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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Inland Waterways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Angling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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

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

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

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

Published in Sailing Events

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

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

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

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

The Impartial Reporter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

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

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

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

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

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

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

4NI has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#InlandWaterways - NI Environment Minister Alex Attwood has finally announced planning permission to restore part of the historic Ulster Canal that has not been used since 1929.

The original Ulster Canal was completed in 1841 and linked the Erne System to Lough Neagh with a 93km navigation route. It was last used for trading boats in 1929 and officially closed two years later.

The application is to restore 14km of the navigational route in total - 5.5km or river navigation from Quivvy Lough to Gortnacarrow and 8.5km of canal from Gortnacarrow to Clones.

This will involve construction of the existing canal route and tow paths for public access on both banks. New road bridges are to be constructed at Derrykerrib, Wattle Bridge, Gortnacarrow and Clonfad/Munilly with three farm accommodation bridges.

The plan is to restore two existing canal bridges and a double lock at Gortnacarrow that will facilitate a rise from the River Finn to the canal section. A mooring of 170m with 32 car parking spaces and public toilets will be provided at Gortnacarrow. A picnic area and a further 20 parking spaces will be provided at the new bridge at Clonfad/Munilly.

Minister Attwood said: “The Ulster Canal restoration project has been a key heritage and tourist attraction for a long time, which has gathered momentum since the late 90s. Today is a turning point for the project. I hope the Planners’ green light means the project can accelerate.

“This is an example of cross-border initiatives working and working well. It follows from my announcement to give planning permission to the bridge at Narrow Water, linking Warrenpoint and Omeath.

“This cross-border project will be a boost for the people of Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. It will re-open a historic waterway that has not been used for over 80 years and offers huge opportunities for regeneration and leisure-related activities for the entire region.”

Four accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent to carry out works to repair and restore three listed bridges and works to the Clones Aqueduct have also been approved.

Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment consulted Fermanagh District Council on its opinion to approve this application on 18 April 2013.

Monaghan County Council and Clones Town Council have signalled that planning approval should be granted for the Repubic side of the canal - although moves have been slow on that front.

Despite confirmation from Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan in April 2012 that the "main thrust" of waterways refurbishment is still focused on the reopening of the Ulster Canal, no significant moves have been made in the year since that statement, which came some months after a U-turn in Government funding for such projects.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Angling - The new Strategic Review of Angling initiative for Northern Ireland aims to encourage more people to get out fishing on Ulster's coastline and waterways.

The Belfast Telegraph reports on the scheme, developed by Sport NI and the NI Tourist Board, with the Loughs Agency, government and angling groups, as a two-pronged approach: promoting the sport at home and pushing Northern Ireland as a top destination for angling tourism.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to help foster the interest in angling and enable the province to enhance its reputation for the quality of its fishing and the warmth of its welcome to visitors," said Geoff Hughes, director of consultants G&L Hughes Ltd who have been appointed to advise on how angling in NI might be best developed.

Meetings will be held next month where stakeholders can evaluate proposals and put forward their views, while an online survey is already soliciting the views of interested clubs and organisations.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling
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