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The latest edition of The Ocean Race’s Off Watch video interview series sits down with Damian Foxall, Irish veteran of the yachting challenge formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race.

Kerryman Damian Foxall has competed in the round-the-world race six times, including a winning campaign in the 2011-12 edition.

In more recent years, he’s charted a new course as an advocate for sustainability both in the sport of sailing and the world in general.

But in his own words: “You can take a sailor off the water but not for very long.”

Here he tells Niall Myant-Best how how listening to glaciers shearing off Antarctica during an expedition last year gave him a new respect for sea ice, and about his pride in sailing into Galway as part of the winning Groupama team and helping to raise the profile of sailing in his homeland.

He also steers into choppier waters, such as how winning does come with costs — to family, to the environment — that he’s hoping to change through his work in sustainability for 11th Hour Racing and with Irish Sailing.

Watch the full interview below:

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Youth sailors from all over Northern Ireland are getting ready for RYANI’s Youth Championships weekend at Strangford Lough Yacht Club from today, Saturday 21 September, with over 160 sailors competing for the coveted Northern Ireland Schools Cup and Club Trophy.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this is the 30th year of the popular competition — and this year there is a focus on reducing plastic and ensuring the event is more environmentally sustainable in line with The Green Blue Charter.

In 2018, The Green Blue and RYANI delivered a series of workshops to educate clubs and instructors in Strangford Lough on the importance of protecting marine habitats and species in this area of natural beauty.

A new-look website has also recently been launched which provides useful resources as well as educational activities for young boaters that can be delivered on the water and onshore.

The most popular of these is Marine CSI, which gives young people the chance to become marine ‘special agents’ by analysing fingerprints, unscrambling puzzles and testing water samples.

By working towards an environmentally self-regulating boating community, The Green Blue aims to help boaters minimise the impact they have on the environment and protect wildlife and its habitats so they can enjoy the marine environment far into the future.

Published in Youth Sailing

#ferries - Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted vessels to save fuel, battery power propulsion, huge reduction of single use plastic on board, continued low level of crew and passenger accidents and an increased rate of female leaders. These are some of the highlights in leading ferry company Stena Lines sustainability review for 2018.

The ferry operator has now released its third sustainability review “A Sustainable Journey” describing initiatives, improvements and challenges in the operations from the sustainability perspective as well as results on their ambitious sustainability targets. The review also highlights the main initiatives the company has worked on during the past year.

Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson said: “With size comes responsibility and our ambition is to improve our operations every year to become a leader in sustainable shipping. The past year we have had exiting developments pairing artificial intelligence with the know-how of our experienced employees on-board as well as increased focus on electrification. We have continued our efforts within crew and passenger safety as well as launching a new initiative for more diversity in our operations. This is a very exciting time for our company and I’m proud that Stena Line continues help shape the industry for European short-sea transportation.”

A sustainability strategy for Stena is divided into five focus areas tied to the UN Global Goals for sustainable development with ambitious targets set in each focus area. They are Equality & Inclusion, Good Health & Wellbeing, Clean Energy, Responsible Consumption, Life Below Water.

“We have more than 5,500 employees who all make big and small contributions towards our sustainability targets and it’s great to see that we are making good progress in many areas while maintaining a safe and efficient operation. Our industry has a big challenge with our fossil dependence and our total carbon emissions increased in line with freight volumes so we have more to do in this area. The initiatives started within electrification are relatively new to our industry but extremely important going forward as we gradually move to low-carbon operations,”said Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability.

The full review can be found through this link which leads to a download pdf file.

Published in Ferry
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On Earth Day (Monday 22 April) The Ocean Race and 11th Hour Racing have forged a partnership that aims to bring sustainability initiatives to the heart of the race.

The Ocean Race says it is building on its position as the sustainability leader in global sport by announcing a visionary partnership with 11th Hour Racing — the largest of its kind in sport.

The legendary round-the-world sailing event and its premier partner will focus on a broad range of initiatives to promote the restoration of ocean health, embedding sustainability in all event operations.

As part of this ‘Racing with Purpose’ initiative, the partners have committed to a comprehensive action plan to initially:

  • Convene 11 Ocean Race Summits and Innovation Workshops, focused on ocean health, with the first being held in Europe in September 2019.
  • Work with experts and sailing teams to explore the use of state-of-the-art renewable energy systems onboard the IMOCA 60 and VO65 classes during the next edition of The Ocean Race in 2021.
  • Inspire school children around the world to take action for the ocean through a multi-lingual, curriculum-based, education programme, to be released in May 2019.
  • Continue the powerful science program developed in the last Ocean Race, which gathered critical oceanographic and microplastics data, and examine ways that all teams are able to participate in this groundbreaking research.
  • Inspire millions of Race Village visitors with the possibility of a sustainable world through interactive experiences at each stopover.

Johan Salen, managing director of The Ocean Race, said: “Through this partnership with 11th Hour Racing, and by harnessing the power of sport, we are using our collective global influence and extensive networks to reach millions of people to affect meaningful, long-term change for ocean health.

“The sailing community has a deep connection with the sea so it’s natural that we would work together to safeguard its future. The integration of our collective vision within every area of our operations will engage and inspire the wider sailing community, teams, our stakeholders and suppliers, future host cities, schoolchildren and, of course, the race fans to take decisive action on this urgent issue.”

11th Hour Racing says it works with the sailing community and maritime industries to advance solutions that protect and restore the health of our oceans.

The renewed and expanded partnership is intended to build on the momentum of the multi-award winning Sustainability Programme, featured in the past edition of the race, of which 11th Hour Racing was the founding principal partner.

“11th Hour Racing has developed an impact-driven model with sustainability at the core of all of its programs,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of 11th Hour Racing and president of The Schmidt Family Foundation.

“During the last edition of this iconic race around the planet, we raised visibility with the race crews, fans and students all over the world about the breadth of issues threatening the oceans and innovative solutions to address them, some that we already can put into practice. These efforts were a powerful catalyst for positive action.

‘This is a unique opportunity to create a coalition between sport, business, and policymakers.’

"Together, we have the power to deliver science and sustainability through the platform of sport. 11th Hour Racing is excited to continue its collaboration with The Ocean Race to create one of the most forward thinking and unique sport sponsorships of our time.”

The Ocean Race Summits aim to provide a platform that uses a mix of storytelling and groundbreaking announcements to help advance solutions to environmental issues. Industry-led Innovation Workshops will explore ways to evolve business models and reduce impact on the environment.

Growing the Learning Programme, used during the previous race by more than 110,000 children in 41 countries, a new science and sailing module will be launched this spring. This will provide the next generation with the tools to become future ocean advocates.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Irish Sailing has named Volvo Ocean race veteran Damian Foxall as its sustainability ambassador.

The national governing body for sailing in Ireland says the Kerry sailor — who served as sustainability manager for Vestas 11th Hour Racing in the most recent edition of the VOR — “has committed to helping us support sailors, clubs and centres to make sailing in Ireland environmentally sustainable and help reduce our carbon footprint.

“We are excited to announce that he has committed to attending a number of Irish Sailing events to help share advice on sustainability and environmental impact.

“Damian brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table for us all to learn from. He completed 10 round-the-world races and is a passionate ocean conservationist.”

The ocean consultant will be guest speaker at the Irish Sailing Cruising Conference in Lough Ree Yacht Club next Saturday 16 February, and will also be presenting Irish Sailing’s first Sustainability Award at tonight’s Volvo Irish Sailing Awards – just a few days after his recent skiing adventures on Ireland's highest peak.

Published in ISA

#VOR - Kerry sailor and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Damian Foxall had a very different role in the most recent edition of the round-the-world yacht race.

As sustainability manager for Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Foxall was responsible for guiding the team towards the title of the race’s ‘most sustainable’. His secret? “No compromise.”

Foxall spoke to Sport Sustainability Journal upon the publication of his team’s comprehensive sustainability report, which outlines various initiatives from grants for local projects along the route, to carbon reduction and offsetting on the yacht and among the crew.

The latter included the likes of reduced plastic packaging for official race clothing supplied by Musto, to ‘meatless Mondays’ below deck.

“The further we got into the race … we found sustainability brought a depth and strength to our team,” Foxall says.

Sport Sustainability Journal has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#IFI - Inland Fisheries Ireland has officially signed up to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) Partnership Programme, which helps integrate energy management into public sector organisations.

This new partnership will see IFI follow a clear path to achieving targeted energy savings of 33% across the public sector, with a view to achieving year-on-year savings of greater than 3% on top of the 21% increase in efficiency already reached sector-wide.

The State fisheries body says it has already commenced a number of energy saving initiatives in recent years, which include the introduction of ‘green patrols’ for fisheries officers using kayaks and bicycles to patrol angling areas on inland waterways; installing solar panels and insulation on buildings; fuel monitoring and fleet audits; altering lighting; and trialling an electric vehicle.

IFI chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne commented: “As custodians of the fisheries resource, Inland Fisheries Ireland recognises the importance of energy management as a highly cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to reverse climate change.

“Today [Tuesday 7 March] we have formally committed to reducing our energy usage and our carbon emissions and we look forward to working with the SEAI on reaching our goal by 2020.

“There are many benefits to energy efficiency and aside from environmental reasons; we are also motivated by the desire to operate in a lean manner. We know that many organisations can achieve 20% monetary savings in energy use through proven management and technology solutions so as an organisation, we will benefit year on year.”

Jim Gannon, CEO of the SEAI, added that the agency “is working closely with the public sector to help them to achieve energy savings and agencies such as IFI have a key role to play.

“Already, public bodies have achieved more than €600 million in energy efficiency savings in the last few years with SEAI’s assistance. With more partnerships like the one Inland Fisheries Ireland has committed to today, even more public sector savings can be achieved as we move towards a low carbon future.”

Published in News Update

#Tourism - Lough Neagh joins an exclusive list of 100 ‘sustainable destinations’ after its success in a global tourism competition this week.

As the News Letter reports, the largest inland waterway in the island of Ireland was put forward for evaluation by the Green Destinations Top 100 team, which narrowed down 150 nominees around the world to those taking sustainability most seriously for locals and tourists alike.

Eimear Kearney of the Lough Neagh Partnership was on hand to accept the prestigious designation at the Global Sustainability Competition in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“For Lough Neagh to be named among the 100 greenest of destinations worldwide is a real achievement,” she said.

The partnership has recently launched a new scheme to improve habitats for protected bird species around the lough, according to BBC News.

The good news for Lough Neagh comes in the same week that a number of maritime tourism operators were featured at the 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#DublinPort - Dublin Port achieved a 97% recycling rate in 2015, according to its latest sustainability report.

Published over the summer, the report also highlights a 97% reduction in water consumption and a successful surveillance audit for the ISO 14001 environmental management standards among its achievements in a year that saw significant increases in imports and exports, trade vehicles and passenger numbers.

Trade volumes have continued to rise into 2016, with an 8% increase in the first six months of this year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

This is the third sustainability report released by the Dublin Port Company since statistics were first compiled for 2013.

Published in Dublin Port

#BelfastLough - Belfast Lough's north foreshore will soon be home to a concentration of sustainable businesses that promises to be a first for Northern Ireland.

UTV News reports on the Cleantech Hub, a 30-acre waterfront site at Giant's Park aimed at firms in the renewables, environmental and low-carbon sectors.

Already adjacent to the site is a plant that converts gas from landfill to electricity powering 2,500 homes.

And it's hoped that the new scheme "will now firmly position the city as a leading destination for green technology, enhancing the profile of the sector here, as well as generating interest beyond these shores," according to David McNellis of agents Lisney, managing the hub on behalf of Belfast City Council.

UTV News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough
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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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