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UK government rules out any new customs infrastructure at ports on either side of the Irish Sea to implement the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol.

In a paper outlining how it will implement the protocol, which was agreed alongside the withdrawal agreement last year, the government also said there would be no requirement for export declarations for goods moving from the North to Great Britain.

“At the heart of our proposals is a consensual, pragmatic approach that will protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the huge gains from the peace process. Implementing the protocol in this way will ensure we can support businesses and citizens, and protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s customs territory, while upholding our commitments to the EU’s Single Market.

“Northern Ireland will benefit fully from its access to the UK and EU markets. The whole of the United Kingdom will be able to capitalise on the opportunities that will come from forging our own path and striking new free trade agreements with countries around the world,” cabinet office minister Michael Gove said.

For further details of the protocol The Irish Times reports here.

Published in Ferry

Three wildlife trusts in the north-east of England have been boosted with a £300,000 (€345,000) award from a major grantmaking charity for efforts to protect marine wildlife and habitats in the Irish Sea.

As the Chester Standard reports, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has given the five-year grant to fund staff carrying out marine policy work and promotion in the north-west region and the wider Irish Sea.

“The funding will enable us to continue our work to protect and lobby for Marine Protected Areas as well as raise awareness about issues affecting our marine life and champion the sustainable management of our seas,” said Martin Varley, operations director with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

The grant will also support collaborative work with fellow wildlife trusts in Lancashire and Cumbria, which have already secured public and political support for the designation of 10 Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea.

The Cheshire Standard has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

RNLI fishing safety manager Frankie Horne has urged the fishing community to avail of safety training that is on offer for their crews and to ensure that their safety equipment is up to date.

It comes after the skipper of a fishing vessel that sank late last year off the Isle of Man has attributed their rescue to the safety training the crew had undertaken previously and to their lifejackets, which were fitted with personal locator beacons (PLBs).

On the evening of 23 November last year, the fishing vessel Polaris suffered a catastrophic hull failure in the Irish Sea off the west coast of the Isle of Man.

The vessel sank so rapidly that the skipper only had time to send out a Mayday to the coastguard and other surrounding fishing boats before the vessel became submerged.

The coastguard immediately launched two RNLI lifeboats, from Port St Mary and Port Erin, and a rescue helicopter. However, it was a local fishing vessel, Lynn Marie, which arrived first on scene.

The skipper and a crew member from Polaris had been in the water for at least 15-20 minutes before help arrived.

The skipper of the Lynn Marie feared the worst on arriving at the scene as the Polaris had already gone below the water. The skipper stopped his engine to listen for the crew of the Polaris, which proved a wise decision as he heard two men in the water shouting. The Lynn Marie crew located them with a search light and recovered them from the water.

‘I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives’

Commenting on the rescue, Horne said: “After speaking with Gordon Mills, the skipper of the Polaris, and the crew of Lynn Marie on their arrival at Peel, it was quite clear that this could have been a very different story had the crew of both vessels not acted so professionally.

“The crew had attended safety training and wore lifejackets fitted with personal locator beacons which had increased their chances of survival.”

Gordon Mills, skipper of Polaris, added: “At no time did I feel our lives were in danger due to our training and equipment.

“We had a policy of wearing lifejackets on the working deck since attending refresher training, where I was shown a film involving fishermen wearing their normal working clothes, being put through their paces in the RNLI Survival Centre Environmental Pool, both with and without lifejackets in cold water with wave movement whilst attempting to recover themselves.”

Mills added: “To see fishermen struggling in a controlled environment and only lasting a few minutes or in some cases a few seconds without the lifejacket makes you think about your own safety.

“I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives. We wouldn’t have even been afloat for the crew of fishing vessel Lynn Marie to recover us from the water had we not been wearing them.

“I would encourage all fishermen to start wearing their lifejackets while on deck — you just never know when you might need it.”

Published in Fishing

On the Irish Sea the biggest ferry operator in this market area has confirmed that there will be checks, inspections and some new infrastructure for trade, and it wants to know what the UK government will pay for.

The plans, according to BBC News, will affect both trade with the Republic of Ireland and within the UK between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as a result of Brexit.

Stena Line said that its working assumption was that new checks would be carried out in British ports.

Stena boss Ian Hampton told the BBC that though a managed exit was "positive" and the extent of new procedures could be lessened with a strong deal, "there's a border, and the border requires checks".

The border will be down the Irish sea, he said. And while his company won't be doing them, it will have to provide room for officials to do the checks, he said.

As well as operating a fleet of ferries connecting Great Britain to the island of Ireland, Stena also owns three ports on the route, and wants to know the physical changes required on what has, until now, been seamless trade.

The industry's assumption is that the checks will be done in Great Britain on exit rather than in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

For much more on trading relationships including those on the North Channel routes click here

Published in Ferry

An angler from Blackpool learned he was the subject of a nine-hour search and rescue operation only after being told about the incident by an employee at a bait shop in the Lancashire town, as the Blackpool Gazette reports.

It’s understood that the man gave a statement to police after his discussion with shop workers at Blackpool Angling Centre revealed he was likely the person at the centre of a major emergency operation launched two days previously, on Thursday 2 January.

The man — who had been angling at Blackpool’s South Pier when he says he got into difficulty with his fishing gear — is believed to be new to the area and “genuinely didn’t know there was a full scale search for him”, according to a spokesperson for the shop.

The Blackpool Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

Searches for a light aircraft that went missing between the Irish Sea and the Menai Strait off North Wales yesterday afternoon (Monday 25 November) were suspended overnight.

The aircraft, with one person on board, reportedly disappeared from radar near Puffin Island off Anglesey at lunchtime yesterday.

This prompted a major search operation that involved HM Coastguard teams from Penmon and Bangor, the coastguard helicopter from Caernarfon and RNLI lifeboats from Beaumaris, Moelfre and Llandudno.

Searches were set to resume this morning in an area around Penmon, on the opposite side of Anglesey from Holyhead.

Published in News Update

According to one of the UK's ports' operators, the Peel Ports Group say they have the capability to limit the impact (of Brexit) on the Britain's expected departure from the EU on 31 October which is expected to have on trading.

Among the ports of the Group are Liverpool, Heysham and Sheerness (London Medway) which have a combined capacity to handle 1 million RORO (roll on, roll off) units per year. The ports could play a vital role in ensuring cargo flow freely through UK ports as trade is expected to be challenging across the Dover Straits following Brexit.

The ports on the Irish Sea and on the Medway have already taken steps to improve resilience ahead of Brexit. These include increased throughput capacity for HGV trailers and storage to support smooth trade operations by roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferries.

Heysham has unrestricted access to the Irish Sea and already caters for numerous daily Ro-Ro sailing from providers including Seatruck, Stena Line and the Isle of Man Steam Packet.

Peel Ports says that transporting non-perishable freight unaccompanied is faster and more cost effective than relying on driver-accompanied hauliers - of whom there are an acute shortage of across the continent - to transport cargo from Europe to the UK and vice versa.

Routing via ports such as London Medway would be just as efficient as the existing options through the Dover Straits, as although the sea leg is longer, road miles are reduced, according to Peel Ports. They also added Door-to-door, cargo owners could reduce cost, increase resilience, avoid congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

For more on this story click here. 

Published in Ferry

A geohazard investigation to provide support for ongoing research at the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) will be undertaken in the Irish Sea from Thursday 24 October until Wednesday 6 November, weather dependent.

The locations of these works at various shipwreck sites off the Louth coast are provided in Marine Notice No 41 of 2019. The equipment and techniques to be used include:

  • Surveying using multibeam echo sounders and shallow seismics (pinger);
  • Passive acoustic monitors (PAM) deployed at the indicated locations near the seabed to record acoustic data;
  • Seismic sparker equipment to reveal subsurface structure and features;
  • Sediment core taken at indicated locations to characterise the lithological characteristics of the seabed with grab samples taken within a 3nm range of these locations.

The surveys will be completed on a 24-hour schedule by the RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN) which will display appropriate lights and signals.

Acoustic surveying using a multibeam echo sounder and seismic sub-bottom surveys using a sparker/pinger system will be performed during both day and night operations in accordance with safe operating practices regarding MMO procedures and cognisant of fishing gear.

Sediment sampling using cores will be carried out during daylight hours due to limited ship mobility. PAM units will be deployed and retrieved at both night and day as dictated by survey conditions.

Full details of the survey locations as well as contact information are included in Marine Notice No 41 of 2019, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update

Ferry operator Stena Line is currently engaging with freight customers on its Irish Sea routes to advise them of an important International Maritime Organisation (IMO) environmental regulation which will come into effect on 1st January 2020.

The goal of the Global Sulphur Cap 2020 Regulation is to significantly and progressively reduce sulphur emissions within all areas of international shipping and applies to all ship operators world-wide.

A number of regulations have been introduced over the past years aimed at making the shipping industry more environmentally friendly, such as the 2015 sulphur cap in the English Channel, North Sea and Baltic Sea. This new mandatory cap of 0.5% sulphur in ships’ fuel will now require all operators on the Irish Sea to ensure reduced emissions by switching to low sulphur fuels from 1st January 2020.

The new industry regulation will see operating costs increase outside of Stena Line’s control.

As a result, at the start of the new year all freight shipments on Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes will be subject to a higher fuel charge, in order to cover the additional costs incurred. Further details on these costs can be found on Stena Line’s freight website via this link.

Published in Ferry

Geophysical surveys are being undertaken in the Irish Sea in outer Dundalk Bay from this week.

The work is required to provide bathymetric and subsurface information for the development of the Oriel Wind Farm project.

Survey work was expected to start yesterday, Tuesday 20 August, with a view to completion by Monday 30 September, though these dates are weather dependent.

The surveys will be completed using the AMS Retriever (Callsign MEHI8), a versatile multi-purpose, shallow draft tug.

This vessel is towing survey equipment up to 100 metres astern and will be restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

Other vessels are requested to leave a wide berth. The AMS Retriever will be operating from approximately 6am to 9pm during survey works.

Details of co-ordinates of the survey area are included in Marine Notice No 29 of 2019, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
Page 3 of 21

About Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries, owned by the Irish Continental Group, is a a major ferry operator in Ireland, providing daily and weekly links to and from Ireland for tourism and freight travelling between Ireland and the UK and Ireland and the continent. Irish Ferries has a fleet of six ships, three of which service the busy Dublin to Holyhead route.

The ICG Chairman is John B McGuckian and the CEO is Eamon Rothwell.

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