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Displaying items by tag: COVID19

Following yesterday’s update on the upcoming easing of Level 5 restrictions on waterways in the Republic, Waterways Ireland has issued an advisory on access to navigations and availability of services in Northern Ireland.

As in the rest of the island of Ireland, all Waterways Ireland locks and service blocks remain closed on the Lower Bann Navigation, the Erne System and the section of the Shannon-Erne Waterway within Northern Ireland.

Local area access to jetties and moorings is in accordance with Northern Ireland Executive guidance.

Pump-out facilities are available for use, but owners must ensure that travel to pump-out facilities must be undertaken in a responsible manner minimising the amount of essential movement out on the water.

When on jetties, Waterways Ireland urges awareness of other users; wait or move aside to allow others to pass at a safe distance.

Waterways Ireland says it will continually review such measures in light of direction and advice from the NI Executive and health professionals.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways added: “If we all continue to observe government guidance, follow advice to limit use, and strictly observe social distancing, together we can combat this pandemic — and be able to enjoy getting back out on or by our waterways when we've beaten it.”

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Waterways Ireland is advising all masters of vessels and water users that, in line with Irish Government restrictions, much of its network of inland waterways will open for navigation within one’s own home county from Monday 12 April.

However, all locks and bridges on the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation remain closed, as do all Waterways Ireland service blocks.

And the easing of restrictions only applies to waterways with the Republic of Ireland, as the NI Executive sets its own rules for waterways within Northern Ireland.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the winter mooring period has been extended on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway until Friday 30 Apri.

When the Government announces Level 4 restrictions, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges on the Shannon from 9am to 3pm daily and on the Shannon–Erne Waterway between 9am and 5pm. Service blocks and other on-shore services will also be available for use.

When Ireland moves to Level 3, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges at normal hours on all navigations.

Previous advisories for those using canal towpaths remain in place, with people encouraged to limit their use and stay within their home county.

Published in Inland Waterways
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British Marine has said recent guidance issued by the UK Government confirms that canal boats and other vessels in England are, in its view, eligible for COVID-19 recovery grants.

The Restart Grants were announced earlier this month by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, and are issued by local authorities in England.

“This confirmation means that accommodation providers, such as vessels and canal boats, should be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £18,000 to support them throughout the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on trading,” British Marine said.

The grant is exclusively for businesses which pay business rates, with the exact value of the grant determined by the businesses’ rateable value:

  1. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
  2. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
  3. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.

British Marine advises its members to contact their local authority to discuss their eligibility. Members can also visit British Marine’s COVID-19 microsite for the latest information.

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The Department of Transport has confirmed limited exemptions for maritime crews from mandatory hotel quarantine for those entering the State from high-risk countries, which comes into effect from tomorrow, Friday 26 March.

As detailed in Marine Notice No 16 of 2021 (which can be downloaded below), maritime crew are considered to be in the course of their work until they reach their home, having completed their duties on board.

It is recommended that seafarers arriving to Ireland to join a ship have in their possession evidence such as joining instructions from their employer or crewing agency.

In addition, it is recommended that seafarers leaving a ship abroad to return to Ireland are in possession of their seafarer’s discharge book that has been appropriately signed off by the ship as proof they have just completed their time aboard a vessel and are returning immediately home.

Another exemption is for anyone classed as an international transport workers, defined as a person who holds a valid Annex 3 Certificate in accordance with the Communication from the EU Commission on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the guidance for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and ensure services.

While maritime crew are generally exempt from the travel restriction requirements, this does not extend to crew involved in the operation of pleasure craft not engaged in trade, as such journeys are considered non-essential.

Any crew arriving in Ireland working aboard such a craft are required to adhere to all of the relevant travel restrictions as appropriate, including completion of a passenger locator form, pre-departure RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival and mandatory hotel quarantine where applicable. Breach of these legal obligations is an offence.

Further information in relation to travel restrictions in Ireland is available from gov.ie.

Owners/operators of international ferries serving Ireland are legally required to inform passengers of their obligations in relation to travel restrictions currently in place in Ireland.

They are also required to check each passenger has evidence of a negative/not-detected result from a RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in the State and to deny boarding to the passenger if such evidence is not produced.

In addition, there is a now a requirement to ensure that any passenger subject to mandatory hotel quarantine has made the necessary booking in advance of travel and to deny boarding if a relevant passenger cannot produce such evidence.

Masters are also requested to make on-board announcements detailing the legal requirement for passengers to complete the passenger locator form before disembarking and to ask passengers to have the form ready for collection by immigration officers.

Published in Ferry
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The RYANI has broadly welcomed the news of easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland from 1 April, as announced last week by First Minister Arlene Foster.

The sailing and boating body saidL: “This is very welcome news and follows on from engagement with the Minister of Communities, who has continued to be an advocate for sport and outdoor activity.

“Our understanding is that this will include further easing of restrictions for boating activity, namely around venue access.

“We still await the issuing of the regulations and guidance from the department to understand implications across the boating community in full."

Full guidance is currently pending, but the RYANI has summarised the position as it understands:

  • Updated Regulations are yet to be laid in order to confirm venues etc that may reopen from 1 April.
  • In the absence of the regulations, affiliated boat clubs will be able to reopen outdoor facilities from 1 April. However, there will be stringent protocols required, including very limited numbers.
  • Sailing, windsurfing and powerboating as individual, single household/bubble recreational activity will be permitted from 1 April.
  • Activity with two different households is permitted only where 2m social distancing can be adhered to at all times and with a maximum 10 people.
  • SportNI/Department for Communities will be briefing national governing bodies in coming days of the phases for outdoor sports, including more detailed guidance.
  • The current sub-phases under Step 2 will move from recreational through to training and potentially competition.
  • Once received, RYANI will be working to create guidance for clubs, centres and the wider boating community and we will share this as soon as practically possible.

“Although this announcement is welcome and further details are to follow, our current guidance remains in place, where club and other watersports facilities must remain closed,” the RYANI adds.

“We appreciate this will raise a large number of questions and will work to ensure appropriate guidance is issued at the earliest possible opportunity in order to allow you to make informed decisions.”

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In the south-east ferryport of Rosslare, serious questions have been asked over the numbers of passengers arriving and departing and the amount of screening being undertaken to prevent any further spread of Covid-19.

Last week images, writes Wexford People, were circulated of a convoy of caravans at Rosslare Europort, apparently queued up to board a ferry to France.

Meanwhile, further video footage has emerged which shows upwards of 20 cars driving off the Isle of Inishmore on Sunday night after it arrived in Rosslare from Pembroke (see other story).

An eyewitness said that the cars were all UK registered vehicles apart from one Dublin reg and one Cork reg.

While garda checkpoints had been setup in Kilrane previously, it's unclear if gardaí were present on this occasion, although checks would have been carried out at the port.

Published in Ferry

A £2.5m fund to help marine tourism businesses in Scotland restart operations in 2021 will be open for applications from next week, according to Marine Industry News.

The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund is part of an overall £104.3m support package for tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the fund is aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme, which opens at noon on Tuesday 2 February.

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said.

“Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.

He added: “The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Scotland’s struggling aquatic tourism sector is set to be boosted by a £2.5m pandemic support package from the devolved government, as Marine Industry News reports.

Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland have secured the £2.5m restart grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme.

Operators of visitor moorings and pontoons will also be able to access grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 in the scheme, which opens in January.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government, we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin says.

But he adds that the restart funding is just one of the industry’s ‘three asks’ of the regional government — with the others being “detailed solutions around workable rules” and a “recovery marketing fund”.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is the first ferry firm in the UK to receive a top industry verification for its infection risk management processes.

The operator of Scotland's lifeline services to west coast islands has been found compliant to a high standard for infection risk management, earning the right to use DNV GL's prestigious My Care Readiness Mark.

CalMac's HSQE team worked closely with independent third party risk management and quality assurance experts DNV GL, which has completed a verification assessment of the readiness of the organisation in managing infection risk from emerging pathogens.

All processes were reviewed using the My Care framework, which assesses, manages and mitigates infection risk in management systems, business processes and operations. This was carried out through document review, remote discussions with onboard management teams, and included eight site visits.

Louis de Wolff, Director of HSQE at CalMac, said: "The My Care Readiness Mark provides formal recognition of the high standards of health and safety protection on our routes to reduce the risk of infection.

"This award reaffirms our commitment to ensuring a safe environment for passengers, colleagues and communities, during the current COVID pandemic and beyond.

"The review process was in-depth and rigorous, and I am grateful to CalMac staff for their open and honest insight into our processes and how they are implemented across the organisation."

Aileen Orr, Healthcare Lead at DNV GL - Business Assurance in the UK, said, "Many congratulations to CalMac on this achievement, which is well deserved. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of staff at all levels."

Published in Ferry

Co Antrim’s famous coastal path at The Gobbins is set to reopen next week on Tuesday 1 September. months after it was closed in the initial wave of coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

As RTÉ News reports, the cliff path — which was restored in 2015 after being closed for decades — has had a number of safety upgrades to allow for social distancing and hygiene standards to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Prebooking is also essential to allow for proper management of the popular Islandmagee attraction, renowned for its white-knuckle series of rugged steps, tunnels, caves and bridges.

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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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