 
“The RYA has been resolute in insisting that an MCZ should be no larger than required to protect the habitats and wildlife features which it is intended to protect and that the scientific basis for designating a particular feature for protection should be sound.  

“We are pleased therefore to see that ministers have recognised that they need to have a strong evidence base when looking to designate sites, from both an ecological and socio-economic perspective.

“We are particularly encouraged that the approach to highly protected sites is being reviewed as the proposals for Reference Areas are of great concern to us.” 

Of the 31 sites proposed in the consultation for designation by the end of 2013, the RYA has objections to only one of the sites - the Aln Estuary, which contains "a small charted anchorage in the one location in which a vessel can stay afloat at all states of the tide in the estuary". 

The response from the RYA comes just days after environmental groups in the UK expressed their dismay over the government's decision to designate just a quarter of the recommended 127 sites.

As the Guardian reports, Westminster was accused of a "lack of ambition" by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the announcement last Thursday 13 December, which it says ignores the government's own advisers who recommend a 'coherent network' that includes immediate designation for 59 sites regarded as 'highly threatened'.

The RYA says it is "broadly supportive of government plans to establish a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas and Marine Conservation Zones.

"However, it has fought throughout the process to date, and will continue to do so, to protect the public right of navigation and to ensure, as far as is possible, that recreational boating interests are not adversely affected by the designation of such MCZs."

It also emphasises that the "omission of the detail of management measures from this [public] consultation means that we still don’t really know what designation will actually mean" to affected local communities.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Fears among conservation groups that the UK would enact just a quarter of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in British waters have been realised with the news that just 31 out of a potential 127 sites will be designated as protected by the end of 2013.

The original proposals, as reported last year on Afloat.ie, cover the waters around the English and Welsh coastlines - of which only 1% is currently protected - recommending a variety of zones that offer different levels of protection for marine wildlife and plantlife, allowing flexibility for fishing and other activities.

A government decision on the conservation areas was already postponed in November last year after pressure from coastlines users.

But as the Guardian reports, Westminster has now been accused of a "lack of ambition" by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the announcement on Thursday 13 December, which the charity says flies in the face of the government's own advisers who have recommended a 'coherent network' of sites around Britain, including the immediate designation for 59 sites regarded as 'highly threatened'.

"We cannot delay protection," said Jean-Luc Solandt of MCS. "We wouldn't stand by and let wildflower meadows and ancient forests be dug up and cleared, and yet heavy fishing gear is dragged across all kinds of habitats, destroying large swaths of the seabed with very little control."

The World Wide Find for Nature (WWF) added to the chorus of disapproval, saying the decision by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) "falls woefully short of what is needed to protect the marine environment".

Ali Champion of WWF UK said: “It’s disappointing and shows a complete lack of commitment to the protection of our seas in a coherent way."

Of the four zones recommended for the Irish Sea area, only one - at Fylde Offshore, off Lancashire - has been chosen by Defra for protection. But as the Blackpool Gazette reports, local campaigners say they will vow to continue the fight to 'save our seas'.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#ANGLING - The Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) annual Sponsorship Scheme for 2013 is now open for applications. 

There are some changes to the scheme for 2013, with biosecurity and catch and release conditions "safeguarding Ireland’s wonderful inland fisheries and sea angling resources". 

Prizes may be sponsored under the scheme, but must be fishing tackle or angling-related in order to support those providing a service to Ireland's estimated 500,000 anglers.

The scheme is open to federations, clubs, individuals, youth groups, commercial salmon sector, etc who in the past have gained sponsorship for competitions, angling lessons, heritage projects and international, national and local events, all of which promote some or all of the following: inland fisheries, recreational angling and conservation.

Minister Fergus O'Dowd welcomed the scheme, saying: “Angling, and Ireland’s wonderful fisheries are there for all to enjoy. IFI, by supporting such activity is empowering individuals and organisations to boost their local economies, teach all ages and abilities to fish, have a hobby for life, and helping protect and sustain our fisheries resource into the future.”

Full details of the scheme are available on the IFI website and the closing date for receipt of applications is 15 January 2013.

Meanwhile, Minister O'Dowd has also announced the opening of the 2012-13 Salmon Conservation Fund Contributors Scheme, which has an initial allocation of €200,000 available for projects which help in the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon. 

Applications are invited from clubs, fishery owners, individuals and commercial salmon fishermen who have contributed to the fund by 15 March 2013.

According to IFI, the scheme - which was run on a pilot basis for the previous two years - has been a success to date, with projects from all over Ireland awarded funding. 

Applicants work with IFI to agree projects and many have been successful in securing additional LEADER funding.

The minister commented: “I never cease to be impressed by the work enthusiastic, passionate anglers and individuals can get done, ensuring that our natural resource is conserved and protected for future generations. 

"The long term effect will ensure biodiversity and improved stocks of salmon from which Ireland can derive economic benefit through recreational angling, and commercial exploitation in years to come.”

Details of the scheme can be downloaded from the IFI website HERE.

Published in Angling
Page 3 of 6

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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