Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: marine science

The Most Vertical Girl in the World. The woman who's made history in sea and space; The astronaut, oceanographer, explorer, author and the first person to ever experience travelling to both deep space and the oceans deep.

Kathy Sullivan is already in the history books as the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, the 68-year-old found herself making history again just last month.

On June 6, the oceanographer and former NASA astronaut became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known location in the ocean.

The 35,810-foot dive, which was undertaken on the DSV Limiting Factor and co-piloted by Victor Vescovo, now makes Sullivan the first person to both walk-in space and descend to the deepest point in the ocean.

The two missions, total opposites in the minds of many, for Sullivan, come from her one simple desire: to understand the world around her as much as possible.

Join Kathy Sullivan in an exclusive Irish Interview with broadcaster Pat Kenny where she will share her remarkable history-making story, offering unique insights into her exploration at the extreme frontiers, recalling the experiences of walking in space and charting oceans.

You can tune into the Kathy Sullivan in Conversation Livestream on any one of the Marine Institute's social media channels on Thursday, 23 July at 2 pm IST  and read Lorna Siggins' interview with Sullivan in The Sunday Times, this week, July 19th.

 

 

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute says that its fish health inspection and monitoring activities in 2018 and 2019 indicate that there is a high level of compliance with EU and national legislation, and as a result, Ireland continues to maintain its high health status for aquatic animals.

As the Competent Authority, the Marine Institute is legally responsible for implementing EU and national regulation relating to aquatic animal health in Ireland. In this role, the Marine Institute aims to ensure that the existing high health status of aquatic animals in Ireland is maintained.

A new report published by the Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit (FHU) outlines the activities of the FHU in 2018 and 2019 and highlights that there was a high level of compliance with regulatory fish health requirements. A total of 384 health surveillance inspections of aquaculture production businesses were undertaken during this period, and 98% of the 384 sites inspected had no compliance issues or compliance issues that were categorised as minor.

Bill Doré, Manager of the Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit said, "As the Competent Authority in Ireland, the Marine Institute makes an important contribution to preventing and controlling aquatic animal diseases. By working closely with other state agencies to implement aquatic animal health regulations, Ireland is able to maintain its high health status for aquatic animals."

All Aquaculture Production Businesses in Ireland, such as finfish farms, shellfish farms, and put and take fisheries, must obtain a Fish Health Authorisation from the Marine Institute. To receive a Fish Health Authorisation, Aquaculture Production Businesses submit a Fish Health Management Plan for approval. This plan addresses how aquatic animal health will be maintained, and how diseases are controlled, as well as the mandatory conditions for record keeping and reporting to the Competent Authority.

The Marine Institute's Fish Health Unit, working with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, food and the Marine veterinary services conducts regular health surveillance of fish and shellfish farms in Ireland, and is responsible for regulating the movement of aquatic animals within Ireland and during import or export to and from the state. In the 2018 and 2019 reporting period, over 3,000 movements of aquatic animals were approved.

The Fish Health Unit also hosts the National Reference Laboratories for finfish, mollusc and crustacean health for Ireland. The laboratories undertake testing and applied research to support fish health activities in Ireland. During the reporting period, the laboratories analysed over 1,500 shellfish and 5,000 fish for diagnostic, statutory and research purposes.

Published in Aquaculture
Tagged under

Coastal Communities are the focus this week on the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series. The Marine Institute and partners are celebrating our world’s shared ocean and our connection to the sea in a 10-week series, sharing news and offering online interactive activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week

A series of watercolour illustrations and interviews have captured the importance of the ocean to coastal communities in Ireland and Wales as part of BlueFish, an EU-funded project. Through engaging with coastal communities using art, BlueFish links knowledge and understanding of the marine resources and the potential impacts of climate change on the Irish and Celtic Sea ecosystem

"Without the ocean, we wouldn't have a living: it's our only source of income in this rural part of Ireland. Climate change is definitely happening: growth periods are longer than they ever were. But higher water temperatures and higher rainfall could be catastrophic for our business," according to Oyster and mussel fishermen, Cromane, Co. Kerry.

The marine science research project BlueFish is a partnership between six organisations in Ireland and Wales including the Marine Institute, University College Cork, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bangor University, Aberystwyth University and Swansea University.

Urban sketcher Róisín Curé and a scientist from the Marine Institute visited coastal communities in Ireland and Wales. Róisín created watercolour illustrations showing the people whose livelihoods are dependent on the ocean and who have a profound and immediate interest in the effects of climate change. Also interviewed were fishermen, restaurateurs, shellfish producers, operators in the tourism sector and seafarers to gather an understanding about how they benefit from the ocean and their thoughts on climate change. The results of the interviews and art through watercolour illustrations created an accessible way for the public to understand the importance the ocean has on livelihoods in coastal communities.

By bringing artists and marine scientists together and working closely with project partners and coastal communities, the Marine Institute has developed a structured portfolio of artwork that is intended to promote a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on ecosystem goods and services; to demonstrate how climate change may impact these; and to highlight the wider societal benefits of healthy ecosystems in Irish and Welsh coastal communities that border the Irish and Celtic Sea(s). The artwork produced as part of the BlueFish project can be viewed in this video.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute explained that "a central part of the project was listening to people living and working in coastal communities, and gathering their opinions about climate change and learning about how it might affect their livelihoods. This was a unique opportunity to talk directly to coastal communities and capture their perspectives through art," Dr Connolly said.

By engaging with people and industries dependant on the sea, the information gathered highlighted how they benefit from the ocean, their thoughts on climate change, and particularly how it was going to affect their lives and businesses.

Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin Illustration by Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin. Illustration by Róisín Curé

"Many of the stories reaffirmed the importance of the age-old relationship between people and the sea, noting that the sea is the life-blood which sustains these communities. The general consensus in both Ireland and Wales coastal communities was that climate change is happening. There was an acknowledgement and a realisation amongst the people interviewed that there was a real looming threat to their livelihoods," said Dr Connolly.

Many people commented on how they were seeing changes to their climate in their local communications. A local businessman from the Isle of Anglesey commented, 'in the 38 years I've been working here, the road would have flooded twice a year. Now it floods much more often.'

The Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series this week highlights Ireland’s Coastal Communities. Oceans of Learning offers videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources on our coasts and seashore. Commissioners of Irish Lights offers videos on the work they do to ensure safe navigation around our coast and a colouring book on the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Find out more about Údarás na Gaeltachta and marine businesses in coastal communities through a series of videos. Discover the animals, seaweeds, plants and creatures along the seashore with the Explorers Education Programme’s Seashore Guide Work Book, and explore the habitats of Galway Bay with activities from Galway City Museum. There are also videos on the Marine Institute's shellfish safety programme and our coastal economy, posters and colouring activities about the marine life found along Ireland's coast.

Published in Island News

Scientists in West Cork are reporting significant results in use of a type of red seaweed to reduce methane emissions in cattle.

Cuts of between 40 and 98 per cent in emissions have already been achieved in trials in the US, Australia and New Zealand, Bantry Marine Research Station has told The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent.

The West Cork research station, which is now owned by veterinary pharmaceuticals company Bimeda, has been testing effectiveness of red seaweed species Asparagopsis armata in animal feed here.

Canadian scientist Dr Rob Kinley, who pioneered research on its use with the Australian Common Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has been collaborating with the Bantry station, managed by David O’Neill.

Asparagopsis armata which was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago and cultivated in the late 1990s in Ard Bay, Co Galway by research company Taighde Mara Teo, would have to be farmed here to meet sufficient quantities, O’Neill points out.

Asparagopsis armata was discovered in Irish waters about 60 years ago

He estimates animals fed with the constituent here could reduce emissions by 50 to 60 per cent.

The marine research company is co-operating with Udaras na Gaeltachta and Teagasc, and hopes to raise funds for more animal trials.

Údaras na Gaeltachta director of enterprise, employment and property Dr Mark White said there could be a double benefit for both farmers and climate change targets if the Bantry station’s work on the red seaweed additive does prove fruitful.

Teagasc principal research officer Prof Sinead Waters, who is also adjunct professor at the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said that while initial results from Australia and elsewhere are positive, “further research is warranted”.

Dee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co CorkDee McElligott examines the red seaweed Asparagopsis armata in tests at Bantry marine research station, Co Cork

Prof Waters and Teagasc colleague Dr Maria Hayes, are involved in two projects testing various feed additives to reduce methane - “Meth-Abate” funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, and “SeaSolutions” an EU- funded project with other Irish, EU and Canadian partners.

“There are a lot of caveats, such as bromoform, a compound within seaweed which is a known to reduce methane emissions but is also a known carcinogen. We need to ensure that if seaweed is fed to ruminants that no bromoform or other residues appear in the end meat and milk products,” Prof Waters said.

For more, read The Farmers’ Journal and The Irish Independent reports here

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Celebrating World Oceans Day and this year’s theme of ‘Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean’ is the focus of the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series this week.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Institute and partners celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our connection to the sea throughout the 10-week series, sharing news and offering online interactive activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week.

World Oceans Day (#worldoceansday) takes place on Monday 8 June and connects people globally in celebrating the ocean, its importance to our lives and focusing on how each of us can protect the ocean, no matter where we live. This year, the day particularly focuses on the role that innovation has in making our interactions with the ocean sustainable.

The latest report on the ocean economy from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) emphasises the growing importance of science and technologies in improving the sustainable economic development of our seas and oceans. Marine ecosystems sit at the heart of many of the world’s global challenges: food, health and wellbeing, new sources of clean energy, climate change, job creation and inclusive growth.

We need to safeguard and improve the health of marine ecosystems to support our ever-growing use of marine resources. As the challenges to our ocean continue to grow, so too does our need for innovative solutions to address them.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, stated, “Ensuring a sustainable future for our oceans will require stakeholders to focus on innovative mechanisms for addressing both current and future challenges. The Oceans of Learning campaign – One Shared Ocean, One Shared Future - will continue to showcase positive developments across the marine sector in recent years and examples of innovation in action as we approach and celebrate World Oceans Day 2020.”

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “Our ocean is our greatest natural resource and we see that most directly in Ireland with the vital importance that the Atlantic Ocean plays in our daily lives – from facilitating our trade through shipping to influencing the weather and providing seafood to support a healthy diet.

“This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030, and is born out of the recognition that much more needs to be done to create improved conditions for the sustainable development of our oceans, seas and coasts and to reverse the decline in ocean health.”

Oceans of Learning is marking World Oceans Day by featuring projects that use innovative ways to learn more about our oceans and feed back information that is helping to make a positive impact on our daily lives.

With the aim of driving innovation in the marine sector and accelerating renewable energy breakthroughs, the Marine Institute has provided funding to a number of marine enterprises in Ireland. For example, seven renewable energy projects are benefitting from a significant funding injection following investment by the Institute’s industry-led awards, launched in 2018. From research on the impact of floating platform technology, to subsea micro piling to hybrid solar and wind energy devices, the commercial and scientific potential of these new innovations are very exciting.

Exceedence and Technology from Ideas (TFI) are developing an offshore hybrid system, which will benefit the aquaculture sector. Offshore aquaculture farms, where it is too far to reach with electricity cables from shore, currently use diesel as their main source of energy to operate feed barges and other equipment. This brings concerns of ever growing emissions and the climate impact but also increased risk of oil spillages when transporting diesel to the feed barges.

Energy from the waves is a very attractive alternative energy source. TFI and Exceedence are developing an offshore hybrid power system that harnesses the natural power of the waves by converting the motion of the fish cage into electricity.

Ray Alcorn, CEO at Exceedence said, “Our full hybrid off grid power system technology produces clean blue electricity by harnessing the power of the waves, mitigating the fossil fuel requirements on fish cages, which in turn reduces the overall carbon footprint, improving both environmental and climate impacts.”

Ocean data service company XOCEAN, also received funding from the Institute’s industry-led awards to transform marine monitoring and data collection. The company uses innovative robotics, particularly unmanned surface vessels, to monitor and collect fisheries data at sea. As fish are highly mobile, this brings limitations in using single sonar surveys. XOCEAN is researching and developing a cost-effective way of deploying and using unmanned technology with multiple sonar devices simultaneously to survey for fish in an area, in what’s known as a ‘swarm’ formation.

“XOCEAN is delighted to be working with the Marine Institute on this important project,” said James Ives, CEO of XOCEAN. “Sustainability of fish stocks is of critical importance and management of this depends on high quality data. Unmanned systems, such as XOCEAN’s XO-450 USV have an important role to play in delivering safe, high quality and ultra-low carbon ocean data.”

World Oceans Day encourages us to make a difference in our life, in our community, and in our world, by taking action to protect our ocean – for present and future generations. By working together and thinking creatively, we can achieve a healthier ocean that will provide for the billions of humans, plants and animals which depend on it every day.

Published in Marine Science

Celebrating the United Nations International Day for biological diversity (22nd May), the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme has published My Explorers Seashore Guide Work Book with support from the National Biodiversity Data Centre's Explore Your Shore! project, to raise awareness about our seashore's marine biodiversity in Ireland.

Congratulating the Explorers Education Programme on their collaboration with The Explore Your Shore! project, funded by the EPA, Dr Paul Connolly, CEO Marine Institute said, "The United Nations International Day for biological diversity promotes 'our solutions are in nature' and places an emphasises on solidarity and working together to build a future in harmony with nature. We welcome, therefore, the support of citizen science projects such as this with primary school children."

Leading into the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), there is an emphasis on a global movement to transform ocean science for a better world. "Taking the time to enjoy and learn more about our seashore, at a local level provides an important opportunity to examine our relationship with our abundant marine environment, creating ocean champions of the future." Dr Connolly added.

"We are delighted to collaborate with the Explore Your Shore! project team and publish an early online version of My Explorers Seashore Guide Work Book that is free to download on www.explorers.ie. The workbook provides a range of activities encouraging children to explore the shore, take photos, draw and write about their discoveries. It also encourages children to become citizen scientists for the day and load snapshots of the species they find to www.ExploreYourShore.ie to help document marine seashore species in Ireland," said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, author of the book and Explorers Education Strategic Manager, Camden Education Trust.

Ireland has 3,171 km of coastline and there are relatively few records of intertidal and coastal marine species. As an island nation, with over half of Ireland's population living 5km from the ocean, the seashore provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the incredible biodiversity that is on our doorsteps.

"With the Explorers Education Programme reaching over 12,000 children in schools annually, we are delighted to feature in the book that will be used later this year in schools. The book supports our efforts to record and increase our knowledge about the distribution of our intertidal species around the Irish coastline. By releasing this fun resource now, we hope that many more children will get the opportunity to start their seashore exploration through their stay at home learning over the summer months," said David Wall, Citizen Science Officer, National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Teachers taking part in the Explorers Education Programme Seashore Safari modules next term will all receive copies of the books for their students in their class. As an early release, the book is now available online at www.explorers.ie for parents to use at home over the next month before homeschooling breaks up.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Marine Scientists on the RV Celtic Explorer have collected a network of seismometers recording valuable data over the past 19 months in Irish, British and Icelandic waters.

The 18 seismometers had been deployed in 2018 over a 1500 kilometre area from north to south and over 1,000 km of sea from east to west as part of a project run by the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS).

As Afloat previously reported, a “skeleton” team of six scientists and a small crew on the Marine Institute research vessel went to sea last month to retrieve them and returned to Galway this week after three weeks at sea.

Team leader Dr Sergei Lebedev, DIAS seismologist, said the data captured by the seismometers would “shed light on the nature, occurrence, and frequency of earthquakes off our coast, and is fundamental to our understanding of them”.

“The current nature and history of the ocean floor along Ireland's coast is key to our understanding of how the Atlantic evolved and is evolving, and this is important for better understanding both the natural hazards and natural resources offshore," he said.

"For example, slope failures triggered by earthquakes can generate tsunamis in the Irish offshore territory – the data will give us new insights into this hazard,” he said.

The expedition was “time-critical”, as there were fears the data would be lost if the sensors were not retrieved. Physical distancing measures as part of HSE guidelines on the Covid-19 pandemic were in place for the expedition, according to the DIAS team.

"The seismometers have waterproof memory sticks with recordings of earthquakes off the coast of Ireland. To date, these have been poorly understood, but we know they are generally larger than the ones Ireland has onshore. The new data will give us much greater insights into earthquake mechanisms and, also, into the structure of the Earth's interior,” Dr Lebedev said.

"The instruments have made continuous recordings from the last 19 months of the songs of the great baleen whales, including the blue, fin, humpback and North Atlantic right whales. These unique recordings will build our understanding of the migration patterns of the Earth's largest animals and their acoustic environment, known to be crucially important for them,” he said.

Before the seismometers were deployed in 2018, DIAS ran a competition inviting secondary school students to name each one. Suggestions included “The Dude”, “Gráinne”, “Luigi” and “The Loch Ness Mometer”.

During the retrieval expedition, the research team hosted live video links with school classes from St Francis National School in Wicklow, along with St Joseph's College in Tipperary, and a school in Calabria, Italy.

Published in Marine Science

A team of scientists who have been self-isolating like astronauts for the past fortnight set sail from Galway at the weekend on an unusual mission.

Six researchers from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and 15 crew on Marine Institute’s Celtic Explorer will retrieve a network of ocean bottom sensors which were deployed across the entire Irish offshore area 18 months ago.

Ireland’s earthquake activity and data on more distant seismic events, along with the movements of migratory whales, were measured by the 18 seismometers, which must now be retrieved from the ocean.

Strict social distancing measures will be applied on the ship, with staggered meal times and no access to the gym or sauna for the first two weeks of the three-week voyage.

The scientists travelled by private bus directly from their individual homes, and will all have separate cabins as part of the protocol to protect against the Covid-19 virus.

sensor marine instituteA sensor being deployed in 2018 - The technology aims to record Irish offshore earthquakes

As Afloat reported at the time, the sensors were deployed from the Marine Institute ship in September 2018 by a team led by Dr Sergei Lebedev, a seismologist with the DIAS.

DIAS school of cosmic physics director Prof Chris Bean says the deployment was “by far the most comprehensive in both Europe and the north-east Atlantic”.

“There are specific seismically-active zones where clusters of these types of instruments have been placed before, but this is a first for Ireland,” Prof Bean said.

The sensors aimed to record Irish offshore earthquakes, and research how the earth’s oceans are pressurising the sea floor in really deep water, with big storms possibly triggering submarine landslides and tsunamis.

“The seismometers also have a pressure sensor which can record sound waves in the water – as in whales, dolphins or industrial sounds,” Prof Bean explained.

The deployment was part of the SEA-SEIS project, which aimed to measure movements on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and register acoustic waves in the water.

“Ninety per cent of Ireland’s territory is offshore, most of it to the west of Ireland. Hidden beneath the waves, there are spectacular mountains, deep valleys, and many extinct volcanoes, similar to those that formed the Giant’s Causeway,”Dr Lebedev said.

The network of seismometers were deployed across an area spanning over 1,500 kilometres from north to south and over 1,000 kilometres from east to west, with some sensors in British and Icelandic and in Ireland’s offshore territory.

“Our mission with this expedition is to retrieve these hugely valuable seismometers, so we can begin the exciting process of analysing the data they have gathered,” Dr Lebedev said.

“This data will shed light on the nature and history of the ocean floor along Ireland’s coast and on the life and movements of the great baleen whales of the North Atlantic,” Dr Lebedev said.

DIAS and the Geological Survey Ireland run the State’s terrestrial network of seismometers to study ground vibrations, ranging from small movements caused by local activities like quarry blasts to large global earthquakes picked up on the Irish network.

The offshore array is a temporary arrangement, Dr Lebedev said.

“This is the first time ever such a large array was deployed, so the data is quite unique and of huge value and that’s why we have to go now.”

Tagged under

Illuminated exits are as useful to fish as to humans in a tight spot.

Newly published research has found that artificial light on square mesh panels in nets can help to reduce unwanted bycatch of fish.

The study, published in the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, involved trials with two fishing vessels off the Isle of Man from June to August 2017.

trawl netOtter-trawl deployed behind the Queen scallop fishing vessel with a square mesh panel and LEDs inserted into the upper section of the net Photo: Lucy K Southworth

Lead author Lucy K Southworth of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences in Wales notes that use of lights has been tested before, but these trials were particularly successful.

Two 14 metre vessels, Two Girls and Our Sarah Jane, were fitted with a “treatment” and a “control” net which were interchanged between the two after every second day.

scallop catchView from one of the Queen scallop fishing vessels during the bycatch reduction experiment. Vessels fish parallel to one another so that catch comparisons can be made. Photo: Lucy K Southworth)

The weight per unit area of all bycatch species caught in the modified nets, fitted with lights, was lower compared with the traditional “control” nets, and there were no significant losses of the target catch of the two vessels - Queen scallop.

spurdog releaseSpurdog (Squalus acanthias) escaping from the illuminated square mesh panel at 29-40m depth. Photo: Lucy K Southworth)

More details are in the April issue of The Skipper magazine.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Everyone who has ever seen the Pixar film Finding Nemo knows what a clownfish looks like, but a new study gives some alarming insight into their response to human behaviour.

A study by international scientists on the impact of motorboat engine noise found that clownfish are so bothered by it that they will hide, skip meals and even attack domino damselfish and other neighbours.

The erratic behaviour is the result of hormonal changes caused by the engine noise, the researchers from France, Chile and Britain state.

Working on the reefs around Moorea in French Polynesia, the scientists exposed 40 pairs of clownfish to recordings of natural reef sounds or motorboat noise for up to two days.

Vexing Nemo graphic illustration

The engine reverberations caused clownfish to “hide in the protective tentacles of their host anemone, move less into open water to feed, and to be more aggressive towards domino damselfish that also reside in the anemone”, they found.

They also found that anemonefish which were also affected by the noise were “unable to respond appropriately to a second stressor, putting them at greater risk from threats such as predators and climate change”.

The study found noise-exposed fish had elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

They also had higher levels of the reproductive hormones testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone, which corresponded with observed behavioural changes.

“These measurable hormones offer a window into complex behaviours and could be used to develop new noise-mitigation tools,” the scientists state.

Associate professor Suzanne Mills at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) PSL Université Paris in France, who is lead author, noted that the high cortisol levels after two days of exposure suggest that clownfish become “chronically stressed by motorboat noise”.

“This compromises the stress response system, leaving clownfish unable to mount appropriate responses to further stressful events. If these stressful events include a predator, motorboat noise could have grave implications,” she said.

“Our new findings highlight the need to control man-made noise in marine protected habitats,” she said.

The paper, entitled Hormonal and behavioural effects of motorboat noise on wild coral reef fish, is published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 2 of 28

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating