Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay
#MARINE SCIENCE - Apart from some of the world's largest concentrations of wave energy, the waters of Galway Bay and the west coast of Ireland are now providing something potentially even more valuable - information.
That's according to IBM's Harry Kolar writing for the blog A Smarter Planet, as he discusses the start of his company's new underwater data collection project developed in association with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Marine Institute.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the system comprises an array of noise sensing equipment such as hydrophones deployed in Galway Bay to monitor the noise levels produced by wave energy conversion devices in real time.
This array is attached to a large monitoring buoy about 2km from the southern shore, and constantly transmits the data it records to a receiving system on land.
The scheme, which was finally switched on last month, is an offshoot of the SmartBay initiative for developing and testing new marine technology to foster future commercial development in the fast-growing marine science sector. The 'Twitter buoy' deployed for the Volvo Ocean Race finale recently is another of the project's schemes.
"Initially, the system will capture and analyse the ambient noise of the ocean to establish a baseline of acoustics including natural and anthropogenic (man-made) sound sources including vessel traffic," writes Kolar.
"But the ultimate goal is to capture and analyse the sounds and vibrations of hulking wave energy conversion machines that have begun bobbing along off the coast and help determine what, if any impact the sound waves from those devices could have on marine life – but especially highly sensitive dolphin, porpoise, and whale populations."
A Smarter Planet has much more on the story HERE.
In a letter to The Irish Times yesterday, Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment says that the delay – to allow for proper environmental studies to be conducted – "has been explained again and again" by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney.
He was responding to a letter last Friday by Richie Flynn of IFA Aquaculture, who highlighted the "suffering" of coastal communities as a result of processes that "hamper development and delay investment in the hundreds of companies involved in farming salmon, oysters, mussels, trout and other species".
Lowes writes in counter that salmon farming "is a highly polluting industry", and that discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous from aquaculture facilities "can fuel toxic algae blooms, which have cost the shellfish industry dear".
He claims that the proposed salmon farm in Bantry Bay in West Cork would have a nitrogen and phosphorous discharge "equivalent to the sewage of a town 10 times the size of Bantry".
Lowes also alleges that the deep-sea "super salmon" farm in Galway Bay - the licence application for which is undergoing statutory consultation till 2 October - would produce the equivalent effluent of a city more than double the size of Galway.
"The EU habitats directive requires baseline studies and environmental impact statements," writes Lowes. "Licensees can be granted only if the project will not have adverse impacts on protected species and habitats."
As previously reported on Afloat.ie at the end of June, Ireland's fisheries board had announced a "significant delay" of four to six weeks before publishing the licence application.
But in a recent statement, BIM announced that it received permission some weeks ago from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the marine to begin the statutory consultation process, in which it is sharing the licence application and Environmental Impact Statement "with a list of State bodies for their appraisal and feedback".
The statutory consultation will continue till Tuesday 2 October 2012, and BIM promises that all feedback will be made available to the public via the BIM website "to further assist them in their assessment of the Environmental Impact Statement when it goes to full public consultation".
The 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands on a 500-hectare site, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.
BIM intends to franchise the licence, should it be approved, to a third party "who agrees to a legally binding contract to farm the Atlantic salmon to the highest organic and environmental standards". Approval of the project could also see the creation of as many as 500 jobs, some 20% more than previously estimated.
The news comes after the ministerial apprival of salmon farm licence assignments from five separate operators in nearby Connemara, designed to "consolidate and revitalise" aquaculture in the region.
Explaining BIM's plans for the consultation process, the statement added: "Previously, both statutory and public consultation would have been carried out in parallel. However, Ireland has recently (June 2012) ratified the Aarhus Convention. The convention lays down rules to promote citizens involvement and to improve public consultation in the making of decisions with potential environmental impact by the state.
"Given the recent ratification of the Convention and for a number of other legal and technical reasons, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has signed a new Statutory Instrument (SI No 301 of 2012), bringing into law new periods of public consultation for fish farm licence applications. In this instance the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have instructed BIM to carry out statutory consultation in full before proceeding with public consultation.
"BIM believes that this approach will help to further inform the public during their period of consultation."
#GALWAY BAY - Organisers of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Galway next weekend have given assurances that no competitors are at risk from E.coli contamination - despite concerns over elevated levels of the bacteria in Galway Bay.
The Evening Herald reports that E.coli levels in the waters off Salthill were recently found to have exceeded the EU mandatory safety threshold - similar to that which saw seven beaches closed in Cork last week, as well as Rush South in Dublin over the August bank holiday weekend.
Subsequent testing showed that levels had dropped below the safe limit, and Galway City Council was yesterday expecting a second set of results which, if positive, would see the beach at Salthill reopened to bathing.
The swim portion of the Ironman triathlon on Sunday 2 September will take a route along the Salthill Promeade from Blackrock to Palmer's Rock, and organisers say they are happy that the event "will not be impacted" by the current concerns.
"We are at the far end of the bay. The event is still eight... days away and this won't affect us in the least," said organiser Eoin McCormack.
A number of Irish celebrities will be taking part in the second annual Ironman 70.3 Galway event.
Rosanna Davison, Kathryn Thimas, Keith Duffy, Ray D'Arcy and Gráinne and Síle Seoige will be among those tacking the gruelling course that includes a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a run through the Salthill and Claddagh areas of Galway City.
The Evening Herald has more on the story HERE.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans for the port were withdrawn after the failure of the Galway Harbour Company to secure the necessary approvals for preliminary site investigation works.
The original development proposed transferring port operations from the existing single-dock facility south into Galway Bay, where reclaimed land in deeper waters would accommodate larger cruise liners as well as a freight rail link and a 200-berth marina.
Galway Harbour Company chief executive Eamon Bradshaw said the company was now taking a new route after examining previous planning applications involving sensitive habitats.
He pointed out that under article 6.4 of the EU habitats directive, applications for projects classified under “imperative reasons for overriding public interest” allow developers to compensate for any infringement on senstive habitats by restoring an area of a similar size in a different location.
Bradshaw added that consultations are under way with An Bord Pleanála and other State agencies.
Some 40 hardy souls will brave the waters for the 13km swim from Aughinish in Co Clare to Blackrock Tower in Salthill with the aim of raising €50,000 for Cancer Care West.
The swim will also pay tribute to Páraic Casey, who tragically died last weekend while attempting to cross the English Channel.
The numbers are up on last year's swim, which saw 25 competitors - including Athlone man Jim O'Connor, who as reported last year was swimming up to 30km each week at his local pool in preparation.
More details of the swim are availabe at facebook.com/galwaybayswim
#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - It has been revealed that a new coastal radar system developed at NUI Galway was instrumental to the success of the PUMA team in the in-port races at the recent Volvo Ocean Race finale.
The radar system, which measures currents and waves throughout Galway Bay on the hour, is run by Dr Mike Hartnett’s research group in the newly launched Ryan Institute at NUI Galway.
The sophisticated system is normally used for advanced marine research, but PUMA Ocean Racing performance coach Robert Hopkins Jr contacted the researchers to see if their radar data could be used by his crew to get the edge on the CAMPER team, with which they were tied on points.
Maps of the currents in the bay over the past month were made available to PUMA and Dr Hartnett advised team on their sailing strategy for the important race.
PUMA went on to win in great style and win the series by a one-point margin. The win also marked PUMA’s first trip to the top of the podium for an in-port race in this round of the Volvo Ocean Race.
PUMA finished on the podium in nine of the 10 in-port races, collecting 45 total points to win the overall In-Port Race Series.
Hopkins was delighted with the result. “Currents in Galway Bay were a big factor in the in-port race, where tides, wind and river outflow make it all very complicated," he said. "To prepare for the race, we looked for surface current patterns in hundreds hours of data from the NUI Galway radar, took on-the-water readings before the start, and data from Mar Mostro’s own Doppler velocity log supplied by Nortek AS. It worked and we won the race.”
The NUI Galway radar data will soon be available online to the public, hopefully helping local sailors to improve their performance.
Dr Hartnett acknowledged the assistance provided by two local businessmen in enabling this advanced technology.
“The Spiddal radar site is sending its data back to the computers at NUI Galway via the broadband service of An Crúiscín Lán, thanks to the permission of owner John Foy.
"Similarly, Liam Twomey, general manager of the National Aquarium of Ireland, Salthill, provided access to their broadband to courier the Mutton Island radar data back to NUI Galway.”
Competitors fought it out over a course that included a 2km swim and a 10km run, differing from the traditional triathlon in the omission of a cycling stage.
As TheJournal.ie reports, Keane was first out of the water with an impressive time of 26 minutes 4 seconds - and he maintained his domination over the field in the running portion, covering the distace in just 33 minutes 13 seconds.
Meanwhile, in the women's race, Lizzie Lee was third out of the water but her extensive running experience helped her pull ahead of the pack on foot, crossing the finish line with a lead of nearly 2 1/2 minutes.
A selection of images of the race from photographer Martin Jancek are available HERE.
It's believed that the passenger was experiencing cardiac problems.
The woman is a passenger on the Marco Polo, the 800-passenger cruise vessel that was recently anchored in Bantry Bay, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
#FISHING - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has announced a "substantial delay" before it publishes the licence application for the controversial proposed deep-sea fish farm in the Aran Islands, as Galway Bay FM reports.
Though publication was originally planned for the beginning of this month, BIM says it will be another four to six weeks before it will be made available, following "meaningful and informative feedback" from the public during the most recent round of consultations on the project.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm would be located off Inis Oírr on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay, and would be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, projected to be worth €103 million annually for the economy.
Approval of the project could see the creation of as many as 400 jobs.
Noel Carr, secretary of the Federation of Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Anglers (FISTA), described the fish farm plans as his group's 'Alamo'.