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A father and son were rescued by Skerries RNLI after they were stranded on Shenick Island by the rising tide yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 27 October).

Pagers sounded for the lifeboat volunteers at 3pm and within minutes the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was headed to the scene for a search of the north Co Dublin coastline.

They soon spotted two people — a father and his teenage son — on the beach near the submerged bar between the island and the mainland.

The lifeboat was manoeuvred into the shallow waters, close enough to send a crew member ashore to further assess the situation.

Following the advice of the crew, the father and son were brought aboard the lifeboat and taken back to the south beach in Skerries where they had left their belongings.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “We appreciate that people are keen to get out and explore the coastline near them at this time.

“However, we would remind everyone to always keep a means of contacting the shore with them and to check the local tides before setting out.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI recently launched to the rescue of a yacht with one person aboard that was adrift in the Skerries Islands.

The incident occurred on Thursday morning 15 October, when the yacht made a VHF distress call that was relayed to the local lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard in Dublin.

Lifeboat volunteers launched the Atlantic 85 inshore vessel Louis Simson shortly before 10am and headed to the reported location, some two miles east of the islands.

As they rounded the headland at Red Island, however, they spotted an eight-metre yacht between Colt Island and Shenick Island that did not seem to be making way.

The crew checked on this yacht in case the initial information given to the coastguard had not been accurate, and it was quickly determined to be the same vessel.

It emerged that the yacht’s engine had suffered a “sudden and complete” loss of oil pressure, so a tow was established and the vessel was bright to the safety of Rogerstown harbour — where it has already been schedueld for lift-out for the winter months.

Speaking after the callout, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “Things can go wrong at sea no matter how prepared you are. Always carry a means of contacting the shore to raise the alarm, like this gentleman did.

“Our volunteers are always ready to respond to that call.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI volunteers responding to a reported flare sighting off Rush were tasked to the rescue of a cliff fall casualty in Balbriggan on a busy Tuesday night (1 September).

Shortly before 8.30pm, the Skerries lifeboat crew were tasked to investigate multiple reports of a red distress flare in the vicinity of the North Beach in Rush.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was launched and the crew made their way to Rush, liasing en route with a yacht in the area which also confirmed the sighting.

With no immediate signs of a vessel in distress on scene, the lifeboat entered a search pattern — joined shortly after by the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 as Skerries’ local coastguard unit searched on land.

Eventually it was determined the flare had likely been fired from land. But as soon as the search was stood down, all services were called to Balbriggan where a man had fallen from a cliff

Rescue 116 was first on scene and its winchman began casualty care, and the lifeboat sent a crew member ashore to assist before the casualty was winched up and airlifted to hospital for further treatment.

“This turned into a long evening for all the rescue services involved,” said Skerries lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning.

“Thankfully it was a good outcome and another great example of how well all the services work together to help anyone in distress.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Larne RNLI rescued a jet skier who had fallen into the water off the Co Antrim coast and couldn’t get back onto his craft.

The volunteer crew launched the in-shore lifeboat Terry just after 8pm on Tuesday evening and reached the casualty just north of Tweeds Port slipway within minutes.

The man, who had been in the water for 30 minutes, was recovered into the lifeboat and checked to make sure he wasn’t suffering from his time in the water.

He was then brought back to shore at Tweeds Port and handed over to the care of the NI Ambulance Service. The lifeboat crew then returned to the water to recover the jet ski.

Philip Ford-Hutchinson, Larne RNLI’s deputy launching authority, said: “The casualty was lucky as cold water shock can set in when you are submerged for any amount of time and in any season. Please, when using the water, respect the water.”

Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI had a busy start to the week as they responded to two separate callouts within two hours.

Skerries RNLI towing a broken-down jet ski ashore (RNLI/Gerry Canning)Skerries RNLI towing a broken-down jet ski ashore | RNLI/Gerry Canning

The lifeboat first launched on Sunday (26 July) shortly after 2pm to return two men on a jet ski safely back to shore after they suffered mechanical difficulties off Colt Island.

Then just two hours later the volunteers were called upon alongside the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 and Skerries coastguard unit to carry out a search for a swimmer in distress in the same area, between Colt Island and St Patrick’s Island.

Following a thorough search, and the crew speaking to numerous kayakers in the area, Dublin Coast Guard was satisfied that it was a false alarm with good intent and the helicopter and lifeboat were stood down.

Speaking later, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It’s days like this that you really see the dedication of our volunteer crews.

“Some of them were still on the harbour following the first call out when their pagers sounded the second time. This meant that we could launch quite quickly to what was potentially a serious incident. Thankfully in both cases it was a good outcome.”

Published in Jetski
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Skerries RNLI volunteers towed a jet ski with a man and woman on board to safety after they broke down near Barnageeragh beach in North Co Dublin.

Shortly after 5pm yesterday evening (Friday 26 June), the volunteers launched the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat following a 999 call to Dublin Coast Guard from a jet ski that had broken down.

They located the casualty in shallow water near a large rocky outcrop between Barnageerah and Balbriggan.

The man and woman were taken on board the lifeboat while the jet ski was taken under tow, and they were returned safely to the slipway at the lifeboat station in Skerries.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “You never know when something is going to go wrong, so we’d like to remind anyone going to sea to carry a means of contacting the shore to call for help.”

Elsewhere, Wicklow RNLI brought three fishermen to safety on Thursday afternoon (25 June) after their 12-metre vessel developed mechanical problems off the Wicklow coast.

The alarm was raised after the vessel which was fishing for whelk broke down and lost all propulsion.

Crew on the all-weather lifeboat Jock & Annie Slater located the stricken vessel about nine miles north of Wicklow Harbour, and towed it back to the harbour where it was brought safely alongside the South Quay.

Published in Jetski

Sea swimmer and experienced kayaker Kevin O’Sullivan has presented Skerries RNLI with a donation of €1,200 from monies raised while kayaking solo around the island of Ireland.

Kevin’s three-year venture started in 2016 and was spurred by his love of kayaking.

“After over 35 years of kayaking, looming large in front of me was my own personal edge,” he explains of his decision to embark on the solo circumnavigation.

“I had been operating as a volunteer kayak instructor with Skerries Sea Scouts for seven years. Being inspired by the courage of the many junior paddlers within their ranks, I decided it was high time I ventured outside my own comfort zone as this mission materialised out of the faintest whisper of a long-held dream I had thought about for years.”

During the planning of the trip, Kevin said he was aware of the work done by volunteers at his local RNLI station in Skerries, and Medicins Sans Frontiers in the Mediterranean.

“I decided to put a charity element to my venture. Monies raised were split down the middle and shared.

“My local involvement with The Frosties, a year-round sea swim group, gave me first-hand knowledge of the very critical service the RNLI offers to all water users. We have availed of their service on a few occasions.

“I am not alone in complimenting their non-judgemental approach to any rescue they carry out. It is wonderful to give something back to this great organisation.’

Kevin’s circumnavigation was all the more remarkable in that he achieved it in his spare time, committing to the adventure for almost three years.

“I would kayak a stretch over a few days, camping as I went, depositing my kayak with a helpful soul, whilst returning home to family and work for a period.

Kevin O’Sullivan using his paddle to pass the ‘Bag of Swag’ while maintaining social distancing (Photo: RNLI/Gerry Canning)Kevin O’Sullivan using his paddle to pass the ‘Bag of Swag’ while maintaining social distancing | Photo: RNLI/Gerry Canning

“When the next favourable weather window opened coincident with my time off work, I would return to my boat continuing along the coast, all the while eating away at the total distance of 1,750 km to put me back into Skerries where I started.”

First circumnavigated in 1978 by a three-man team, around 100 have now completed the trip, mostly in small groups.

“Only 25 of these have been solo. Mick O’Meara, from Waterford, holds the record at 23 days, and was my own personal inspiration for the trip.”

Kevin says he wasn’t sure he could “stomach” the challenge due to his propensity for sea sickness, but the story of Mick O’Meara kept his spirits up.

“Thankfully I was graced with good weather, great support and my body held out so that after three summers, my kayak found itself being slid back onto its rack after a 903-day absence.”

Kevin recalled of his achievement: “I camped, B&Bed, was put up by strangers, slept in adventure centres, friends’ houses and hostels. I used planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from the remotest corners of this island to complete my paddling project.

“Once, in fact, I walked two-and-a-half kilometres on the Hook Peninsula to get to my B&B from the beach I landed on, back in November 2017. The proprietor, who very kindly reopened his B&B for me, stood shocked when I rolled my 18ft long kayak up his driveway rather than atop my car.”

Gerry Canning, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Skerries RNLI, commended Kevin for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the station.

“This was a phenomenal effort with an amazing amount raised for Skerries RNLI and we want to say a huge thank you to Kevin. With so many fundraising events cancelled this year, donations like this are even more crucial.

“We can really feel Kevin’s pride for what he has achieved and his enthusiasm for helping the charities he donated to. These funds are very much appreciated by all here at Skerries and will help us to continue to save lives at sea.”

Published in Kayaking

RNLI lifeboat crews from Skerries and Clogherhead launched yesterday (Monday 25 May) to retrieve a number of adults and children who had become stranded on rocks near Mornington Beach, east of Drogheda.

The lifeboats were launched shortly before 3pm after Dublin Coast Guard received emergency calls about the group’s welfare.

Also tasked were the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116, the Drogheda Coast Guard boat, and a coastguard land unit, with all arriving on scene within minutes.

Two women, a man and three children were located on the breakwater on the Mornington side of the River Boyne. It’s understood that the women and children had managed to climb up onto the rocks after they were pulled out to sea by a strong current, and the man had come to their assistance.

Working together, Skerries RNLI and Drogheda Coast Guard used their inshore boats to transfer the woman and one of the children to Clogherhead’s all-weather lifeboat for a possible transfer to the helicopter.

However, after consultation with the woman and Rescue 116, it was decided to bring them to a waiting ambulance on Mornington pier to be assessed and treated for their injuries.

The two inshore boats then recovered the remaining casualties from the rocks and brought them to be checked out by ambulance paramedics.

Subsequently the lifeboat crew were informed that another child had also been in the water and had suffered cuts and bruises.

However, they had made it back to shore with assistance from one of the adults. That child was picked up from the beach with another adult and brought for assessment by the ambulance crews.

Speaking about the call out, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Skerries RNLI, Gerry Canning, said: “Any incident involving multiple casualties has the potential to be serious.

“This was another great example of how well our volunteers work alongside our colleagues from our flank stations, from the coastguard and indeed all the emergency services.

“We hope all the casualties involved make a full and speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI launched in the early hours of yesterday morning (Saturday 9 May) to a call for help from three people cut off by the tide near Balbriggan in north Co Dublin.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson launched shortly before 1am to the location given by the two women and one man south of Balbriggan Harbour.

Upon the lifeboat’s arrival, the trio made their way onto a rocky outcrop to stay out of the water while the RNLI volunteers determined the safest approach, illuminating the area by flare.

All three were then assisted into the lifeboat, with no first aid required.

Speaking about the callout, press officer Gerry Canning said: “Our volunteer crew remain on call 24/7 throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and they showed again tonight that they are always ready to drop whatever they are doing and respond to any call for help.”

The RNLI and Irish Coast Guard recently renewed their call for people not to use the sea for exercise or recreation as Ireland moves towards the first phase of relaxing movement restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A further update on the status of the GP14 World Championships scheduled for July in Skerries, North Dublin is expected before the end of April.

GP14 Ireland Hon. Secretary Andy Johnston has told the class the International Committee in conjunction with the Skerries GP14 Worlds Organising Committee is in 'constant communications' with regard to the running of the World Championships and the threat posed by COVID-19 to the successful staging of the event.

As Afloat previously reported, more than 100 boats have now entered for the Championships at Skerries Sailing Club from July 24-29.

Johnston also advises the sailors that 'it is with regret but no surprise' that the Munsters at Cullaun Sailing Club and the Leinsters at (Mullingar Sailing Club) ear-marked for the weekends of May 2/3 and May 23/24 respectively have been postponed.

Depending on the COVID-19 situation, the Clubs would hope that one or both may be run at a later date this summer.

With travel restrictions in place across Ireland and the UK, all GP14 coaching dates have also been cancelled.

Published in GP14
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Skerries RNLI launched yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 4 March) after Dublin Coast Guard made them aware of a swimmer in difficulty at Red Island headland in Skerries.

The volunteer crew launched the Atlantic 85 lifeboat shortly after 12pm and proceeded to the area that the swimmer was reported to be in (see video HERE).

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat discovered that swimmer had made their way ashore on the rock and the winchman/paramedic from the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 had already reached them.

Two volunteer crew were put ashore to see if they could offer any assistance to the coastguard. The swimmer was uninjured, however the low tide at the time meant that walking across the sharp rocks was not possible in bare foot.

The decision was taken to winch them aboard the helicopter before landing on Red Island where local coastguard volunteers had set up and secured a landing area. The casualty was then transferred to an ambulance to be assessed.

The crew returned to the lifeboat and they stood by while the winch operation was carried out before standing down and returning to the station.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “The swimmer made the right call to head for shore and look for assistance as soon as possible. This was a good outcome today and it’s always great to see how well the different rescue services work together.”

The incident came nine days after Skerries RNLI’s first callout of the year, responding to the activation of an emergency beacon at sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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