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RYA Northern Ireland has released guidance for boaters after a Sport Northern Ireland update confirmed that Outdoor Activity has moved into Step 2.

However, this is limited to outdoors only and indoor activity/advice remains as it was in Step 1 until further announcements. This has allowed some additional considerations for boating activity.

The Sport Northern Ireland update highlighted that:

  • Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training
  • No relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.
  • Resumption of outdoor sporting activity at Step 2 is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants. We would therefore urge a cautious approach.

Under the Northern Ireland Executive's Pathway to Recovery, the following is therefore permitted:

Outdoor activities involving small groups of less than 10 people during which it may be difficult to maintain social distancing but where contacts are brief (less than10 minutes).

RYA Northern Ireland has updated and issued its Guidance for Step 2 and considerations of activity that could now take place.

The Governing Body continues to urge boaters to take a conservative approach to activities and to follow all public health advice in order to best help eliminate COVID 19. Guidance for access to indoors remains in Step 1 until subsequent announcements.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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In the UK the British Ports Association has welcomed news that government will postpone its plans to introduce full border checks on traffic arriving from the EU for six months from January 2021.

This will be done for imports into the UK in three phases until July 2021.

Richard Ballantyne, the Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, who represents all the main ferry port gateways including Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth, said:

“This is welcome news. Across the board the freight industry has been telling government that it will not be ready. The risk of doing nothing could have led to issues for much of our trade with Europe, including severe congestion at ports. Delays and additional costs for freight operators get passed on and ultimately this sensible and pragmatic decision will mean British manufacturers and consumers are not faced with the increased expenditure, at least until a more formal border operating model is agreed by industry and Government.

Whilst the context of the Coronavirus pandemic means we have lost some time to prepare, the timescales were already challenging so a period of pragmatism will be helpful. There do remain questions about how Northern Irish traffic will be managed. Government must now speed up its work to agree a new long-lasting border operating model which ensures goods continue to flow between the UK and the EU and also between Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, announced details of the extension which included arrangements for the funding of certain inland borders infrastructure. A new Border Operating Model should be published by July to outline what ports and businesses need to do to prepare. These measures are focussed on EU to Great Britain trade and there remain differences in approach for traffic between GB and Northern Ireland.

Published in Ferry

The RNLI has urged the Northern Ireland public to exercise caution when visiting the coast and be aware of the dangers while lifeguards are currently not deployed on the region’s beaches.

Rollout of the normal seasonal lifeguard service was halted at the end of March due to the measures put in place by the Northern Ireland Executive to control the spread of Coronavirus.

Despite the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, the charity will be running a restricted lifeguard service on some Northern Ireland beaches. However, this service will not be starting until later in June.

“As we move to a gradual relaxing of restrictions as advised by the Northern Ireland Executive and we experience the good weather, we expect many people to be eager to visit the coast,” said Karl O’Neill, RNLI lead lifeguard supervisor.

“We ask those who are visiting beaches to continue to be aware of the inherent dangers and to avoid taking risks.

“The RNLI’s water safety campaign is advising people to keep their family safe when they are at the coast, avoid using inflatables and if they see anyone in trouble, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember and follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage.
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water.
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone.
  • Don’t use inflatables.
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the coastguard.
  • The RNLI’s safety information can be found at rnli.org/safety/beach-safety

RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew in Northern Ireland remain on call and are expecting to see an increase in callouts as the good continues and lockdown restrictions gradual ease.

The charity that saves lives at sea appeals to the public to please take extra care and follow water safety advice.

Earlier this week, RNLI chief executive Mark Dowrie published an open letter saying that England’s relaxing of lockdown rules without prior consultation with the charity had put it “in an impossible situation” with regard to its provision of lifesaving services.

Tagged under

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has confirmed that a fish kill in a tributary of the River Moyola last week was caused by a spillage of 30,000 gallons of slurry, as BBC News reports.

The incident on the Grange River in Co Derry on Thursday 21 May affected a significant stretch of water near the village of Desertmartin, according to a local angling club.

It’s understood that the spillage originated from an over-ground slurry tank, but the circumstances are still being investigated.

The incident comes just weeks after anglers in Co Armagh expressed anger at the killing of more than 1,000 wild brown trout by pollution in the Glenavy River.

Two years after his dream of a riverboat barge on the River Bann was lost to the Irish Sea, a Northern Ireland marina owner is making plans for Ireland’s first floating hotel, as Belfast Live reports.

Seamus Carey, who owns the Cranagh Marina Complex, has filed a planning application for a 70-metre barge he’s found in Norway which he intends to renovate into three-star accommodation with 36 cabins, a restaurant and function room.

He said “surge” in visitor numbers at his marina complex before the Covid-19 lockdown moved him to reflect his plans — which initially sank with the loss of the Mississippi-style paddle steamer MV Oliver Cromwell off the North Wales coast in May 2018.

Belfast Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Following more easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Northern Ireland Executive, plans are being made by Waterways Ireland to reopen its navigations north of the border — the Erne System, Lower Bann and on the Shannon-Erne Waterway — to boating from next Friday 29 May.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says it is working to roll out health and safety procedures and protocols to ensure the safe return of both staff and boaters to these navigations.

Private boaters undertaking short trips on the water, as permitted under the new restrictions, are reminded to proceed with caution as navigations and their facilities have not been fully maintained since lockdown began in late March.

“It will take time to reopen the above navigations,” Waterways Ireland said in a statement. “We expect they will reopen on May 29th.

“Waterways Ireland’s locks and service blocks will remain closed in line with the five-step roadmap to recovery [in Northern Ireland]. We recognise the situation is constantly changing.”

It added that updates prior to reopening will be made via marine notices, on the Waterways Ireland website and via social media channels.

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) yesterday welcomed to the return of boating to Lough Erne with a list of recommendations to keep everyone safe on the water.

Published in Inland

A South Antrim MLA says fisheries staff in Northern Ireland have not been given enough time to prepare for the safe return of angling in the region, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Alliance’s John Blair was responding to the decision by DAERA Minister Edwin Poots to allow the gradual reopening of public fisheries to local anglers from tomorrow, Monday 18 May as part of Northern Ireland’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ plan.

The move, which comes two weeks after a limited return to fisheries began in the Republic, has been welcomed by angling representatives in the North.

But Blair says the announcement “came out of the blue” and has left “major questions” to be answered over maintaining the health and safety of both anglers and fisheries staff.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Tagged under

The Loughs Agency’s elicence website is now back online and anglers can purchase licences for the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

Anglers are individually responsible for compliance with their government’s advice and guidance. Anglers should keep up to date with the latest advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland.

Loughs Agency offices remain closed and the normal licence distributor network is also still under lockdown conditions. Therefore, anyone wishing to purchase a licence should do so through the elicence website.

For anglers requesting carcass tags when they purchase a licence online, these will be posted to your address. Anglers should take this into account when purchasing.

For anglers purchasing a Loughs Agency endorsement licence, please ensure you have already purchased a full season licence or concession licence from DAERA or a full season or district licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Loughs Agency carryout checks with our colleagues in DAERA and IFI to validate licence purchases.

If you require a Loughs Agency permit for Foyle, Finn or Greenbraes, please contact the Loughs Agency on +44 (0) 2871 342100 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).

Illegal fishing or pollution concerns can be reported through the Loughs Agency’s Waterwatch reporting tool online or through the 24-hour response line on +44 (0) 2871 342100.

If you require any further assistance, call the Loughs Agency at the above number during normal weekday office hours or email [email protected]

Published in Angling

Anglers in Co Antrim have expressed their anger after more than 1,000 wild brown trout were killed in a pollution incident at the weekend.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, members of the Glenavy Conservation and District Angling Club spotted a number of distressed fish gasping for air in the Glenavy River on Friday (8 May).

An initial count of some 500 dead fish was later doubled to over 1,000, linked to what the angling club suggests was a pollution incident close to the Gobranna Road in Glenavy.

“Hundreds, possibly thousands” of other, smaller fish such as stone loach were also “wiped out” in the fish kill, says club chairman Anthony McCormack.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

In Northern Ireland, the Loughs Agency has been working in partnership with the Woodland Trust, NI Water, angling clubs, landowners and others to plant in excess of 20,000 native trees to help improve fishery habitats.

Native tree planting is a great way of improving land and aquatic habitats as it delivers many benefits, says the agency for the Foyle and Carlingford fishery areas.

Tree root systems stabilise uplands and reduce the risk of landslides into water courses. Rainfall is intercepted by trees which slows river flows and flood damage is reduced. Debris from fallen trees protects against bank erosion and provides cover and food for fish and invertebrates.

Most importantly, riverside planting keeps rivers cool and protects salmon and trout during hot droughts.

Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency chief executive, said: “The threat from climate change to river ecosystems cannot be ignored.

“Trees, shrubs and other vegetation create valuable shade, reducing the temperature of our waterways and deliver a range of other ecological benefits. Loughs Agency are continuing to find innovative ways to mitigate against the effects of climate change to keep our rivers cool for freshwater wildlife.”

In recent years, the Loughs Agency has conducted several large-scale, native tree planting projects. Thousands of saplings have been planted at the Reelan and Cronamuck rivers in the Finn catchment, the Glenedra and Burntollet Rivers in the Faughan catchment and the along the River Roe.

And the Loughs Agency says it is always eager to develop collaborative projects with local partners. If you belong to an organisation which is interested in protecting and improving local aquatic habitats, contact [email protected]

Page 1 of 26

Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th 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.

Introduction

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 around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

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

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • 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

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are 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.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

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.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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