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The 10th Annual Marine Economics Policy Research Symposium, recently held at the Marine Institute’s Oranmore headquarters, provided a forum for researchers, scientists, economists and policy makers to present and exchange views on a wide range of topics.

Organised by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute with the support of the Marine Institute, the event was a space to discuss issues from the public perceptions of the oceans and marine spatial planning to marine and coastal tourism.

The 10th annual symposium also showcased the international collaborations that have been established between SEMRU and partner institutes through a number of EU projects.

The Marine Institute’s new chief executive Dr Paul Connolly welcomed the researchers, noting that SEMRU “has played a vital role in establishing a sustainable method of valuing our oceans”.

He added that the unit has “also undertaken complex research initiatives across a broad spectrum of areas, such as fisheries, maritime transport tourism and natural capital accounting”.

“Today, economic evidence is available to show the value — market and non-market — of our ocean resources with Ireland's marine sector recognised by Government and the State as an important national asset,” he said.

SEMRU presented the latest economic figures to Government in June 2019 as part of the Our Ocean Wealth Summit.

The latest figures show that Ireland’s ocean economy had a turnover of €6.23 billion and provided employment for 34,132 people (full time equivalents). The total direct and indirect value of Ireland's ocean economy is estimated by SEMRU to be in excess of €4.2 billion GVA (Gross Valued Added), equivalent to 2% of GDP.

Ireland’s integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, outlines the Government’s target to increase the turnover from our ocean economy to exceed €6.4 billion by 2020 and double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030.

The symposium welcomed speakers from the Marine Institute; NUI Galwa; Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; Údarás na Gaeltachta; Galway-Mayo Institute Technology; Trinity College Dublin; Queen’s University Belfast; and ABPmer.

Top women’s surfer turned marine biologist Dr Easkey Britton was among the international list of speakers whose presentations are available to download from the SEMRU website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

The development of an app to help fishermen target areas with fish for which they have quota and avoid fish for which they don’t is just one of the innovations being developed by researchers at the Marine Institute.

The app, presented by Dr Julia Calderwood, is part of the EU-funded DiscardLess project, helping to ensure that the discarding of non-quota fish catches is phased out under the Common Fisheries Policy.

It is just one of many research projects that were presented at the Marine Institute’s Research Symposium on Thursday (24 October).

Seventy researchers from across the institute gathered to present their work, to brainstorm, and to identify ways to work better together.

Researchers presented short overviews and took questions on their work and on the future direction of research at the Marine Institute. There was also a poster session giving further overviews of research.

The institute says its initiative to try to integrate better research across areas such as fisheries science, climate change, oceanography, fish health, seafood safety and ocean chemistry is a critical goal of the its strategy, Building Ocean Knowledge, Delivering Ocean Services.

The Research Symposium featured presentations from principal investigators to PhD students on research projects that support important policy areas for Government. The outputs from a project tracking the migration patterns of bluefin tuna, for example, support key policy areas for the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.

The fate, impact and new approaches to persistent pollutants in the marine environment were also addressed and the outputs of this work support key policy areas for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Research that supports the seafood sector was addressed with food safety issues around marine biotoxins being presented. Research into the genetic basis for natural starvation in wild Atlantic salmon was presented which will, through manipulation of diet and temperature, help to reduce the time taken for farmed fish to reach a stage of maturity where they can go out to sea cages, thus reducing grow-out time and costs for the salmon farmer.

Research and innovation is a key component of the Marine Institute’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, and is aligned to the provision of scientific advice and services.

New Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly explained the thinking behind the Research Symposium: “The Marine Institute provides essential scientific evidence and advice to Government and to stakeholders to ensure that we are sustainably managing our marine resources and our extensive maritime territory, which is about 10 times the size of our landmass.

“Our research is central to providing the knowledge we need to inform policy and to address challenges such as climate change and ocean pollution while helping to build sustainable maritime sectors such as aquaculture, ocean renewable energy and marine and coastal tourism.”

The Marine Institute Research Symposium is intended to be an annual event, forming part of the efforts being made to deliver knowledge and services that are safeguarding our ocean resources and supporting a healthy and sustainable ocean economy in Ireland.

Published in Marine Science

#BlueGrowth - Galway's Marine Institute will host the third Irish national event of the support team for the Atlantic Action Plan on Thursday 24 November.

Under the theme of ‘Linking the Atlantic Strategy and Current Funding Opportunities’, this event is aimed at anyone with an interest in developing projects related to the marine and maritime sectors in line with the Atlantic Action Plan. The official event website has more details.

Also on 24 November, Galway’s Glenlo Abbey Hotel is the venue for the seventh Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium, hosted by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute.

This free event will provide participants with an update on a wide range of policy topics related to the marine sector in Ireland, with a particular focus this year on the valuation of marine ecosystem services benefits to society.

Speakers will include Prof Nick Hanley of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS); Dr Ronan Lyons of Trinity College Dublin; and Dr Kathrine Skoland of International Research Institute of Stavanger, Norway.

More information on the day will be circulated in the coming weeks, and early registration is available HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The second International Sea Trout Symposium will take place in Dundalk, Co Louth from 20-22 October 2015.

Targeted at scientists, managers and other fishery stakeholder interests in the public and private sectors, the central aim is to promote the wider application of an evidence-based approach to the future management and regulation of the sea trout and to ensure that its often very special needs become fully integrated into catchment management plans and environmental impact assessments.

This major event will build on the success of the first International Symposium on the ‘Biology, Conservation & Management of Sea Trout’ held in Cardiff, Wales in 2004. Its overall objective will be to promote the application of the latest science to the better management of sea trout stocks and their associated fisheries.

It will consider developments since the previous symposium, highlight the implications of the strategic gaps in our knowledge that currently limit our ability to manage the resource effectively and review priorities for future investigation.

The symposium is aimed at fishery scientists, managers, policy makers and other interested parties. It is planned to provide practical guidance to assist managers and regulators in the sustainable management of the sea trout resource and to ensure that they are fully integrated into any assessment of the impact of other policies, regulations and developments affecting their aquatic environment. While primarily focused on migratory sea trout, it will include non-migratory trout and other anadromous species where relevant.

Symposium topics will include:

  • Understanding Anadromy
  • Populations & Management
  • Movements & Migration
  • Ecology & Behaviour
  • Monitoring & Surveillance
  • Threat Assessment
  • Future management and research

Rates for the symposium start at €70 for the daily attendance package, with a basic three-day delegate package priced at €230 and the full package (including the gala dinner and a copy of the proceedings) at €330. A student delegate package for PhD and MSc candidates is available for €150.

The closing date for registrations is 4 September 2015. Details of the programme, accommodation and travel are available at the Sea Trout Symposium website.

Published in Marine Science

#SeaKayaking - The East Inishowen Sea Kayak Symposium takes place this weekend from 26-28 April.

Hosted by Just Kayak at the shorefront in Moville, Co Donegal, the weekend costs €130 for all coaching and guides, plus two nights self-catering bed and breakfast plus lunches and an evening meal.

Friday evening will feature a talk from Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander, discussing her epic circumnavigation of Ireland by sea kayak two years ago that we followed here on Afloat.ie.

Saturday will be a full day of coaching and guided trips around the Inishowen peninsula, followed by an evening of talks from guest coaches.

The final day on Sunday features a choice of different coaching sessions - and for something a little different, chef Brian McDermott will give a demonstration of outdoor cooking which might prove handy on your next kayaking trip.

For more details and booking info visit the Just Kayak website.

In other sea kayaking news, a Plymouth couple are hoping to be the first husband-and-wife team to kayak around the British and Irish coasts.

As The Herald in Plymouth reports, Andy and Jane Morton from Bere Alston left Plymouth aboard their double kayak Persey earlier this month beginning their five-month challenge for the RNLI and a local MS charity.

You can follow the couple's progress via their website HERE.

Published in Kayaking
The Irish Sea Kayaking Association (ISKA) will host its annual symposium on 8-9 October 2011 in Mulranny, Co Mayo.
The activity-filled weekend at the Mulranny Park Hotel will include training workshops, peer paddles and talks by leading kayaking experts.
Delivering the keynote speech will be Jasper Winn, author of Paddle: A Long Way Around Ireland, who will use a mix of digital slides, video clips and live music to illustrate his account of his trip around the country by kayak.
For more details visit the ISKA website at irishseakayakingassociation.org

The Irish Sea Kayaking Association (ISKA) will host its annual symposium on 8-9 October 2011 in Mulranny, Co Mayo. 

The activity-filled weekend at the Mulranny Park Hotel will include training workshops, peer paddles and talks by leading kayaking experts. 

Delivering the keynote speech will be Jasper Winn, author of Paddle: A Long Way Around Ireland, who will use a mix of digital slides, video clips and live music to illustrate his account of his trip around the country by kayak.

For more details visit the ISKA website at irishseakayakingassociation.org.

Published in Kayaking

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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