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#irishmarinefederation – Today's Irish Marine Federation (IMF) agm at the Maldron Hotel, Portlaoise will hear that bank lending or the lack of it, continues to be a problem for boat sales.

It's just one of a number of key issues to be addressed by members at the annual gathering of chandlers, brokers, marina operators and boat hire companies.

'A continuing squeeze on credit to even AAA customers is having a detrimental effect on the boating industry' according to industry spokesperson Steve Conlon.

It's the biggest problem facing an industry that has contracted sharply in recession. Neverthetheless a core group of long established companies are riding out the economic storms and flying the flag for marine leisure business interests.

Also up for discussion at 2pm today are plans by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport to address the issue of boat registration this year.

Currently recreational boats in Ireland are regulated in different ways depending on their size and what they are used for.

The IMF first raised the issue of registration with the then Minister, Dermot Ahern in 2002 and has made regular submissions to the Department since.

The IMF has also met with the Department's IT consultants who worked on an online registration system.

 

Published in Marine Federation

#loughree – Any threat to the water levels on Lough Ree would mean disruption to the navigation in a number of places say the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) in its latest newsletter in response to farming demands for lower water levels to prevent flooding.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has sought water level reduction on Lough Ree by 600mm the Athlone Callows region say the IMF but such a move would make the inner lakes no longer navigable.

The Farming body is also demanding a single authority rather than shared responsibility of ESB and Waterways Ireland be put in place to decide on when the levels should be reduced.

According to the IMF over the past 50 years a number of detailed studies have been produced by hydrologists and they have all come to the same conclusion that the Shannon flooding is not a manageable occurrence rather it is due entirely to the nature of the river.

The IMF claim say water level lowering would also cause disruption in the navigation to the south of Athlone.

The IMF has prepared a paper on the economic consequences of this action and plan to meet with the Minister responsible, Mr. Brian Hayes T.D. together with the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

Published in Marine Federation

#marine – Although there has been a small but steady recovery the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) says in its latest bulletin to members, a reliable barometer of boating actiivty, the Irish boating trade is still a long way from getting back to anything that resembles a normal level of business.

'Our major dealers are relying on business generated from overseas clients, however, there has been some business done with Irish clients. Whilst consumer confidence remains low this trend will continue, says industry spokesman Steve Conlon.

The IMF's original estimate of quarter four of 2013 as marking the beginning of a consumer recovery now seems to be slipping further back.

Chandlery

Chandlery companies report a flat season with some exceptions in demand largely driven by the odd occasion of better weather or special events. The sector in common with others in the retail sector report low growth or at best flat with a halt to the downward trend of previous years.

It is expected the rise in the cost of Sterling will help counter the increase in online selling from UK based mail order companies.

Marinas

Business trends at marinas across the country vary with Dublin based marinas being the worst affected in terms of a loss of regular annual contracts.

There is an estimate of a 28% loss in annual contracts on the east coast. Cork marinas continue to have few or any vacancies with the marinas further west suffering a decline of approx 12% according to the IMF. 

In spite of the industry wide decline there has been growth in seasonal contract business for some marinas and some marinas also report strong visiting numbers.

The federation says 'It is too early to say as to whether overseas visitors are down overall this year but the Failte Ireland survey may give us an accurate national picture for the first time'. 

Boat Hire

Irish Boat Rental Association (IBRA) members reported a better than expected start to the season with a tailing off in September. Overall the business remains flat although preseason bookings were up slightly. The bad summer can be blamed for the slow up take from the domestic market, the Federation says.

Published in Marine Federation

#greendiesel – The Irish Marine Federation (IMF) has made representations to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to a proposed ban on the use of so called 'Green Diesel', (or Red Diesel in Northern Ireland) for leisure boats pointing out difficulties changes would impose on the boating industry in general.

Ireland, like the UK, has had a differential pricing system for auto fuels, with higher taxes and hence retail prices for fuels used in road vehicles.

The best-known example is the price differential on green diesel, about 90c per litre cheaper than road diesel and available to boaters, farmers and other users of diesel-powered vehicles.

Green diesel is almost identical to ordinary auto-diesel apart from the dye which is added.

The IMF has also made a separate budget submission through the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) asking that if the change to white diesel is enforced by the EU that the VAT rate of 13.5% be imposed on this fuel as opposed to the 23% attached to white diesel. This would have a neutral effect on Revenue and would mean a smaller increase in the cost of fuel for boat owners say the Federation.

Published in Marine Federation

#OUR OCEAN WEALTH - The Irish Marine Federation's (IMF) submission to the Government's consultation process on harnessing the potential of Ireland's vast marine resources has been published online.

In the submission, the trade federation representing all aspects of the marine industry outlines its position for Our Ocean Wealth, the outline for an integrated Marine Plan for Ireland launched by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney earlier this year.

Regarding the potential for marine leisure tourism, the IMF emphasises Ireland's strengths in cruising, sailing and angling, plus divingsurfing and other extreme sports, as well as the "potential for developing new products around eco tourism".

According to the report: "The sea and our coastline should be treated as if it were a public park with free access to the public with proper facilities in place to ensure sustainability."

Further to this involves the provision of "more egalitarian access to the sea and to safe harbours or marina berthing availability".

A number of "impediments to development" are also highlighted in the submission, ranging from the need for reform of the Foreshore Act to the inconsistent approach of local authorities to the development of Ireland's coastal resources.

The IMF submission is available as a PDF to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update

#IRISH HARBOURS - Protesters took to the water off Kerry's piers last month in an organised swim drawing attention to proposed harbour bylaws designed to regulate the activities of water users.

“We need to make the public aware they have to make submissions,” Denise Collins told The Irish Times from Kells, which hosted one of the largest swims. “Traditional activities such as swimming will be over-regulated, we fear.”

The proposed bylaws would give Kerry County Council greater control over 16 of the county's 57 harbours and piers, including Kells, Kenmare, Portmagee, Brandon and Ventry.

Under the new bylaws, strict regulations would be placed on the use of loudhailers, landing and unloading passengers and freight, waste and even movement around the harbour.

"Draconian" charges are also set to be imposed on fishermen and other harbour users, while campaingers also feel that a ban on swimming and diving could also be added to the list.

The proposed bylaws already suffered a set-back earlier this year when Kerry County Councillors decided to restart the consultation process to allow the fishing industry, tourism operators and other interests more time to make submissions.

According to the Irish Examiner, only two submissions had been received by the council as of its January monthly meeting, despite senior council officials working for months on the draft proposals.

Cllr Toiréasa Ferris commented that the proposed charges in particular "would have huge implications for fishermen, some of whom might currently be earning only between €40 and €50 for a 14-hour day."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, charges may also soon be hiked on yachts berthing at Ireland's main fishing harbours, a list that includes Dingle in Co Kerry.

Irish Marine Federation chairman David O'Brien expressed concern at the potential for such charges to damage "the good tourism dividend for coastal towns", noting that for every euro spent on a harbour berth, €10 was normally spent in the locality.

Published in Irish Harbours
Maybe it's the fine weather? Maybe it's Enda Kenny or the IMF? Perhaps it's the sheer good value in boat deals and people determined to get on with life? Whatever it is, the Irish Marine trade is starting to see a turn in its fortunes this Spring after a torrid three years where boat sales plunged by 80%.

Any upturn couldn't come quick enough though. The Irish Marine Federation (IMF) is counting the cost of recession that has reduced its membership by up to two thirds as marine firms closed their doors.

"For the first time in three years I'm seeing fresh enquires and importantly new blood coming into Irish boating, said Bernard Gallagher of BJ Marine in Malahide, north Dublin.

boatforsalesign

Boat dealers are offering substantial discounts

The new confidence in Irish boat buyers is primarily being seen in the sailing boat market.

One of the most accurate barometers of marine leisure activity, some dealers are reporting a return business levels not seen for three or four years.

"We've just sold a lovely 38-footer in to Howth and we've more sales in the pipeline said" Gallagher.

Other dealers confirm the same saying there is definitely a positive mood among buyers to go the extra step in the sales process.

It's quite a turnaround because up until very recently, dealers admit there was 'no boat buying mood at all'.

Ironically though after such poor sales at home there's now a real shortage of boats for sale here because over the past few years a lot of Irish boat stock was sold abroad.

"We badly need boats for our brokerage listings", says Gallagher who also operates branches in Belfast and Malta.

Many say sales will never get back to the dizzy heights of 2006 but for now good product ranges at the right place plus a splash of Easter sunshine is helping to move things at least a step in the right direction.

Irish dealers have been resourceful in finding markets abroad and an example of this is Dun Laoghaire dealer MGM boats who has just returned from the Portuguese boat show where there was positive vibes in Villamoura despite the recent bailout there too!

mgmboatstandphoto

The MGM Boats Stand at the recent Villamoura Show

Published in Marine Trade

Cork sailor Simon Coveney (38) has been appointed as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine in the new cabinet of the Fine Gael/Labour Government formed yesterday.

The announcement has been welcomed by various marine interests pleased to see Marine back at the cabinet for the first time since the Department was dismantled by Fianna Fail's Bertie Ahern in 2002.

Coveney_Howth_Harbour

Marine Minister Simon Coveney TD

The appointment means Taoiseach Enda Kenny has kept good an election promise to reinstate the Marine department. A decade of lost opportunties has meant the sector has suffered through lack of infrastructure and coastline planning.

_coveney81Y4848

Simon Coveney at the helm of his yacht Wavetrain. Photo: Bob Bateman

"Simon is someone who understands the Sea as a sailor himself but also in his work as an MEP where he was involved in a number of major European maritime projects. This is a great opportuinty for the Marine. We look forward to working with him to develop this untapped resource." said David O'Brien of the Irish Marine Federation.

Simon was first elected to the Dáil in 1998 as one of Fine Gael's youngest TD's aged 26. He replaced his father Hugh Coveney TD following his untimely death.

Simon follows his father in to the post of Marine Minister. Hugh held the post in 1994.

Simon holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Land Management from Royal Agriculture College, Gloucestershire. He was also educated at Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare; University College Cork, and Gurteen Agricultural College, County Tipperary.

A keen fan of all competitive sport he has worked as a sailing instructor at his club Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven and been involved in many sailing regattas.

In 1997/8 he led the "Sail Chernobyl Project" which involved sailing a boat 30,000 miles around the world and raising €650,000 for charity.

In 2006 he contributed to RTE's series The Harbour and in a memorable quote, the Cork TD and former MEP said: "When somebody asks me the question, what's the one thing that's special about Cork?, I'd say the harbour."

Published in News Update
The new Government's plans to merge marine responsibilities into a single department has received a guarded welcome from Ireland's maritime bodies.
In today's Irish Times, the Irish Marine Federation is quoted as saying a "single maritime authority is essential for an island people".
Federation of Irish Fishermen chairman Seán O'Donoghue also welcomes the merger plans, but not if it becomes a subset of a larger department.
Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators' Association, which represents oil and gas companies, said the splitting-up of the Department of Marine in 2002 was a "disaster".
He welcomed the new programme's promise to promote offshore drilling and "streamline" the regulatory process for developing mineral resources.

The new Government's plans to merge marine responsibilities into a single department has received a guarded welcome from Ireland's marine trade bodies.

In today's Irish Times, the Irish Marine Federation is quoted as saying a "single maritime authority is essential for an island people".

Federation of Irish Fishermen chairman Seán O'Donoghue also welcomed the merger plans, but not if it becomes a subset of a larger department.

Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators' Association, which represents oil and gas companies, said the splitting-up of the Department of Marine in 2002 was a "disaster". 

He welcomed the new programme's promise to promote offshore drilling and "streamline" the regulatory process for developing mineral resources.

Published in Marine Federation

Over 120 marine trade and leisure companies from Ireland and Wales are coming together in Dun Laoghaire this week to examine ways to combat the current economic downturn on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Speakers at the conference at the Royal Marine Hotel are drawn from Industry representative organisations, tourism bodies, marine leisure companies, business development specialists, economists and irish-sea.org will provide insights and share knowledge on how to survive the downturn and emerge leaner and stronger when the recovery arrives.

The conference will also provide an industry wide networking opportunity for companies from Ireland and Wales to share experiences and develop business links across the Irish Sea.

Irish-sea.org is an Ireland/Wales Interreg IVA Programme to develop the Irish Sea into a marine leisure centre of excellence.

The programme provides help and support to the sector on both sides of the Irish Sea through marketing, business and vocational training and assisting in the acquisition of research data.

Published in Marine Federation
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