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Celebrity chef Glen Wheeler from 28 At The Hollow will cook up a delicious menu at Enniskillen RNLI’s lifeboat station at 7pm on Monday 29 April.

The culinary masterclass is in aid of the Enniskillen lifeboat and tickets for the event are £15. Get yours via the evening’s Eventbrite page or via the Northern Ireland phone contacts in the event poster above.

Enniskillen RNLI is also calling on members of the public to support the RNLI’s Mayday fundraising campaign, after revealing they launched 17 times last year on Lough Erne — as did their neighbours at Carrybridge RNLI.

The RNLI’s Mayday fundraiser begins on Monday 1 May and will run for the whole month across Ireland and the UK. Afloat.ie has more on the initiative HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Bangor RNLI, the lifesaving charity on Belfast Lough based in Northern Ireland, has launched a Mayday fundraising campaign to support its vital services.

The charity has revealed that it was called into action 36 times in 2023, highlighting the importance of its work in saving lives.

To support its lifesaving services, the charity is urging members of the public to participate in the Mayday Mile, a challenge to cover a mile a day throughout May.

The funds raised will help provide the necessary training and equipment to keep the lifesavers safe. Glen McMahon, a Bangor RNLI volunteer, emphasised the significance of the charity’s work and the need for public support, particularly during the busiest time of the year.

The RNLI’s Mayday fundraiser begins on May 1 and will run throughout Ireland and the UK. To participate in the Mayday Mile or find out more about the RNLI’s vital work, visit rnli.org/SupportMayday.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A humpback whale caught in fishing ropes off the coast of Cornwall in south-west England has been saved thanks to the efforts of local rescuers.

According to Marine Industry News, the whale known locally as “Ivy” became entangled in Mounts Bay on Easter Sunday (31 March) and was soon spotted in distress by both fishing crews and a wildlife-watching tour.

Conditions at sea were choppy at the time, meaning these onlookers could not intervene.

But in the afternoon Penlee RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew came to the rescue, cutting the whale free from their inshore lifeboat.

Hannah Wilson, co-owner of tour group Marine Discovery Penzance said: “It’s incredible what the guy at the helm achieved because it was properly rough.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Arklow RNLI in Co Wicklow were requested to launch early on Tuesday morning (2 April) following reports of a large yacht with four crew onboard in difficulty near the Arklow Bank.

Shortly after 6.30am, Arklow volunteers launched the station’s all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and the crew made best speed to the yacht’s reported position, some 18 miles south-east of Arklow.

Once on scene, it was established that the 16-metre vessel had developed engine failure. The lifeboat crew assessed the situation and, due to the vessel not being able to make safe progress, it was decided to take the vessel under tow back to the nearest safe port at Arklow.

Both boats arrived back into Arklow at around 10.30am, and the casualty vessel was secured on the pontoons in the inner dock.

Speaking following the rescue, Jimmy Myler, Arklow RNLI launch authority said: “Huge thanks once again to our volunteer crew both onshore and on the lifeboat who at a moments notice go to sea to assist others, whether day or night.

“As we continue to enjoy the Easter break, we would remind everyone planning a trip to sea or near the coast to respect the water. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Arklow RNLI’s volunteers on this call-out were coxswain Ned Dillon, station mechanic James Russell, Craig O’Reilly, John Tyrrell, David Molloy, Cillian Kavanagh and Josh McAnaspie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch on Saturday (30 March) to assist a lone sailor on a 35ft cruiser with fouled propellers and adrift in Dromineer Bay.

Following the request from Valentia Coast Guard, the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier — with helm Owen Cavanagh and crew Doireann Kennedy, Tom Hayes and Ania Skrzypczynska-Tucker on board — launched at 5.28pm. Winds were with south-easterly Force 3 with good visibility.

At 5.42pm the lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel, where the skipper was found safe and well and wearing a lifejacket.

The skipper explained that as the wind had dropped he was unable to sail home, and a line overboard had fouled the propellers so the cruiser couldn’t motor back to harbour.

Given the location on the navigation channel, and the hour, the lifeboat helm decided the safest course of action was to assist the casualty vessel back to the nearest safe harbour.

At 6.02pm the casualty vessel was secured alongside in Dromineer Harbour. The lifeboat departed the scene was back at station at 6.10pm.

Peter Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “stow lines carefully and always make sure someone on the shore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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In an Easter sea rescue operation, the Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat 'Annette Hutton' was launched to assist a local fishing vessel that had lost its ability to manoeuvre on the north side of Sheep's Head.

The lifeboat received an alert at 12.29 on Good Friday from Valentia Coastguard Maritime Coordination Rescue Centre requesting assistance for a boat reported to be in difficulty. The Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat, manned by Coxswain Dean Hegarty with crew Marney O’Donoghue, Sean ‘Bawn’ O’Sullivan, Joe Cronin, David O’Donovan, and William Power, was launched within eight minutes.

The weather on-scene was described as Westerly Force 3/4 winds and a one-metre swell. The boat could not manoeuvre as the anchor rope had become entangled in the propellor. Contact was made with the vessel and the decision was made to launch the lifeboat's Y-boat with two crew aboard to cut off the rope from the propellor.

Simultaneously, the lifeboat took the vessel in tow in an effort to take the weight off the rope, and the Y-boat crew successfully removed most of the rope and freed the boat. However, a small amount of rope remained stuck to the rudder, and it was decided, for safety reasons, to continue to tow the boat back to Castletownbere.

The lifeboat, with the boat in tow, left the scene at 14.34 and arrived back to port by 16.07. The three persons onboard were safe and well. The lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service again by 16.28.

The duty Launching Authority, Brendan O’Neill, praised the vessel for seeking assistance at an early stage and complimented the lifeboat crew for their speedy response and successful outcome.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Larne RNLI in Northern Ireland celebrated the RNLI’s 200th anniversary with a gala ball held at Magheramorne Estate raising £4,657.63 to help the station continue to save lives at sea.

The event, organised by the volunteer fundraising crew, was held on Friday 15 March and well attended by supporters and volunteers.

Speeches on the night were given by Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim; and Anna Classon, RNLI head of region for Ireland; while a word of thanks was given by Pamela McAuley, chair of Larne RNLI’s fundraising branch.

Speaking after the event, McAuley said: “It was a great night and everyone in attendance really seemed to be having a good time. A lot of hard work and effort has gone in to making the night a success.

“We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their generosity which has helped us to raise £4,657.63 which will now go towards powering our volunteers lifesaving work at sea.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Shirley, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “It is an honour and a privilege to see the station mark its 30th year milestone and for us all at Larne to be a part of this lifesaving organisation in its bicentenary.

“For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable.

“At Larne RNLI, we are immensely grateful to everyone who is involved with the charity here including all our volunteers and their families and all our supporters, we couldn’t exist as we do today without the selfless work, dedication and kindness of so many.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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As the Easter weekend approaches, the Coast Guard, RNLI, and Water Safety Ireland are urging the public to take precautions to stay safe during water activities. With longer and brighter evenings, more people are expected to visit the coast or engage in water-based activities. Knowing basic water safety advice could help prevent accidents or tragedies.

Mixed weather conditions are expected over the weekend, with sunny periods followed by rain and showers. Water temperatures are relatively cold at this time of year, and inexperienced or occasional open water swimmers should take care to acclimatise slowly and manage their time in the water carefully. It is crucial to always be alert to the risk of cold water shock.

The organisations are encouraging people to follow some basic precautions to reduce the risk of accidents when visiting the coast or engaging in water activities. Some of these precautions include wearing a lifejacket, checking weather forecasts, staying away from the edge, and avoiding alcohol before or during water activities.

If sailing or motorboating:

  • Always wear an appropriate lifejacket
  • Always carry a means of calling and signalling for help
  • When engaging on any type of boating activity; Ensure there is an emergency action plan in place, and everybody has an onboard briefing
  • Get the right level of training for your craft
  • Always check the weather and tide times
  • Make sure someone on the shore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time.
  • Always operate your boat at a speed that is appropriate to the weather conditions and to the environment you are operating in.

Attention is also drawn to the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft a valuable source of information, advice and best practice operational guidance for owners, masters, operators and users of a range of pleasure and recreational craft operating in Irish coastal and inland waters. It can be viewed at www.safetyonthewater.gov.ie

Gerard O’Flynn, Coast Guard Operations Manager said: ‘After a protracted period of broken weather and with the advent of longer evening daylight from Sunday, many people are looking forward to getting out and about along the coast or on the water. Always check the weather forecast, ensure that you have a means of communication, plan your activity and ensure that a colleague is aware of your plans and expected return time. Please also be alert to the risk of becoming isolated by incoming tides on beaches or coastal area particularly if setting out during lower tides.’

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO said: ‘Over the course of five Easter holiday periods, 12 people drowned accidentally, mainly while swimming, angling, or after falling in while walking. To stay safe, keep cold water swims brief and shallow, wear a lifejacket when angling on the shoreline or riverbanks, and stay away from the water's edge when out walking. With nearly one million children on school holidays, and many visiting friends and family living on farms and near lakes, rivers, canals, and beaches, constant adult supervision is essential for their safety.’

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI Water Safety Lead added: ‘We are approaching the time of year when we will see boats back on the water and many are now looking forward to a season of sailing. While we want everyone to enjoy themselves, we want them to do so safely. Mechanical failure is the single biggest cause of rescue call outs to sailing and motor cruisers, accounting for nearly 20% of all our lifeboat launches. Knowing your boat, carrying spares and being able to fit them could make the difference between having to call for help and being able to help yourself.’

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast or think that they are in trouble, use marine VHF radio Ch 16 or dial 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Published in Coastguard

Achill Island RNLI carried out a medical evacuation off Clare Island on Monday night (25 March).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch the station’s all-weather lifeboat just before 9pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to medevac a casualty who had sustained an arm injury.

The lifeboat launched shortly after under coxswain Patrick McNamara and with six crew members onboard.

There was poor visibility at the time with the darkness of night and rain. The wind was blowing south-westerly Force 4 and there were calm to moderate seas.

Once on scene, the crew assisted the casualty onto the lifeboat where they were then safely transferred to Roonagh.

Speaking following the call-out, Michael Cattigan, Achill Island RNLI mechanic who was on the lifeboat said: “This was the first call-out of the year for the station and we were delighted to be able to help. We wish the patient a speedy recovery.

“As we approach the Easter weekend and start to enjoy the longer evenings, we also want to remind anyone planning a trip or activity at sea, to enjoy themselves but to respect the water.

“Always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device and always carry a means of calling for help. If going out on a boat, check your engine in advance and make sure you have enough fuel for your trip.

“Always check the weather and tide times before venturing out and make sure someone on the shore knows where you are going and when you are due back. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Saturday night's gathering of 242 cruising enthusiasts for a black-tie celebration at the Irish Cruising Club's Annual Gala Dinner in Cork, involving an international guest list to bring in officers from kindred clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, provided an ideal opportunity for lifeboat superstar fund-raiser and ICC member Rose Michael of Malahide to add to the RNLI's 200th Anniversary fund-drive.

Most of those present will have already given to the lifeboats in this very special year. But the buzz on Saturday night was such that RNLI envelopes placed on each table were soon showing signs that - contrary to the contactless payment propaganda - cash is very much alive and well, even if on other occasions Rose has shown she's a dab hand with the pay-machine. Nevertheless, on this occasion, the folding banknotes did the business, and €4,140 was officially handed over by ICC Commodore Alan Markey.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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