Displaying items by tag: Galway
#irishsailing – After tweeting 'neither Afloat nor the Irish Sailing Association understand the makeup of sailors in Ireland', author Alex Blackwell gives his personal view on this week's ISA Public Meeting in Galway and on the way ahead for Irish sailing.
Sixty people from as far afield as Dun Laoghaire, from sixteen different sailing clubs, and four training centres converged on Galway Bay Sailing Club on Tuesday February 24th for the final Regional Meeting to discuss the ISA Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Chaired by GBSC's Pierce Purcell (ISA Director) and presented by Neil Murphy (ex ISA President and Chairman of the Planning Group which was operational in the final three months of 2014), the first hour was taken up with a detailed explanation of the Draft Plan, with interjections by Neil Murphy of things that have already been decided should be changed. As he put it, there were many good suggestions made at the previous two meetings, as well as in individual submissions. For the attendees, many of whom had come bearing copious notes, this often meant a reduction of what might need to be brought up.
As Neil Murphy explained, the original list of tasks had taken up over forty pages. This had been whittled down to the document at hand. Some things had been cut that should not have been. One such item was Paralympic Sailing, which as we all know has been cut by the International Paralympic Committee. This has now been reinstated in the ISA plan. It can only be hoped that the ISA will indeed take the IPC and the ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee to task on this.
The plan itself, when finalised before the end of March and voted on in the ISA Annual General Meeting on 28/03/15 in Port Laoise, will constitute the working doctrine for the ISA and its staff right through to 2020. Though 'written in stone' after the AGM, changes may of course be decided on in upcoming AGMs or EGMs.
Neil Murphy made a point of explaining that henceforth any discussion would be about "sailing" as opposed to "the sport of sailing", an issue brought up previously that the Committee felt strongly about. The understanding was that by using the term 'sport', a significant segment of the sailing and boating community was potentially excluded. It was also felt that using this term might be felt by some as elitist and infer that sailing is all about racing. Presumably since this turn of phrase is so deeply ingrained in most sailors, he then went on to almost exclusively refer to 'the sport' or 'the sport of sailing'. But there is hope.
He also brought up that, based on previous input, the ISA had started an initiative with regards to diesel fuel availability. The EU has dictated that leisure craft may only use unmarked (taxed) white diesel. However this is simply not and will not be available with the exception of mere handful of harbours, mostly in clusters around Dublin and Cork, or inland service stations which are inaccessible to visiting boats. Another issue was that the junior sailing programmes would be restructured, with greater emphasis placed on two person boats, and less on the current boat classes.
At the end of his presentation he received a warm round of applause. Almost every subsequent commentator remarked on the excellent work the committee had done in producing this document.
The ensuing discussion, during which some impassioned contributions were made, was not without some serious criticism; similar one might add to what actually happened in Cork. The first point raised was the Small Craft Register, where the ISA had suddenly folded to Government pressure without first ensuring that a working replacement was in place. This is an entirely untenable situation. Irish yachts abroad, and those wishing to go abroad are being forced to flag out to Britain, otherwise they face impoundment, either scenario being undesirable.
Another concern raised was that the stakeholders, key to the growth of sailing, had been omitted in creating a document entirely focussed on clubs, access, training, competition (racing), and culminating in the Olympics. These are the actual members and their concerns, the general public, from whom the clubs (and the ISA) draw their members, and last, but by no means least, the Government. It was pointed out that the RYA's primary focus in their manifesto is "...to ensure that legislators, regulators, and other authorities understand, and take account of, recreational boating activity." It had already been brought up in Cork that the ISA needs to be constantly in the forefront as an advocacy body in respect to sailor's freedoms and interests, and this was reiterated in Galway.
A representation was also made by another significant stakeholder group: the Sailing Businesses. Over-regulated and under-supported, these provide the goods and services all sailors and boaters need; not to mention the innovations required to advance design and technology – a 'minor detail' essential to Ireland being in the forefront of High Performance (Olympic and international class) sailing. This also includes high profile events, such as the Volvo Ocean Race, which came to Galway twice in recent years, producing two of the biggest 'sporting' events in Irish history.
A point that was raised at previous meetings and was brought up again was that the draft plan was all about racing, culminating in 'High Performance'. It was argued that racing sailors were in the minority and that this emphasis was inappropriate. According to statistics issued by the RYA (the ISA has published none) the ratio is 6-1 Club Cruisers to Club Racers. Ireland is likely similar to the UK in this regard. Another observation was that in any given club for every boat going out on the race course between five and ten remained at their mooring or in their slip. Mr. Murphy countered this contending that 60% of sailors in Ireland are racers.
A quick informal survey revealed once again that statistics can always be portrayed in a way that underpins a particular argument. Whereas most cruising boat owners who participate in club racing would consider themselves cruisers, and some racing boat owners would indeed do the same, their respective crew members (up to ten per boat), who only race and rarely have an opportunity to cruise, would almost all consider themselves racing sailors.
Perhaps we can agree that the 'Corinthian' approach would be appropriate: to promote 'sailing' and not harp on racing (as in the draft document) or cruising. We are one community with one goal. We all love sailing and wish to help promote it; be it racing around the cans, coastal cruising, adventure sailing, or simply messing about in boats. This is what needs to be reflected in the plan.
Women sailing also made for some interesting discussion between the floor and the head table. The question was raised why there were only two or three women in a room full of men. The ISA had in the past done some initiatives to get more women sailing. However, as they were implemented, these had been so far from the mark that they had in fact put women off. On the day, the women had to take the helm in a regatta without any prior experience. The 'plan' should, it was subsequently suggested, encourage comprehensive women's sailing programmes. This brought many comments about what good skippers women who actively sail do make.
The attendance at the meeting in Galway Bay Sailing Club included representatives from sixteen clubs in the west and four training centres
Class associations were also represented, and the Mirror was highlighted. Ireland's own Olympian Annalise Murphy 'honed her skills' in a Mirror Dinghy. There are countless Mirrors in sheds and garages nationwide. With the dinghy sailing focus changing to a two person boat, perhaps the clubs could bring these back out into use.
It was also pointed out that more outbound communication (PR) should be done about the high profile events taking place in Ireland, and also the fantastic people we have in the racing, cruising, and adventure sailing scenes. All of these would do a huge job in elevating the public perception of sailing in general and thus also help to promote our ambitions with high profile events like the Olympics.
The bombshell for the majority of those present, not being ISA insiders, arrived when the question of voting rights at the Annual General meeting was raised. Votes are cast en bloc by each club based on their membership (and subscription) levels. The 'Big Six' clubs on the east and south coasts, therefore carry roughly half of the votes, irrespective of who actually attends the meeting.
It is almost impossible for an individual or a small club to have any say. Intentionally or inadvertently, the "block vote" system has the effect of suppressing dissent and perpetuating the status quo. A block vote system like this was used by the trades unions to control the British Labour Party until it was abolished in 1994 in favour of one member, one vote.
Small wonder then, that the smaller clubs, which are the majority of the clubs in the rest of the country, continue to feel under supported and under represented by the ISA. As the main mission of ISA must be to serve its members and to grow interest and participation in sailing in all its forms, the strategic plan must be broadened to encompass all the representative points of view.
Alex Blackwell is an author and sailor who lives on the shores of Clew Bay in County Mayo where he bases his Bowman 57 Aleria.
At a sitting of Galway District Court on Monday, 23rd February, Judge Aeneas McCarthy convicted a man living in Galway on two counts of illegal fishing, and issued fines of €450.
Vyaceslav Kovalcuks, with an address at Cnoc an Oir, Rahoon, Galway, was charged with: use of a scheduled engine, in this case a longline; fishing with live bait; use of more than two rods; and with refusing to give his name and address, in contravention of fisheries legislation.
Judge McCarthy heard evidence that on the morning of 24th April 2014, Mr. Kovalcuks was observed by fishery officers fishing in a small rubber dinghy on Ballyquirke Lake, Moycullen. He was seen fishing with a longline baited with live fish, and also had three small rods out with which he was catching small coarse fish to use as bait. When he came ashore he was approached by fishery officers but refused to give his name and address, which he continued to refuse until Gardai were called.
Judge McCarthy convicted Mr. Kovalcuks on two counts, with the other charges taken into account. Mr. Kovalcuks was fined €300 for the use of a scheduled engine, and €150 for the use of live bait. Costs of €600 were also awarded.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
#Fishing - Over 110 companies will be exhibiting at Skipper Expo International Galway 2015 on 6-7 March.
This is the event's biggest exhibitor attendance ever – and organisers say it's confirmation of the important place the flagship fisheries show holds in the industry calendar.
Sponsored by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), this year’s 11th anniversary Galway event in Ireland is shaping up to be the best yet, thanks to the huge amount of interest from both exhibitors and visitors from all over Ireland, the UK and beyond.
Indeed, such has been the demand for stand space that two additional rooms have been secured at the event venue at the Galway Bay Hotel to accommodate this extra surge in interest.
Star attractions will include boat displays, pool demos and the superb exhibitors’ seafood buffet. There will be something to interest every visitor, thanks to the vast range equipment and service suppliers covering all sectors of the fishing industry.
Sharon Boyle of show organisers Mara Media said: “We have been overwhelmed by the huge interest in Skipper Expo International Galway 2015 and it promises to be a fantastic event. The record number of exhibitors underlines the dynamism and innovation that lies at the heart of our fishing industry.”
Skipper Expo 2015 opens on Friday 6 March at 10am running till 5pm, continuing on Saturday 7 March from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free, and more details can be found at the Mara Media website HERE.
#HistoricBoats - A Canadian community descended from the builders of the world's oldest birchbark canoe have expressed concern that the vessel may be returned to Ireland, according to The Irish Times.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 'Grandfather Canoe', or Akwiten, was crafted by the Mailseet First Nation in Canada's Maritimes for use on the St John River valley in New Brunswick under British colonial rule almost 200 years ago.
A programme for RTÉ Radio's Documentary on One strand in August explained how the canoe later passed into the ownership of British army captain Stepney St George, who took it home to Headford Castle, from where it was later bequeathed to NUI Galway.
In the 2000s the canoe was rediscovered and after a First Nations campaign, in 2009 it was repatriated and presented to the Beaverbrook art gallery in New Brunswick, where it is presently in storage without exhibition space.
Members of the Mailseet community are now lobbying for the right to care for and exhibit what is a "spiritual and cultural artefact" to their people.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
Recent weeks have seen Salthill strewn with the remains of hundreds of dead mauve stingers, which can still pack a punch even after death.
Meanwhile, though marine science boffins are not surprised by the sheer numbers of the seaborne creatures in Galway Bay as this period is their mating season, they are concerned that so many are being washed ashore.
The jellyfish warning comes not long after Fáilte Ireland's falling afoul of locals for advising against bathing at Salthill's popular strand.
While recommending the city suburb's famous promenade for walking and sightseeing, the tourism board's Discover Ireland website reportedly stated that "swimming is not recommended" at the adjacent beachs.
No reasons were given for this advice, which has raised the ire of locals including Labour Party city councillor Niall McNelis, who said: “I cannot understand why Fáilte Ireland would warn people not to swim in Salthill. It has a Blue Flag."
Sinn Féin's Cllr Anna Marley sought to raise the issue of poor maintenance of waterways such as the Gaol River beside Galway Cathedral, plagued by a build-up of silt and weeds as a result of "man-made blockages such as sluice gates", let alone the "disturbing sight" of bottles and cans dumped in the water there and elsewhere.
And as the Galway Advertiser reports, Cllr Marley hopes to work with the council and Inland Fisheries Ireland to develop a strategy for the "radical and positive" overhaul of Galway's rivers and canals.
Reports from people who witnessed the incident say the large marine mammal was circling the swimmers then swimming at them in an intimidating way and glancing off them, coming and going, with its tail and nose.
A fishing vessel in the area had moved in separate the dolphin from the swimmers, and the lifeboat joined in to keep the cetacean at bay until they made it safely ashore.
The swimmers were said to be very shaken by the incident but did not require medical assistance.
Lifeboat helm Ciaran Oliver said his crew then did a sweep of the beach from Blackrock to Seapoint to warn others, assisted by additional lifeboat crew on the promenade.
It's not yet clear what dolphin was responsible for this incident, though it comes just days after reports that an aggressive migrating dolphin known as Clet had taken up with the bottlenose once known as Dusty off the nearby Aran Islands in Galway Bay.
Búlabosca Film's short video 'This is Galway' showcases the varied sights and experiences from city to coast and beyond.
#HistoricBoats - The discovery of a traditional anadian river canoe in the rafters of a Galway building sparked an investigation by radio documentary maker Joe Kearney that goes back some 200 years to Ireland's deep connections with the New World.
The 'Grandfather Canoe' – or Akwiten, to give its native name – was originally crafted by the Mailseet First Nation of New Brunswick in Canada's Maritimes, a people who have made and paddled canoes along the St John River for thousands of years.
In his programme for RTÉ's Documentary on One strand, Kearney charts the history of Akwiten from its days on the St John to its removal to Headford Castle in Co Galway by British army captain Stepney St George, its bequeathal to NUI Galway amid the turmoil of post-famine Ireland, and its and eventual – and surprising – rediscovery.
#FishFarm - Undercurrent News reports that Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) is seeking a High Court injunction against Marine Harvest Ireland over an unauthorised pipeline used to extract water from a freshwater lough to treat salmon at its farm on the Galway coast.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the operators of the salmon farm at Kilkiernan Bay installed a pipeline more than 3km long connected to nearby Loughaunore in order to treat an outbreak of amoebic gill disease.
But Galway County Council had not yet made any decision on permitting the pipeline, which was proposed for exemption from standard planning requirements.
The council has since ruled that the development was unauthorised and did require planning permission.
Yet the pipeline remains in place - prompting FIE to seek an injunction against the Irish branch of the Norwegian seafood giant under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act. More on the story HERE.
Meanwhile, Marine Harvest has been identified as the "most likely" foreign investor to be attracted by the controversial fish farm proposals for Galway Bay and elsewhere, as Victoria White writes in the Irish Examiner.
The columnist visited Inishbofin in Co Galway and Inishturk in Co Mayo, close to the latest proposed location for massive farmed salmon operations, to get the local perspective, and found some vociferous arguments against the shape of BIM's plans - particularly the damaging effects of large-scale monoculture as opposed to smaller but widespread sustainable schemes.