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Displaying items by tag: River Shannon

Cruiser hire firms on the River Shannon have experienced a boom in business from ‘staycationers’ as holidays abroad this year were cancelled in droves, according to RTÉ News.

While some operators felt the brunt of coronavirus restrictions in the spring as they lost a lucrative international market, come summer the tide turned and now the industry as a whole says it is enjoying its most successful period in eight years.

Demand has been driven by a hungry domestic market grounded by lockdowns on foreign getaways — with RTÉ News highlighting Banagher in particular at its busiest this month.

And it’s hoped many of those who may be new to a cruising holiday, or other aquatic activities on Ireland’s inland waterways, will be hooked enough to return next season.

 

Meanwhile, the Shannon cruising boom has come alongside a rise in incidents involving cruisers getting into difficulty — with Lough Derg RNLI having a particularly busy week.

Most recently the inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer was called to a 36ft cruiser with four on board which ran aground in Youghal Bay on Thursday evening (10 September).

This followed rescues for a 20ft vessel with engine failure at the lough’s northeastern end on Wednesday; a 35ft cruiser aground by the Silver Islands on Monday evening; and a vessel with engine failure near Mountshannon Harbour last Sunday.

Also on Sunday, four people were rescued from a Shannon cruiser that caught fire and sank after difficulties in the Jamestown Canal.

The RNLI has repeated its call for all boat users, many of whom may be new to cruising or boating, to study their charts and stay on the navigation route.

Boaters should also ensure their engines are fully serviced, and that they have sufficient fuel for any journey — while lifejackets must be worn by everyone on board.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

Invasive chub have been confirmed in the River Inny in Longford, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

A single fish was caught on rod and line at one of a number of spots where IFI staff recorded possible sightings following reports from members of the public.

Chub (Squalius cephalus) are non-native to Ireland, with the potential to compete with native species for food and space as well as be a carrier of fish diseases and parasites.

The River Inny — a tributary of the Shannon — is the only Irish river in which they have been recorded thus far, and removal operations between 2006 and 2010 were thought to have eradicated the species from the system.

It is not yet clear whether the current chub are linked to the original population or were more recently introduced.

However, the threat of chub spreading through the Shannon system “is of real and pending concern to the biodiversity of Ireland’s biggest catchment”, says the fisheries body.

IFI’s head of research Dr Cathal Gallagher explained: “Ireland’s rivers are ecologically important ecosystems, which support significant recreational fisheries for native and established fish species.

“Non-native fish species threaten these ecosystems and the game and coarse fisheries that they support — potentially in unforeseen ways — and are thus a cause for concern.”

IFI appeals to anglers to protect Ireland’s fisheries by not moving fish between watercourses for any reason and to submit any sightings directly to IFI or on the hotline at 1850 347424 or 1850 FISH24.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Carrickcraft, the leading River Shannon Cruiser-Hire firm, expects to reopen its boat rental business from 20th July and aims to tap into the 'staycation' market as many Irish people are worried about flying abroad this summer due to COVID-19.

'A boat has always been the perfect place to get away from it all, but this year even more so', the firm says.

The firm that operates from bases on the rivers Shannon or Erne has a wide variety of craft available for short or long cruises as Afloat's David O'Brien find out in a three-day cruise through Roscommon in search of the Moone Boy Burger in 2017.

Carrickcraft says 'We will, of course, be practising best hygiene with social distancing at the marinas, and we will endeavour to get you on your way as quickly as possible'.

The July date also sees Cruise Ireland companies Locaboat, Waveline and Linssen boating holidays also reopen on the river.

Continued high water levels have prompted Waterways Ireland to prohibit access to the floating jetty in Shannonbridge on the Shannon Navigation.

All masters of vessels and users of the inland waterway are advised that lighting to the area has been turned off as the power supply distribution box is currently submerged.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all masters of vessels and water users that the lock at Ardnacrusha power plant on the River Shannon will be closed for six weeks from Monday 20 January to Monday 2 March to facilitate essential maintenance works.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways apologises for any inconvenience caused and thanks all vessel owners for their co-operation.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has closed the public footpath running south from O’Briensbridge playground alongside the River Shannon south of Parteen Weir for the foreseeable future, following the discovery of critical failures in two culverts under the path.

Preliminary investigations revealed the need for urgent replacement work on both culverts, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says.

It adds that due to the sensitive habitat at the site on the Clare/Limerick border, planning permission is required before the works can go ahead, and this could take up to six months to come through.

“The health and safety risks associated with the two structures are such that it is essential the route is closed and remain so, until after the refurbishment works are completed,” it says.

“Waterways Ireland is aware that this is a popular route for the local community and apologises for any inconvenience caused by this closure.”

Published in Inland Waterways

BreakingNews.ie reports that a charity rower was left “shaken” after he was rescued from strong currents in the River Shannon at the Killaloe bridge.

Killaloe Coast Guard Unit were tasked at 2.40pm yesterday (Wednesday 25 September) to the scene where the rower had managed to secure his vessel to the navigation markers leading to the bridge.

The rescue team were with the rower within minutes and transferred him to safety while his vessel was taken under tow to the public slipway at Ballina.

BreakingNews.ie says the incident follows a “lucky escape” for three men last month whose lake boat collided with the same bridge.

Published in Coastguard
Tagged under

Waterways Ireland is proposing a permit system for the Shannon Navigation that could see users of Ireland’s longest river face charges for their boats for the first time, as The Irish Times reports.

Users of the Royal and Grand Canals must already pay for annual permits at a cost of €152 per vessel — and now the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways is reviewing its by-laws for the Shannon with a view to extending similar charges there, as well as spot fines for breaches of regulations.

But what might be the biggest hit to Shannon boaters’ budgets may be the end of the current winter mooring regime.

Vessels can currently be moored at public harbours and jetties for five months at a cost of €83 per boat. This would be replaced under the plan with the summer ‘five-day rule’, which itself is under review.

However, the proposals would also bring an end to the current charges for the use of locks. A smartcard system for locks and bridges was rolled out on the Shannon Navigation last autumn.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

RTÉ News reports that a major angling competition set for Athlone yesterday (Friday 16 August) was cancelled over the recent oil spillage in the River Shannon near the town.

Westmeath County Council has been investigating the pollution incident on the important waterway since earlier this week, as previously noted on Afloat.ie, but have not yet identified its source.

While efforts were made to contain the spill on the Al River, a tributary of the Shannon, locals say the slick has now spread to the old canal in Athlone town.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

The Irish Times says Westmeath County Council is investigating an oil spill on the River Shannon south of Athlone in which a number of fish and birds have died.

Efforts were made to contain the spill on the Al River, a tributary of the Shannon, after it was discovered at the weekend. The incident also affected marine wildlife in an area town as the Big Meadow some 1km from the Shannon bridge in Athlone.

Wildlife charity volunteers worked to rescue a number of cormorants and cygnets from the polluted waters, many of which needed special cleaning to remove oil from their feathers, while fish were also recovered for safety with the help of local anglers.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under
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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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