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Just three days after the return of Newcastle RNLI station's D class lifeboat, Eliza, after a refit, in the late afternoon yesterday, Belfast Coastguard requested the immediate launch of the both the station's Lifeboats to reports of an overdue swimmer in the vicinity of the Inner Dundrum Bay area at at Murlough Beach.

The swimmer had got separated from his friend. Coastguard teams from Newcastle, Kilkeel and Portaferry, police officers from Newcastle and Downpatrick and the Coastguard helicopter from Valley, in Wales were also involved in the search.

Dundrum Outer Bay lies east of Newcastle in south County Down. The Outer Bay is a wide gently shelving bay, and the Inner Bay is an estuarine lagoon, connected to the Outer Bay by a tidal channel.

The search extended from Murlough Beach, around Dundrum inner bay to Tyrella Beach in difficult conditions with a strong, cold onshore wind.

Over two hours after he went missing the swimmer was found by Police Officers on the beach at Ballykinler Army Base, having been swept away from Murlough and across the bay before coming ashore. The man was taken to hospital.

The rescue was coordinated by Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre.

This story was updated on November 17 with up to date details of the rescue operation

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The team at Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland is calling for a new volunteer lifeboat press officer to help them to save lives at sea.

This role will help raise awareness of the RNLI through the promotion of the lifeboat station’s vital work, including newsworthy rescues carried out by the crew.

Newcastle RNLI is seeking someone who can produce and distribute regular new releases, be available to answer media enquiries, work to support media opportunities and facilitate interview requests.

The role is best suited to someone with good writing and communication skills, who lives locally and can be flexible with their time.

Lisa Ramsden, Newcastle RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “Volunteering with us gives people the opportunity to make a real difference in their local community, to save lives and become part of the larger RNLI family.

“We can’t keep people safe without the support of our wonderful volunteers, who truly make a difference every day no matter which role they are fulfilling.

“Becoming a volunteer lifeboat press officer is a great chance to play a crucial part in helping to save lives.

“We’re looking for an enthusiastic person with good writing and interpersonal skills and who enjoys working with people and at times under pressure to inform the media and update our community on the various lifesaving activities that are happening at the station from rescues to fundraising, community safety to events.”

Anyone interested in finding out more or wants to apply should follow the link to the RNLI website HERE.

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Clean-up operations are under way in Newcastle and other parts of Co Down after the Shinma River burst its banks due to heavy rainfall from Storm Francis yesterday (Tuesday 25 August).

As BreakingNews.ie reports, as many as 300 homes were affected by the floodwaters which rose over one metre in some areas.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath said of the scene: “It is like a disaster zone.”

Flooding was particularly acute in the Bryansford Avenue area of Newcastle, along the north side of the Shinma River at the foot of the Mournes.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said a number of people were rescued from their homes as a specialist rescue team, flood response teams and local crews attended the situation.

Dozens of homes and businesses in Co Cork were also damaged by flooding and strong winds as the storm blew through the county early yesterday. The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

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A spate of boat vandalism at Newcastle Harbour in Co Down is putting lives at risk, a former coastguard chief claims.

John Lowry told the Belfast Telegraph that a number of boats in the Northern Ireland harbour have been damaged and loosened from their moorings over recent weeks.

The latest incident saw fellow sailors recover a boat from a nearby beach in difficult weather.

“We’re calling for the council to put more procedures in place,” said Lowry. “Part of the harbour isn't lit up at night at all and the boat owners are calling for help.”

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

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The RNLI lifeboat crew in Newcastle, Co Down rescued three people over two callouts in the space of 24 hours earlier this week.

The all-weather lifeboat first launched on Monday morning (13 July) to aid a boat with two people aboard who were experiencing difficulties somewhere between Bloody Bridge and William’s Harbour.

The casualty vessel was located swiftly and was taken under tow to the slipway at Annalong, but tidal conditions required the assistance of the inshore lifeboat to bring it to a safe mooring.

Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan commended the boat owner for deploying his anchor to prevent the vessel drifting onto rocks, which would have made for a trickier rescue.

The following morning, Tuesday 14 July, the all-weather lifeboat was launched again — this time to a pleasure boat with engine failure.

The lifeboat crew headed in calm conditions to the given location inside the Cow and Calf, some six miles east of station on the East Coast of Northern Ireland.

After navigating through submerged rocks on an ebbing tide, the lifeboat was able to take the casualty vessel, with one person on board, under tow to Dundrum Harbour from where it had set off.

Tidal conditions again necessitated the launch of the inshore lifeboat to assist with the final tow to a safe mooring.

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This morning Newcastle RNLI were tasked along with their colleagues from Newcastle and Kilkeel Coastguard to assist a casualty who had trapped his foot under the vehicle with an incoming tide while in the process of trying to launch their boat.

On arrival at the scene, the crew found the casualty had managed to free his foot and Newcastle RNLI tractor assisted the vehicle, which had now become bogged in the soft sand along with boat and trailer back off the shore to safety.

Newcastle NIFRS were also tasked along with PSNI and Belfast CGOC co-ordinated the incident.

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Five crew were rescued from a fishing vessel that ran aground on rocks on approach to Ardglass Harbour early yesterday morning (Wednesday 23 October).

Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews launched to assist after a Mayday call from the 24-metre vessel, which had been drifting towards Phennick Point outside the harbour.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the boat, the Cork-registered Dillon Owen, was attempting to enter the harbour to land its herring catch when it quickly lost powe

As the lifeboats proceeded towards Ardglass, the fishing vessel was stuck on the rocks and had begun taking on water. The Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 was also scrambled to the scene carrying extra pumps.

Following a dynamic risk assessment between the lifeboats and fishing boat skipper, an attempt was made to tow the vessel off the rocks.

But due to worsening weather and tidal conditions, it was decided after numerous attempts by the Newcastle lifeboat coxswain to evacuate the crew of the vessel instead — with Rescue 116 airlifting them to safety upon its arrival.

Speaking after the rescue, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “This morning's rescue was a success due to multi-agency teamwork with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard, volunteers at Portaferry RNLI and Portaferry and Newcastle coastguard teams. Thankfully this was positive outcome, and all five fishermen are safe and well.”

Kevin Quigley of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority said the fishing vessel remained listing “very badly” at the harbour and further attempts would be made to refloat it.

Published in Rescue

Eight French sailors were happy to see Newcastle RNLI when their motor yacht had engine troubles off the Co Down coast last Friday night (19 July).

Conditions were poor, with fog and rain and a southerly Force 3 wind with a 1-2m swell when the all-weather lifeboat reached the stricken boat some 14 miles off Newcastle at 10pm.

All eight on board were found safe and well, and prepared for the rough conditions with foul weather clothing and lifejackets.

At the request of the vessel’s skipper, a tow was established and the boat was towed into Ardglass Harbour, where members of Newcastle Coastguard assisted with mooring.

Speaking afterwards, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “We would like to commend the actions of the yacht’s crew for having the correct lifesaving equipment on board and for calling for assistance at the earliest opportunity as the situation could have deteriorated with weather conditions worsening.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lifeboats from Clogherhead, Newcastle and Kilkeel were involved in the search for a woman missing in Carlingford Lough at the weekend, which came to a sad end yesterday afternoon (Monday 18 March) with the discovery of a body in the water off Greenore.

Newcastle RNLI was tasked to divert from a morning training exercise on the Co Down coast to join the major search operation which began on Sunday (17 March), concentrating on the entrance to Carlingford Lough and outlying islands.

During this search the all-weather lifeboat located a casualty in the water and, working with volunteer lifeboat crews from Clogherhead and Kilkeel RNLI, the casualty was taken ashore to Greenore Harbour by the Kilkeel lifeboat and placed in the care of An Garda Síochána.

The casualty was shortly after confirmed to be the remains of Ruth Maguire from Newcastle, who went missing during a hen party in Carlingford on Saturday night (16 March).

Speaking following the search, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “On behalf of Newcastle RNLI I wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the woman who was recovered from the water this afternoon.

“The thoughts and prayers of the everyone involved in the search are with them at this sad time. I also wish to commend the volunteer crews for their commitment and professionalism.”

Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Fisher added: “This was not the outcome we or the family wanted and at this difficult time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the casualty.

“At this time I would also like to thank the volunteer crew for their commitment and energy. We train for such an incident but always pray that it has a better outcome.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - Newcastle RNLI was involved in the rescue of three yachts in Strangford Lough during Storm Ali on Wednesday (19 September).

The lifeboat volunteers were first alerted at 11.40am to go the aid of a stricken yacht at Newtownards Sailing Club in Co Down.

As the all-weather lifeboat launched, under coxswain William Chambers, it quickly became apparent the challenging weather conditions the crew would face on their passage to Newtownards.

The main water tight doors were closed and all crew seated as they faced eight-metre waves hitting from the side.

A Force 8 gale was blowing as the crew approached Strangford Lough. It was some 90 minutes later before the seas started to settle as the lifeboat was sheltered by the shore.

On arrival at Newtownards at 2.15pm, the coastguard was concerned that there may be a person onboard the weather-beaten yacht, Newcastle RNLI confirmed that nobody had been on the boat and she was safely on the mooring.

The lifeboat was then requested to go the aid of another yacht drifting across the lough from White Rock and Kircubbin, but unfortunately by the time the volunteers reached the vessel there was nothing they could do as it was on the rocks on an ebbing tide.

On return to station, approaching Portaferry, the crew were alerted to a third yacht in difficulty. The crew established a tow line and managed to free the vessel and towed it to the safety off a mooring in Strangford.

Leaving the sheltered waters of Strangford Lough, the lifeboat and its crew once again faced mountainous seas and the coxswain decided to stop in Ardglass Marina for an hour to let the wind decrease and the wave size drop.

Leaving Ardglass around 6pm, the crew faced large but bearable seas, making it back to Newcastle an hour later.

“This was a challenging day for our volunteers given that we launched into rough seas when Storm Ali was at its worst,” said Chambers of the seven-hour shout.

“It was also uncertain at that point if there was a life at risk onboard the yacht. Thankfully there wasn’t in this case.

“It was a long and challenging day but our volunteers are highly skilled and trained for these situations and were delighted to be able to help.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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