Displaying items by tag: maritime
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.
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.
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."
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.
Fine Gael can, logically from the support which the party garnered in the General Election, be expected to dominate a Coalition Government. In that context, the question arises as to whether they will deliver on their pre-election manifesto commitment to re-establish the Department of the Marine?
The promise to do so was unequivocal, a clear undertaking that the situation created by the former Fianna Fail and Green Party Coalition which had decimated maritime issues by spreading them over several Departments of State, would be changed and all would be contained in one Department.
In the event of a Coalition being formed will we hear that "circumstances" have changed and adjustments must be made in the context of Coalition arrangements?
I had the opportunity to question Joan Burton of the Labour Party, one of the party negotiators, prior to the election at an event organised by the European Association of Journalists. She accepted that politicians had not paid enough attention to the marine sphere and said that this attitude should be changed and accepted that the nation could benefit economically as a result.
I hope that I am not being overly cynical towards politicians, born of long years of journalistic experience, in fearing that pre-election promises may be subjected to change.• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
CIT's Dr Barry O'Connor, Registrar and Vice President for Academic Affairs, congratulated the students on their outstanding academic achievements across undergraduate and postgraduate level programmes which are nationally, internationally, and professionally accredited.
The meeting will provide an opportunity for the community around the existing Belfast Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to hear more about the proposals, ask questions of MCA representatives and air their views.
The meeting at Marine Court Hotel, 18-20 Quay Street, Bangor. BT20 5ED will be independently chaired and begin at 7:30pm. The meeting is expecting to draw to a close by 9:00pm.
The proposals for Coastguard modernisation, together with the consultation documents, can be found on the MCA website at www.mcga.gov.uk and www.dft.gov.uk
What a magnificent sight it was as the three Tall Ships, each flying the Tricolour, headed the fleet of the gracious ships of sail from all over the world.
How different it will be in July when the world's Tall Ships again parade down the Suir. There will be no Irish national sailing ship to lead the parade. A number of private Irish entries are expected at Waterford from June 30–July 3 amongst the 70 vessels from around the world when the city has the honour starting the race. In 2005 about half-a-million people visited the city while the Tall Ships were there.
The lack of a national tall ship is another example of governmental maritime neglect, directly due to the decision of former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, T.D. After the sinking of ASGARD he publicly committed the Government to its replacement, but after receiving insurance compensation money for its loss, he put the money into coffers of the Department of Finance and closed down the national sail training programme. There was a big difference between what he promised and what he did, a disregard for the maritime sphere which it is hard to forgive. I also recall how former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not visit Waterford during the 2005 race, when it was the biggest tourist event in the country. When I broadcast my report expressing astonishment at this snub government sources and Fianna Fail didn't like it. Truth in the news can be painful!
The organisers made contacts about the DUNBRODY, which continues to earn income at the New Ross quayside where it is moored as a tourist attraction and with the JEANIE JOHNSTON, moored at the Dublin Docklands.
However, neither will be taking part, the organisers have confirmed, tough they said that it was expected that about 100 young Irish trainees would sail aboard tall ships in the race, half of them with funding support from local authority, business and other sources. A group of Irish sailors have also indicated they are making arrangements to charter a UK-registered vessel the JOHANNA LUCRETIA for the event.
Once again the Irish Government has sunk to the bottom where maritime matters are concerned.
It was announced this week in Waterford that Fáilte Ireland has made a significant financial and marketing commitment to this year's event, though the financial figure was not disclosed .A free festival programme will feature street acts; comedy; international and home-grown artists, nightly fireworks, an artisan food village and an atmosphere which the organisers say "will thrill people of all ages and nationalities."
• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Fine Gael has told Afloat.ie details of its marine policy will be published in its manifesto tomorrow. If that's the case things are looking up for anyone interested in seeing Ireland develop the valuable waters that surround it.
After searching for references to 'sea', 'marine' or 'maritime' only the Labour party has so far made the only significant written commitment to the marine sector in its programme for government. Its manifesto acknowledges that Coastal Communities, Fisheries and the Marine face major challenges in the years ahead, but it is also an area of major economic potential.
Fianna Fail merely says on page 21 of its manifesto that it will ensure that 'an inter-departmental strategy is in place to improve the leisure potential of our harbours and increase marine tourism'.
The Green Party 'Renewing Ireland' document says it will promote the creation of marinas and youth and child friendly water sports to encourage activity and awareness of our maritime country. It also says Ireland will participates in the North Seas Offshore Grid Plan.
There is no reference to the marine in the Sinn Fein 'There is a Better Way' manifesto.
Four party manifestos are available to download below.
Labour's priority will be to develop Ireland as a European hub for seafood processing, which will create sustainable, value-added jobs in coastal communities.
Labour will also develop an Irish seafood strategy to grow the market profile and demand for Irish seafood products. We will support the development of sustainable aquaculture and fish farms by streamlining the licensing process and reducing, as much as possible, the associated bureaucracy. To further assist the development of the sector, responsibility for maritime policy will, as far as is practicable, be concentrated in one department.
Labour will establish a Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment based on consultation with all major stakeholders. This report will be brought before the Dáil on an annual basis before EU fisheries negotiations commence, and will ensure that there is a regular evaluation of Irish fish stocks and the effectiveness of current policy and quotas.
Labour is open to the experience and expertise of those whose livelihoods depend on maritime activity. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will engage in an ongoing structured consultation with industry representatives, the marine scientific community and other stakeholders to enable them to contribute to national maritime policy.
Finally, safety at sea and decent working conditions must underpin the development of the fisheries sector. Labour in government will ensure that the Irish Coast Guard has access to an Emergency Towing Vessel.
Dun Laoghaire People before Profit candidate Richard Boyd Barrett who has campaigned under a 'Save our Seafront' banner in the last council elections, is holding a meeting tomorrow night in Dun Laoghaire, the country's largest boating centre to protest against the possible 'privatisation' of the town's harbour.
We're tracking the progress of maritime affairs in the general election and posting details on afloat.ie. Whether you're a candidate or a vote please get in touch with your #ge11 marine news. Contact us via facebook, twitter or our website.
There are those who don't like sailing – and even some in the sport itself – who have described watching a sailing race as "about as interesting as watching paint dry. While exciting pictures have been available from the Volvo Round the World Race and match racing has proved watchable, these were exceptional highlights compared with the more mundane aspects of yacht racing. Raising public interest in the sport has been a permanent difficulty.
The Olympic Games have fared no better. The last Olympics in China were difficult for sailing where the racing was not regarded as of sufficiently high quality, courses were perceived as often poor and there were even difficulties in finding enough clear water at times due to silting and other problems.
With tickets due to go on sail in two month's time for the London Olympic Games in 2012, controversy is flaring over a decision to impose charges to watch sailing.
The 2012 Games will be the first in Olympic history to charge spectators for sailing races, with temporary seating being provided for up to 4,600 paying customers at Weymouth's Nothe Gardens, a local beauty spot which overlooks one of the racing areas at Newton's Cove. Weymouth and Portland Council received official notification about the plan a week before Christmas. This was more than two months after the London organising committee, Locog, announced ticket prices for the Games, including sailing.
The spectator experience at previous Games has been confined to a glimpse of sails through a pair of binoculars, but by bringing the action close to shore, Locog believes it can turn sailing into an exciting spectator sport.
They are hoping that ticket sales will be encouraged by the introduction of new events such as women's match-racing — a series of 20-minute head-to-head races between two boats. This will begin with a round-robin phase before turning into a knockout competition and is intended to form the core of the programme on the Nothe course. It will be supplemented by races involving two of what are regarded as spectacular classes - including the 49ers and the windsurfers.
In the second week of the Games, the course will play host to the final medal races in all boat classes.
This concept of bringing the sport to the fans onshore has the full backing of the International Sailing Federation, which will be hoping for capacity crowds in the temporary stands, where spectators will be asked to pay up to stg£55 each to watch the sailing.
However, local people in Weymouth and Portland are angered by the intention to turn their public park into a ticketed venue. The Council has accused the organisers of not discussing their plans in advance and local councillors claim people are outraged that they will be barred from the park for several weeks.
Locog has defended its decision to sell tickets, saying that, for the first time, sailing will be presented as a true onshore spectator experience, which the International Sailing Federation is keen to develop. The organisers also cite safety concerns, with a ticketed venue allowing them to predict crowd numbers. They insist the move is not motivated by financial gain, but that is, clearly, being questioned.
For those unwilling to pay, there will still be one or two free vantage points near Newton's Cove as well a free site with a big video screen and stage on Weymouth Beach.
Sailing competitions will take place on five courses but only at Newton's Cove will spectators be able to watch from land with the naked eye. Tickets, which will go on sale in March, will range from stg£20 for preliminary races to stg£55 for medal races. Discounts will be offered for children and over-60s.
Locog said councillors were invited to a meeting about Nothe Gardens in October. It added that there would be a public consultation later this year prior to submitting a formal planning application for the use of the park for charged viewing. It will be interesting to see how the Council reacts to that application!
One thing the controversy is doing is, at least, is to highlight the sailing events!
• An interesting sidelight about public interest in sailing is that, while sailing has difficulty in getting television coverage, a total of 506,000 people watched USA TV personality, Oprah Winfrey and the star of the film, 'Master and Commander,' Russell Crowe when they presented a sailing programme from Sydney Harbour.
- This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
I had to read the figures twice to make sure that I was seeing them correctly. The second reading made me even more angry than the first.
They were, at last, a definitive figure of how much the stupidity of Irish politicians and the ignorance and disregard of the maritime sphere by the Government have cost this nation – over a billion Euros in one year.
There is no way the Government can weasel its way out of this revelation, nor any excuse the un-named civil servants responsible can make to avoid the accusation that this is a massive economic waste.
The Marine Institute is the Government's own respected authority on maritime affairs, the voice of the State on marine research and it has valued the total available catch of fish off Ireland last year at €1.18 billion, for a total of 994,155 tonnes.
That is an enormous figure, indicating huge potential wealth for this cash-strapped nation in the middle of an economic disaster. But of this total value of seafood, Ireland was only entitled to catch €0.19 billion. Foreign fishing fleets had exclusive rights to take the rest of the fish from Irish waters.
No wonder I had to read the figures a second time to make sure I was seeing them correctly at a time when the value of our food exports has been shown to be one of the top earners for the nation. How much more could have been earned if Irish fishermen could catch all that fish and have it processed in Ireland, creating onshore jobs in ancillary businesses as well as at sea?
The total value for 2010 could be even higher than €1.18 billion because the Institute prepared its figures in advance of the annual fisheries negotiations in Brussels in December. Ireland as a nation and the country's fishing industry in particular are likely to have lost out even more heavily to other EU countries.
Effectively, Ireland handed over around €1billion of its natural economic resources to other EU countries. Mark McCarthy, Editor of The Marine Times, the national fishing industry paper, described the figures as "truly frightening."
"This is a nation with some of the richest fishing grounds in the world where the coastal communities are being financially starved and frustrated through their inability to catch their own fish, because they are not allowed to do so."
It is hardly any wonder that Irish fishermen, forced to tie up their boats at the quaysides of Irish fishing ports and watch as foreign vessels unload into those ports, are bitter and frustrated.
Ebbie Sheehan of Castletownbere, Chairman of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation, asks why fishermen are "so badly treated when we look at the economic situation today?"
The Marine Institute, our national maritime scientific and research organisation, says that its estimate of the value of fishing opportunities in Irish waters is "conservative" and that, in order to prepare the figures in early December, it based them on 2009 values
That would make the total value even higher and the Institute pointed out that of the total catch of 994,155 tonnes, Ireland's fishermen were entitled to take only 18 per cent of the catch. This was only 16 per cent of the total value.
"These figures exclude valuable inshore fisheries, such as lobster and whelk which are not currently managed by total allowable catches within the Common Fisheries Policy," the Institute pointed out.
As Mark McCarthy described it, when one considers the importance of using our natural resources for the benefit of Irish people and the failure of our political leaders to see and understand this, what has been revealed is "truly frightening".
- This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Ireland has the largest maritime area-to-land mass in the European Union, but derives only 1% of GDP from the maritime sector. At a time when the economy needs every benefit it can get this figure is startling, particularly when compared to countries with other extensive coastlines, such as Norway where the figure is 20%, Denmark where it is 11% and even the UK which has increased its figure to 5%.
Despite being an island nation with a strong dependency on the sea, the Irish maritime economy is still in its infancy, both in terms of investment and of recognition.
Once again the importance of the sea was shown in the pre-Christmas weather problems. When air transport again failed the public, the ferries continued to operate. When road transport needed salt for gritting to keep roads open, it was ships which brought the salt to Ireland.
How many times do I have to challenge the ignorance and stupidity of the State, of Government, towards the sea? How many times do I have to remind the public of how dependent we are on the sea as an island nation?
Though still considered a low priority by Government, the maritime sector is worth €3 billion to the nation and supports 440,000 direct and indirect jobs. According to the Marine Institute in the "SeaChange Programme," this could be increased by at least 50%.
In Cork the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre which is part of UCC's Environmental Research Institute and has been working out of the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island has changed its name and is planning to move to a new maritime research facility. It has become the "Coastal and Marine Research Centre".
For over ten years the CMRC has been promoting the use of integrated coastal zone management as a means of achieving sustainable development in the use of coastal and marine resources, including marine ecology, seabed mapping, coastal processes, remote sensing, geology and geomatics.
A new maritime research facility is planned at Ringaskiddy, adjacent to the National Maritime College, part of the announced intention to establish a Maritime and Energy Research Campus and Commercial Cluster. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Bord Gais and the UCC Glucksman Foundation contributed funding, together with €7.5m. from the Higher Education Authority. As part of the National Ocean Energy Strategy, it will "bring together on one site the people, their ideas and the infrastructure to support the development of ocean energy," according to MERC Chairman, Peter Coyle. "Our aim is to produce innovative technical solutions to support the development of the Irish maritime sector."
This will include ocean energy opportunities, such as wave power where Irish companies have been leading the way. Shipping, logistics and maritime transport, marine recreation, maritime security research and maritime space applications are amongst other aspects of research work to be undertaken in Ringaskiddy.
Valerie Cummins, who led the Coastal Marine Resources Centre over past years has been appointed Director of MERC and is being replaced as Director at the newly re-named Coastal and Marine Research Centre by Jeremy Gault.
This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie