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#RNLI - A collision with a tidal turbine was to blame for the incident that caused the dismasting of a yacht in Strangford Lough on Sunday 9 June.

As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, Portaferry RNLI's lifeboat crew was dispatched to the stricken yacht in the narrows of Strangford Lough close to the SeaGen water turbine.

The local RNLI press office confirmed that three men and a teenage boy were on board the 37ft yacht at the time - though BBC News says that only three people were rescued, including a child.

The SeaGen installation in Strangford Lough was accredited by Ofgen as Britain's first tidal power plant, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Enniskillen RNLI today (10 June) brought four people to safety in two separate incidents on Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.

In the first call-out of the day, the volunteer lifeboat crew retrieved a man and women from their stranded cruiser which had developed engine problems and run aground on Lower Lough Erne.

The inshore lifeboat Joseph and Mary Hiley and the Rescue Water Craft (RWC) were launched just before 10am at the request of Belfast Coastguard and made the 25-minute, six-mile journey to the casualty's last known position at Crunnish Island. The wind was coming from the south east, force five with good visibility.

On arrival at the scene, the crew noted the casualties had deployed their anchor and there were strong waves hitting the starboard side of the vessel.

The RWC crew member was transferred to the casualty vessel to reassure the crew and to check for any leakage. Another crew member from the lifeboat was transferred to assist with the tow and to lift the anchor.

The lifeboat established a tow and the vessel was refloated and brought to safety at Tudor Farm jetty, close to the initial location.

Less than three hours later, the inshore lifeboat Jason Logg was launched by request of Belfast Coastguard to rescue two people on a broken-down personal water craft on Upper Lough Erne.

The crew proceeded to the casualty's last known whereabouts at the mouth of Tamlagh Bay, four miles downstream from the station towards Enniskillen.

On arrival, the crew found the troubled vessel in the reeds with two people sitting on it. The crew transferred both passengers onto the lifeboat before setting up a tow and bringing the water craft back to Bellanaleck Marina.

Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, Portaferry RNLI brought three men and a teenage boy to safety yesterday afternoon after their yacht got into difficulty off Portaferry in Co Down.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was alerted just after noon following a mayday call that there was a demasted yacht in trouble on Strangford Lough.

The lifeboat was launched minutes later and was alongside the stricken vessel, a 37ft yacht located in the narrows of Strangford Lough, at 12.10pm. Weather at the time was good with clear visibility and a flat calm sea.

One of the four casualties, who had been thrown from the vessel, had been recovered by a fellow crew member and all four were on board the yacht when the lifeboat crew arrived on scene.

Alongside, there was difficulty recovering the vessel so the mast and sail were cut away. Once cut, the lifeboat proceeded to tow the yacht with it crew on board safely back to Strangford where it was tied to a mooring.

Two of the crew were conveyed to hospital while the other two were made comfortable on the shore.

Portaferry RNLI was requested to launch for a second time later this afternoon following a report that a swimmer had gone missing in Newtownards. The lifeboat having launched was subsequently stood down after the missing person was found safe and well.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Stranraer RNLI's lifeboat was dispatched by Belfast Coastguard on Friday evening (7 June) to rescue men from a stranded personal water craft on the rocks at Corsewall Point.

The men had been travelling on the water scooter across the North Channel from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland to Campbeltown in Scotland and back - a round trip of some 130km - but ran out of fuel on the return leg, and drifted to Corsewall on the north point of the Rhins of Galloway.

The RNLI Stranraer lifeboat launched at 5.20pm from Lady Bay and 20 minutes later arrived on scene, where they discovered that two of the men were cold and one had an ankle injury - although a conflicting report via the Belfast Coastguard says only two men were found.

The men were transferred safely on to the lifeboat and taken to Dally Bay, from where they were taken by road to Stranraer Accident and Emergency Hospital.

But as BBC News reports, they were beset by further problems on their return trip to Northern Ireland later that evening, when the private vessel on which they were travelling also ran out of fuel and had to be towed to Red Bay in Co Antrim.

Belfast Coastguard confirmed to the BBC that the men had been travelling on their water scooter with "no navigational aids" and that "they could not get a signal from their mobile phone".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Larne RNLI was called out for assistance on two separate occasions this past week.

On Thursday night 6 June, the volunteer lifeboat Dr John McSparran responded to a request by Belfast Coastguard to assist a lone yachtsman who had become disorientated in sea fog.

Weather conditions at the time were described as flat calm with no wind at all. However, a sea fog had come down in the evening, and the man on board - having left Girvan in Scotland en route to Glenarm Marina in an old gaffer to celebrate the Old Gaffers Association's Golden Jubilee - got into difficulty.

The casualty was located becalmed seven miles east of The Maidens Lighthouse. Lifeboat crew members Martin Agnew and Scott Leitch were put on board to assist after it was discovered that the casualty's outboard engine had failed and the gaffer was making no headway against the tide.

It was decided by Coxswain Frank Healy to tow the casualty to Glenarm, keeping the two crew members on board to assist. The vessels and crews arrived in Glenarm at 1.30am.

Two nights before, Larne RNLI assisted two men after their motor boat got into difficulty on Belfast Lough.

The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat, the Hannahbella Ferguson, at 8.15pm following a request to assist the speed boat which had sustained engine failure off Muck Island.

Two men, both wearing lifejackets, were on board. Weather conditions at the time were described as good with a flat calm sea.

The casualty boat was subsequently towed safely to shore by the lifeboat to Portmuck Harbour.

Crew on this call out included helm Willie Evans, Martin Agnew and Jay Torbitt.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Oil&Gas - The public consultation on the first stage of environmental assessment for developing an oil and gas licensing framework in Northern Ireland's inland waters continues till next Friday 14 June.

The 'Scoping Report' was issued on 24 April last by Northern Ireland's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and marks the first step of the EU-mandated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process.

The current consultation seeks comments on the appropriateness of the proposed scope of the SEA and the proposed assessment methodology.

Anti-fracking campaigners Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) argue that any future oil and gas exploration or extraction in Belfast Lough or Larne Lough would include horizontal drilling and franking.

With one week left to go, GEAI is among those urging the public to have their say in the consultation, citing the 1,300 submissions received by the EPA that the group claims it encouraged on a proposed franking research study.

Northern Ireland has four existing petroleum licences across three main areas of exploration in Antrim, Fermanagh and Derry.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Angling - From today 1 June, Northern Ireland's anglers are banned from selling salmon caught in rivers under new measures from the Legislative Assembly.

As BBC News reports, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín said that the new rules are "the first step in a series of conservation measures aimed at protecting stocks of the iconic Atlantic salmon".

The rod and line catch sale ban is intended to encourage the practice of 'catch and release' which is set to become mandatory next year, and also brings NI legislation into line with the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

It comes months after the shocking news that just three out of every 100 wild salmon returned to Northern Ireland's rivers in 2011, prompting concerns that the species has declined to "Dodo levels".

Moves have already been made to control the commercial offshore netting of salmon in order to boost their numbers in the North's waterways.

Another threat to salmon numbers is the rise of invasive species in Northern Ireland's waterways, which as the News Letter reports have cost the economy more than £46 million a year, according to Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Highlighting the risk to NI's marine wildlife and plantlife, as well as fisheries and agriculture, the minister said "increasing awareness of the threat of invasive species and the need to tackle them is key to achieving success".

A new strategy by the Legislative Assembly will involve partnerships between government, the community and environment groups "working in tandem" to deal with the problems caused by invasive species such as the Japanese sea squirt, detected in Strangford Lough last year.

Published in Angling

#RNLI - Enniskillen RNLI is to get a new lifeboat station at its Carrybridge base on Upper Lough Erne, it has emerged.

Planning permission for the new build has been passed by Fermanagh District Council and the RNLI’s tendering process is now underway, with a view for building work to commence in late summer.

Once complete, the modern station - much like the new facility for Castletownbere RNLI that opened recently - will replace the existing temporary accommodation which has housed the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew for the past 11 years.

In order to facilitate the project, the local community is being asked to help the RNLI raise £60,000 (€70,000) towards the cost, which will help Enniskillen RNLI continue to save lives on Lough Erne.

In 2001, Enniskillen became home to the RNLI’s first inland lifeboat station based on Lower Lough Erne.

Due to the overall size and complexity of the lough and its high leisure usage, the decision was taken by the RNLI in 2002 to base a second lifeboat on the upper lough that would work in conjunction with the original lifeboat station on the lower lough.

With two bases, two inshore lifeboats and two rescue water craft, the station has since proved to be one of the busiest in Ireland.

Last year alone, Enniskillen RNLI launched 46 times bringing 50 people to safety. Some 20 of those services were carried out in the dark while the crew spent 169 service hours on the water.

RNLI divisional operations manager Gareth Morrison said he was delighted that planning had now been approved making way for what will be a purpose-built station in a location close to the lough allowing for an efficient launch.

"In an area that receives over 100 days of heavy rainfall a year, it is hard to believe the volunteer crew based at the upper lough operate from just a temporary facility, partly exposed to the elements," said Morrison.

"The crew has to change in a small, damp, metal container and only has a portaloo and wash basin for their comfort. There is nowhere for the crew to shower or dry after a challenging rescue and nowhere for them to gather and train together during the week.

"We want to build a modern station with full crew facilities with areas for the crew to change and train and space to keep their lifeboat and rescue water craft and lifesaving kit safe."

Enniskillen RNLI lifeboat operations manager Davey Robinson said a new station was what the crew deserved.

"At the moment we are operating out of a temporary facility. It is cramped and there are no showers so the crew cannot warm up after a cold, wet and tiring rescue. A new station will be great for the crew. We are a busy station so it is what they deserve."

He added: "It is always reassuring for locals and visitors alike that the RNLI is here to assist them or help their loved ones when they get into difficulty. We try to act as a safety net on Lough Erne and are here 24 hours a day. But we need the right facilities to do that and this new station will help."

Donations and other assistance with fundraising are welcome. For details contact Tony Hiney, RNLI community fundraising manager, at 087 219 8917 or email [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Regatta - The recently established Foyle Sailability will host its first regatta for people with disabilities in Derry this Thursday and Friday 16-17 May, as the Derry Journal reports.

Volunteers from Lough Foyle Yacht Club, Lough Swilly Yacht Club and Moville Boat Club will be on hand, joined by volunteers from Belfast Lough Sailability for the two-day event which marks the first time that a fleet of accessible dinghies has cruised together on the River Foyle.

People with disabilities across the northwest are invited to try out sailing for themselves by contacting Foyle Sailability at 71 266 593 or [email protected]

The regatta will meet at the Foyle Pontoon at Riverfront Walkway off Baronet Street from 11am to 3pm each day of the event.

Published in Sailing Events

#Angling - London angler Peter Vasey topped the pack at the Waterways Ireland Classic Fishing Festival in Fermanagh recently, according to the Impartial Reporter.

Vasey's total catch across two sections at Crom on Upper Lough Erne - weighing in at an impressive 39.51kg - bagged him the £5,000 (€5,944) top prize, as well as a crystal chalice and a Diawa rod and reel.

The top three places all went to mainland Brits, with the highest placing local being Nick Seddon of Enniskillen who finished fifth overall.

This was the 10th year that Waterways Ireland has sponsored the Classic, which also featured top-flight angling action in the four-man team event.

The Impartial Reporter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#MarineWildlife - The Northern Ireland Environment Minister says the new Marine Bill put before Stormont marks a "turning point" for the North.

As 4NI reports, this week saw the fourth stage of the Marine Bill in the NI Assembly as well as the launch of a consultation strategy for Marine Protection Areas (MPAs).

Should it be enacted in legislation, the Marine Bill - strongly supported by the RSPB among others - would give the Assembly powers to select and manage Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to safeguard the North's marine biodiversity.

Minister Alex Attwood commented: "Northern Ireland’s seas are home to some of the world's most spectacular wildlife and habitats, and have the potential to power our nation through wind and wave and create thousands of new jobs.

"We have reached a turning point and must modernise in order to meet increasing and competing demands on our seas."

The Marine Bill also provides for the creation of a National Maritime Plan which covers all aspects of the marine environment from wildlife to investment in tidal and offshore wind power.

4NI has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 10 of 27

Irish Fishing industry 

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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