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Displaying items by tag: EPIRB

The Irish Coast Guard has revealed further details over an incident involving the activation of an emergency positioning beacon off West Cork last month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Baltimore RNLI was called out to search or the EPIRB which activated two nautical miles west of the Calf Islands on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 August.

Despite an extensive operation which also involved Schull Coast Guard, a coastguard helicopter and the Naval Service vessel LÉ Samuel Beckett, nothing was found and the search was stood down by early evening.

‘…it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August’

In response to further enquiries from Afloat.ie, the Irish Coast Guard said the EPIRB in question, which was last detected at Coosnagulling on the southwest of Long Island, “did not appear to be fully functional and the homing signal was not active.

“It was not registered in Ireland and registration details were not available. It was not of Irish origin.”

Confirming that the search was terminated with “no further action being deemed necessary”, the IRCG added: “Accidental activations of EPIRBs are not unusual but it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August.

“Every effort was made to locate the device both inland and on the coast but as outlined above, the search proved to be unsuccessful given the operational gaps in the information that was available.”

Published in Water Safety

Owners of the Ocean Signal SeaSafe E100 or E100G emergency radio beacons are reminded to perform their unit’s self-test function as soon as possible.

The manufacturer says all of its EPIRBs should be routinely tested on a monthly basis, as per the user manual.

All Ocean Signal beacons are designed to have sufficient capacity to accommodate a monthly self-test over the lifetime of the battery.

However, for those beacons that do not pass the self-test, an exchange process is being offered for affected units.

Details on how to perform the self-test — and seek a replacement if necessary — are detailed in Marine Notice No 29 of 2020 attached below.

Published in Marine Warning

The first time this year that pagers sounded for the volunteers of Skerries RNLI may have ended in a false alarm.

But the crew of the North Co Dublin lifeboat station confirms it takes any activation of an emergency beacon seriously.

Skerries RNLI were tasked shortly before 7.30am yesterday morning (Monday 24 February) after Dublin Coast Guard picked up the signal from an emergency beacon almost two miles north-east of Skerries.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by the volunteer crew into strong west to south-west winds, gusting to 30 knots at times.

Skerries lifeboat, the Howth lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter Rescue 116 all proceeded to the last co-ordinates received and began a thorough search of the area in challenging conditions.

It was soon found that the vessel registered to the EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) was safely tied up in Skerries Harbour, but the EPIRB had been removed.

The lifeboats and the helicopter continued to search the area until the coastguard was satisfied that the beacon had not been taken to sea aboard another vessel, and the operation was stood down.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Skerries RNLI, Gerry Canning, said: “EPIRBs are a vital piece of safety equipment, often designed to activate when a vessel capsizes or sinks, so any activation has to be treated very seriously.

“It was a wet morning for most people today, but even more so for our crews.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Rosslare Harbour RNLI all weather was launched by the volunteer lifeboat crew yesterday morningat 11.45am to respond to an EPIRB distress signal (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).

The Irish Coast Guard alerted Rosslare Harbour RNLI to immediately launch following an EPIRB alarm, which usually indicates a vessel in serious danger. The signal was traced to an 18m yacht close to Carnsore Point off the Wexford coast, which was competing in the offshore Normandy Channel yacht race, as reported by Afloat.ie here.

The RNLI lifeboat and Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were quickly on the scene. It was soon established that the 18m yacht was not in trouble and the EPIRB alarm had accidentally activated. Volunteer RNLI crew aboard Rosslare Harbour lifeboat deactivated the alarm system, returned the device to the yacht which then continued on with its race.

Conditions at the time were reasonably favourable with a brisk southerly wind.

Speaking after the incident Rosslare Harbour RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Jamie Ryan praised the skill of the coxswain who brought the lifeboat alongside the yacht and the efforts of the RNLI volunteers who fixed the EPIRB and returned it to the 18m yacht.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#EPIRB - Marine Notice No 9 of 2017 contains a product advisory for two EPIRB products manufactured by McMurdo.

Under certain circumstances, signs of cracking may appear in the top dome cases of all versions of the McMurdo SmartFind EPIRB and the Kannad Marine EPIRB Sport, Sport Pro and Sport Pro + models.

This cracking area is outside of the waterproof seal and as such does not compromise the integrity of any affected unit.

McMurdo recommends that any such unit “should be subject to rectification work at the earliest opportunity” and provides support details for any in-warranty units in the Marine Notice, available to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update

#Recall - The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that Kannad Marine, the manufacturer of Kannad SAFELINK EPIRBS, have issued a Global Recall Safety Notice for the following affected EPIRB units:

  • EPIRB SAFELINK Manual+ GPS (part no K1202311)
  • EPIRB SAFELINK Auto GPS (part no K1202367)

For further information please see the annex attached to Marine Notice No 2 of 2016, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#epirb – The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport advises it has been informed that Standard Communications Pty Ltd, the manufacturer of GME EPIRBs, have issued a Product Safety Recall of the following affected EPIRB units:

GME MT400/MT401/MT403 EPIRBs with serial numbers between 50101000 and 80250722.

For further information please see the attached notice below.

Published in Marine Warning

The Irish Maritime Administration of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport wishes to bring important safety information to the attention of users of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs).

The purpose of this notice is:-
• to highlight the importance of regular maintenance of EPIRBs by their owners;
• to highlight the obligation to register EPIRBs; and
• to advise users of certain GME EPIRBs that these have been the subject of a safety alert by the manufacturer.

It is vital for the safety of users of EPIRBs that you read and note the advice provided in the Marine Notices below which can be read on the Department's website at www.dttas.ie:

• Marine Notice No. 38 of 2013 which deals with the care and maintenance of EPIRBs, including the requirement for inspection and testing by owners. This Marine Notice also indicates that it is mandatory for all EPIRBs to be registered with the Irish Maritime Administration, and that changes to registered beacons must also be notified. If you own an EPIRB and have not yet registered it, or if you wish to notify any changes in ownership (or any other changes), please contact the Irish Maritime Administration as soon as possible. EPIRB registration is free of charge.

• Marine Notice No. 63 of 2013 which deals with a safety alert on GME EPIRBs. In the event of any EPIRB tested by the owner failing to produce a positive self-test result, owners should immediately contact their point of purchase or the manufacturer, or the GME email hotline at [email protected], as appropriate.

For any further enquiries please contact: 

Maritime Services Division, Irish Maritime Administration, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, Ireland. 

Email: [email protected] . Telephone: 01-678 3400 (within Ireland) or +353-1-678 3400 (from abroad).

Published in Marine Warning

Following recent reports in the media regarding the use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport wishes to clarify the position regarding the approval and use of EPIRBs in Ireland.

Fishing vessels in Ireland are subject to a comprehensive survey regime covering all safety equipment, including the EPIRB, and a safety certificate is only issued on foot of satisfactory completion of the survey. EPIRBs and other safety equipment are regulated in accordance with the EU Marine Equipment Directive.

The GME EPIRBs, covered in media reporting and the subject of the manufacturer's recent safety alert, hold certification issued by Bureau Veritas, the relevant international certifying authority, confirming compliance with the EU Directive.

The Department as the national maritime authority raised concerns with the manufacturer earlier this year following feedback in relation to vessel surveys that led to the issue of the alert by the company. The manufacturer's alert emphasises the importance of all users testing the equipment at regular intervals in accordance with the alert notice. The Department also wishes to emphasise the importance of regular inspection and testing of all safety equipment in accordance with manufacturers' guidance.

In 2010 the Department made enquires of the manufacturer regarding false alerts and battery failures. The company advised at the time that they had four units returned to them from this country as part of their warranty process. In two cases the equipment had been replaced in line with the warranty. In a third case the warranty was refused because the equipment had been tampered with. The fourth EPIRB was still awaiting examination at the time.

The company has advised the Department that they have sold over 150,000 EPIRBs between 2004 and 2012 with a failure rate of 0.11%.

The Department is currently examining all the issues associated with this matter and will make a detailed report available as quickly as possible.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#Safety - The factor of a malfunctioning radio beacon in the deaths of three fishermen in Tramore Bay this summer prompted the recent Marine Notice urging tests of such devices.

According to RTÉ News, the Australian manufacturer of the EPIRB devices in question was not aware of any problems until after it emerged that the beacon on the small fishing punt sailed by Paul, Kenny and Shane Bolger failed to emit a signal.

The bodies of the three men were recovered from the water in Tramore Bay just hours after they were reported missing on Wednesday 12 June.

The EPIRB - or Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon - carried on the Bolger brothers' boat is one of the six classes identified in last week's Marine Notice (see appendix HERE).

All were manufactured between 2005 and 2010 by Australian film GME, which has since told RTÉ News that it lately learned of problems with its radio devices via "market-place feedback".

A malfunctioning microprocessor is thought to be to blame.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Water Safety
Tagged under
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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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