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Nearly five years into his epic project to photograph every RNLI lifeboat station with a Victorian-era camera, Jack Lowe this week began the Northern Ireland leg of the mammoth undertaking.

Starting yesterday (Tuesday 3 September) at Red Bay, Lowe’s four-week swing also includes Portrush tomorrow (Thursday 5 September), then Enniskillen, Carrybridge, Newcastle, Kilkeel, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Larne before he returns home to Newcastle-upon-Tyne — via Portpatrick and Stranraer in Scotland.

Lowe will capture each lifeboat station and its crew using wet plate collodion, a process developed in the 1850s — when the RNLI also began — that creates stunning images on glass.

Following this 19th leg, the end of The Lifeboat Station Project will be in sight as the remaining station count will be down to double figures.

When completed, The Lifeboat Station Project will be the very first time every station on the RNLI network been documented as one complete body of work. It is also one of the biggest photographic projects ever undertaken, the RNLI says.

As with the rest of his adventure, Lowe travelled to Northern Ireland on Monday (2 September) with ‘Neena’, a decommissioned NHS ambulance purchased on eBay, which he converted into a mobile darkroom.

Along the way Lowe has been sharing the ups and downs of his mission on social media. He also makes videos and sound recordings, enabling his followers to get a real sense of what life is like within lifeboat communities.

Almost a year ago, Lowe reached the halfway mark of his epic project that previously took him to Ireland’s South Coast, where he completed his 100th station in Valentia.

By the end of September 2018, he estimates to have used around 1,500 glass plates, 120 litres of developer and 45 litres of collodion.

Lowe had also driven some 28,000 miles — the equivalent of more than once round the world.

“It’s a privilege spending time with so many lifeboat volunteers, preserving their bravery and devotion for future generations,” Lowe says.

“This journey is unprecedented in so many ways. The further I travel, the deeper the body of work becomes on just about every level and in ways that I could never have foreseen or imagined.”

The Lifeboat Station Project’s dedicated website has links to Lowe’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as his Patreon campaign.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Likely objections about “visual impact” would hamper any attempts to develop offshore wind farms in Northern Ireland for the time being, according to a new Stormont report.

As BBC News reports, the paper from the Department for the Economy highlights “significant issues” with regard to expected objections to wind farm projects within 13km of the shore.

As well as “visual impact”, there are also concerns relating to protected habitats around Northern Ireland’s coastline.

Northern Ireland has been exclused from the Crown Estate’s latest leasing round for such schemes. It had been hoped that the coast from Carlingford Lough to Belfast Lough would be considered for leasing.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

Fourteen sailing clubs across Northern Ireland have been given a unique opportunity by RYANI to grow and develop their clubs.

Through the Focus Clubs programme, each of the selected clubs will receive support from RYANI so that they can focus on development, explore funding support for participation programmes and promote activities that they will be running.

In 2019, the following clubs will benefit from the programme:

The initiative was established to help clubs to develop into world class clubs.

RYANI active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey said: “The Focus Clubs programme is a fantastic initiative where we help clubs to sustainably grow and support their active membership.

“At RYANI we work with the club and provide support so that they can maximise the good work they are already doing and identify opportunities to grow membership further.

“We are delighted to be able to run this initiative for the third year, with support from Sport Northern Ireland and the National Lottery.

“It is programmes like this that really add value and help to increase opportunities and the number of people taking part in sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.”

In 2018, Focus Clubs membership grew by an average of 8.1% on the previous year.

RYANI says the programme and support are not only about helping bring new members in, but also allowing clubs to deliver activity from which all their members will benefit.

Published in Sailing Clubs

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has voted unanimously to approve the installation of water-cleaning Seabins along the coastline north of Belfast Lough, as the Larne Times reports.

Harbours and marinas from Carrickfergus to Carnlough are now expected to benefit from the revolutionary water-cleaning devices — a single one of which has the potential to collect half a tonne of rubbish, or more than 80,000 plastic bags, from the water surface each year.

As reported by the Belfast Telegraph last September, Ards and North Down councillors were planning to bring in 10 Seabins to help clean up harbours and marinas around the peninsula.

In the Republic, the latest Seabins may soon come to Howth thanks to a local crowdfunding campaign that follows young anti-litter figurehead Flossie Donnelly’s successful awareness and fundraising efforts in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#Lifeguards - The RNLI is in search of new recruits to spend the summer working on some of Northern Ireland’s most popular beaches, as applications open for 2018’s beach lifeguards and face-to-face fundraisers.

Both roles are essential in supporting the RNLI to reduce the number of people who drown on our coasts, and to help keep people safe by providing essential local safety advice to the millions of holidaymakers who visit the beaches every summer.

RNLI lifeguards patrol 11 beaches along the Causeway Coast and in Co Down including Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart Strand, Portrush West, Portrush East, Whiterocks, Ballycastle, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

At the forefront of the RNLI’s lifesaving work, they responded to 235 incidents and helped 255 people in 2016. Successful applicants receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, as well as developing transferable skills.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Karl O’Neill says: “Working as a lifeguard has got to be one of the best summer jobs – you get to call the beach your office for a start! But far more importantly than that, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way.

“This is a demanding job requiring commitment, skill and a clear head. We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to draw on their training and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role.”

The RNLI is also recruiting face-to-face fundraisers, who’ll work alongside lifeguards to provide beach visitors with important safety advice, playing a vital role in saving lives by educating the public on risks at the coast.

Applicants will need to be dynamic and act as a positive ambassador – encouraging support for this lifesaving charity is just one of the things these fundraisers will do this summer season.

Neal Somerville, RNLI face-to-face manager, says: “A good fundraiser generally has to be friendly and relaxed, but also energetic, able to talk to anyone and be passionate about what they do.

“We provide quality training which ensures new fundraisers feel confident and capable in the role. Developing new skills, working in a team at the beach for a national charity is really has to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs.”

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply to be part of our amazing lifesaving teams at summerjobs.rnli.org or search for #BestSummerJob on Facebook and Twitter.

Published in Water Safety

#MarineWildlife - A retired coastguard volunteer has spoken of the “amazing” experience of helping a stranded whale to safety in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (3 October).

As BBC News reports, commercial diver John Lowry diverted from his commute home to the scene, on a sandbank near Newcastle promenade in Co Down, and immediately set to work.

“The first thing I did was to try and get the head of the whale pointed out to sea, so that if I could get him to move that he was going directly out to sea,” he said, explaining how minke whales are easily disoriented when stranded.

Lowry spent up to 15 minutes slowly and painstakingly urging the whale forward with each small wave — until finally it kicked into deeper water, much to the delight of locals and children who were watching the ordeal.

However, Lowry offered a word of caution for anyone else thinking of attempting a similar rescue.

“Don't approach [a whale] unless you have experience of this kind of thing, because they are very powerful,” said the Newcastle man, who previously helped save a beached whale when he served with South Down Coastguard.

In other news, a whale died in the waters between Ireland and Scotland coast after getting entangled in a rope — the first such recorded occurrence in 25 years.

According to Deadline News, the Northern Bottlenose whale — a species rarely sighted in the waters of the continental shelf — was found with wounds caused by rope, and is though to have drowned before it washed up at Ardentinny in Western Scotland in late September.

“Entanglement is known to be a global problem particularly for large whales,” says the Scottish Marine Stranding Scheme.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Kayaking - A Northern Irish businessman has spoken out over what he claims is lack of support from the Alliance Party for an indoor kayaking facility in East Belfast.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, jewellery retail entrepreneur Peter Boyle says he expects a refusal of his application to retain a marquee at a restored 50-yard pool in the grounds of Ormiston House, currently being used by the Belfast Kayaking Academy.

Boyle claims that Alliance Party leader and MLA Chris Lyttle took concerns from a local group objecting to the kayaking facility directly to the planning officer.

“We were a bit annoyed that Alliance hadn’t spoken to us first,” he told the Telegraph. “While there was a group of local people objecting, there was also significant local support.”

Boyle adds that his ire was raise by a subsequent Alliance newsletter that pledged support for sport in East Belfast.

“Our point was that this pool was meant to be a community facility and should be within the community it serves,” he said.

A solicitor for the Alliance Party has however branded Boyle’s claims as “spurious, innacurate, bizzae [and] false”, listing a number of planning enforcement cases against Boyle over alleged unauthorised works on the grounds of Ormiston House.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

#Surfing - “It was just… nothing. There is only blackness.”

That’s how Scottish surfer Matthew Bryce describes his terrifying ordeal adrift on his board in the North Channel for 32 hours.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the 23-year-old recently returned to Campbelltown in Argyll a month after what was supposed to be a morning riding the waves turned into a nightmare.

The young man was finally rescued from the sea off Northern Ireland on 1 May, more than a day after getting pulled away from the shore, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Bryce expressed his appreciation to the local RNLI and coastguard teams, who worked with their counterparts in Northern Ireland to search the sea by boat and air.

He also appealed to anyone else going surfing to avoid the mistakes he made in surfing alone, without GPS or means to contact anyone on shore.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing
Tagged under

#Rescue - Coastguard units from Ballycastle and Coleraine were tasked on Friday night (26 May) to the aid of a dog fell more than 30 feet off a cliff near the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.

The coastguard teams used their specialist rope rescue equipment to lower a technician down the cliff to secure Bell the springer spaniel and lift her up to her grateful owners.

Belfast Coastguard reminds anyone with pets on or near the water to keep them on leads, especially close to cliffs. If an accident should happen, don't attempt a rescue yourself – always call the coastguard who are trained for the purpose.

In other news from the North Coast, the iconic Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is closed until further notice after vandals attempted to cut it down.

TheJournal.ie has more on the incident last week, as the National Trust awaits investigation by structural engineers to determine the extent of the damage to the coastal tourism attraction.

Published in Rescue

#MarineScience - Scientists from Northern Ireland will lead a new project monitoring whale and dolphin sounds off the Scottish and Irish coasts, as BBC News reports.

The scheme led by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will see a network of buoys deployed with devices to pick up cetacean chatter – as well as potentially harmful ocean sounds from sea traffic or industry.

"Displacement from noise is a very real effect and ... if it doesn't cause them to move will change their behaviours and, at the most acute levels, can cause physical and physiological damage to the animals,” says Dr Adam Mellor of the AFBI.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science
Page 3 of 27

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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