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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, has partnered up with the RNLI to deliver a series of one-day Man Overboard experiences aimed at Irish Fishers this autumn. The aim is to highlight the importance of wearing a correctly fitted Personal Floatation Device (PFD) and ensure Fishers are ready to implement their vessel's Man Overboard (MOB) recovery plan. Participants will experience first-hand the difference between falling overboard in challenging sea conditions with no Personal Floatation Device, followed by the same experience with their PFD correctly fitted.

Although the conditions are controlled, they provide a realistic experience, simulating the impact of work clothing, oilskins, and boots on a person’s buoyancy, coupled with challenging sea conditions. The class also looks at the importance of having and following your Man Overboard recovery plan.

Recent research (May 2021) commissioned by BIM to understand more about fishers and their views on safety at sea revealed the vast majority of fishers understand that wearing a PFD could save their lives. However, just over half of fishers interviewed said they do not always wear their PFD at sea. The research also highlighted that 80% of those that have attended safety at sea training within the past five years are considerably more likely to regularly wear their PFD. This compares to 58% for those that were on a training course more than five years ago or have never been on one before.

"Just over half of fishers interviewed said they do not always wear their PFD at sea"

BIM’s Skills Development Director, Ian Mannix, said: “The research clearly highlights the importance of reinforcing the message that wearing a PFD is essential at sea. Having participated in this class myself recently, it really brought home the extreme difference wearing a PFD makes. Without a doubt, it is essential to survive at sea. We are delighted to be able to partner with the RNLI in delivering these classes free of charge to Irish Fishers. Both BIM and the RNLI have a shared goal of a safety at sea. The experience compliments and builds upon the existing mandatory three-day Safety Training offered by BIM in both its National Fisheries Colleges in Donegal and Cork and our two mobile coastal training units.”

Frankie Horne, Fishing Safety Manager, RNLI, deliver the course, and he said: “As fishers, one of the most important things we can do is be prepared for an ‘Accident Immersion’ whereby we unintentionally end up in the water. RNLI data analysis shows that most Fishing Fatalities from accident immersion are because we cannot stay afloat or be recovered in time. 109 fishers lost their lives in Irish and UK waters between 2008 and 2017, going about their daily work. Of these, 47 fatalities were a result of accidental Immersion, Man Overboard (MOB). When you go overboard. Capable people become incapable very quickly. Be Rigged and Ready.”

The free, 1-day classes will run on Friday 7th & Saturday 8th of October, as well as Friday 4th & Saturday 5th of November. The classes will take place in the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork. Potential participants must complete their BIM Mandatory Safety Training and be over 16 years of age.

To register your interest, contact Lisa Hollingum, E: [email protected] or M: +353 87 1138126

Published in Fishing
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The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has called for immediate political action to alleviate the soaring cost of fuel which has many fishermen on the brink and is causing untold hardship and anxiety for the industry.

Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue said that the Irish Government has been given approval for such a support scheme for the sector, which is already in place in many other EU member states. Governments in those countries have acted swiftly to provide a beleaguered industry with financial support to offset the huge spike in fuel costs. 

“It genuinely beggars belief that our Minister can stand idly by and effectively refuse to release funds which the European Parliament has approved for fishermen in light of the extreme escalation in fuel costs for their vessels.

“We met Minister McConalogue on July 6th and implored him to act swiftly with the average Irish fishing trawler now paying 70% more for diesel since March 2022 to remain at sea to earn a living. Approximately half of our members' gross earnings are now gone on putting fuel in their boats. This is not sustainable given that a break-even situation is 60 cents per litre - fishermen having been consistently paying over 105 cents per litre since March.

“Moreover, it’s placing Irish vessels at a major disadvantage compared to our EU counterparts which have had the scheme implemented in their respective countries. The Government is trying to fob us off with pithy soundbites stating they’re ‘acutely conscious of our plight but that’s simply no use.

“This is a real bitter pill which fishermen cannot swallow. The money is in place, it’s just a matter of the Minister acting and affording the industry some support in a time of spiralling need,” he concluded.

M.r O’Donoghue said that the fuel support package should not be confused with ongoing Departmental engagement with the pelagic sector regarding a scheme to mitigate against the loss of €35million of mackerel quota since the Brexit transition in January 2021.

Published in Fishing
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A Connemara lobster fisherman has become a television star in the Netherlands over his role in a highly successful dating series.

As The Irish Examiner reports, Turbot island fisherman and farmer John O’Toole was hired to take a Dutch couple out fishing as part of the grand final in the highly successful dating series, Boer zoukt vrouw (“Farmer wants a wife”).

70-year-old widower Hans de Roover, who breeds horses in Noord Brabant in Netherlands, had signed up for the dating show last year. Having received replies from almost 90 applicants, he had chosen Connemara as the location for filming with one of his final four potential partners.

And 60-year old divorcee Annette Verschuure, from Zeeland, rose to the challenge. After the couple were flown to Dublin, they travelled west to Galway and Clifden, where they had been booked into the Abbeyglen Hotel.

Farmer Hans de Roover with his new love, Annette Verschuure, at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, ClifdenFarmer Hans de Roover with his new love, Annette Verschuure, at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, Clifden

“So I took them out from Fahy pier down the end of the Sky Road, and a bit around the inlet as the sun was setting, ”O’Toole says. “I had set a few pots out and, of course, there were lobsters in them!”

“I asked them if they would like to handle the pots but they weren’t so keen. Annette was full of chat, and Hans had his arm around her. But then I noticed the colour draining from his face and knew it was time to head home!”

“Oh, we had such a wonderful time,” Verschuure recalls of the visit to the west of Ireland.

“It was such an adventure,” she laughs. “And because no one in Ireland knew who we were, apart from the fact that we had a film crew following us, we could actually be a couple !”

Suspense – as in who the farmer might choose for his or her partner - is key to the Dutch series, which has been running for over 12 years and now attracts some 3. 5 million viewers.

Read more in The Examiner here

Published in Fishing
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One of the 21 fishermen feared dead after a Spanish fishing vessel sank off the Newfoundland coast this week was the sole survivor of a dramatic rescue two decades ago off the Irish west coast.

Ricardo Arias Garcia was winched from the Skerd Rocks in outer Galway Bay by the Rescue 115 Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew in October 2000.

The native of Marin in Spain has been named as one of the 21 who died or are missing when the Villa de Pitanxo sank about 280 miles off the Newfoundland coast in rough seas early on Tuesday.

Only three of the 24 crew on board the vessel were rescued, while nine have been confirmed dead and 12 crew listed as missing from the 50-metre (164ft) vessel. The search for the missing 12 was stood down on Wednesday evening.

The Halifax rescue centre involved in the search said the area was experiencing 46 miles per hour winds and sea swells of up to 5.5 m (18 ft) at the time. The Spanish vessel was built to withstand harsh Atlantic weather.

Arias Garcia survived a previous sinking but lost all of his fellow crew when the Arosa sank in a storm off north Galway Bay on October 3rd, 2000.

The Spanish-owned 32 metre-long Arosa, which was registered in Britain, had been fishing for four days when weather deteriorated.

Its skipper was heading for shelter in Galway Bay a force nine gale, blowing to force ten, when it struck the Skerd rocks about nine miles west of the Connemara village of Carna.

Ten of the 13 crew on board were Spanish, two were from Sao Tome island off central Africa and one was from Ghana.

 Ricard Arias Garcia, the Spanish fisherman feared dead off Newfounland, after he survived the Arosa sinking in Galway Bay in October 2000. Ricard Arias Garcia, the Spanish fisherman feared dead off Newfounland, after he survived the Arosa sinking in Galway Bay in October 2000 Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

A “mayday” alert was issued, the three African crew tried to launch the liferafts, but it proved too difficult as the vessel was wedged between rocks with enormous seas on its port side.

The desperate crew, most wearing lifejackets, clung to the vessel until most were washed away.

Arias Garcia spoke afterwards of how he decided not to wear a lifejacket as he feared it might choke him..

"In between the waves, I tried to look up, calm down and organise myself," he told reporters afterwards in University Hospital, Galway.

"I saw another big wave coming. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When that wave had passed, I felt rocks beneath me. I dragged myself up along the rocks. I looked up and I saw the light of the helicopter."

The crew of Rescue 115 had only 200 to 300 yards of visibility in pitch dark and driving rain, close to a mountainous coast, when they spotted him.

They had already identified liferafts on the water near the Skerd Rocks and could see they were empty.

Arias Garcia was wearing only a t-shirt when the light from the helicopter caught him, clinging to a rock close to the bow of the vessel which was being pounded by heavy seas.

The crew of Capt David Courtney, Capt Mike Shaw, winch operator John Manning and winchman Eamonn Ó Broin winched him on board.

The helicopter crew also rescued the vessel’s skipper. Both men were flown to hospital but the skipper did not survive.

The Shannon crew received a State award for their role in rescuing Arias Garcia.

The RNLI Aran lifeboat, the Cleggan and Costello Bay Coast Guard units and Naval Service divers who searched for bodies were also conferred with marine meritorious awards.

Galician newspaper La Voz de Galicia recalled this week how Arias Garcia, feared lost off Canada, had survived a “shipwreck off Ireland” in 2000.

“Ricardo saw his companions from the Arosa die, and that terrible event marked him. Those who know him say that he enjoyed the sea,” the newspaper reported.

Arias Garcia was one of 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians, on board the Villa de Pitanxo which had been at sea for over a month.

The vessel’s owner, Grupo Nores, specialises in catching cod, dogfish and other species found in the North Atlantic.

Published in Fishing

Wicklow RNLI all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams launched at 8:10 am this morning (Monday 1 November), to investigate a report of a ten-metre fishing vessel in difficulties north of Wicklow harbour.

The lifeboat was alongside the drifting fishing vessel twenty minutes later. After a quick assessment, It was found to have a rope fouled in the propeller and unable to get back to port. Coxswain Keogh decided the best option was to tow the boat back to Wicklow harbour. Weather conditions at the scene were moderate sea with good visibility.

A tow line was established, and the fishing vessel was towed into Wicklow harbour and secured alongside the South quay at 9:30 am.

With the three fishermen landed safely ashore, the lifeboat returned to station.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

“Voyagers from the grave” read the headline in a Melbourne newspaper, The Advocate, in 1877, and the report was about three Galway men who had by then become known as “the shaughrauns”.

The previous November of 1876, four men, had set out to fish from the Claddagh in a hooker, named Saint Patrick.

In the words of the skipper, Michael Moran, he and his crewmen Michael Smith, Patrick Moran, and his uncle John Moran, made for Slyne Head, about sixty miles from Galway.

That night a tremendous storm carried the vessel 150 miles out into the Atlantic, where four days later, three survivors were rescued by a passing Swedish vessel and taken to America.

“We had no extra good fortune, and at night foggy weather overtook us. The wind sprung up, blowing a perfect hurricane. My post was at the helm where my hands became frozen. On Tuesday night the boat was half-filled with water,” skipper Moran recalled.

“It is our custom to light turf on setting out and keep the fire going. The water put it out. Although we had potatoes and fresh fish, we had no means to cook them,” he said.

“We were four days and four nights without eating. In order to break the speed with which we were driven, we lowered a basket filled with stones and endeavoured to heave to but the cable broke on Friday morning,” he said.

That same morning, they woke to find no trace of the oldest man on board, his uncle John Moran.

NUI Galway lecturer in history Dr John Cunningham has researched the “Claddagh calamity”, and he gave a recent online talk to the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society about what happened, and how the men were given up for dead and were "waked".

Dr Cunningham is a committee member of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, a member of the editorial board of its journal, and a past editor of Saothar: Journal of Irish Labour History. He is co-editor with Ciaran McDonough of a forthcoming volume commemorating the bicentenary of James Hardiman's history of Galway – Hardiman and Beyond: Arts and Culture in Galway, 1820-2020 which is due for publication in April.

Dr Cunningham spoke to Wavelengths about his findings, and first of all, describes the vessel which the four men set sail in from the Claddagh.

You can hear the Wavelengths interview below

And you can see the full lecture by Dr Cunningham here

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency has launched a fishermen’s health manual. The short manual offers practical advice on keeping healthy at sea and on land and has been translated into five languages. The BIM Fishermen’s Health Manual has been adapted from a publication Fisherman first published by Haynes and funded by Maritime Charities Funding Group in the UK. More than 3,000 fishermen in Ireland have received the manual to date.

Jim O’Toole, BIM CEO said: “The fishing sector is a rewarding and a highly demanding industry. BIM’s focus on sustainability refers not just to the industry per se but to the people who work in the industry. This manual is by no means meant to replace professional advice from a medical practitioner. It’s about the promotion of better self-awareness and proactivity among members of the sector when it comes to their physical and mental wellbeing, all of which will help the sector to thrive for generations to come.”

The publication is written in plain language in the style of a Haynes’ car manual and the BIM adaptation of the publication has been developed with the support of Healthy Ireland Initiative.

Kate O'Flahery, Head of Health and Wellbeing at the Department of Health commented:

“Healthy Ireland welcome the publication of BIM's Fisherman's Health Manual, which addresses specific health issues involved in the Irish seafood and fishing industry. Fishing is a challenging profession and having access to detailed and practical advice will empower fishermen in Ireland to make changes, and particularly as the guide is accessible in five languages.”

Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum, and author of the original UK publication and said:

“All fishing gear comes with a manual. The machinery is tough, it has to be considering the environment in which it has to work. Fishermen are also tough for the same reasons but there was no manual for maintenance. Well now there is, and hopefully fishermen will stay healthy no matter what those deep waters throw at them.”

The manual is available in English, Irish, Arabic, Malay, Russian and Spanish. 

Published in Fishing
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While cuts to USC, pension increases and a Public Sector pay rise are among the main components of Budget 2017 anounced today, the Marine Sector came in for special mention with a new income tax credit that recognises the difficult nature of work in the fishing sector. 

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan & Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe delivered Budget 2017 in the Dail today.

Following on from a recommendation made in the marine tax review completed last year, the government says it aims to assist the viability of the commercial fishing sector and at attracting and retaining staff.

The €1,270 annual credit will shelter income of up to €6,350, which is the equivalent value of the seafarers exemption. 

There was €121.5 million in the Budget for Fisheries, fishery harbours and marine related Non-Commercial State Sponsored Bodies (NCSSBs) such as the Marine Institute, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency – €43.6m of this is for the Seafood Development Programme.

Outlining these incentives the Minister for the Marine Michael Creed said “I am keen to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of fishermen and the contribution they make to the development of our Blue Economy. It is vital for the development of this sector to maintain employment and attract new entrants to the sector. Therefore, I am pleased to confirm an annual tax credit specifically for fishermen of €1,270. Furthermore I welcome changes to ‘Fish Assist’ including a €5 weekly increase and increased eligibility criteria.”

The €241m European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme, launched in January 2016, will be further rolled out in 2017 with an increased total budget in 2017 of €43m made available across the Marine Department and its agencies.” 

Published in Budget
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#rnli – As Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) research reveals more fishermen die in January than in any other month of the year, the lifesaving charity has launched a hard-hitting campaign encouraging fishermen to make sure their boats keep them safe at sea – with an emotive advert due to be displayed around the town of Kilkeel.

The campaign features five short films which provide practical advice and use easy to follow animation. The films show how to keep fishing boats stable and highlight factors that lead to dangerous instability, with RNLI research showing that the majority of deaths in the commercial fishing industry occur when vessel stability is lost.

RNLI figures show that 59% of commercial fishing fatalities were due to a loss of vessel stability leading to capsize, leaking or swamping between 2010 and 2013 – with 30% of deaths occurring in the month of January when seas can be rough and water temperatures are at their lowest. The campaign is targeted at fishermen who work on vessels under 15m in length, as the majority of fishing-related fatal incidents (73%) occurred on fishing boats in this category.

The films cover five key areas that lead to boat instability: overloading, watertight integrity, free surface effect2, modifications and hauling.

The films, which are all under 10 minutes in length, feature experts Peter Duncan, lecturer from the Scottish Maritime Academy, and RNLI Fishing Safety Manager and former commercial fisherman Frankie Horne. They can be viewed at RNLI.org/stability.

Alexander McCauley volunteer lifeboat crew member from Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat station, who is also a commercial fisherman, said: 'I know just how demanding and dangerous commercial fishing can be, especially in rough conditions throughout the winter months. I'd encourage all fishermen to take a look at these films at RNLI.org/stability. They provide excellent, practical advice in an easy to digest format.

'It's easy to get complacent with boat safety checks and it can be very tempting to cut corners to maximise a haul. But these films highlight just how easily you can compromise your boat's stability by doing this, and the consequences can be fatal.'

Emotive adverts are also being used throughout the campaign, using the strapline 'Dad's gone fishing'. The powerful image used in the adverts shows coat hooks in a family home. The coats of mum and two young children are hanging up, but dad's coat is missing – he's failed to return home from fishing.

This advert will be displayed on an ad van driving around Kilkeel in early January. The hard-hitting advert will also appear on Facebook posts targeted at fishermen and their families and friends, in commercial fishing publications and websites.

In addition to the adverts, drinks glasses, coasters and coffee mugs have been produced to support the campaign and will be distributed to pubs and bars at fishing ports across the UK and the Republic of Ireland in January. These products feature key safety tips and point fishermen to the vessel stability films online at RNLI.org/stability.

Frankie Horne, RNLI Fishing Safety Manager, said: 'Data3 shows that, tragically, 49 fishermen died between 2009 and 2012 across the UK and Ireland. We hope that this campaign will help prevent further deaths at sea.

'The majority of these fatalities were fishermen working on boats under 15 metres long and 30% of deaths occurred in the month of January, when sea conditions are often very rough and the water temperature is dangerously low.'

The films offer tips and guidance on areas including:
Leaks, overloading and the free surface effect2 of a loose catch can all make a vessel unstable.
Keep your boat watertight by checking hatches are closed at sea.
Tie down loose kit and keep scuppers clear.
When modifying a fishing boat, get professional advice on stability first.
Cut the net if hauling in a heavy catch makes your boat list.

'I would also like to remind fishermen of the importance of wearing a personal floatation device. Our figures show that of all commercial fishing fatalities between 2010 and 2013, 59% of those who died were not wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid,' added Frankie Horne.

Between 2009 and 2013, RNLI lifeboats launched 2,555 times to incidents involving commercial fishing boats, rescuing 3,762 people.

1 RNLI-commissioned causal analysis of fatalities in waters around the UK and Republic of Ireland between the period 2010 and 2013.

2 Definition of free surface effect In a partly filled tank or fish hold, the contents will shift with the movement of the boat. This 'free surface' effect increases the danger of capsizing. The centre of gravity moves over to the side, making the vessel less stable.

3 Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) data 2009–12.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#MARINE WILDLIFE - Fears are growing of an illegal cull of marine wildlife after a seal and dolphin were discovered dead on a Waterford beach - just hours after two seals were found dying from bullet wounds in the same location.

TheJournal.ie reports that the wounds on the two animals found on Tramore Beach on Thursday are also believed to be from gunshot.

Two grey seals were euthanised the previous evening after they were discovered gravely injured with "horrific" wounds on the same beach.

A spokesperson for the Irish Seal Sanctuacy (ISS) has called for a post-mortem of the animals to determine the exact cause of death - but pointed the finger at an illegal cull allegedly carried out by local fishermen.

"We’re not against a properly regulated cull," said the ISS's Johnny Woodlock, "but it’s the guy who goes out with a shotgun and takes potshots, that’s what we’re against.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE, including an image that many may find distressing.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Every Year Ireland's Search & Rescue Services deliver emergency life saving work on our seas, lakes and rivers.

Ireland's Water Safety Agencies work hard to provide us with the information we need to keep safe, while enjoying all manner of water based activities.

There's no better fun than getting out on the water but being afloat is a responsibility we all need to take seriously.

These pages detail the work of the rescue agencies. We also aim to promote safety standards among pleasure boaters, and by doing so, prevent, as far as possible, the loss of life at sea and on inland waters. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]

Think Before You Sink - Wear a Lifejacket

Accidents can happen fast on water and there may not be time to reach for a lifejacket in an emergency therefore don't just carry a lifejacket - wear it; if it's not on you, it can't save your life.

Irish Water Safety's Safe Boating Alert:

Check condition of boat and equipment, hull, engine, fuel, tools, torch.

Check the weather forecast for the area.

Check locally concerning dangerous currents and strong tides.

Do not drink alcohol while setting out or during your trip.

Carry an alternative means of propulsion e.g. sails and oars or motor and oars.

Carry a first aid kit on board and distress signals (at least two parachute distress rockets, two red hand flares).

Carry a fire extinguisher, a hand bailer or bucket with lanyard and an anchor with rope attached.

Carry marine radio or some means of communication with shore.

Do not overload the boat - this will make it unstable.

Do not set out unless accompanied by an experienced person.

Leave details of your planned trip with someone ashore - including departure and arrival times, description of boat, names of persons on board, etc.

Wear a Lifejacket at all times.

Keep an eye on the weather - seek shelter in good time.

In Marine Emergencies, call 999 or 112 and ask for Marine Rescue.

Lifejackets Checklist

Ensure Cartridges have not been punctured and are secured firmly.

Ensure all zips, buckles, fasteners and webbing straps are functioning correctly and adjusted to fit the user.

Check that fitted lights are operating correctly.

Ensure that Automatic Inflation devices are fully serviced and in date.

Check that the valve or lifejacket is not leaking.

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