Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland
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.
#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 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."
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.
#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.
#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.
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.
Rathlin, Waterfoot, Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough are the proposed locations, variously home to marine species from the black guillemot to the white sea slug, as well as vulnerable geomorphological features like sea arches.
"We all have a stake in preserving and protecting our marine environment for future generations so I urge people to let us know their views on these proposed sites and species," said NI Environment Minister Mark Durkan, who launched the consultation today (Monday 14 December).
Members of the public in Northern Ireland have until 11 March 2016 to express their views, with full details on the consultation available online.
The Coleraine Times has much more on the story HERE.
As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the £2.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership will be used to conserve heritage buildings in disrepair, preserve and improve wildlife habitats and support the management of some 500sqkm of the county's lakelands.
The most prominent of these is the 43-foot fin whale washed up on Portstewart Strand over a month ago.
#MarineWildlife - Seals are not threatening commercial fishing stocks in Irish waters, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon, according to new research led by Queen's University Belfast.
The findings show that seals are having no significant impact on populations of the most popular species of fish caught for commercial purposes along the south and west coasts of Ireland from Galway to Waterford.
The first comprehensive study of its kind, the conclusions of this research – led by QUB in collaboration with University College Cork and the Marine Institute – suggest that the seals do not compete with fishermen over the stocks.
"We need to emphasise that this work in no way says that seals cause no problems for the fishing industry," said lead researcher Dr Keith Farnsworld of QUB. "They do create significant problems for static fishing gear, such as the fixed nets used by estuarine salmon fishers, and they may also impact on numbers of wild salmon, although most salmon eaten on these islands is farmed.
"What we are saying is that for most commercially fished species off the south and west coasts of Ireland – herring, mackerel, cod, haddock, whiting and 30 other species – seals are having no significant negative effect on numbers.
"This is because the seals are eating much smaller fish than the larger, mature specimens that fishermen are required by law to catch. So seals are often eating the same species of fish as we buy in the supermarkets, but younger versions of them. And there are hundreds more younger fish than mature fish in any given species.
"In fact, we found evidence that seals may actually be doing the fishermen a favour, by eating some species that prey on the valuable stocks the fishermen are after."
Prof David Reid of the Marine Institute added that "what this work shows is that the only way to really resolve questions like this one is to be able to actually look at the detail, and work out what is going on.
"This work used material as diverse as the gut contents of the seals and the fish, through seal 'scat', to samples taken from commercial catches and research vessel surveys, and elaborate mathematical models.
"The idea of seals being direct competitors with the fishing boats for the fish out there intuitively seems pretty obvious. But actually, in this case, it is not really true. They both 'eat' fish. But not the same fish, and they do not compete with each other.
"This is not to say," he added, "that seals do not compete with fishermen in other ways. In other recent work we showed that fishermen who use set nets round the coast of Ireland can lose fish straight out of their nets to seals. But as with this study, we needed to go into the detail, and get our hands dirty to prove that."
The findings of this new research are based on data from an area roughly 100 miles off south and west Ireland, encompassing the coastlines of counties Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway. The data was collected from seal droppings of both grey and common seals and collated by researchers from University College Cork.
Supplementary information was obtained from the Marine Institute and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).
The data was then interpreted by researchers at QUB's Institute for Global Food Security. Their conclusions have been published today in The Journal of Applied Ecology.
The study will be good news to the ears of seal fans in Northern Ireland, whose grey seal population is having a bumper year in 2015, as BBC News reports.
Co Down in particular is reporting strong numbers at such seal-friendly locations as the Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough, where 107 seal pups were counted this year – a sign of good health for the ecosystem as a whole.
BBC News has more on the story HERE.