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Displaying items by tag: Celtic sea

#FISHING - Marine scientists working in the Celtic Sea have discovered a natural refuge for the critically endangered flapper skate.  

Many elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates) are highly vulnerable to over-fishing, but a new paper in the open access journal PLOS ONE shows that small areas of the seabed that experience below-average fishing intensity can sustain greater populations of these species.  

The study reveals that one remarkable area in the northeastern Celtic Sea - where uneven seabed makes trawling difficult - supports at least ten species of elasmobranch, including the rare blue skate (Dipturus flossada) and related flapper skate (Dipturus intermedia).

Dipturus was previously considered to represent a single species (D. batis), but made the news in 2009 when a case of misidentification was revealed.

Both species are now listed as critically endangered but populations of the flapper skate, which can grow up to 2.5 metres in length, are considered to be under greatest threat from extinction.

European Union regulations mandate that fishermen throw back any flapper skate but its slow growth and reproduction mean that even very low levels of fishing mortality are now unsustainable for this species.  

Scientists from Queen’s University Belfast, Bangor University and the Marine Institute carried out the study. Lead researcher Dr Samuel Shephard suggests that “the discovery of a Celtic Sea stronghold for flapper skate provides a remarkable opportunity to help save a species on the verge of extinction”.

Professor Michel Kaiser, chair in marine conservation at Bangor University, added: “Some have previously argued that areas of little interest to the fishing industry are not worthy of conservation, however this study clearly overturns that perception and highlights just how important some of these areas are."
 
Importantly, the fishing industry has reacted positively to the ‘win-win’ situation that an area of little commercial interest has potential as an important marine reserve.

Professor Dave Reid of the Marine Institute presented the information to industry leaders, and this has led to the inclusion of the area in proposed management plans for elasmobranchs in the Irish and Celtic Seas.

Eibhlín O’Sullivan, CEO of the Irish South & West Fishermen’s Organisation, responded that the Irish fishing industry "has been working with the Marine Institute for the past 18 months on developing a management plan for skates and rays. This new research adds valuable information for the identification of potential seasonally closed areas."

Prof Reid noted that “this is a great model for collaboration on conservation between the fishing industry and scientists”.  

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013).  

Published in Fishing

#COASTAL NOTES - The Barryroe field off the south coast of Cork may deliver even more oil than previously anticipated, according to the latest surveys.

The Irish Times reports that Providence Resources has completed an evaluation of its Celtic Sea prospect which indicates that the Lower Wealden and Purbeckian areas could hold an "encouraging" yield of 778 million barrels.

The oil firm's tectnical director told the paper that the focus would remain on the Middle and Basal Wealden sands following its appraisal wells drilled over the spring and summer.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, seismic data and results from six test wells on the Barryroe site led experts to estimate that the oil field contains as much as 1.6 billion barrels in total - four times as much as previous projections.

The oil flow is expected to be worth billions of euro to the Irish economy over a number of years.

The latest news "further reinforces the prospectivity of the area" according to Davy Stockbrokers, who added that "it also suggests that Barryroe will not be the only development of Purbeckian oil in the Celtic Sea".

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTAL NOTES - Providence Resourses has announced that its Barryroe oil field off the south coast may be as much as four times larger than anticipated, according to The Irish Times.

Afloat.ie previously reported on the Irish mineral exploration group's discovery in April this year, when the company confirmed the presence of light oil with an appraisal well at the site in the north Celic Sea.

Then on 15 March the firm announced that oil had begun to flow successfully from the Barryroe structure at a rate that could be worth billions of euro to the Irish economy.

The latest news suggests it could be worth even more over a longer period of time, as data compiled from six test wells on the site along with seismic data have led experts to estimate the field contains between 1 and 1.6 billion barrels of oil.

“It is clear that Barryroe is a substantial oil accumulation across multiple stacked horizons with much running room for further resource growth," said Providence chief executive Tony O'Reilly Jr.

The company also expects to begin explorations off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin by the end of the year, pending approval of its foreshore permit.

The so-called 'Dalkey Island prospect' has sparked much debate about its potential risks and benefits among the local community.

Published in Coastal Notes

#COASTAL NOTES - Providence Resources has struck big off the south coast of Cork with an oil flow that could be worth billions of euro to the beleaguered Irish economy.

According to the Guardian, the Dublin-based company announced yesterday that oil had started to flow successfully from its Barryroe structure in the north Celtic Sea at nearly twice the rate previously projected.

Providence Resources CEO Tony O'Reilly Jr said the discovery was a "seminal day for Ireland, especially in the runup to St Patrick's Day."

Last month the firm had confirmed the presence of light oil with its first appraisal well at the site, a situation described by its technical director as "extremely encouraging".

Now that a steady flow has been achieved, future extraction from the oil field - comparable to a medium-to-large North Sea field - can surely proceed, which now puts pressure on the Government to grand permission for further exploration around the Irish coast.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans by Providence Rescources to prospect for oil on the east coast off Dalkey Island have been met with fierce opposition by mainland residents and environmental groups.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#FISHING - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney briefed the Irish Skipper Expo in Galway last weekend on a new initiative promoting the use of selective conservation fishing nets, which allow young fish to escape.

Under the initiative in the Celtic Sea, additional quotas of up to 25% will be made available by the minister to skippers of Irish fishing boats which use an escape panel in their nets, allowing young whiting and haddock to escape.

The escape panel, developed by the Irish industry, has been endorsed at EU level and is expected to be a mandatory requirement later in the year.

Minister Coveney said on Saturday: “The use of this panel will significantly reduce discards of juvenile whiting and haddock in the Celtic Sea, allowing juvenile fish to grow and mature and contribute to increased stock size and returns for fishermen in future years.

"I believe that this offers an example of a practical approach to dealing effectively with the discards problem and retention of a flexible quota allocation system that we should take forward in the context of the Common Fisheries Policy Review."

In other news, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) announced €1.5 million in grant aid for the Irish fishing industry at the expo.

A spokesperson for BIM confirmed to the Galway Independent that the funding will be available to industry through a variety of schemes including fleet safety, seafood environmental management, lobster V-notching and coastal action groups.

Over 100 companies displayed their products and services to fishermen at the Irish Skipper Expo International 2012, held at the Galway Bay Hotel on 24-25 February.

Published in Fishing

#COASTAL NOTES - Providence Resources has found light out with its first appraisal well off the south coast of Ireland, Offshore reports.

The company's semi-submersible GSF Arctic III drilled a well in 100m water to a depth of more than 2km on its Barryroe structure in the north Celtic Sea.

Indications of hydrocarbons were noted during the drilling, and further tests have confirmed the presence of 12.5m of 'net pay' (the thickness of rock that can deliver oil at a profitable rate) with as much as 87% hydrocarbon saturation.

The next stage will be a well flow test programme to determine whether future oil extraction can proceed.

“The confirmation of high quality light oil within a porous and potentially laterally extensive sandstone system is extremely encouraging," said technical director John O'Sullivan.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans by Providence Rescources to prospect for oil pn the east coast off Dalkey Island have been met with fierce opposition by mainland residents and environmental groups.

Offshore has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#NEWS UPDATE - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises on a pipeline survey in the Celtic Sea next month.

PSE Kinsale Energy Limited will be commencing the survey of the 24" Gas Export Pipeline on 6 March 2012 using the Marine Institute vessel RV Celtic Voyager (call sign EIQN). The survey is expected to last 1 to 2 days, depending on weather conditions.

The survey will take place along the existing pipeline route in the Celtic Sea, between the shoreline at Inch Beach in Co Cork and gas platform 'Alpha'.

The RV Celtic Voyager will display appropriate lights and signals, and will be towing side scan sonar with cables of up to 200m long. A Radio Navigation Warning will be issued via the Irish Coast Guard (schedule Bravo, four times a day) prior to the vessel's arrival at the survey area. The vessel will also keep a listening watch on VHF Channel 16.

All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the RV Celtic Voyager and her towed equipment a wide berth and keep a sharp lookout in the relevant areas.

Further details for seafarers, including relevant co-ordinates, are included in Marine Notice No 7 of 2012, a PDF of which is available to read and download HERE.

Published in News Update

#FERRY NEWS - The operators of the Celtic Sea ferry route between Cork-Swansea need to secure over €1m in investment today in order to save the company after being thrown a €300,000 funding lifeline by Cork's local authorities.

Cork City Council agreed last night to invest €100,000 in the Fastnet Line, bringing its total investment in the company to €365,000.

It followed a 90-minute behind closed doors presentation by Fastnet Line's acting chief executive officer, Pádraic O'Kane. He is due to meet Enterprise Ireland this morning to discuss further investment. He declined to discuss the amount involved, but it is understood to be in the region of €400,000.

Finance Wales will await the outcome of those talks before it agrees to pump up to €800,000 in to the firm. For more about this story in today's Examiner click HERE

Published in Ferry

#FISHING - The Minister for the Marine has spoken out over plans by the European Commission to make cuts in certain fish stocks that could see €65 million in lost earnings for Ireland's fishing fleet.

According to The Irish Times, Minister Simon Coveney said there was "very credible data prepared by the Marine Institute to back up" the case against proposals by EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki to cut certain stocks by as much as 25%.

He told the paper he would "challenge anyone to say we are not sticking with scientific advice", and also suggested that the fishing industry is being more responsible in its own proposals.

"The European Commission is recommending a 60 per cent increase in the total allowable catch for Celtic Sea herring, whereas the industry is seeking 30 per cent as a more responsible approach,” said Minister Coveney.

“So this shows it is not true to say that fishermen are irresponsible, as some would suggest."

EU fish talks continue today in Brussels. The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
#FERRY – Following yesterdays High Court appointment of an interim examiner to the Fastnet Line Group, the ferry operator has issued two statements (click here) and an apology to passengers with the immediate closure of sailings, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As part of the examinership process, a re-structured business plan has been implemented with the Cork-Swansea service set to resume in the shoulder months starting on Easter's Good Friday, 6th April 2012 and throughout the high-season months, and ending the season on 29th September.

The discontinued winter sailing schedule for this year is also expected not to be repeated during October 2012-March 2013. Fastnet Line's decision to make the Celtic Sea route into a shoulder season and summer only service follows a similar path taken by Stena Line which withdrew Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead (HSS) sailings in mid-September, for report click here. The central corridor route is due to reopen sometime in April or May 2012.

Cork City and County council and Kerry County council have provided €700,000 to support Fastnet Line and yesterday they announced an additional €150,000 in co-funding for the period of the examinership. In order to stabilise finances the ferry company are to radically reduce passenger capacity of the Julia (see photo) from 1,500 down to 950. This is in line with the capacities of the Julia serving 'night' sailings.

She has a crew predominately from Eastern Europe and Irish and UK deck officers. The Bermuda flagged, Hamilton registered vessel is currently berthed at Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal, Cork Harbour. At 154m she is the largest ferry to date capable of berthing in the limited confines of the swing basin in Swansea and with a draft of 5.8m in a port which is subject to a large tidal range on the Bristol Channel.

Operating costs on the 10 hour service has been severely hampered by continuing increases to world oil prices. From the year 2010 to this year, fuel costs rose by 27% and almost 50% from the original budget of 2009. The company claims that each crossing amounts to €18,560 alone in fuel costs.

Fastnet Line to date has carried 150,000 customers, of which 75% have originated from the UK market, generating on average €350 per person (€40m approx) exclusive of fare and on-board spend. This crucial market is core to the success of the company's direct 'gateway' route to scenic south-west Ireland, with Swansea connected to the M4 motorway linking midland population centres and London. The operator claims a saving of 600km driving based on a round trip compared to using rival ferries running on routes to Rosslare from Pembroke Dock and Fishguard.

Since the reinstatement of the service in March 2010, after Swansea Cork Ferries pulled the Superferry (photo) off-service in 2006, the loss to tourism generated revenue on both sides of the Celtic Sea was estimated to be £25m per annum according to the Welsh Assembly and a similar figure recorded in the Cork and Kerry region.

The company also outlines the reduction in carbon emissions saved from operating the only direct service specifically connecting the regions of Glamorgan and Munster. Some 500,000 freight miles alone were saved in the Welsh region since the service started instead of using alternative route running from Pembrokeshire ports.

Published in Ferry
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Dublin Port Information

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructure such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

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