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Dublin may have the highest number of cases of Covid-19 infection, but it is least exposed of all Irish counties to the economic impacts, a new report says.

The Atlantic seaboard reliance on tourism and recreation, including the marine sector, and service industries is making it more vulnerable, with Kerry has been identified as the hardest hit, the report by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly says.

It identifies Galway as the city most likely to be severely affected, followed by Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Dublin in that order.

The report bases its information on numbers of commercial units operating in sectors which are likely to be worst affected, including mining and quarrying, construction, non-essential retail and wholesale services, food and accommodation, arts, recreation and entertainment, hairdressing, beauty and fitness.

It notes these are sectors which rely on human interaction and have been forced to close or downsize dramatically, due to social distancing measures. The nature of their business largely prevents them from operating remotely.

The report calculates that Kerry has 53.8 per cent of its commercial units operating in the sectors, and is likely to be hardest hit as a county.

It is followed by Westmeath at 51 per cent, Donegal at 50.6 per cent, Cavan at 50.5 per cent and Clare at 50.4 per cent, the report estimates.

The report says that exposure is “generally lower in more urban-based counties” as “such counties rely more on economic activities that are capable of operating remotely” – as in activities such as finance, ICT and professional and technical services.

It says the county with the lowest “Covid-19 exposure ratio” is Dublin, with 39.4 per cent of its commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected.

It calculates Cork is also cushioned, with 44.4 per cent of its commercial units in worst affected sectors, while Carlow is at 44.7 per cent, Waterford is at 45.8 per cent and Wicklow is at 46 per cent.

It says that in “absolute terms”, Dublin has the highest number of commercial units operating in the most exposed sectors at 14,360 units, followed by Cork at 8,144 units, Galway at 4,253 units, Kerry at 3,263 units and Donegal at three.

It says that Galway city and suburbs have 46.1 per cent of commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected, “in line with the corresponding ratio for the State as a whole”

The report for three regional assemblies by economist John Daly was prepared to identify which geographical areas in Ireland are more likely to be exposed to economic disruption caused by the necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It uses information from the GeoDirectory commercial database, as of September 2019.

Analysing the impact on a regional basis, it says the northern and western region has the highest “COVID-19 exposure ratio”, with 48.6 per cent of its commercial units operating in the worst affected sectors.#

The southern region has 47.2 per cent of its commercial units operating in the most affected sectors, while the eastern and midland region has the lowest “COVID-19 exposure ratio” at 43.6 per cent, the report says.

It notes that in absolute terms, the eastern and midland region had the highest number of commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected at 29,637 units, followed closely by the southern region at 27,583 units and the northern and western region at 16,515 units.

Published in Shannon Estuary

The first people arrived on the shores of this island some 10,000 years ago… according to history …. but as the Irish people of today listen to the campaigning of those who want to be elected as our rulers - those political hopefuls do not prioritise the maritime sphere and, in national debates on television, radio and in the print media, they have not referred to it.

What does that indicate?

That the marine does not rank as a priority matter, even though it is a vital channel of transport, food supply, energy, communication and leisure. You'll have to dig deep to find political manifesto commitments to maritime affairs.

Afloat has done that for you in its assessment of how the main parties perceive maritime matters. The conclusion reached is that: “This island nation still doesn't have a marine policy or a dedicated marine department. It’s a ship of state without a captain or a rudder.”

This is despite some commitments, such as ‘harnessing our ocean wealth..” though that seems to have stalled somewhat.

I actually like the fact that politicians and political parties, even Government Ministers and leaders of industry refer these days to “this island nation” a phrase I can claim some justification for promoting during my years of broadcasting, but I'm getting very fed up with politicians, government and all political parties in this General Election for their attitude towards the marine sphere.

boats tide outIs it because of lacking an outspoken approach that the maritime sphere is neglected?

The third biggest country in Europe, by virtue of our seabed territory of 220 million acres, as I’ve often heard quoted, but as fishermen will tell you, most of that was given away by the Government. That was put well this week by John Nolan, 37 years in the fishing industry and Managing Director of Castletowbere Fishermen’s Co-op, when he said Ireland was wronged, robbed of this huge economic resource and he blames politicians and the Civil Service administration.

The Irish Islands Council – Comhdhail Oilean na hEireann and fishing organisations – have called on election candidates to publicly pledge commitment to the offshore islands and to the fishing industry… but I haven’t heard a single other maritime organisation make any calls, nor speak out as strongly as John Nolan has done…. Is it any wonder then that successive governments got away with removing a dedicated marine department in an island nation and dividing the marine sphere into the responsibilities of six Departments… That was a divide and conquer policy motivated by civil service advice, I was told. It certainly removed a maritime focus at the Cabinet table.

But while politicians can generally be berated for their lack of maritime interest – the maritime sphere – all of it – perhaps needs to look at itself – and to speak out the maritime sector more loudly….

More on the podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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A marine garden containing almost 30,000 cubic litres of Atlantic seawater and brimming with sea life from different types of seaweeds to fish species native to Irish waters has been named the overall winner in the concept garden category at Bloom 2019 today. As previously reported by Afloat, the Bord Iascaigh Mhara sponsored garden, Aquamarine, supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, was designed by wife and husband team Liat and Oliver Shurmann and highlights the need to protect Ireland’s marine environment against plastic waste.

BIM MARINE GARDEN WINS GOLD AT BLOOMGold Bloom winners - l-r, Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord Bia; Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM; Liat Shurmann; Oliver Shurmann and Gary Graham, Manager Bloom, Bord Bia Photo: Julien Behal

Jim O’Toole, CEO BIM said: “ Marine, human and all other life is contingent upon a marine environment that’s clean and free from pollution and plastics. Every item of plastic that surrounds the garden at Bloom is a real example of marine litter that has been collected by fishermen and members of the wider fishing and seafood industry in Ireland. Sustainability is central to BIM’s strategy and it’s the driving force for men and women working in the seafood industry in Ireland.”

The fish species and water will be returned to the sea when Bloom ends on Monday and all of the materials used in the garden have been either salvaged or recycled and will be reused.

Oliver Shurmann spoke about the design of the marine garden and said: “It’s designed to look like a scientific cross-section of a landscape with layers of plastics visible underneath it. That’s what we [Liat and I] wanted to achieve. We wanted to create an atmosphere and to combine something beautiful with something that was repulsive. This will shock people. Children will see this and wonder, ‘what are we doing?’”

The garden has been designed to highlight the problem of plastics in our oceans as part of the Clean Oceans Initiative that was launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food the Marine, Michael Creed earlier this year.

Catherine Morrison, Sustainability and Certification Manager at BIM, spoke of how the marine garden aims to raise awareness of the impact plastic is having on the marine environment and how fishermen and fish farmers in Ireland are working together to address the problem. She said:

“ It’s hard to quantify how much plastic is in our oceans but the average adult in Ireland uses roughly 60kg of plastic every year, one of the highest rates of any country in the European Union. Not all of the plastic ends up in the oceans, but the plastic that does causes a problem.” 

Aquamarine is open to visitors each day of Bloom from Thursday 30th May until Monday 3rd June.

Published in Fishing
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#Maritime - ‘Safe and sustainable’ marine transport and ‘delivery of emergency management services’ have been made a high level goal in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, published this week.

Identifying Ireland’s maritime sector as “a critical gateway” for trade and tourism, the statement calls for “an efficient and effective competitive ports sector [that] can foster job creation” via trade, infrastructure developments and “opportunities in other areas such as offshore energy, cruise and marine leisure and recreation.”

Reduced ship emissions and safety at sea are also priorities within the Maritime Safety Strategy, which “includes a range of actions to be implemented or begun by 2019” such as flag state and port state regimes, and the IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

Key services in this strategy include the delivery of a 24/7 marine emergency response and management service by co-ordinating the response to SAR incidents and pollution threats at sea.

Progress on these goals will be monitored by various indicators, such as the transfer of regional ports to local authority control by the end of 2018, the imposition of a new ‘ports performance’ measurement system by the end of 2017, the development of a web portal for SeaSafe Ireland by the middle of next year, as well as a minimum 90% availability of Irish Coast Guard units ahead of “full interoperability” of marine rescue co-ordination by next winter.

The full Statement of Strategy 2016-2019 can be downloaded HERE.

Published in News Update
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A new Tohatsu outboard engine (2.5HP 4-stroke Short Shaft (15") at €726, Mirror dinghy spars for a fiver, a maritime painting of the ARC fleet at €200 by artist Pete Hogan are just a few of the offers currently on Afloat's Marine market.

You can also find a range of charts and cruising guides from Todd Navigation in Belfast, bilge pumps and anchors from O'Sullivan's Marine in County Kerry plus Rick Tomlinson's sailing calendars and a lot more besides. Seller Gary Elisson wants a project boat to do up as a live aboard. 'It must be cheap', he says. Waterford seller Niall Power has a carbon fibre spinnaker pole (3.5 Mtr long) for sale at €700.

Recent section updates now include space for boatyard services such as engine repairs, marina berths, boat hire, sailing school courses, crew and much more. 

Check out the latest items here and list your own items, services and events in Ireland's dedicated maritime marketplace. 

The idea behind the platform is to give focus to the Irish marine market through a definitive portal.

marine marketplaceSome of the latest items on Ireland's marine marketplace. Click for more.

 

Published in Marketplace
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#oceanwealth – Addressing the second 'Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth' Conference today, in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlined new economic research that indicates the Government's blueprint for the marine which could deliver more than 29,000 additional jobs and an additional €2.7bn in economic growth by 2020. Downloasd speech below.

Minister Coveney said that "Ireland is now firmly on what I believe is an unstoppable journey of marine expansion. We are experiencing a significant period of 'blue growth' with a 9% increase in growth in Ireland's marine sector over the last five years and the ocean economy now valued at 1.3% of GDP. Today we are building on this progress with the publication of a development framework for the marine sector, coupled with the clear commitment from Government to introduce a marine spatial planning process for the country, which will underpin the achievement of these economic targets as the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth strategy is implemented."

Ireland's Ocean Economy report and associated research on the downstream impacts of the marine, produced by the Socio Economic Marine Research Unit at the National University of Ireland states that if HOOW targets are met, 29,300 new jobs could be created by 2020, with 16,100 projected to come directly from the marine sector. An additional growth of €2.7bn in the wider economy is also expected.

The report also confirms the current value of the blue economy. In addition to the 18,400 individuals currently directly employed in our marine industries, a further 13,000 are employed indirectly across the wider economy, creating an additional €3.3bn in turnover. For every €100 turnover created from our ocean economy, a further €78 is created indirectly in other sectors.

The Minister encouraged members of the public to attend the Seafest 2015 open day on Saturday in Ringaskiddy "Members of the public will be able to access a state of the art stimulator that is used to train ships' captains and visit seafood cookery demonstrations. They will also be able to experience what it's like to be exposed to hurricane force winds through the BIM Beaufort Scale Hurricane Experience. There will be an extensive seafood fair and cookery demonstrations and multiple other activities on and off the water. This event is free of charge for every age group with lots of family activities planned."

The Conference included contributions from Minister Coveney, Alex White, T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Sean Sherlock, T.D., Minister for Research & Innovation; and Mr Paudie Coffey T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Environment. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries European Commission and Rt. Hon. Darin King, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture in the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador also spoke at the Conference.

This second annual Conference which reviewed ongoing progress on implementation of the Government's Integrated Marine Plan (published in 2012) was attended by over 500 delegates from the public and private sector with an involvement in the marine sector.

In concluding his address, Minister Coveney said "I believe that the outlook for the sector is really exciting and the possibilities are endless. The challenge now is to make the marine sector a leading contributor to the Irish economy and to recognise the potential we have as an island nation to be a major player in the sector internationally."

Published in News Update

#chug – The Coal Harbour Users Group (CHUG) is a group that represents the interests of leisure users of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour & Boatyard, and also the interests of the public that use the resource. Consistent with this, CHUG wish to promote marine related leisure and sport activity for the "ordinary person" in the Dun Laoghaire area and in Dublin Bay. During April 2015, CHUG made a submission to the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group relating to the proposed new ships berth within the harbour. Part of the submission suggested development of a Marine Leisure Centre in the area west of the West Pier, and suggested that some of the spoil that would result from proposed harbour dredging be used to reclaim and extend land there to accommodate the development.

Kevin Woods writes that CHUG members have viewed the DLR Draft County Development Plan 2016-2022. In the context of the plan, CHUG make the following comments and requests:

CHUG request that the area immediately west of the West Pier including the area known as "The Gut" be designated for marine pleasure, leisure, sport and education use. The development would principally include:
A public marine leisure centre operated along the lines of a municipal leisure centre. This is detailed below.
A new public slip suitable for use by small boats at all tides. There are few public slipways in the Dublin area, and of those, some are not usable at low tide. An additional slip would improve public accessibility to the water and to Dublin Bay in general.
Additional space for marine leisure use, including for storage and repair of small boats and equipment. This might be provided by land reclamation in the area shaded and marked (1) on the attached map.
While the above development appears to be in line with existing Draft Development Plan SLO 14 and SLO 95, these might be reviewed and revised as appropriate should this be necessary to carry out the above. This might be assisted by introduction a new SLO relating to the area marked (1) west of the West Pier along the lines of the following:
Objective to promote water related leisure, sport, education, training facilities for public use at the coastal fringe in the area know as The Gut to the west of the West Pier that may include the reclamation of land and also the development of a new breakwater projecting westward from the pier side. This proposal would be subject to a feasibility study, including an assessment of any options, access considerations and impact on adjoining users. The feasibility study would include appropriate environmental assessments including any required under the Habitats Directive in co-operation with the relevant agencies.

A Marine Activity Centre might include:
Club facilities - offices, store rooms.
Shared meeting room, training / education room, changing room / showers / WCs.
Drying room for wetsuits,
Diving equipment store room
Compressor room for filling diving cylinders.
Small boat repair workshop
Shelters for persons, equipment
Hardstanding for secure dinghy & rib parking, canoe / kayak, windsurf and paddle board storage, small craft trailer storage.
Car, coach / minibus parking.

The centre might also cater for:
Fishing, birdwatching, and nature related activity, and might be a base from which the following would be organised:
Training in water safety
Transition year and primary schools activities
Beach and marine nature, ecology, and environmental study activity.
Marine related art
Youth club facilities
A new scout den
A marine interpretive centre / marine history and heritage centre

#powerfromthesea – Ireland's marine renewable energy sector could ultimately be worth as much as €9 billion by 2030, and be supporting thousands of jobs on the island, according to Energy Minister Alex White. Speaking at the Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Industry Day, in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, Minister White also said his department's support for research and development in ocean renewables would increase by almost €17 million between 2013 and 2016, bringing it to over €26 million.

Minister White said Ireland had the potential to become the international focal point of the international marine renewable industry. He was in Ringaskiddy to perform the 'topping out' ceremony at the UCC Beaufort Building, which will be the hub of the Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI)from summer 2015. With up to 135 researchers, the Beaufort laboratory will house the world's largest group of marine renewable energy researchers.

Minister White said: "Ireland has a landmass of around 90,000 square kilometres. Our sea area is ten times that size, and it represents one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world. The development of Ireland's marine renewable energy sector will contribute to the generation of carbon-free renewable electricity. In the process, it will enhance the security of Ireland's energy supply, deliver green growth, and add to the 47,000 jobs already supported by Ireland's energy sector.

"Over time, the introduction of ocean energy into Ireland's renewables portfolio will result in an indigenous ocean sector with significant economic and employment benefits. You and your industry will be central to making these potential benefits a reality. Exchequer support for ocean research, development and demonstration has been increased. Between 2013 and 2016, €16.8 million was added to my Department's multi-annual ocean energy development budget, bringing the total cumulative funding to €26.3 million."

Minister White quoted the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland, whose recently-published Economic Study for Ocean Energy Development in Ireland found that a fully-developed ocean energy sector could be worth as much as €9 billion, and be sustaining many thousands of jobs on this island, by 2030.

Minister Sean Sherlock in 2013, announced €19 million in SFI funding for MaREI, when he was Minister for Research and Innovation. This was matched by €10.5 million in industry funding.

Published in Power From the Sea

#powerfromthesea – Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Alex White T.D. welcomed the announcement that the SFI Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) had successfully raised an additional €4.2 million in funding from EU research funds for marine energy activities.

The announcement of the substantial EU funding was made to an audience of more than 130 industry and university representatives involved in a variety of marine energy research projects, attending the MaREI Industry Open Day at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Cork.

"I want to commend MaREI on their success in securing substantial EU support to fund their very important research and development work. It is truly laying the foundations for both the energy system and economic opportunity of the future."

Speaking at the MaREI Industry Open Day, Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, "MaREI is one of twelve SFI Research Centres of excellence and impact in Ireland. Research undertaken at MaREI is positioning Ireland to play a leading role in marine renewable energy research which is an area of significant national strategic importance. In its first year MaREI has delivered on the targets which we have set. I look forward to a successful year ahead for MaREI, in terms of new industry partnerships, leveraging funding and new discoveries that will deliver solutions that can benefit both Irish society and the economy."

Prof. Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Director of the MaREI Centre said that "Large and small companies alike are engaging with MaREI across a huge variety of business opportunities from marine robotics and new materials to endure ocean conditions, to offshore wind, wave and marine energy and mooring devices as well as aquaculture and grid technology solutions. The additional funding from the EU will serve to further position MaREI at the forefront of marine renewable research and commercialisation of this research globally."

The industry-academia MaREI Centre comprises over 45 industry partners, including global market leaders in energy, marine technology, software and hardware providers. Academic partners include lead partner University College Cork along with Cork Institute of Technology, University of Limerick, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, University College Dublin and the Marine Institute.

"MaREI will directly create companies and jobs and serve as a catalyst for Ireland to establish a safe, sustainable and profitable energy supply for domestic use and for export," said Professor Anita Maguire, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at University College Cork.

Minister Alex White also toured the €15 million UCC Beaufort building, performing the customary "topping out" ceremony, which marks the final phase of building works. Beaufort will house the MaREI centre on its completion in July 2015.

The MaREI Centre initially received government support of €19 million through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and a further €10.5 million investment from industry partners. The Centre supports job creation in the in marine renewables sector, while also making Ireland an international focus for the marine energy industry. Almost 90 jobs in the field of marine energy and maritime projects were recently announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food, Marine and Defence Simon Coveney, T.D. for the Cork Harbour region, and MaREI is heavily involved in supporting these companies and the related jobs.

Published in Power From the Sea

#budget2014 – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD today announced details of his Department's 2015 budget. Emphasising that despite the fragile recovery in the economy, he had secured an increase in funding for the first time since 2009. Included in the funding of the Marine sector is the sum of €11.5 million devoted to the new seafood development programme 2015, while a further €11.5 million of capital funding will be invested in fishery harbour capital works, which not only adds value and improvement to these harbours but also contributes heavily to the local economies of the areas concerned. Some €6.3 million is allocated to investments in aquaculture and fish processing projects, while close to €47million is allocated to fund the marketing and development functions of BIM, the research role of the Marine Institute and the regulatory and control functions of the Seafood Protection Authority.

Published in Budget
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Dun Laoghaire Baths Renovation

Afloat has been reporting on the new plans for the publically owned Dun Laoghaire Baths site located at the back of the East Pier since 2011 when plans for its development first went on display by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. 

Foreshore consent was applied for in 2013.

Last used 30 years ago as the 'Rainbow Rapids' before falling into dereliction – the new site does not include a public pool.

The refurbished Dun Laoghaire Baths include the existing Baths Pavilion for use as artist workspaces, a gallery café and for the provision of public toilet facilities. 

Work finally got underway at Dún Laoghaire on the €9 million redevelopments of the old Dún Laoghaire Baths site in June 2018 under a contract with SIAC-Mantovani.

The works have removed dilapidated structures to the rear of the Pavilion to permit the creation of a new route and landscaping that will connect the walkway at Newtownsmith to both the East Pier and the Peoples Park. 

Original saltwater pools have been filled in and new enhanced facilities for swimming and greater access to the water’s edge by means of a short jetty have also been provided.

The works included the delivery of rock armour to protect the new buildings from storm damage especially during easterly gales. 

It hasn't all been plain sailing during the construction phase with plastic fibres used in construction washing into the sea in November 2018

Work continues on the project in Spring 2020 with the new pier structure clearly visible from the shoreline.

A plinth at the end of the pier will be used to mount a statue of Roger Casement, a former Sandycove resident and Irish nationalist.

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