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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

Galway City Council has imposed a ban on swimming at two beaches due to E.coli contamination.

The bacterial contamination was detected during tests at Grattan beach in Lower Salthill and Ballyloughane beach on the city's east side near Renmore.

The samples showed up high levels of E.coli after they were taken from water at the two beaches on Tuesday of this week, the city council says.

It has said this may be due to “suspected contaminated urban runoff” in its public notice.

Heavy rain in the city earlier this week would have released storm drains into the Corrib estuary and out into Galway Bay.

The city council said it took further samples on Wednesday.

It said that it would issue updates on the swimming ban when these test results become available.

Published in Galway Harbour
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The ultra-oceanic Galway Bay - with the Aran Islands in its midst, the complex coast of Connemara to the north, and the mighty Cliffs of Moher to the south – is so fixed in most people’s minds as an awe-inspiring sort of place that the idea of using it as a sailing playground and race-course is almost a shock. Yet in Galway Bay SC, that’s how they think of it, and in 2022 they’re staging the third annual Lamb’s Week which – for the early birds at least – is getting under way this (Wednesday) evening as they start making their way westward to Kilronan on Inishmor.

Held over five days, Lambs' Week is a mixture of casual racing, cruising and fun along the shores of Galway Bay with one night in Ros á Mhil, two nights in Cill Rónáin on Inís Mór in the Aran Islands, and the final night in Galway Marina for the Commodore's Ball at the Bill King Clubhouse. This is the re-purposed dockside warehouse in the heart of Galway city which was brought into commission to welcome the participants at the Galway Stopover in the Round Britain & Ireland race two month ago, and proved to be a successful and versatile party centre.

An awe-inspiring race area – Galway Bay with the Aran Islands on station as Guardians of the PortAn awe-inspiring race area – Galway Bay with the Aran Islands on station as Guardians of the Port

The highlight of the weekend is a pursuit race where the boats sail the challenging circuit around Inis Oírr and Inis Mean and return to Cill Rónáin for food, music and plenty of craic. Last year the winner by just 30 seconds from Jackie Cronin’s Jimmy Burn from Kilrush was Mark Wilson’s Sigma 33 Scorpio (GBSC). With handicaps taken at the start, the pursuit race time calculations made by GBSC’s Fergal Lyons were a work of genius, as most of the fleet finished within a very tight time-span.

Event sponsors include Corio Generation, a leader in the development of offshore wind farms, Gaeltacht na hÉireann, Aerogen, the world leader in high-performance aerosol drug delivery, and the Port of Galway, who are instrumental in making the event possible.

In addition to providing the best of sport and sailing for west coast boats, the organisers are keen to promote the excellent cruising grounds of the West Coast while highlighting the need and opportunity for better facilities for the many visiting boats at the Aran Islands and other anchorages. 

Part of the fleet in Kilronan Harbour during Lambs’ Week 2021Part of the fleet in Kilronan Harbour during Lambs’ Week 2021

Published in Lambs Week
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The Atlantic Life Boat Swim fundraiser raised over €5,000 last Saturday (July 23rd).

Held at Rinville, Oranmore on Galway Bay, over 150 sea swimmers braved the bad weather for the annual event held in aid of Galway RNLI Lifeboat and the Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit.

Organisers have thanked volunteers, swimmers and Galway Bay Sailing Club for supporting the community event.

Published in Sea Swim
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Galway RNLI rescued six people who got into difficulty in the sea off Rabbit Island on Monday evening (18 July). The group who had walked over to the island at low tide became stranded by the incoming tide and were attempting to swim back to shore when they got into difficulty.

The volunteer crew at Galway RNLI were requested to launch their inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat at 5.30 pm by the Irish Coast Guard after a member of the public spotted one of the group getting into the water and attempting to swim back to shore. Concerned that the group was going to get into difficulty, they immediately raised the alarm.

The lifeboat helmed by David Oliver and with crew members, Brian Niland, Martin Oliver and Cathal Byrne onboard, launched within minutes and made its way to the scene approximately 10 minutes from the station.

Weather conditions at the time were good with hot weather, flat calm seas, clear skies and good visibility.

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat crew observed six people in the water attempting to swim the quarter of a mile back to shore.

With one of the group struggling and in great difficulty, the crew first went to their rescue taking the casualty out of the water and bringing them safely onboard the lifeboat. The crew then rescued the five others onto the lifeboat before returning them all safely back to shore at Murroogh House.

Speaking following the call out, Barry Heskin, Galway RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘Time was of the essence this evening and we need to commend the member of the public who had the foresight to raise the alarm as soon as they thought the group might get into difficulty, that made a difference and helped to ensure we were on scene at the right time.

‘The group had walked out to Rabbit Island at low tide but then got stranded when the tide came in and their access to the mainland was cut off. It was when they attempted to swim back that they experienced difficulties. While was one of the group was in danger, we were thankfully able to rescue them from the water in good time and no casualty care needed to be administered. We would like to wish the group well following what was a frightening experience for them.

‘We have some beautiful weather at the minute, and we want everyone to enjoy it, but we would urge everyone to think safety first and respect the water. Before planning an activity on or near water, check weather and tide times to ensure it is safe to proceed. When going out always carry a means of communication and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back.

‘We are also experiencing some spring tides at the minute, and it is very easy for people to get cut off. If you do happen to become stranded, don’t attempt to swim to shore yourself, rather use your means of communication to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. And if you do get into difficulty in the water, try to float to live. To do this, lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Swimmers transiting Galway Bay and tight rope walking across the city’s Claddagh basin will make for busy activity on Galway’s waterways today (Sat July 16) during the hot weather spell.

A total of 130 swimmers have registered to cross the 13km from Aughinish in Clare to Blackrock in Galway for the 16th Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West.

In the city, funambulists or high wire/tight rope walkers trained by Galway Community Circus group will demonstrate their skills on the Claddagh basin as part of the Galway International Arts Festival.

Due to Covid-19. the 2020 and 2021 bay swims became virtual events, where swimmers raised money by covering a total distance of 13km during August of those two years.

Stephen Early is first to arrive at the Blackrock diving tower from Aughinish in Co. Clare in a time of 2 hours 35 minutes at the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West in August 2011Stephen Early is first to arrive at the Blackrock diving tower from Aughinish in Co. Clare in a time of 2 hours 35 minutes at the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West in August 2011 Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The most recent Galway Bay Swim was held in 2019 when 144 swimmers crossed Galway Bay, (49 solo swimmers, 31 relay teams (95 relay team swimmers), and this a new record!

As in 2019, the swimmers will be supported by over 100 boats and 150 crew in the bay, giving of their time voluntarily for the charity event.

Paddleboards and kayaks will guide the swimmers for the final 100 metres into Blackrock diving tower, and spectators on land will also cheer them on.

Fiona Thornton after completing the Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim, in memory of her late mother, in aid of Cancer Care West. Her sister Claire and their brother Kevin also swam the bay from Aughinish in Co. Clare. Kevin swam both ways, from Balckrock to Aughinish and back.Fiona Thornton after completing the Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim, in memory of her late mother, in aid of Cancer Care West. Her sister Claire and their brother Kevin also swam the bay from Aughinish in Co. Clare. Kevin swam both ways, from Balckrock to Aughinish and back. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Safety on the crossing is provided by a team of local boat owners, sailors, fishermen, Civil Defence, Oranmore-Maree Coastal Rescue, Doolin Coast Guard, and the RNLI, Cancer Care West says.

Since the event was initiated by the Thornton family, some 900,000 euro has been raised for Cancer Care West.

Seven high lines over the Claddagh and a cast of 150 people of all ages and backgrounds will serve the water stage and cast for “Lifeline”, the Galway Community Circus tightrope walking event which had been proposed for the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

The event aims to promote the importance of mental health wellbeing at a popular city location close to the banks of the river Corrib, where there have also been many personal tragedies over the years.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Johnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club, has no doubts about the importance of the Optimist dinghy class Connacht Championships which his club is hosting this Saturday and Sunday,

As Afloat reported previously, a hundred competitors are expected at what is one of the biggest scheduled events at the Oranmore Club this season.

“It’s a testament to the wonderful spirit of co-operation between all the sailing clubs around Galway Bay that they can come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.

Johnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing ClubJohnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club

“The Optimist Class has been the starting point for generations of sailors and continues to grow and prosper. The enduring popularity around the world and in Ireland is a testament to the foresight of its creators and the great work done by the IODAI to foster competition, development and camaraderie for young sailors,” says Commodore Shorten.

The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute location and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore. Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech. The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. Safety Officer John Collins will be co-ordinating operations.

Published in Galway Harbour
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The RTÉ Documentary on One production Miracle in Galway Bay, which told the story of stranded paddleboarders Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn, has won Best Radio Documentary at the Celtic Media Festival in Brittany.

In the documentary, Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn recalled their miraculous rescue following 15 hours clinging to their boards after being swept out to sea. It details the unfolding search, from raising the alarm, through the appeals for local vessels and people to join in the search along the coast, to the ultimate rescue by Galway fishermen Patrick Oliver and his son, Morgan.

The Celtic Media Festival is an annual 3-day summit which combines a major conference of seminars and masterclasses with the presentation of the coveted Torc Awards for excellence. It took place in Quimper, Brittany from 7th to 9th June.

Recognised for its rich craft in storytelling, the jury at the Celtic Media Festival described Miracle in Galway Bay as “illustrated radio at its best, driven by a narrator who clearly engaged with the subject, with exceptional contributors who recreated their experiences with dramatic accuracy”. The jury continued by saying, “it was layered, it was pacy, and it played hard and fast with our emotions. And finally delivered the happy ending we feared we’d lost”.

Producers of the documentary, Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake said, “we were delighted to win this award for Sara and Ellen, their families, and all those involved in the search and rescue. It was a story of survival, community and hope which deeply touched our listeners. We’re very grateful to all who contributed to the documentary and worked on the production”.

The research for the documentary also informed an account of the paddleboarders' ordeal in the newly published book, Search and Rescue - True Stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116, by Lorna Siggins which has just been published by Merrion Press.

“Documentary on One: Miracle in Galway Bay” is available to download on or wherever you get your podcasts. 

RTÉ’s 'Documentary on One' unit tells radio stories about real life in Ireland and beyond. They are one of the most successful radio documentary departments in the world - having collected over 340 national and international awards since 2008. Their website contains over 1,700 documentaries - the largest free online radio documentary archive anywhere in the world, that stretches as far back as 1954.

Published in Maritime TV
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9th and 10th of July will see one of the largest competitive fleets seen in Galway Bay for many years take to the water for the Connacht Optimist Championships which is being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club.

Up to 150 boats from all corners of Ireland are expected to descend to allow the nation’s young sailors to battle it out in seven different fleets.

The competition will cater for a huge range of ages and abilities. There will be a senior fleet for the older children while the younger children in the junior fleet will have a shorter course to negotiate for each race. There will also be a coached Regatta fleet in the more sheltered waters closer to shore for those still learning their trade and working their way up to the main competitive races. Both the senior and junior fleets are separated into gold, silver and bronze groupings, ensuring a broad spectrum of participation and meaningful races across a range of abilities.

The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore.

Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech.

The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. An event of this size requires a huge volunteer effort. The competitors are grateful to all the volunteers who will be contributing time, effort and boats to ensuring their safety both on and off the water, with Safety Officer John Collins co-ordinating operations. All the sailing clubs around Galway Bay have come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.

The Optimist class originated in the 1940s and is now sailed in over 120 countries across the world. It is by far the most popular class of sailing boats for children aged between eight and thirteen. Despite its somewhat dumpy look, it has proven itself as an excellent boat for generations of children to learn the nuances of competitive racing. Most of Ireland’s sailing Olympians, including Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, learned their trade in the Optimist class.

Published in Optimist
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Slipping out into Galway Bay before sunrise, several traditional craft from Galway Hooker Sailing Club participated in the Darkness into Light national fundraiser on  Saturday.

“When a community comes together, it’s amazing what can be done,” the club said after the highly successful event took place.

The vessels were on the water even as hundreds of people gathered from 4 am on Saturday in Salthill to walk the promenade and shoreline in aid of the charity Pieta.

The city-based club was one of a number of sailing and boating clubs around the country to support the national event, which raises awareness about suicide and fundraises for the support work conducted by Pieta.

Galway City Sailing Club and Galway Bay Sailing Club also responded to the on-water appeal.

“This morning the Galway community came out to walk, run, sail and motor into the day as the sun rose,” Galway Hooker Sailing Club said.

“It was a beautiful morning and we would like to thank everyone,” it said.

Over 3.7 million euros had been pledged to the charity last night, close to its 4 million euro target. Some 54,000 euros of this was raised across 19 venues in Galway, on and off water.

Founded in Dublin in 2006, Pieta was established to provide free, accessible one-to-one counselling to people suffering from suicidal ideation, engaging in self-harm or to those bereaved by suicide.

Published in Galway Hookers

Galway City businesses could benefit from cruise ship passengers to the tune of almost €2 million over the course of the summer months as such ships are due to anchor off the bay.

A total of 22 cruise ships will arrive in Galway between May and the end of September and it is expected that those on board will provide a much needed boost for the local economy. Two of those will pay a visit to the Aran Islands (see related story) as well.

Some of the ships will have up to 1,000 passengers on board – one of the bigger ships Nautica, which will have around 2,000 passengers on board, will visit Galway in the summer of 2024 and this is bound to be an attraction in itself.

The first cruise ship (Borealis, from Cobh) arrived off Galway Bay in the past fortnight and resulted in some 800 passengers being ferried into the city for the day.

They were transported from the 61,000grt cruiseship to the Glór na Farraige (see photo) of Aran Island Ferries, which actually started operating its tourist service from Ros a’ Mhíl to the islands much earlier than normal due to the demand.

More from Connacht Tribune and the Port of Galway harbourmaster.

The Glór na Farraige Afloat recalls an east coast role back in 2015 when also chartered to bring cruise-passengers ashore off Dun Laoghaire Harbour from where yesterday, NCL's giant Norwegian Getaway (145,000grt) made an anchorage call.  

Published in Cruise Liners
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Irish Fishing industry 

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.


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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