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Displaying items by tag: Irish Coast Guard

Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as a mediator to attempt to resolve the Doolin Coast Guard crisis, as RTÉ News reports.

The former director of the Workplace Relations Commission has been appointed by Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton to step in and help to find a solution for issues within the Co Clare coastguard unit.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the station has been stood down after the mass resignation of six volunteers at the start of this month following years of rancour and division between members and Irish Coast Guard management.

Welcoming the appointment, local Senator Timmy Dooley said Mulvey will bring “immense experience” to the role and that he hoped “all sides will engage”. RTÉ News has more on the story.

Last week, the chairman of the new coastguard volunteers’ representative association told Afloat’s Tom MacSweeney that personnel issues have been “a blind spot” for the coastguard. Listen to the podcast HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Individuals who risked their own lives to aid others in peril on the water made up the bulk of this year’s National Bravery Awards, which were presented by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl on Friday (12 November).

The ceremony at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park brought recipients together to receive their Certificates of Bravery for 17 acts of bravery. There were also nine Bronze Medals for Bravery awarded, while another six recipients received Silver Medals for Bravery.

“What these awards celebrate is the noblest impulse within a human being, to risk their life in order to save another,” the Ceann Comhairle said.

“We honour people who leaped into stormy seas, who braved swollen rivers, climbed down cliffs, assisted at road traffic collisions and performed other remarkable deeds. Through their actions there are people alive today who would undoubtedly have died.”

The crew of the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 were each awarded a Certificate of Bravery for their efforts to evacuate seven from a fishing vessel that sank at Kenmare Bay in March this year.

Sarah Courtney, Ronan Flanagan and Adrian O’Hara from Waterford and Aaron Hyland from Galway each received Certificates of Bravery, and for her actions Sarah Courtney was also awarded a Silver Medal.

Four visiting Americans were commended after leaping into action to rescue a young girl who was swept out to sea on an inflatable at Portmarnock Beach in July 2019.

Walter Butler — a member of the US Coast Guard — and his relatives Declan Butler, Eoghan Butler and Alexander Hugh Thomson from Arlington, Virginia each received a Certificate of Bravery.

Another incident at Portmarnock the following month saw Gerard Tyrrell receive a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of two girls blown out to sea on an inflatable flamingo.

Shane Moloney was commended for saving his father Noel’s life after the boat they were moving out of a field behind their North Cork home struck overhead power lines, delivering a near-fatal 10,000-volt electric shock.

Beth Darrer and Niamh McMahon each received a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for their swift response to help rescue four young men who got into difficulty in the water at Inchydoney Beach in May 2020.

For her selfless actions in rescuing a father and his three daughters swept out to sea off Portsalon Beach in Co Donegal in July 2020, Jane Friel was awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Scott McQuaid was honoured with a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for his rescue of a young boy who had got into difficulty with his father when their kayak capsized at Ardreigh Lock on the River Barrow in Athy in February this year.

Zoey Lally rescued three teenage boys who were swept into the sea from Easkey Pier by a high wave in March this year, and received a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery for her actions.

A number of gardaí were also commended in this years awards, with Garda Keenan McGavisk and Garda Róisín O’Donnell receiving Bronze Medals for their rescue of a distressed man from a fast-flowing river in Ardee, Co Louth in March last year, and Garda Caroline O’Brien also getting a Bronze Medal for saving the life of a young man who entered the water near St John’s Quay in Kilkenny in July 2019.

And 26 years after her crucial lifesaving actions, a Silver Medal and Certificate of Braver were awarded to Susan Hackett for the rescue of two young people who got into difficulty while swimming in the River Suir new Newcastle, Co Tipperary in the summer of 1995.

The National Bravery Awards are awarded annually by Comhairle na Míre Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was founded in 1947 to enable State recognition of exceptional acts of bravery.

The council is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

Published in Rescue

TheJournal.ie reports that the Government intends to appoint an independent mediator to resolve issues at Doolin Coast Guard that led to the resignation of six volunteers last week.

Fears have been growing over the future of the Irish Coast Guard unit in Co Clare, which was left with just five active and fully trained volunteers and was subsequently stood down.

One coastguard member said the situation that involves accusations of bullying within the service “has been simmering in Doolin for years”.

Responding to a question in the Seanad the past Tuesday (9 November) from Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley, Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton suggested there is “a role for an independent person or mediator to be appointed to the Doolin unit with a view to resolving the difficulties”.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Fears have grown over the future of Doolin Coast Guard after the unit was suspended last week following the resignation of six volunteers members on Monday 1 November.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the Co Clare coastguard unit — which is now left with just five active and fully trained volunteers out of a complement of 11 — has been stood down.

However, Inis Óirr Coast Guard in the Aran Islands, which comes under the direct management of the Doolin unit, will remain operational.

One coastguard member said the situation that involves accusations of bullying within the service “has been simmering in Doolin for years”.

“Each and every one of those members was an invaluable asset to the service. Dublin [management] wasn’t blindsided by this but they blindly let it happen,” they said.

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said it “acknowledges the divisions that have unfortunately existed within the unit for a number of years”.

It added that it “will continue to offer support to all those affected by this event, and with the aim to strengthen the unit’s management structure, provide relevant training and mediation services as may be required, and return the unit to operational readiness as quickly as practicable”.

During the week the Dáil was told that the “toxic” working environment at Doolin is replicated “up and down” the country, according to The Irish Times.

It follows a report last month that paints “a picture of friction and strain” between the coastguard rank-and-file and upper management over claims of poor treatment of volunteers.

Meanwhile, a maritime lawyer has called for a “root and branch review” of the coastguard system in Ireland, as the Irish Independent reports.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday (3 November) Michael Kingston alleged a “litany of failures” regarding volunteers’ safety within the service nationwide.

It comes in the same week that the final report into the loss of Rescue 116 and its four crew in a crash off the North Mayo coast in March 2017 was severely critical of risk management within CHC Ireland, which operates the search and rescue helicopter service for the Irish Coast Guard. Afloat.ie has more on that story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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Carnsore/Rosslare Coast Guard is featured in the third episode of Ireland’s Unidentified Bodies, now streaming on the Virgin Media Player.

The episode glimpses into the coastguard’s part in assisting in a search for remains off the coast of Wexford.

As previously reported in the Irish Independent, the four-part docuseries hopes to join the dots in the search for Ireland’s missing people.

The series is currently being rebroadcast on Wednesdays, and you can catch episode three again next Wednesday night at 11pm on Virgin Media One.

Published in Maritime TV

The volunteer crew of Bundoran RNLI were called out on Wednesday afternoon (27 October) to reports of a cow in distress in the surf at Tullan Strand in the Donegal town.

A passer-by had spotted the animal in the water and immediately alerted the Irish Coast Guard at Malin Head who in turn paged the lifeboat crew.

The four crew launched the inshore lifeboat just after 4.30pm and made their way in rough seas to Tullan Strand to assess the situation, while a number of other volunteer crew attended via the shore to offer visual backup to the lifeboat crew.

As the swell was between three and four metres, conditions were difficult for the lifeboat to get closer to the shore with visibility of the cow also tricky for the shore crew.

Daisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon FergusDaisy Mae following her rescue on Wednesday | Credit: Daimon Fergus

The animal was soon spotted, however, by which time the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was on scene. Using the noise and downdraft of the helicopter, its crew were able to encourage the cow back to safety on the shore.

Both the lifeboat and helicopter stayed on scene to ensure the safety of the cow which was tended to on shore before both units were stood down.

Speaking on return to the lifeboat station, Bundoran RNLI helm Michael Patton said: “We were delighted to see a successful outcome from today’s callout and would like to thank those who assisted in the rescue of the cow.

“If you are ever worried that your pet or animal is in danger, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard, rather than putting yourself at risk by going into the water after them.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A report in this weekend’s Irish Times highlights “a picture of friction and strain” within the Irish Coast Guard, with a number of former and serving coastguard officers taking management to task over allegations of poor treatment of volunteers.

The situation appears to put management’s new culture of safety protocols against volunteers “who feel the organisation’s priority has shifted away from rescue missions and saving lives”.

It describes the case of one decorated former volunteer in Co Waterford who believes he was driven out of the organisation over his political views and for voicing concern over safety issues.

However, such claims that volunteers are targeted and subject bullying or to unfair disciplinary measures have been rejected by acting Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan, who maintains the changes are necessary.

Reforms have come in the wake of two major tragedies for the coastguard in recent years, with the death of volunteer Caitríona Lucas in September 2016 and the Rescue 116 crash in March 2017 which took four lives.

“We are not about best mates here, we’re about trying to run an organisation," Clonan said of the friction againt the changes, adding: "If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve to crack a few eggs.”

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard will lead a large-scale, multi-agency maritime exercise off the Kerry coast this Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 September.

The ‘Blue Kingdom’ exercise at Dingle Bay will test major incident plans and will focus on the operational capability and coordination of the relevant authorities for a major maritime ship casualty incident.

Agencies involved in this exercise include Kerry County Council, the HSE, An Garda Síochána, Dublin Fire Brigade, Naval Service, Air Corps and RNLI.

The exercise will include both live and virtual participation, and the coastguard assures there will be no disruption to services during operations.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard has launched its new digital portal which will support contingency planning for oil spills and improve preparedness and response to pollution incidents.

In line with the Government’s Digital Agenda, the Oil/HNS Contingency Plan Approval Portal aims to streamline interaction between ports, local authorities and offshore operators with the coastguard and Department of Transport.

Irish Coast Guard director Eugene Clonan said the portal “will allow information to be readily available to stakeholders and enable further coordination between the Irish Coast Guard, Government and non-government entities”.

Capt Hugh Conlon, who tested the system ahead of its launch at Shannon Foynes Port, said it “ensures all plans submitted follow a pre-set layout for ease in timely approval. The completed plan will knit with and develop on the National Maritime Oil/HNS Contingency Plan and ensure local response is compatible.

“The portal will also ensure that local plans are easily available to the Irish Coast Guard to monitor actions during an incident,” he added.

Published in Coastguard

Howth’s Irish Coast Guard unit were tasked to an unusual incident yesterday (Sunday 29 August) after a seven-month-old lamb fell off a cliff on Lambay Island.

Nicknamed ‘Lucky Louis’, the young sheep had fallen 10 metres down a cliff on the east side of the island — east of Portrane in north Co Dublin — and was trapped among the rocks at the cliff base.

Despite his ordeal, the lamb was hesitant when coastguard crew arrived and tried to hide in a nearby cave.

But he was swiftly rounded up and brought back to staff on the island with some small cuts but otherwise in good spirits.

“All’s wool that end’s wool,” the coastguard unit said.

Published in Coastguard
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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.

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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