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Displaying items by tag: Clare Island

110 years ago Robert Lloyd Praeger brought a group of eminent European scientists to Clare Island to map the flora, fauna, geology and archaeology of the small, exposed Atlantic island off the coast of Mayo. The Royal Irish Academy’s New Survey of Clare Island, a unique multidisciplinary endeavour that together with Praeger’s first Clare Island Survey provides an invaluable body of research informing future conservation of the natural and built heritage of Ireland and Europe.

In a new book, New Survey of Clare Island. Volume 9: Birds, published on Monday, 17 August to celebrate Heritage Week 2020, the editor Tom Kelly traces the story of the birds from Clare Island.

One of the most dramatic changes has been the arrival on Clare Island of the formidable and spectacular seabird the Great Skua—or Bonxie—which now breeds further south in Ireland than it does in Great Britain. This unexpected change—a species moving south rather than vice versa—at a time of global warming remains to be explained.

Great SkuaA Great Skua Photo: Richard T. Mills

Clare Island became separated from Ireland about 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels brought about by the melting of the massive ice sheets that formed during the last Ice Age. Although this dramatic event would have had a minimal impact on the birds that made the island their home.

The Lapland bunting and the snow bunting probably arrived first, followed by more sedentary species including the rock ptarmigan and gyrfalcon as well as many wildfowl and wading bird species.

In the three millennia that followed the formation of Clare Island, mature woodland developed allowing a woodland bird community to develop.

clare island bird bookThe Clare Island survey

Neolithic man arrived about 4,000yBP (years Before Present). Over the succeeding 3,500 years or so, the woodland element was gradually removed and about 400 years ago the modern agricultural landscape was established. The woodland bird community on Clare Island has become mostly extinct probably because its habitat gradually disappeared over the millennia, In addition, the famines of the early to mid-nineteenth century had an impact on the ecology of the inhabited offshore islands. The abandonment of land as a result of famine, and the peoples who occupied that land, is well known to cause the departure of synanthropic bird species.

Nevertheless, agricultural activity and the expansion of grasslands created opportunities for seed-eating species and ground-nesting forms such as the skylark and meadow pipit and migrants such as the northern wheatear and corncrake, and the extraction of peat created opportunities for wetland species. Well-known species such as the house sparrow, European robin, song thrush and perhaps the barn swallow have colonised the island.

Published in Island News

An investment of €525,000 is to be put into four piers and harbours in Co. Mayo.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed announced details of a €3.1m package to assist 10 coastal local authorities undertake and as Afloat previously reported funding to complete 58 developments of harbours repair projects and slipways owned by them.

The package, reports Connaught Telegraph, provides funding for maintenance and repair works in addition to supporting the ongoing development and enhancement of harbour facilities including some marine leisure developments.

The Mayo works announced include Roonagh Pier as Afloat also reported on where provision of a new crane and safety improvement works is to cost €150,000.

For other coastal development works and locations click here. 

Published in Ferry

Clare Island residents and also those on Inishturk, off the west Mayo coastline, are calling on the Irish government for urgent help.

In the past two months 52% (see: January story) of their scheduled ferries have been disrupted due to dangerous conditions at Roonagh Pier, west of Louisburgh.

The pier experiences huge Atlantic swells and can be inaccessible for weeks at a time.

As a result O’Grady’s Clare Island Ferry Co. is forced to sail to Cloughmore in Achill Island, which is a commercial pier, unsuitable for foot passengers.

If the islanders sail to Achill, they then have to travel 50 miles by taxi around Clew Bay to collect their cars which are left at Roonagh.

The situation is causing them huge disruption and unnecessary misery.

More on the story from The Connacht Telegraph.

Published in Ferry

A ferry operator in Co. Mayo has issued a call for break-water and new pier facilities at Roonagh, Louisburgh.

According to The Connaught Telegraph, the Clare Island Ferry Co. (O'Grady) posted a photograph on ts Facebook page of Roonagh (yesterday) with the following statement.

"Goes to show we really need a break water and a new pier with shelter for our island vessels, in order for daily access for passengers, cargo and for our island to survive."

Published in Ferry

One hundred years ago, Irish naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger led a survey of the natural history and cultural heritage of Clare Island in Co Mayo at a level of detail greater than any area of comparable size at that time.

Almost a century later, the Royal Irish Academy set about repeating the exercise with the intention of assessing and evaluating change on the island over the intervening years.

In his new book Clare Island, which launches this Saturday 5 October on the island itself, John Feehan distils the results of the two great surveys with elegance and enthusiasm to shine a spotlight on the richness of life surviving there.

Feehan, a longtime broadcaster on cultural and heritage issues, interweaves the natural and cultural heritage of the island and shares his wider ecological knowledge to help us understand the role each species plays in the life of this remarkable place.

“Few places on Earth, and none elsewhere in Ireland, have yielded such a concentrated inventory of knowledge about the natural world,” says Michael Viney, who has described Feehan as “one of Ireland’s top ecologists and communicators of nature”.

Clare Island by John Feehan is available now from the RIA, priced €40.

Published in Island News

#clareisland – Buoyed by the recent profile received by Clare Island in the Irish Times Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland competition, Clare Island Adventures are planning an exciting new event for the August Bank Holiday weekend. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put together a water-loving team of four to six people to build a raft and then race it around a 300 metre course in Clew Bay.The organisers are challenging towns, villages, islands, companies and rival sports clubs to take one another on in what promises to be a barrel of laughs for both spectators and participants. They will provide all safety gear and raft-building materials. All you need to do is show up in a swimsuit with a can-do attitude and a determination to complete the course.

Heats will take place on Sunday morning with the final taking place in the early afternoon and finish in time to watch the Mayo match which kicks off at 4pm. There will be prizes awarded to the top 3 places, plus a Best Fancy Dress team prize. Entry is €60 per team.

And weather permitting the music will be pumping and the barbecue will be smoking, making it a fun day out for spectators and participants alike. To encourage you to make a weekend out of it, there's an all-in deal on offer of two nights B&B in the hostel, return ferry and raft-building entry for €74 per person.

Families looking for entertainment for the whole weekend are also encouraged to come a day early with a family fun day taking place on the blue flag beach on Saturday afternoon. Kayaking, snorkelling and beach games will all be on offer.

Those planning to visit the island for the bank holiday, or any time in July or August, will also be interested to know that there is a new shuttle bus service operating between Westport and Roonagh five days a week. It departs from Westport Adventure Hub, James Street, where tickets for bus and ferry can be purchased together. Leaving Westport at 10.15am and Roonagh at 5.15pm.
For more information check here. To enter a team in the raft building championships email them on [email protected] or phone 087 3467713.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#MaritimeFestivals - If you’re looking for a buzzing destination to spend the August bank holiday weekend, consider Clare Island in Co Mayo for the first Raft Building Championships, which promises seaside festival fun for all ages.

The organisers at Clare Island Adventures are challenging towns, villages, islands, companies and rival sports clubs to put together teams of four to six people to build a raft, then take one another around a 300-metre course in Clew Bay in what's expected to be a barrel of laughs for both spectators and participants alike.

Clare Island Adventures will provide all safety gear and raft-building materials. All you need to do is show up in a swimsuit with a can-do attitude and a determination to complete the course.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three places, as well as for the best dressed team – so the team theme is just as important as how you perform on the course!

Back on dry land, meanwhile, the music will be pumping and the barbecue will be smoking (weather permitting, of course).

Heats will take place on Sunday morning with the final taking place in the afternoon at approximately 4.30pm, allowing time for teams and spectators to get the ferry back to the mainland if they’re not staying on the island for the night.

To encourage you to make a weekend out of it, there’s an all-in deal on offer of two nights B&B in the hostel, return ferry and raft-building entry for €74 per person.

Families looking for entertainment for the whole weekend are also encouraged to come a day early with a family fun day taking place on the Blue Flag beach on Saturday afternoon. Kayaking, snorkelling and beach games will all be on offer.

Those planning to visit the island for the bank holiday, or any time in July or August, will also be interested to know that there is a new shuttle bus service operating between Westport and Roonagh five days a week.

The bus departs from Westport Adventure Hub on James Street, where tickets for bus and ferry can be purchased together. Buses leave Westport at 10.15am and Roonagh at 5.15pm.

For more information on the Raft Building Championships check out www.clareislandadventures.ie. To enter a team (the entry fee is €60 per team), contact 087 346 7713 or [email protected]

Published in Maritime Festivals

#IslandFerry – The Government have issued a tender for an operator to run over a five-year contract period a cargo-ferry service between Inishturk, Clare Island Co. Mayo and the mainland.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is seeking expressions of interest for the west coast-islands service starting 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2018.

For further details of the tendering process they can viewed HERE in addition to www.etenders.gov.ie April 2013

 

Published in Ferry

#Lifeboats - TheJournal.ie reports that RNLI lifeboat crews from Dunmore East and Fethard rescued two fishermen from their vessel off the Waterford coast yesterday (14 January 2013).

Rescuers sped to the scene after the 10-metre fishing boat got into difficulty and grounded close to the shore north of Loftus Hall.

Despite the receding tide, the lifeboats managed to tow the vessel carefully off the rocks "without any major damage", according to a spokesperson. The two crew were uninjured in the incident.

It marked the third major call-out in a week off the Waterford coast - following a similar rescue effort last Tuesday, and just days after the tragic loss of a local fisherman on Thursday morning on the sixth anniversary of the sinking of Dunmore East trawler the Pere Charles.

Meanwhile, on Sunday afternoon volunteers with Achill Island RNLI went to the assistance of an injured fisherman off the Mayo coast.

The lifeboat station received the distress call around noon to go to the assistance of a fishing party north of Clare Island, where the crew removed a man from the vessel who had suffered an eye injury from a fishing hook.

He was subsequently transported on the lifeboat to Kildavnet, where a local doctor examined his injury before referring him to Castlebar General Hospital for further attention.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#MCIB - The bodies of two fishermen missing off Co Clare have been recovered, as The Irish Times reports.

Local divers found the remains shortly before lunchtime yesterday near Spanish Point as coastguard teams searched for a missing fishing boat.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Lady Eileen - with two crew on board - was due to return to Quilty on Monday evening.

Searchers discovered debris and diesel in the water near Spanish Point in the early stages of the search on Monday night.

Meanwhile, the body of a father-of-three from Clare Island in Co Mayo was recovered from the sea by local fishermen last night.

The man - whose name is being withheld till all relations have been informed - was reported missing by a relative after he failed to return from a fishing trip in his currach.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) is expected to open investigations into both incidents, as well as the death of John O'Leary of Allihies in West Cork, who lost his life after the Enterprise dinghy he was sailing with his son capsized off the Beara Peninsula on Monday.

Published in MCIB
Page 1 of 2

Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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