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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#Lifeguards - RNLI lifeguards are hitting the surf again and bringing their popular beach safety programmes to school children and youth groups in Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of children have already been through the programmes and learned valuable and important advice to keep safe in the water and along the shore, in a fun and interactive way.

Last summer 345,027 people visited the 10 RNLI-lifeguarded beaches on the Causeway Coast and in Co Down. Of these people 27,043 entered the water while 9,975 took part in surfing or other water leisure actives such as body boarding and kite surfing.

The lifeguards responded to 182 incidents, coming to the aid of 218 people. As well as rescues carried out in the water, lifeguards also dealt with falls, first aid and lost children.

The RNLI lifeguarding season has already begun on five beaches along the Causeway Coast and this cover will be extended for the peak summer season from Saturday 25 June through to Sunday 4 September.

In the run up to this and before schools break up for the summer, the RNLI is encouraging primary schools and youth groups to sign-up for its two beach safety education programmes.

The ‘Meet the Lifeguards’ and ‘Hit the Surf’ programmes teach young people the importance of beach safety in a fun and practical way.’

‘Meet the Lifeguards’ is an interactive session where RNLI lifeguards visit a school or youth group and teach the children key safety advice that they then put to use when they visit a beach with family and friends.

Children learn what the different beach safety flags and signs mean, the safety of using inflatables, the dangers of 'tombstoning', sun safety and how to identify natural and man-made hazards in and around the water. They will also learn about body boarding and surfing safety and how to escape a rip current. Information on tides and waves is included in the session.

The ‘Hit the Surf’ programme, meanwhile, offers a unique opportunity for school children or youth groups to get practical lessons in lifesaving and beach safety at one of the 10 RNLI-lifeguarded beaches located on the North Coast and in Co Down, or inland for the first time on the shores of Lough Erne in Cp Fermanagh.

The two-and-a-half-hour session includes a lesson on staying safe at the beach and explains the role of the RNLI and its lifeguards. It is followed by a lifesaving lesson and learning surf-based skills while building the children’s confidence in the sea. They will also learn about local hazards and the beach environment.

For more information on how to book your school onto an RNLI education programme in Northern Ireland, contact RNLI lifeguard supervisor Jenny Thompson 077 8992 4563 or email [email protected]

Published in Water Safety

#Angling - Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has published a digest of statistics for salmon and inland fisheries in the department's jurisdiction.

The main purpose of these statistics is to give an overview of the DCAL fisheries sector in Northern Ireland. The latest available data have been drawn together from a number of published and unpublished sources.

Some key statistics from the report include the following:

  • There were 25,667 angling licences and 17,984 DCAL permits sold in 2014.
  • 1,024 rod licences and 1,013 permits were checked in the DCAL public angling estate in 2014/15.
  • There were approximately 361,000 salmon fry stocked from Bushmills Hatchery to rivers in Northern Ireland in 2014.
  • No salmon were caught in commercial fishing nets in 2014.
  • The estimated return of wild adult salmon to the River Bush in 2014 was 963 and was below the previous 10-year average (2004-2013) of 1,239.
  • The 10-year overall eel catch average in Lough Neagh (2005-2014) of 399 tonnes is 35% less than the previous ten year eel catch average (1995-2004) of 612 tonnes.
  • The eel escapement estimate for the Neagh-Bann River Basin District for 2014 was 253 tonnes and above the 200 tonnes target.

The bulletin is available on the DCAL website or from the Research and Statistics Branch, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG (Tel: 028 9081 6971; Email: [email protected]).

In other news, Northern Ireland's Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed a new platform designed to accommodate disabled anglers at Copeland Reservoir in Carrickfergus.

The concrete platform is built to a high specification and gives anglers who use wheelchairs close and safe access to the water.

“Angling is an integral part of our leisure offering not only for local people, but also for tourists," said the minister this week. "It is a very relaxing and peaceful way of passing time and unwinding in the open air, and I am committed to ensuring that wheelchair users have equal access to angling."

Minister Ní Chuilín said the new platform "is designed to ensure that wheelchair-using anglers can get as close as possible to the water’s edge, safely. There is also a car park located right beside it, further enhancing accessibility.

“There is a considerable disabled angling fraternity locally, with over 1,700 one-year disabled angling licences and 1,500 day permits being issued each year. This is a significant number, and I want to see even more disabled people experiencing the benefits of angling for themselves."

The new stand "offers disabled anglers another choice of location to fish, and visit the surrounding area. It brings to more than 30 the number of public angling estate locations which are accessible to anglers with a disability," the minister added.

“I commend staff in my department’s Inland Fisheries Group who have constructed the platform and I hope that it caters for disabled anglers for many years to come.”

Published in Angling

#MarineWildlife - Dolphin and porpoise monitoring off the North Coast got a boost this week thanks to a £15,000 NI government grant for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), as Causeway Coastal Community reports.

“This is good news for the IWDG and for those with a passion for marine wildlife," said Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Mark Durkan on funding for the acoustic monitoring project, which will focus on cetacean populations off Portrush and the nearby Giant's Causeway.

The project also includes an outreach programme with local schools and communities to get local people invested in the protection of marine wildlife on their shores. Causeway Coastal Community has more on the story HERE.

Minister Durkan is also the subject of calls to add the waters off Islandmagee to recently recommended Marine Conservation Zones for Northern Ireland over fears that a new gas power station could create a marine 'dead zone' in the area.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Islandmagee locals are appealing to Northern Ireland's Environment Minister to add their waters to the list of recently proposed Marine Conservation Zones.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the call comes over fears that a planned Gaelectric gas power station could create a 'dead zone' in the North Channel caused by brine runoff from the plant.

Gaeletric maintains that even under a worst-case scenario, any impact of brine pumped into the sea on marine wildlife and plantlife would be low.

But the Islandmagee Community Residents Association argues that the development poses a threat to a "delicate and biodiverse" ecosystem in the area, which is home to vulnerable colonies of puffins as well as black guillemots and razorbills, among others.

As reported in December on Afloat.ie, Rathlin, Waterfoot, Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough were put forward for consideration as Marine Conservation Zones, the public consultation for which closed last Friday 11 March.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Aurora - Skywatchers in Northern Ireland were treated to a spectacular light show last night (Monday 7 March) as a "lucky combination" of weather conditions made the aurora borealis visible across much of the country.

The video below, via Tam Mullen and the Belfast Telegraph, shows how the Northern Lights looked over Belfast and Lough Neagh.

Published in Weather

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI rescued four people on Saturday night (13 February) after their angling boat got into difficulty off the Co Down coast.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.30pm on Saturday following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go to the aid of a 36ft angling boat, which had suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point while on passage from Howth to Carrickfergus.

Under coxswain Aidan Riley and with five crew members on board, the lifeboat launched within minutes and made its way to the scene some 16 nautical miles from the station.

Weather conditions at the time were described as fresh with rough seas and Force 5-6 winds blowing.

With the vessel losing battery power, Newcastle RNLI advised the crew to switch the boat’s lights off until the lifeboat was closer to their location.

Once on scene 80 minutes later, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and once confident that no one was in any immediate danger, the lifeboat crew began to work with the angling crew to set up a towline.

The vessel was then taken under tow and brought safely back to Ardglass.

Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Aidan Riley said: "The vessel was quite a bit away from the shore when it sustained engine difficulties and the crew made the right call to ask for assistance.

"We were delighted to help and glad to see the boat and her crew returned safely to Ardglass."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#NorthCoast - Ireland's North Coast – one of the island's emerging surfing hotspots – was the big winner at the 2016 OutdoorNI Awards, as the Coleraine Times reports.

A third of the accolades presented on the night went to activities and locations around the Portrush coastal region, as voted on by the public.

Among them was the song for Best Coastal Experience, awarded to Troggs surf school in Portrush – while the Causeway Coast & Glens was named Best Adventure Destination for its abundance of opportunities not just for surfing and sea kayaking but also hiking and coasteering.

The Coleraine Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Angling - Anglers in Northern Ireland have been reminded to report their catches from 2015 to the Loughs Agency by this Thursday 21 January at the latest.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, anyone who holds a Foyle and Carlingford rod license for salmon and sea trout angling is legally obliged to inform the Loughs Agency of how many times they went fishing and whether they caught any fish.

This data is necessary for the agency to gauge the health of fish stocks as well as the popularity of angling in any particular area under its remit.

"A lot of anglers are not aware that they must make a return within 21 days of the end of the season, even if they never actually went fishing or didn't catch anything and have a nil return to make," said the Lough's Agency's Art Niven.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
Tagged under

#NIMarinePlan - The latest update for stakeholders from Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment (DOE) on the draft Marine Plan details the next steps before the formal approval process.

The draft plan is currently with consultants AECOM Ltd for the sustainability appraisal, a requirement before putting forward then plan for public consultation.

It's expected that stakeholders will be engaged on the draft plan before the end of March, with a publicly accessible map viewer displaying "a comprehensive set of spatial data relevant to the Northern Ireland marine area" to be made available in time for the consultation.

In the meantime, the DOE says work has progressed on other impact assessments and screen procedures associated with the plan in terms of rural proofing and habitats regulations, among others.

And the Marine Plan team continues to engage with district councils throughout Northern Ireland on their obligations with respect to marine planning "in making decisions on planning applications and enforcement action and in taking forward community and local development plans".

Progress on the Marine Plan from 2009 to 2015 is detailed in a report published in October and available to read or download at the DOE website HERE.

Published in News Update

#Rescue - An elderly man with a suspected broken ankle was rescued from one of Northern Ireland's most popular coastal walks at the weekend, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The injured man was on a part of the Causeway Coast Way not accessible by road, requiring coastguard teams from Ballycastle and Coleraine to attend and help him to a waiting ambulance.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
Page 5 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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