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EU moves to ensure shipping uses low carbon fuels will have a “moderate” but not “dramatic” effect on the Irish economy, according to University of Galway economist Prof Alan Ahearne.

As The Sunday Independent reports, research due to be published by Prof Ahearne and Daniel Cassidy has found that marine fuel prices will continue to rise, due to the drive towards more sustainable energy sources.

However, the impact of ships switching from fossil fuels to more expensive renewable and low carbon alternatives will not have any major effect until 2050.

The research funded by the Marine Institute calculates that by then (2050) it will reduce gross value-added (GVA) economic productivity by almost eight per cent.

Costs of consumer goods are also expected to rise, by just over one per cent by 2040 and by nearly two per cent by 2050 as a result of the marine fuel regulations, Prof Ahearne said.

As an island, Ireland is one of the most heavily dependent economies globally on maritime transport, Prof Ahearne explained.

He was speaking at the “Navigating to 2050" conference hosted by Irish Lights in Dublin Castle this week.

As part of the European Green Deal, a new FuelEU Maritime regulation seeks to steer the EU maritime sector towards decarbonisation.

This is in line with the EU’s “Fit for 55” target – as in reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The regulation sets a fuel standard for ships, and includes a requirement for the most polluting ship types to use onshore electricity when at berth. It also places the responsibility for compliance on shipping companies.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Ports & Shipping
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The European Commission has approved extending an Irish scheme to refund employers' social security contributions for seafarers on certain vessels until December 2028.

The aim of the scheme is to increase the attractiveness for Irish shipping companies to employ seafarers, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of the Irish shipping sector.

The measure was originally approved by the Commission in September 1999, was extended in 2005,2011 and 2018, and is due to expire on December 31st 2022.

The Commission says that Ireland notified the prolongation of the scheme until December 31st, 2028, with a budget increase of €300,000, bringing the overall budget to €4.2 million.

Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of reimbursement of social security contributions to employers of seafarers working on vessels registered in the shipping register of a member state of the European Economic Area.

The registered vessels must be self-propelled and have more than 100 tons of gross tonnage.

The Commission says it assessed the scheme under the EU State aid rules, and in particular under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Guidelines on State aid to maritime transport.

The Commission says it found that the scheme continues to be “necessary and appropriate to promote the attractiveness of the employment of seafarers in Ireland and enhancing the competitiveness of Irish ship operators”.

It said that the measure “continues to be proportionate, as it is limited to the minimum necessary, and to have a limited impact on competition and trade between member states”, and so extension is in line with EU State Aid rules.

Published in Ports & Shipping

A training programme aimed at reducing harmful emissions from shipping has won financial support in the first Irish Aid Enterprise Fund for International Climate Action.

Dublin City University’s (DCU) school of law and governance, which is leading the study on training in “market-based mechanisms” for cutting shipping emissions, was one of four recipients of grant-aid from the new fund.

The fund was launched earlier this year to support Irish organisations to engage in climate action, with a commercial or enterprise focus in developing countries.

Details of the successful recipients were announced by Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid Colm Brophy late last week.

Shipping and aviation each account for only about 4% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Parliament.

However, the two transport sectors have been the fastest-growing sources of climate-harmful emissions, due to record traffic growth in volume of trade and passenger numbers.

The European Parliament is currently working on proposals to reduce emissions from ships and planes, to meet a 55 per cent cut in EU emissions by 2030 and “zero” emissions by 2050.

The three other successful recipients of the Irish Aid Enterprise Fund included FoodCloud for a pilot study of a “technology-led solution” to food waste in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Action Ireland Trust secured funding for a programme of supports for entrepreneurs working in sustainable construction in Lesotho, while Concern Worldwide was awarded for a community-led entrepreneurship programme in Malawi.

“I am extremely proud of this fund,” Mr Brophy said, speaking at the Africa Ireland Economic Forum last week.

“The private sector has a vital role to play in delivering climate action. This fund has allowed us to tap into the wealth of talent and expertise in the Irish market to support important climate action,” he said.

“I am delighted to be able to announce funding to four fantastic organisations to allow them to deliver much-needed climate action in developing countries,” Mr Brophy added.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Alex Blackwell of Clew Bay is always buzzing with ideas, and his latest notion is that the destination for a future Cruise-in-Company by some seagoing club or other (he's involved in several) should be the pioneering Ship Tunnel that the Norwegian Government is gong to build through the isthmus of the Stad Peninsula. This rugged headland of ill-repute is around 200 kilometres north of the ancient Hanseatic port of Bergen, and juts stubbornly out from the most westerly part of Norway's much-indented Atlantic coast. As it's on the same latitude as the Faroe Islands - where the sailing is plagued by the wayward winds and weather of the Arctic Convergence - the west point of the Stad reputedly has a hundred gale days every year, not to mention the added turmoil of opposing tides fighting to dominate each other.

Its foul reputation is such that in times past, frustrated Viking voyagers were reputed occasionally to haul their ships across a slight dip in the mile or so of the steep isthmus in order to make progress north or south. That is a very much more formidable challenge than the early mediaeval habit in Ireland – still part of folk memory in Baldoyle - of hauling Viking longships on tree-trunk rollers across the tombolo at Sutton in order to by-pass Howth from Dublin Bay without having to face the winter weather off The Baily.

The Stad Peninsula with the line of the Ship Tunnel. The island of Selje, directly linked to the 11th Century Irish missionary St Sunniva, is at the centre of map.   The Stad Peninsula with the line of the Ship Tunnel. The island of Selje, directly linked to the 11th Century Irish missionary St Sunniva, is at the centre of map.  

The Stad Ship Tunnel will be an engineering project of international interest. It is said that in prolonged periods of bad weather, the Vikings sometimes resorted to portaging their longships across the dip in the foreground on the isthmus ridgeThe Stad Ship Tunnel will be an engineering project of international interest. It is said that in prolonged periods of bad weather, the Vikings sometimes resorted to portaging their longships across the dip in the foreground on the isthmus ridge

Nowadays, even the able ships of the famous Norwegian Hurtigruten coast-hopping express can find the Stad means trouble, for the name simply means Stop, and it can do what it says on the
tin. Yet much of the pain could be taken out of it if only one could by-pass with a neat little slice through the peninsula's neck at its narrowest part, where the distance is just 1.7 kilometres, or near
enough a mile.

That location has been much debated, as a longer tunnel nearer the open sea would mean less diversion for vessels bound along the coast. But as a cruising destination, a tunnel further inland is all to the good, as it brings you well into the real Norway, and the fascinating neighbourhood of Stadlandet. It's not quite Norway's Dingle Peninsula, but as the local holy woman was St Sunniva, a Christian missionary from some royal family in Ireland, then it's only right and proper the Irish Cruising Club should someday head that way and make a ceremonial transit – under sail of course – through the new tunnel.

The remains of St Sunniva's Abbey on Selje is in the western approaches to the Ship Tunnel

To access the tunnel from the southwest, the final bit of local mini-fjord takes you past Selje Island and its 11th Century abbey, which was Sunniva's centre of operations, and is her burial place. There's many a cruise from Ireland which has had Santiago de Compostela in Galicia as one of its objectives, and in cruising the coasts of Cornwall and Brittany, you find yourself off harbourside villages which were name to venerate Irish missionaries. But in heading for Norway, you might expect to find yourself at Kirkwall in Orkney and its cathedral of St Magnus the Martyr.

He was the first and last Viking saint. He persuaded his comrades to give up their more anti-social habits, thereby contributing significantly to the ending of Vikingism, but he had his head cut off for his troubles. Be that as it may, the dominance of Magnus-veneration in the Orkneys might lead to the assumption that Norwegian Christian missionaries were making all the running. But by sailing a few hundred miles further northeast to Selje, you'll find confirmation that it was an Irish persuader who started it all.

And now, with preparations well advanced such that work on the tunnel is on target to start in 2022 with a completion in 2025, the focus is once again on the waters in and around Selje. The tunnel idea is not at all new – it must have occurred to the Viking boat-haulers as they cursed their longships across the dip in the ridge – but since 1874, the proposals have become increasingly realistic as tunnelling technology has advanced, and since 2011 it has been steadily moving up the agenda of the Norwegian National Transport Development Plan, until now it is just a matter of time.

The relatively little-known area inland of Stad will offer fresh yet convenient cruising possibilities once the Tunnel is openedThe relatively little-known area inland of Stad will offer fresh yet convenient cruising possibilities once the Tunnel is opened

It is also increasingly a matter of international interest to the point of fascination, for this is a major public expenditure flagship project. Thus everyone is intrigued to see how well the notoriously serious but also extremely resource-rich Norwegians manage to stay within budget, when other schemes like the "new" airport at Berlin, the high-speed railway in England, and the National Children's Hospital in Ireland appear to have gone out of and well beyond any controlled financial orbit.

Admittedly an every-which-way-technologically-complex project like an airport or a hospital is in a different category from the basically straightforward concept of a tunnel. But nevertheless, the removal of billions of tons of best Norwegian rock puts the Stad tunnel in a league of its own, for even the steep-sided Corinth Canal inside the Peloponnese in Greece maybe all of four miles long, yet it is but an open-topped ditch by comparison.

The Stad Tunnel will be a showpiece project, and wherein times past civil engineers seemed to prefer to be left in peace to get on with their more challenging projects, the construction of the Tunnel will be a must-see on the tourist circuit, as too in the future will be the sight of ships suddenly popping out of a hole in the Norwegian coast.

Built to accommodate ships up to the Hurtigruten Coastal Express size, it should be possible to sail through the Stad Ship Tunnel with a fair wind. Whether it will be permissible is another matter……Built to accommodate ships up to the Hurtigruten Coastal Express size, it should be possible to sail through the Stad Ship Tunnel with a fair wind. Whether it will be permissible is another matter……

Whether or not in 2027 or thereabouts the Irish Cruising Club will be allowed to have a fleet sail-through of the Tunnel as the culmination of their St Sunniva Cruise-in-Company is something else altogether, but there is a precedent of sorts.

Way back in September 1968, the ICC had one of their few truly all-Ireland Rallies, staged in Newry at the head of the Newry Ship Canal, and boats came from every coastline. One was Stan Roche's hefty big ketch Nancy Bet from Crosshaven, and once they'd passed through the sea lock from Carlingford Lough, Stan and his merry men realised the brisk and freshening southeaster was a direct fair wind along the canal to the Albert Basin. So they sent up the spinnaker, and other boats set some sail as well.

There were only two cars moving along the little canal-side road, but in observing this rather amazing spectacle, they managed to crash into each other. Yet - miraculously - the sail-setting boats avoided doing something similar as they arrived with a mighty flourish in Newry.

Can something similar be arranged for the Stad Tunnel, with its air draft of 161ft and width of 118ft? Unlike Newry, if you can just make it through with spinnaker set, there'll be oodles of room to take it in as you ping out into open water at the far end………

After you….CGI of ships taking it in turn to enter the Stad Ship TunnelAfter you….CGI of ships taking it in turn to enter the Stad Ship Tunnel

It can be a difficult coastline, and the Stad (at top) is the most difficult bit of all for smaller craftIt can be a difficult coastline, and the Stad (at top) is the most difficult bit of all for smaller craft

Published in Ports & Shipping
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One of the theories examined when Ever Given's huge container ship lost control of its steerage and blocked the Suez Canal was whether a cyberattack had disrupted its navigational systems. That had not happened, but the disruption to global trade which was caused has focused increasing attention on the protection of maritime infrastructure against cyberattacks, and the International Maritime Organisation has issued a warning about them.

Kerry-based offshore sailor, lifeboat volunteer, and sea angler Kieran Caulfield is Enterprise Director at the Irish cyber security company, Renaissance. According to him, the threat is very real.

He is my Podcast guest this week and says the developing Irish offshore energy sector, as well as shipping, port operations, fishing vessels, safety and navigation systems, could be targets.

Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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National maritime industry leaders and senior Government officials are to meet in Merseyside for a high-profile summit to discuss the future of the sector in the UK.

Industry body Mersey Maritime is holding its third annual Maritime Exchange conference on Friday, June 25, 2021. Taking place in the magnificent surroundings of a Grade-II-listed Victorian building in Birkenhead docklands, the conference will be a hybrid virtual and in-person event. The Mersey Maritime Exchange will serve as a platform for the maritime sector to come together to review progress on implementing the UK’s flagship national maritime strategy, Maritime 2050.

In the UK, the maritime sector is worth more than £46bn annually and supports more than one million jobs. Liverpool City Region is regarded as one of the most successful maritime clusters in Europe. The local sector contributes more than £4bn in GVA and supports tens of thousands of jobs.

Around 95% of goods coming into the UK arrive by sea and the sector kept this vital supply line of food, medicines and clothing moving during COVID-19. British maritime companies facilitate more than £500bn of global trade each year. It is an industry that is critical to the health of the UK economy.

Mersey Maritime hosted the first Maritime Exchange at Liverpool Town Hall in 2019 and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, took the event online in 2020. Last year’s conference included speeches from Maritime Minister Robert Courts and Sarah Kenny CEO of BMT and Chair of Maritime UK.

The Maritime Exchange was originally conceived in response to the Government’s Maritime 2050 report which set out the future of the sector over the next three decades. At the heart of the report was a commitment to technological transformation, decarbonisation and a more inclusive, highly-trained workforce.

This year’s conference will focus on ‘Maritime 2050: The journey so far?’ and is being delivered with the support of the Department for Transport and Maritime UK. The conference will again explore the Maritime 2050 strategy and its key themes, coming two-and-a-half years into the short-term recommendations and coinciding with the launch of Maritime UK’s detailed: ‘Maritime 2050: Where are we now?’ report. It will also celebrate the Day of the Seafarer 2021.

It is being held in the Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building, a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, close to the Birkenhead waterfront. The building is set to be the centrepiece of the proposed £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub in Wirral Waters.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “Despite the challenges of the last year, Mersey Maritime has been resolutely focused on supporting the industry in the Liverpool city region and beyond.

“Much of our work has been guided by the principles that sit within the Maritime 2050 report and we are proud to be able to deliver this event to showcase all that has been achieved so far across the sector, together with our UK wide ambitions for the future.

“Significantly, the event will take place at the site of the proposed new Maritime Knowledge Hub in the Birkenhead docks area which is a central part of major regeneration works for the region.

“This maritime centre of excellence is at the heart of our ambition for the future of the industry regionally and will be of national significance. It is fitting that we hold this important event in such a location and underlines the journey that the industry is on at this exciting time as we emerge from the pandemic crisis and respond to be the big challenges facing us.”

The conference will feature a range of key-note speeches and panel discussions, focused around the following themes:

  • People
  • Innovation
  • Environment
  • Competitiveness
  • Regional Growth

Maritime UK Chair, Sarah Kenny, added: “The UK is emerging from one of the greatest economic shocks in modern times, and as we look to rededicate ourselves to the long-term ambitions set out in the Maritime 2050 strategy, we have the opportunity to consider what the future of the maritime sector should look like.

“As we are approaching the half-way mark for the short-term recommendations in the strategy, we will be taking a moment to celebrate successes, but also to review progress, identify gaps in delivery, and think about what more needs to be done to ensure a sustainable maritime future for all.
“Maritime UK is pleased to be supporting Mersey Maritime and the Department for Transport in the organisation of this event, which will give us the opportunity to discuss key priorities from across a sector so critical to the UK economy.”

In addition to the Mersey Maritime Exchange conference, the Maritime Knowledge Hub site will also host a number of other activities across the day including a VVIP visit to launch the pre-development phase of the project with key partners Wirral Waters, Peel L&P, Wirral Council and Liverpool Combined Authority.

The days’ celebrations will conclude with a drinks reception to announce the finalists of the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2021 (MMIA21). The awards ceremony will take place in Liverpool on September 17, 2021 and will feature as the closing event of London International Shipping Week.

For more details on the Mersey Maritime Exchange – Maritime 2050: The journey so far is here

Published in Ports & Shipping
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A serious emerging problem which could affect essential food and other supplies is not being dealt with according to the biggest shipping companies in the world.

The International Chamber of Shipping has asked the United Nations to intervene after releasing a new estimate that as many as 400,000 seafarers are unable to leave ships worldwide because of Covid 19 travel restrictions in various countries.

Norway's Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, told the United Nations General Assembly that there would be "a humanitarian and world trade crisis." She said that seafarers are stranded on ships around the globe because crew changes have been made practically impossible by countries closing their borders and restricting travel of seafarers to and from ships.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has joined in the call for countries throughout the world to give seafarers "similar protections and rights to other essential workers."

Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO Moller-Maersk, the container shipping giant, told the UN General Assembly. "Seafarers are vital to global supply chains, for food and all trade and especially medical supplies for #COVID19 response. I am worried that in respect of crew changes, little is going to change in most nations without action being taken at the very highest political level."

The United Nations has issued a reminder to all nations that they must observe the provisions in the code of its maritime agency, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to respect the rights of seafarers and their importance in maintaining world trade.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Cork based shipping company, Irish Mainport Holdings, has announced its entry into the Offshore Wind Sector with its investment in a 50-metre Survey and Research Ship, the Mainport Geo, and at the same time buying a share of Wicklow based offshore services company, Alpha Marine.

In Ireland, Mainport operates three tugs in the Shannon estuary, provides a dedicated supply vessel at the Kinsale Natural Gas Field, as well as ship agency and stevedoring operations in Cork and Limerick. Internationally, Mainport operates seismic support ships in worldwide trading and has significant interests in fast crew boats and anchor handler ship in Malaysia and Australia.

Mainport also purchased all the marine assets of SO.PRO.MAR which was the leading Italian company in providing marine services to the Mediterranean scientific research market. A new company Mainport Med, based in Rome, was set up during 2020 with local Italian partners.

The new ship, 2015 built Mainport Geo is 50 m LOA, has DP 2 system, quieter, and economic diesel-electric engines, FIFI 1 and SPS notation for 35 passengers. She is located in Ivory Coast at present and will be delivered to Cork shortly.

Alpha Marine has a long history of service to the offshore wind sector, both in Ireland and overseas. Since 2004, the company has provided tug and workboat charter, crew transfer vessels (CTVS), hydrographic survey, subsea repair and maintenance and most recently, Environmental & Geophysical survey to offshore wind in Ireland and the UK.

Tim Greenwood, Commercial Director of Alpha Marine said: “Alpha Marine is looking forward to a bright future for offshore wind in Ireland and we are naturally delighted to partner with Mainport. This strategic investment will increase our operational capability and enable us to deliver a strong Irish supply chain proposition to windfarm developers and tier 1 & 2 contractors. Over the last year or two, we have seen an uptake in enquiries for geophysical survey so the added capability that the Mainport Geo brings us is very exciting indeed.”

Dave Ronayne, Chief Executive of Mainport said, “We are delighted with this new ship, which will be very suitable for the offshore renewable sector in Ireland. We know there is over €5 Billion investment planned over next few years on the east coast of Ireland by many major existing offshore wind operators such as Innogy, Parkwind, ESB, Statkraft, Fred Olsen and SSE and all these new wind farms will require surveying services. This ship is also very suitable for the Italian scientific research markets.

We are very happy to join with Alpha Marine who is ideally located on the east coast of Ireland and who have a great track record on providing services to the offshore wind industry over the last decade. Our combined resources will allow us to provide a full marine and technical solution to all marine requirements.”

Published in Cork Harbour
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European merchant ships generate almost four per cent of total EU carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a new EU report states.

The European Commission’s report - the first of its kind on CO2 emissions from maritime transport - estimates that merchant ships added over 138 million tonnes to EU carbon emissions in 2018.

This amounts to some 3.7 per cent of the EU’s CO2 emissions – comparable to the emissions generated by the country of Belgium.

However, the “vast majority” of ships working in and out of European waters have cut their speed to save on energy and fuel and reduce emissions, the report says.

The data was drawn from reports filed for that year by 11,600 ships over 5,000 gross tonnes in size, representing some 38 per cent of the world merchant fleet.

The report shows that around two third of reported CO2 emissions related to voyages to or from a port outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Voyages inside the EEA represented only 32% of total CO2 emissions, and emissions from ships in EEA ports stood for 6% of total emissions, it says.

“When comparing CO2 emissions across different ship types, container ships represented the largest share of total emissions, with over 30%,”it says.

Some two-thirds of the ships monitored are non-EU flagged, and over half are owned by entities based in the EU, it states.

The report says that most of the monitored fleet “already meets” the global energy efficiency standards applied from 2020 to 2025.

It notes that the “vast majority of ships” have reduced their speed compared to 2008 by between 15 and 20%.

Cruising at lower speeds saves energy and fuel, and can significantly reduce CO2 emissions, it notes.

It says that the data and report will be published each year, to allow a better understanding of the characteristics, CO2 emissions and energy efficiency of the monitored fleet.

The EU has drawn up plans to cut emissions from shipping, which are projected to grow rapidly if unchecked in the next three decades.

An EU regulation was passed in 2018 on monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport.

It requires shipping companies to monitor their CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and other relevant information during navigation to or from ports in the EEA, when they transport cargo or passengers for commercial reasons.

The 11,600 ships monitored cover a large variety of ships from roll-on/roll-off passenger ships to bulk carriers, tankers and container ships, and are relatively young at an average of 11 years.

Ferry company Stena Line has recently reported that it is ten years ahead of the international shipping targets for reducing emissions.

It says it is currently involved in several projects with alternative fuels and propulsion, including the world’s first methanol powered vessel.

Stena Line's first electric Ferry, Eletkra, is planned for 2030Stena Line's first electric Ferry, Eletkra, is planned for 2030

It also plans to launch a fully battery powered vessel before 2030, according to Stena Line head of sustainability Erik Lewenhaupt.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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A cargo ship en route to Dublin Port was caught in this week's storms and lost at least 12 containers overboard.

The Maritime Bulletin reports that the ship 'Elbcarrier' lost the containers in the Celtic Sea on the afternoon of Sunday, December 8, while en route from Rotterdam to Dublin and being caught in rough seas.

The Bulletin's reporter is Erofey Schkvarkin, a Merchant Marine Captain, who also writes that 12 drifting containers were spotted at 2330 UTC in vicinity 51 40N 005 50W.

The ship reached Dublin in the afternoon Dec 9. More on this in the Maritime Bulletin here

Containers Blown Over

Separately, a reader has sent Afloat photo of containers blown over in Dublin Port in high winds this week.

Containers CapsizedShipping containers capsized in Dublin Port this week

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Page 1 of 9

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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