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Displaying items by tag: fisheries

#Fishing - The growing black market for coarse fish in eastern Europe is being blamed for an increase in illegal fishing on Ireland's inland waterways.

That's the situation according to the Sunday Independent, which also highlights the "major problem" of salmon poaching by "Irish criminals".

Last month Afloat.ie reported on the prosecution of two Lithuanian brothers who were fined for illegal coarse angling on Lough Derg.

And the Independent says a number of similar cases are due to be heard before Irish courts over the coming months.

Meanwhile, poaching of salmon is hitting the headlines across the country - from the south, where two men were recently prosecuted for illegal fishing of spawning salmon in Co Limerick, to the north, where intimidation of fisheries staff is reportedly a problem.

In better fisheries news, The Guardian says cod stocks in the North Sea could be in for a revival, after a survey by the Marine Stewardship Council and others suggested that effective management could soon see the species certified as 'sustainable'.

Published in Fishing

#fisheries – This morning the Irish Presidency delivered on one of its highest priorities as it secured agreement on the EU's new Common Fisheries Policy. Minister Coveney, in welcoming the agreement stated that "At the very beginning of Ireland's Presidency I set out an ambitious and demanding work programme, as I believed it was imperative that reform of our fisheries had to happen now. Having led months of intensive negotiations, I am delighted that we have now agreed on a policy which is practical, implementable and one which places sustainability firmly at its core. It is a policy which will provide for a vital, vibrant industry and healthy fishing stock long into the future".

The main achievements under the new Common Fisheries Policy will be as follows:
With the new policy we have to set quotas that fully respect scientific advice. This will lead to healthy fish stocks and higher quotas as fish stocks are managed at maximum sustainable yield levels. From an Irish perspective the so called "Hague Preferences" have been protected which give additional quotas to Ireland each year for critical traditional stocks around our coast such as cod, haddock and whiting.
Discarding of fish stocks will no longer be allowed. This ends the old policy which forced fishermen to waste food by discarding fish at sea. The new policy will result in higher quotas for our fishermen.
The new policy puts fishermen at the core of developing technical and conservation measures to protect juvenile fish and vulnerable fish species with a completely new regionalised decision making approach. This is a big change as up to now decision making was centralised in Brussels.
A commitment to develop and strengthen biologically sensitive areas, with spawning grounds and high populations of juvenile fish. This will protect and allow for

additional protections for the sensitive fishing grounds off the south and west coast of Ireland known as the "Irish Box".
Retains ownership of fish quotas as a public asset and removes the threat of privatisation of quotas and their concentration in large foreign companies. This will protect the family owned fishing vessels around our coast.

On ending discarding, Minister Coveney said "this complex element has been one of the most contentious and difficult to agree given the many different perspectives on how such a ban would work in practice. What we have agreed this morning is to deliver a new fishing policy which strives to help restore our fish stocks and protect the fishermen and communities which depend on fishing for their livelihoods."

The reform, when taken as a whole, delivers on not just a discards ban but also provides the means for new ways of sustainable fishing, a more transparent and competitive market, as well as empowering fishermen by giving them a central role in decision making for their fisheries.

The agreement was reached between the Irish Presidency, European Parliament and the European Commission and will now go to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for final approval.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#MarineScience - Irish companies and researchers have distinguished themselves by developing innovative maritime services using satellite derived data in areas as diverse as marine renewables, fisheries protection, aquaculture and tourism.  

That was the message from Dr Volker Liebig, director of Earth observation programmes with the European Space Agency at the opening of a conference on 'Space Innovation - Powering Blue Growth' at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Cork last week.

Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, who opened the two-day event, said: “There are over 40 Irish companies currently engaged in ESA programmes, many of which are directly addressing global challenges such as climate change, sea-level rise, maritime surveillance and marine environmental monitoring.

"This is a growing industry and one which will guarantee high-quality jobs for Irish people and benefit our economy into the future.”

The conference - jointly organised by the ESA, the European Commission (DG Maritime Affairs), Enterprise Ireland, University College Cork’s Coastal and Marine Research Centre, the Irish Coast Guard and the Irish Naval Service - focussed on the contribution of space to maritime policy implementation; showed how new scientific results and innovative services assist in achieving targets set by the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (IMP); and assessed how the ESA space development activities and the IMP can contribute to economic growth in Europe.
   
Geoffrey O’Sullivan, representing Marine Institute CEO Dr Peter Heffernan, said that the conference "ably demonstrated that Space Remote Sensing had a very positive contribution to make towards developing our blue economy.”

Examples given included fisheries management (including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing); environmental assessment; detection of oil spills and harmful algal blooms; site survey for offshore renewable energy and aquaculture platforms; search and rescue; and maritime domain awareness (MDA).

O'Sullivan added that the Conference "validated the SMARTOCEAN (ICT and the Sea) Strategy being promoted by the Marine Institute, in identifying clear opportunities for Irish researchers and SMEs to harness their significant ICT and marine research skills and drawing on 'Big Data' provided by satellite sensors to develop of range of new products, services and applications relevant to local and global markets.”

Closing the conference, Marine Minister Simon Coveney commented that “increasing maritime situational and domain awareness is paramount in promoting a more inclusive approach to maritime development in delivering both the EU Blue Growth Strategy (2012) and Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan (Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth) launched in 2012.

"Space based systems,” he said, “are a key component of an integrated and sophisticated maritime surveillance network.”  

Published in Marine Science

#sfpa – The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) will host a series of EU Fishery Control focussed meetings involving fishery control experts from the relevant authorities in various EU Member Sates, the European Commission Directorate- General for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries (DG MARE) and the European Fishery Control Agency (EFCA) from today, Tuesday, 16th April until Thursday, 18th of April, in Dublin. The overall objective of the meetings is to allow Member States to share information and best practice with a view to continued progress towards a 'level playing field' in fisheries control.

A number of topics will be discussed at the Fishery Control Expert group meeting including: how fishery product traceability is implemented in Member States to ensure that fisheries products can be traced back and checked throughout the supply chain, from net to plate; the gradation of seriousness of fishery non-compliances and the application of appropriate sanctions to license holders and masters as well as how the certification and verification of fishing vessel engine power is implemented in Member States.

On Wednesday 17th of April, an SFPA led initiative will seek to utilise the expertise of the groups visiting Dublin for an initial seminar and technical discussions on the regulatory framework of the discard ban commencing in January 2014. This should provide a useful forum for initial consideration of the practical implementation challenges for this policy initiative.

The European Fisheries Control Agency's agenda, again hosted by the SFPA, will be discussed on Thursday, 18th April, and this will focus particularly on the challenge of assessment and review of the costs and effectiveness of control and the enforcement of fisheries regulations.

Micheál O'Mahony, Board member with the SFPA said: "The Common Fisheries Policy brings compliance obligations on all fishers in EU waters and control obligations on all EU Member states. To achieve sustainable fisheries, a culture of compliance must exist throughout the fishing industry. These meetings will provide an excellent opportunity for key representatives from EU Member States and EU institutions to share valuable information on how to implement best practices in terms of fisheries control as well as the continued effective implementation of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy. The SFPA wants to play our part in protecting the rich resources of fish around the coasts of Ireland for the benefit of responsible fishermen. We need to ensure that we and all our EU partners have the best systems in place so that illegal practices are prevented. The effective monitoring and control of fish stocks requires the close co-operation of Ireland with other Member States, DG MARE and EFCA. I am sure these meetings will help promote a level playing field of best practice amongst the participants. We look forward to a fruitful exchange of information and ideas on how we can best work together to protect the interests of legitimate fishermen."

Published in Fishing

#marine science – Irish and Canadian scientists join forces on a transatlantic survey onboard the Irish National Research Vessel, RV Celtic Explorer which sets sail today for the Labrador and Newfoundland Seas to carry out fisheries research.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, his Excellency, Loyola Hearn, boarded the RV Celtic Explorer at Galway Docks today to meet the Irish and Canadian collaborators in this transatlantic expedition from Galway to St. Johns, Newfoundland.

The survey led by Dr George Rose, Director of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), is multidisciplinary and will gather oceanographic data as well as acoustic recordings across the entire North Atlantic, building on work done on the two previous transatlantic surveys in 2011 and 2012.  Canadian scientists will be joined onboard by Irish researchers from National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). Sheena Fennell, NUI Galway will carry out oceanographic monitoring throughout the journey to St. John's and will collaborate with Dr Rose on the acoustic data collected during the transatlantic trip. The aim is to search for 'hot spots' of smaller mid-water fish, such as lanternfish and begin to understand their distribution.

The vessel will research the cod stocks on the Flemish Cap en route to Newfoundland and Labrador before completing a large scale survey for cod and capelin in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.  As a former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn was particularly interested to board the RV Celtic Explorer ahead of it transatlantic passage to Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Hearn said, "We are now seeing growth in the fish stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador, and surveys like this provide essential information on the sustainability of fish stocks.  The potential for increased involvement both in ocean research and the fishing industry between Ireland and Canada is now being realised.   The Celtic Explorer is an ideal ship to carry out this research which will be of such great benefit to both countries."

Dr. Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive, Marine Institute said, "This transatlantic collaboration is hugely important for Ireland and builds on the strong relationship between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador established since the first Newfoundland survey on the Celtic Explorer in 2011. It will allow Irish researchers to forge strong links with their Canadian counterparts as part of a wider international ocean observatory initiative. This is particularly relevant in the context of the European Union's Atlantic Strategy and the emerging Action Plan, which is on course to be completed during the Irish Presidency of the EU.

"This type of multidisciplinary research and international cooperation is essential to achieving healthy marine ecosystems – which is a key goal of the Government's Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland -  Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, published in 2012. We are delighted with this collaboration with our Canadian partners".

Dr. George Rose reiterated those sentiments, saying "This voyage continues to have tremendous value to both Irish and Canadian researchers, and contributes significantly to the knowledge base and prosperity of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries.  I look forward to the continuance of this collaboration".

During the passage, an observational platform that sits on the seabed called a benthic lander system, will be deployed at a depth of 800-900m in a canyon on the continental shelf off the Irish Coast to measure turbidity, flouresence, temperature, salinity, water column and near seabed currents.  The lander will remain in the canyon until June when it will be recovered during an NUI Galway led biodiscovery survey onboard the Celtic Explorer.

A Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology researcher will monitor cetacean activity during the passage across the Atlantic to Newfoundland and Labrador.

University College Cork graduate, Rachel Morgan will join the survey through the Training Through Research Surveys Scheme, run by the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART). The programme gives young Irish researchers an opportunity to gain an invaluable experience on multidisciplinary surveys.

The survey is primarily funded through charter of the national research vessel by the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University. It builds on a strong collaborative relationship between the Irish Marine Institute and the Marine Institute of MUN and facilitates a transatlantic multidisciplinary survey which brings together experienced Irish and Canadian oceanographers, marine biologists, benthic ecologists, as well as young researchers who will gain invaluable experience onboard this survey.

Participation of third level students is funded though the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) programme.

Published in Marine Science

#MaritimeBorder - Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has signed a new agreement that establishes a fixed maritime boundary between the UK and Ireland's offshore areas, as The Irish Times reports.

Gilmore put pen to paper on the deal with British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that finalises a single boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and continental shelves of both countries.

The agreement is expected to ease development of offshore energy projects, as well as improve fisheries protection and marine conservation in the EEZ, which lies above the continental shelf between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the coast.

However, despite the new deal, Ireland and Britain's differing claims over Rockall in the North Atlantic remain.

The small rocky islet, 228 nautical miles northwest of Donegal, is also claimed by Denmark and Iceland.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Marine - 'Foods of marine origin' are covered by the new call for research proposals under the Government's funding programmes, as announced by Marine Minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday.

In addition, the minister announced his intention to co-fund projects related to the marine sector with the Marine Institute.

Minister Coveney said that "co-funding arrangements between research funders, where appropriate, are logical in the context of the National Research Prioritisation process and, in this instance, it makes perfect sense for my department and the Marine Institute to come together to fund research relating to marine origin foods”.

The new call for research proposals, in general, aims to build and maintain research capability in the Irish public research system, which contributes to underpinning the sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food, forestry and fisheries sectors and the achievement of growth targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 plan.

Apart from the marine food sector, areas covered by the call include animal and crop production, food and health, forestry, the wider bio-economy as well as the safety, quality, integrity and sustainability of the supply chain.

Minister Coveney added: “I have no doubt that the research community will take full advantage of this opportunity by submitting excellent proposals and I look forward to following the process over the coming months.”

The deadline for proposal applications is Tuesday 7 May at 1pm. All documentation in relation to the call for proposals is available on the Research Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine website.

Published in News Update

#inlandfisheries – The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte T.D., is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified and experienced persons interested in being appointed to the inland fisheries board.

The Board of directors performs key roles in relation to the direction, leadership and corporate governance of each State body. While the diversity of roles and responsibilities of individual bodies precludes a uniform list of characteristics or skills for prospective directors, those expressing interest in serving on the board of a State body should (in addition to any criteria specified in the statutes governing individual bodies) have demonstrable competence, knowledge or experience at a senior organisational level and/or recognised management experience and/or skills (e.g. law, finance, etc.) in a company/organisation.

By submitting an expression of interest the applicant accepts that appointments are made in the exercise of a statutory discretion, that the Minister is not obliged to consider the expressions of interest offered, that he is not confined to making an appointment from amongst those who have expressed an interest and is not bound by any statement set out in the notice. Vacancies on boards of such bodies can arise due to the conclusion of the period of appointment of Board members or as casual vacancies arise. Expressions of interest will be kept on file and considered as appointments arise.
Expressions of interest, including a curriculum vitae and a statement of suitability, should be sent by email to: [email protected] and should indicate the State Board s/he wishes to apply for, provide a brief outline of skills, competencies and qualifications and a short statement outlining why s/he wishes to be considered for a position on the board. The Department will acknowledge receipt of such applications.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Bioeconomy - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney today (14 February) opened a major Stakeholder Conference on the Bioeconomy in Dublin Castle.

The conference - titled 'Bioeconomy in the EU: Achievements and Directions for the Future' - was jointly organised by the EU Commission and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on behalf of the Irish Presidency of the European Union.

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn also addressed the delegates at the opening of the conference, which brings together all the major stakeholders in the bioeconomy from Ireland, across Europe and beyond, including researchers, educationalists, policymakers, industry representatives and civil society.

The purpose of the conference is to take stock of progress on implementing the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, which was launched 12 months ago by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, and to promote informed public debate on the future development of the bioeconomy.

Setting the broad context, Minister Coveney said the “grand societal challenges of the 21st century place enormous pressures on all of us to change the way we do things at a member state, European, and indeed global level. Our objective is clear... we need a more innovative and low emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security and the sustainable use of renewable resources for industrial processes, while protecting the environment.”

The minister added that in Ireland’s case “the Government’s Policy Statement, 'Delivering our Green Potential', adopted last year, commits us to developing a Bioeconomy Strategy as part of a broader strategy on the Green Economy. This work will be progressed over the coming months overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy."

Referring to the fact that the marine sector, along with agri-food and forestry, helps form the backbone of the bioeconomy in Ireland, the minister recalled the Think Green, Act Smart, Achieve Growth philosophy of Food Harvest 2020 and went on to say that “by applying these principles along the entire bioeconomy value chain, we can exploit the full potential of our rich natural resources in a sustainable manner for our own economic advantage while also contributing to meeting the increasing global demand for food.”

Minister Coveney pointed out that Ireland is making steady progress in implementing the various actions foreseen across the three pillars of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.

“My colleagues in Government and I remain fully supportive of research and innovation and understand the crucial role it plays in underpinning growth in the bioeconomy,” he said, adding that he was “delighted to report that several of the areas prioritised for future Exchequer funding under the National Research Prioritisation Exercise related to the bioeconomy, including 'Sustainable Food Production & Processing' and 'Manufacturing Competitiveness'."

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn stressed that "the bioeconomy's employment potential can certainly kick-start economies and reinvigorate communities in some of our most peripheral and deprived areas".

She added that "an economy based on biological resources is also the newest economy... it is a crucible of new technology and innovation, leading the way in the application of information technology, biotechnology and the life sciences while in many cases blending these with existing knowledge and expertise" and that “it is in the member states and regions that the greatest work must be done.”

Published in News Update

#CFPReform - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, in his capacity as President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, last week welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on the reform agenda for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency.

The vote, which is seen a major step forward in the CFP reform process, follows the minister’s address to parliament on Tuesday last. At the address the minister appealed for all parties to work together towards an agreed CFP reform package to be delivered during the period of Ireland’s presidency.

These reforms, which prioritise long term sustainability of fishing stocks, elimination of the controversial practice of discards (dumping at sea) and a switch to long-term (scientifically based) planning for fisheries, were  approved by the parliament on Wednesday 6 February.

The decision of the parliament follows the minister’s address last Tuesday during which he identified the reforms as a major priority on the Irish Government’s EU presidency agenda.

Minister Coveney stated: “I am delighted that the parliament has today decided to back these necessary and timely reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and that the case for reform outlined in my recent address has been accepted in an agreed manner.

"I am particularly encouraged that this vote has occurred during the Irish EU Presidency. This shows the pivotal role which Ireland can play in influencing broader European Policy and in bringing together divergent views towards an agreed reform package for the CFP.

"Ireland has set out an ambitious work programme aimed at delivering an agreed reform package for the CFP by the end of June. This objective can only be realised if [European] Parliament, Council and the Commission work together focusing on the bigger picture of an agreed reform agenda to benefit all of Europe’s citizens.”

During his address to the plenary session of European parliamentarians, Minister Coveney expressed his view that a momentum was now gathering behind the drive to deliver an agreed reformed CFP package by the end of June.

Acknowledging to the parliament that he had set out an ambitious work programme for his presidency, the minister accepted that differences remain between the European Council and Parliament, particularly on the question of multi-annual fisheries plans.

Minister Coveney emphasised the significant areas of common ground between both institutions and his belief that this would eventually lead to an agreed way forward on most aspects of the reform package. He stressed that it was only in a framework of mutual cooperation and flexibility that the objective of a reformed CFP which prioritises long term fisheries sustainability could be delivered in the lifetime of the current Irish Presidency.

The minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance for the EU Parliament, Council and Commission to work together on all the issues including delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.

Following an exchange of views, the minister sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement by the end of June in addition to acceptance of the need for a different and more effective way of working to deliver on what is a commonly held objective. He committed to working constructively with the parliament on all outstanding issues.

Published in Fishing
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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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