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#MarineWildlife - Northern Ireland's National Marine Week kicks off today (Saturday 26 July) with a 'rockpool ramble' at Groomsport in Co Down, the first in a series of marine wildlife themed events around the coast till 10 August.

Ulster Wildlife’s Living Seas staff and volunteers will be sharing their knowledge and expertise to help everyone find out more about the wonderfully varied wildlife found under our coastal waters, from tiny corals and shoals of gleaming fish, to playful seals and massive basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish.

“Many people see the sea simply as a huge expanse of water, but under the surface is a treasure trove of hidden gems, which we depend upon in so many ways," said Jade Berman, Living Seas manager with Ulster Wildlife.

“National Marine Week offers everyone the opportunity to find more to enjoy, more to learn and more to value in the fantastic marine life around our shores. Once they know what’s out there, we have no doubt that many more people will want to see our marine habitats and wildlife properly protected.”

One of the highlights this year is the Whale Workshop roadshow, which stops at Foyleside Shopping Centre for three days from tomorrow (Sunday 27 July) before moving to the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry from 1-4 August.

The Whale Workshop, which has toured internationally, lets the public get up close with life-size replicas of species such as dolphins, porpoise, seals, leatherback turtles, the aforementioned basking shark – and even a minke whale.

A complete list of events for National Marine Week can be found HERE – and if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one of two humpback whales sighted off the Co Down coast in recent days.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the first of these sightings last Sunday 20 July was only the fifth record of this species in the Irish Sea in 100 years.

A second spotting of that distinctive tail near the Copeland Islands was compared to the first by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's (IWDG) Padraig Whooley, who is "fairly confident" they are two different whales, according to his colleague Ian Enlander.

Whooley has much more in a detailed article on the IWDG website HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RNLI - The RNLI Annual Presentation of Awards took place last Thursday 22 May at London's Barbican Theatre, and in an unusual move the charity departed from the awards ceremony to look at the story behind one particular rescue.

On 18 September last year, Sam Cully's life was saved after the boat he was fishing in sank rapidly in Force 6 winds off the coast of Co Down. 

That day RNLI lifeboat crew from Portaferry and Donaghadee, along with the Irish Coast Guard's helicopter Rescue 116, were involved in his rescue – but there were other groups and organisations behind the story.

While Cully waited for help to arrive, he was able to stay afloat wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) that he had received from a grant-aided scheme funded by the European Fisheries Fund, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Asda, the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation and Seafish.

Last week's awards event saw the RNLI brought everyone who was involved in saving Cully’s life together on one stage for the first time.

At the time of his rescue, Cully commented: "I was only able to swim five or 10 metres or so, and even then the wind and swell were washing me away from the shore.

"The boat went down so quickly, and I was so relieved to find the lifejacket doing exactly what I was told it would do. I cannot thank all those organisations involved enough."

RNLI chairman Charles Hunter-Pease introduced the following groups and organisations who all played a part in the rescue onto the Barbican stage: the Maritime Coast Agency’s Fishing Industry Safety Group, the Northern Ireland Fish Prodcuers Organisation, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the RNLI’s Fishing Safety team, lifejacket and personal floatation manufacturers Mullion, Seafish and the Fisherman’s Mission.

The two RNLI lifeboat crews who responded to the emergency after being alerted by the coastguard were Portaferry and Donaghadee RNLI and they, too, were represented. 

Coxswain Philip McNamara was present from Donaghadee lifeboat station and Portaferty RNLI were represented by deputy launching authority Lennie Lawson, shore crewmember Graham Edgar and lifeboat crew Marko Petrick, Sinead Breen and Paul Mageean.  Luke Murphy, who was also on the lifeboat crew that day, was unable to be present.

Speaking after the event, Donaghadee RNLI coxswain McNamara said: "It was an honour to be present at the ceremony and surrounded by so many people working together to help fishermen stay safe at sea. 

"This was a life saved on the day of the rescue but Sam gave himself every chance by wearing a life jacket and being prepared. Everyone on that stage was a lifesaver."

Poraferry RNLI's Lawson added: ‘It was a very moving occasion. It was lovely to be acknowledged in such good company. So many people work behind the scenes in the RNLI to make sure our lifeboats get to sea and we all do it voluntarily. 

"In this instance the number of people behind the scenes was huge. This scheme has been very important to the fishing community and it shows that by working together we can save lives."

The evening ended with an emotional video tribute by Sam Cully, who then surprised the group on stage and the audience present by coming out with his wife Marie-Clare to thank everyone present in person.

Also honoured on the Barbican stage was Howth RNLI lifeboat operations manager Rupert Jeffares, who received a Bar to the Gold Badge, the second highest honour bestowed by the lifesaving charity.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#WaterSafety - HM Coastguard has issued a safety warning over dangerous riptides along Northern Ireland's north coast this week after strong currents claimed one life and put two others at risk.

BBC News reports on the death of 25-year-old Stephen Pentony, who got into difficulty while bodyboarding off the popular surfing hotspot of Portrush in Co Antrim last Friday 16 May.

"These waters are known for rip currents," said Coleraine coastguard Chris Little, who said they "can be a very frightening experience".

Meanwhile, the Londonderry Sentinel has news of a lucky escape for two others in nearby Benone on the same day.

The two men were pulled out to sea on their personal water craft after it malfunctioned, but they managed to reach the shore with some difficulty.

One of the men was later treated in hospital.

Published in Water Safety

#Surfing - Two popular surfing spots on Northern Ireland's north coast have been selected as the best for kids by OutdoorNI.

According to the Coleraine Times, Alive Surf School in Portrush has been named 'Best Family Activity Provider' in the latest OutdoorNI Awards, receiving a third of all votes from Facebook users throughout December.

It marks the third year in a row that the Co Derry surf school has received the accolade, and was described by Alive Surf School owner Ricky Martin as a "fantastic achievement".

Meanwhile, the Londonderry Sentinel reports that the Long Line Surf School, just west along the coast in Benone, was named 'Best Coastal Experience' for its 'Kids Big Day Out' service.

As owner Dan Lavery explains, the day-long experience on Fridays during school holidays incorporates education with fun games and shore-based exercises, and "is all about encouraging young ones to experience surfing as a lifestyle rather than just a sport."

In other NI surfing news, the Causeway Coast Surf Club in Portrush is coming off the back of its most competitive year yet, says the News Letter.

Five national titles, and a haul of 16 medals - many in the relatively new discipline of Stand Up Paddleboard - marked the end of a "tremendous" year for the club, said chair Gerald McAuley.

"It says much for the quality of surfing here in Portrush and Northern Ireland," he added. "We hope this continues in 2014."

Published in Surfing
Tagged under

#CoastalNotes - Professional snowboarder Aimee Fuller tells the Guardian about her favourite attractions around the coast of Northern Ireland.

From the new Titanic Belfast centre to the city's renowned St George's Market, the spectacular views of Belfast Lough from the top of Cave Hill, peaceful lough-side walks in Holywood and surfing in Portrush, the English pro - who moved to NI in her teens - shows there's a lot to love about her adopted home.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the island of Ireland, West Cork is hailed as "a perfect place to sea-kayak, relax and drink in nature", according to the Wall Street Journal - whose writer Javier Espinoza paddles out on a coastal tour with Atlantic Sea Kayaking.

Though the area is tinged with tragedy - after last year's loss of five fishermen with the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme - there is respect and admiration for the sea, especially on a calm day when kayakers can glide from shipwrecks to forests to bird sanctuaries in a single excursion.

Published in Coastal Notes

#LoughNeagh - Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister has rejected claims that she has ignored the findings of a working group on the future of Lough Neagh that were submitted a year ago.

As previously covered on Afloat.ie, the report considering the future of the largest of Ireland's inland waterways has sat on minister's shelves in Stormont for almost 12 months, with fears mounting that its recommendations will never be made public.

But the Belfast Telegraph reports that Minister Michelle O'Neill has hit back at criticism from DUP members of the NI Assembly who accused her of having "buried" the report because it did not gel with her department's plans to take the lough into public hands.

"I think that there is a certain wee bit of paranoia there," said the minister regarding the DUP's comments.

She also said that her "sole focus throughout all this work has been on unlocking the potential of Lough Neagh", adding that she had only recently been presented with new research commissioned by Culture and Leisure Minister Caral Ni Chuilin that would add context to last year's working group findings.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#RNLI - Enniskillen RNLI will host the revived Castle Island charity swim and family fun morning in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh on Sunday 11 August.

The swim traditionally took place each year with the support of the Blake family.

And Enniskillen RNLI have hailed as a "great honour" the opportunity for its local volunteer crew to revive the swim in association with sponsors Blakes the Hollow, Western Cars and The Print Factory.



The 750m swim on Lough Erne is open to swimmers of all ages either individually or in small groups such as youth clubs, sports clubs or simply groups of friends.

Enniskillen RNLI says the emphasis for this swim is for everyone to have fun and for that reason, if required, novice swimmers may complete the swim in a well-fitted lifejacket or buoyancy aid but must be confident that they can complete the distance. 



Lifeboat crew not swimming themselves will also be present on the day to provide safety cover for the event.



Registration for the swim will take place at 12 noon on the day, followed by a short safety briefing. Sponsorship forms are available by email or can be collected at The Wig & Crown, Blakes the Hollow and Western Cars. For further information contact Adrian at 07974 730456.

In other news, RTÉ Radio 1’s The Business will broadcast live from Bundoran RNLI lifeboat station this Saturday morning 3 August.

The focus of the show will be on the business of Bundoran being a seaside resort - a reputation the Donegal town has enjoyed for more than two centuries. 

Speaking ahead of his visit, programme host George Lee said: "I'm really looking forward to broadcasting from Bundoran, particularly on a bank holiday weekend. I'm hoping to experience lots of surfing, slots machines and ice-creams.

"On the show we'll be looking back at the heyday of the dancehalls, we'll be joined by Bundoran regular Ramona Nicholas from Dragon's Den, we'll be speaking to two men making money from oil exploration and lots, lots more."


The Business is broadcast Saturday morning at 10am on RTÉ Radio 1.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Fishing - "Absolutely hammered" is how a Carlingford Lough oyster farmer describes the state of his business after £350,000 (€404,000) worth of his stock was destroyed by a virus in the recent heatwave.

And as the Belfast Telegraph reports, Darren Cunningham now fears financial ruin after at least 80% of his juvenile oysters were wiped out by the ostreid herpes virus, which kills the shellfish when the water temperature rises above 16 degrees.

Unfortunately for Cunningham and fellow oysterman Harold Henning, who fears a total loss of his young oysters, Stormont has no compensation scheme in place for lost stocks in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#Angling - Almost one in every 10 people in Northern Ireland went fishing in the last 12 months - but 70% of NI residents said they had no interest in the sport.

These statistics were among the key findings in a new report on attitudes to angling by adults in Northern Ireland, using data from the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey conducted this past April.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, among the other findings were that almost a fifth of the population used to go fishing but no longer so do, while some 4% of the populace have never fished before and would like to try.

Most respondents cited their lack of interest in putting them off angling as a pastime, while 19% said they did not have enough free time.

But 12% said better information on how to fish would encourage them to take out a rod and reel.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#WaterSafety - Four more people have drowned in separate incidents around Ireland as the heatwave continues.

As RTÉ News reports, a 24-year-old man died while swimming in the sea near Ardara in Co Donegal yesterday afternoon (20 July).

Later, the body of a second victim was recovered from the Shrule River in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone after getting into difficulty.

A third man in his 60s is was drowned after failing to return from a swim in a quarry near Carrick-on-Suir. His body was recovered earlier today.

The tragedies follow news of a 19-year-old who drowned while swimming with friends in Lough Leane in Killarney on Friday evening (19 July).

And a woman in her 30s was lucky to be rescued after getting into difficulty swimming in the River Nore near Kilkenny. She is currently in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Irish Water Safety have renewed their appeal for the public to take extra care when taking to the water during this extraordinary hot weather that had already claimed seven lives as of Thursday last.

Published in Water Safety
Page 8 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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