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It’s been seven years since herring were landed in Bangor on Belfast Lough, but the Fairwind whose home port is Kilkeel on the Mourne coast in south Down, landed its catch in the harbour last week. The crew transferred the fish from the net to the boat by brailing.

Hand brailing is when fish are concentrated alongside the fishing vessel, and a brailing net is used to lift them aboard. The iron hoop of the brail net is first dipped into the net, drawn through the fish, and pulled up again.

It's been many years since herring have been landed in Bangor. The last time was in 2014 when a large fishing vessel with a refrigerated seawater system transferred herring ashore via a pump into road tankers.

"It’s good to see smaller vessels availing of herring quota and the traditional method of brailing being used to land"

“However,” says Harbour Master Kevin Baird “ It’s good to see smaller vessels availing of herring quota and the traditional method of brailing being used to land. There are herring shoals at this time of the year (winter herring) and sometimes they do come into Belfast Lough but are more usually caught in the seas off the Mournes”.

Herring was fished from harbours all along the Down coast with the Mourne ports of Kilkeel and Annalong emerging as key centres in the mid-19th century with Ardglass which had first developed as a fish harbour in the Middle Ages, becoming a herring poet then as well.

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Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue is expected to present a memo on the Government’s seafood task force report to Cabinet this week.

Mr McConalogue is requesting that the Cabinet notes the report, while he awaits a review on its recommendations.

The task force report, published in early October, is recommending just over €423 million be given to the Irish fishing industry to help weather the impact of Brexit.

Highlights include awarding €66 million for a whitefish decommissioning scheme, €6 million to reduce the inshore fleet, and €3.7 million to remove inactive or off-register inshore vessels.

It also recommends €90 million for seafood processors, and a series of short term measures, including a €12 million annual tie-up of polyvalent vessels over two years.

It recommends an €8 million liquidity scheme for the pelagic sector, support for scallop vessels and vessels hit by exclusion from the Rockall squid fishery, and investment in aquaculture.

It also recommends investment in small scale public marine infrastructure, community-led local development, inshore marketing and processing capital.

"Its final report says the Irish seafood sector is “in the eye of the storm”

The proposed whitefish decommissioning scheme aims to remove 60 vessels of around 8,000 GT and 21,000 Kw at a premium of up to €12,000 per gross tonne, including “appropriate” payments to crew and scrapping costs.

The taskforce report was established by McConalogue earlier this year to examine the implications of the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) for the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Its final report says the Irish seafood sector is “in the eye of the storm”.

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue: The Seafood Taskforce has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last MarchMarine Minister Charlie McConalogue: The Seafood Taskforce has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last March

It says that the end of the Brexit withdrawal period has brought about the biggest change and disruption in EU-British relations in 50 years, across all aspects of trade and society.

The Irish fleet has lost access to 15% of its annual quota, including stocks of prawn, monkfish, and haddock, while Brexit has also hit Ireland’s €80m worth of seafood exports to Britain.

It says Irish seafood imports from Britain, valued at €219 million in 2018, have been disrupted, while vital seafood export routes, primarily the ’land-bridge’ via Britain, have been curtailed.

It also says established Irish/British links at scientific and policy levels in EU and ICES have been lost.

The task force has met 14 times and received 72 submissions from its members, and a further 27 through public consultation, since it began meeting last March.

An interim report published in June recommended establishment of a voluntary, temporary cessation scheme running to December 2021 as a first step.

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The Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D. met virtually today with the members of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF).

Minister McConalogue welcomed those representatives from the six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums who were attending the NIFF for the first time, noting that the process of renewing Forum membership has been working well.

“I am delighted with the level of commitment that people have shown in engaging with the Forums because, without that commitment, this initiative would not have emerged as the influential voice for the inshore sector that it has become,” the Minister said.

The Minister discussed issues, that are important to the inshore sector, with the Forum members, including the recommendations in the final report of the Seafood Sector Task Force. The Minister thanked the NIFF for its participation in the Task Force and the valuable contributions it made to those discussions.

The Minister said, “I am urgently examining the Task Force report with a view to quickly implementing a comprehensive response to the impacts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on our fishing sector and coastal communities.”

The Minister and inshore representatives also discussed a range of other topics including the “hook and line” mackerel fishery and the sustainable management of the brown crab fishery, which is one of the most important stocks for inshore fishers and for the seafood sector.

The meeting included contributions from Bord Bia, the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara. The Minister thanked all those attending for their constructive engagement throughout the meeting.

Published in Fishing

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, today attended and addressed the Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference taking place in the Convention Centre, Dublin.

The conference is part of a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU. 

Speaking on his way into the event, the Minister said “The western seaboard is an important part of the European Union’s maritime community and this is a welcome occasion to celebrate and acknowledge the work that is being done throughout the Atlantic area to ensure the region provides vision, strategic direction, and support to the maritime community both in the Atlantic region and further afield”.

The European Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe will define the European economy for many years, or even decades. And the EU’s blue economy is fundamental to both efforts. 

Minister McConalogue addressing the ConferenceMinister McConalogue addressing the Conference

The Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference is an annual event of the Atlantic Strategy Committee which is being chaired by Ireland in 2021. This year, the event also celebrates 10 years of the Atlantic Strategy which aims to address challenges in the maritime sector for which collaborative efforts are required. The conference also features the 5th Atlantic Project Awards which recognises projects that contribute to the implementation of the goals and actions of the Atlantic Action Plan 2.0, adopted by the European Commission in July 2020.

The Minister commented that “the discussions and conclusions from today’s stakeholder conference will provide a rich source of information and knowledge to help underpin the implementation of the Atlantic Action Plan 2.0. Project collaboration is a key feature of the Atlantic Strategy and the projects being highlighted here today demonstrate all that can be achieved through collaborative efforts and working closely with our EU partners at all levels.”

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“Extremely long” working hours, very low wages, and racist insults and verbal abuse were commonplace experiences of a group of migrant fishermen interviewed for a Maynooth University research study.

Over two-thirds of those interviewed said they would work between 15 and 20 hours a day, and pay was usually below the minimum wage, the study, which was funded by the International Transport Federation (ITF), found.

Over half of the 24 participants interviewed for the research said they had been subjected to “racial and verbal abuse”.

Just one-third of participants in the study reported feeling safe on a vessel, although some pointed out that fishing is “an inherently dangerous occupation”, the study found.

Five of the 24 participants reported being “satisfied overall” with their working situation, and the study identified their key challenge as uncertainty around their immigration status and lack of freedom to change employer or section.

The analysis by Dr Clíodhna Murphy, Dr David Doyle and Stephanie Thompson of Maynooth University’s law department drew on semi-structured interviews conducted with 24 male migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry.

Over half the participants had lived in Ireland for ten years or more. The interviewees were described as highly skilled fishers who collectively had over 200 years of fishing experience, the researchers note.

All but two of the interviewees who had been in Ireland since before 2016 “indicated that conditions in the sector had worsened overall since that time”, the study says.

The study says the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) permission - under which the worker is contracted to an individual employer- and the necessity to renew this permission each year can be used by employers as a “means to threaten and exploit workers”.

Less than half of those interviewed recalled boats being inspected by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) or any other agency representative about work- related issues.

“ Fear of losing one’s job and work permit, along with language barriers, were key challenges for workers to engaging with employers or inspectors to seek better working conditions,”the authors state.

The study recommends reforms to the work permit system, including facilitating access for undocumented migrant fishers to the Department of Justice’s planned regularisation scheme.

It says applications should be allowed to vary Stamp 1 permission to Stamp 4 (as in line with section 4(7) of the Immigration Act 2004), and these applications should be expedited.

It recommends AWS permits should be granted for the sector, rather than tied to an individual employer, and the model contract used in this scheme should be reviewed and overhauled.

It says the WRC and the Department of Transport’s Marine Survey Office (MSO) should perform more outreach work and speak directly to migrant fishers in private “as a matter of course”.

It says inspectors monitoring workplace conditions should be accompanied by trained interpreters when interviewing migrant crew.

It recommends that legal barriers to claiming employment rights for undocumented workers should be removed , and an expanded role for NGOs to support workers making complaints should be considered.

It also says under-crewing of vessels should be investigated and pursued.

ITF fisheries campaign lead Michael O’Brien expressed concern about the report’s findings, and endorsed its recommendations.

He welcomed a statement from Minister of State with responsibility for law reform James Browne that the AWS scheme is to be reviewed.

“ Through various measures the migrant fishers have to be liberated from the exclusive relationship they are forced into with individual boat owners,”he said.

“ The impending migrant documentation scheme to be finalised by the Department of Justice, if it is sufficiently inclusive, could be the most direct means to achieve this,”he said.

Mr O’Brien said there were “worrying indications” that a new scheme would be “restrictive and contain anomalies that will serve to exclude most migrant fishers”, although Minister of State Jim Browne had said the scheme would offer a path to documentation for many fishers.

The ITF is undertaking a number of initiatives, including supporting judicial review proceedings to seek correct transposition into Irish law of the Working Time at Sea Directive EU 2017/159, in a bid to ensure complaints relating to illegally long hours at sea can be heard by the WRC and Labour Court.

The ITF says it is also holding discussion with the Ghanaian seafarer’s union MDU to explore what steps can be taken to “combat the activities of bogus recruitment agents in Ghana”.

It says these agents have been responsible for the trafficking of fishers to Ireland, north and south, in recent years.

The union says it aims to disseminate information to fishing communities in Ghana about “the pitfalls and dangers of coming to work in Ireland for exploitative employers”.

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The Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced that he has received the final report of the Seafood Sector Task Force that he established in March 2021. The Taskforce examined the impacts on the fishing sector and coastal communities of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This final report follows an interim report submitted by the Task Force in June 2021.

The Task Force was chaired by Aidan Cotter, assisted by a steering group of Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, and comprised of ten representatives of the fishing sector, representatives of the aquaculture and seafood processing sectors, coastal communities, coastal local authorities and various State enterprise development agencies.

Following receipt of the report, Minister McConalogue said: “The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was agreed at the end of 2020 have had some profoundly damaging effects for Ireland’s fishing sector and the coastal communities that depend on fishing. Such a once in a generation event required a collective response involving the seafood businesses and coastal communities that are impacted and the full range of State bodies with a role to play in our response. This is why I established the Seafood Sector Task Force in March of this year and after seven months of deliberations by the Task Force, I have today received and welcome its Final Report which charts a way forward for the sector and the coastal communities dependent upon it ”.

Minister McConalogue added: “I wish to thank Aidan Cotter for his leadership in chairing the Task Force and thank Margaret Daly and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide for their dedication and hard work in assisting Aidan in steering the work of the Task Force. I also wish to sincerely thank all of the members of the Task Force for their constructive engagement with the work of the Task Force and for the many hours and days they put into the process. Lastly, I thank BIM for their hard work as secretariat and I wish to acknowledge the importance of their research and analysis in informing the work of the Task Force”.

Minister McConalogue continued: “I have asked my Department to urgently examine the report with a view to quickly implementing a comprehensive response to the impacts of the TCA on our fishing sector and coastal communities. The recommended measures will be examined with particular regard to available funds and to the eligibility of the recommended measures for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, the European, Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and with other relevant funding sources and with regard to State Aid rules and the Public Spending Code”.

The establishment of the Seafood Sector Taskforce is an Action in the Department’s Action Plan 2021 under the Strategic Goal to ‘Deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector, driven by a skilled workforce, delivering value added products in line with consumer demand’.

The full report of the Seafood Sector Task Force is available to download below

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EU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius has said he is taking a “cautious” approach to reviewing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

In an interview with RTÉ Radio 1 Countrywide during his two-day visit to Ireland early last week, the commissioner said he “cannot promise” any fundamental change.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation believes only a thorough review of the CFP can help to address the impact of Brexit on the Irish fleet’s reduced access to quotas.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said the next ten-year review of the CFP, which has to be completed by December 2022, will not only have to take Brexit into account, but also climate change, pollution, and sustainable fishing.

“We’ll do a review, and we will be listening to stakeholders’ concerns, and we’ll look at certain changes, but I cannot promise we will be reopening the CFP,” he said.

“Fishermen have to go through a lot to comply with the rules, and I think it would be unfair to make many changes, so I take a very cautious way here, and only after a review is done and gaps are identified can we take additional action,”he said.

Commissioner Sinkevičius, who also holds the environment and oceans portfolios, acknowledged the large burden borne by Ireland as a result of the Brexit deal.

He said he had planned to come to Ireland for some time but had been unable to do so due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Lithuanian commissioner met Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue in Killybegs last Monday, before holding discussions with Irish fishing industry representatives which he described as “frank”.

He said that Ireland was entitled to the largest proportion of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), and flexibility clauses allowed the Irish government to allocate funds to those sectors suffering the most.

The BAR and the new European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) would help the Irish industry to “move forward” in compensating those who would be required to adjust to a new reality, he said.

“We had nine member states which were impacted, and we knew from the very beginning that the fisheries sector had nothing to gain from Brexit,” he said.

The unilateral decision by Norway and the Faroe islands to exploit mackerel – a species which he described as “in danger” – is “unacceptable”, but also a consequence of Brexit, the commissioner said.

“We were trying hard to get back to the table and have a sustainable agreement as we had in 2014. Unfortunately, both parties did not agree to that,” he said.

The EU aimed to avoid an escalation of the issue and to try and solve it in a “diplomatic manner”, the commissioner said.

Commissioner Sinkevičius is heavily involved in delivering the European Green Deal, and stressed that the support of both fishers and farmers was vital in making this work.

He welcomed Ireland’s plans in relation to offshore renewable energy, but warned that account must be taken of competing interests including the fishing industry, shipping, tourism and the health of the marine ecosystem.

The renewable energy industry must also comply with the EU Birds and Habitats directives, he warned.

EU member states must draw up marine spatial plans which allowed for sensitive management, he said.

A podcast of the full interview can be heard here

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A documentary on the crisis facing Irish coastal communities in the wake of Brexit is due to be released today. (View video below)

Oireachtas members are invited to view the 26-minute film at a screening in Dublin when it will also be released online.

Individual fishermen and business owners, who rely on the fishing industry for their income, describe the impact of a continuing lack of access to raw material – as in fish in Irish waters.

There is considerable anger over the final Brexit deal, which resulted in a 15 per cent overall reduction in Irish fish quotas, particularly the key species of mackerel and prawns, to the value of 43 million euro.

Brendan Byrne, CEO IFPEOBrendan Byrne, CEO IFPEO

Some coastal towns depend for up to 90 per cent of their income on fishing, the documentary points out.

Niall Duffy, editor of the monthly journal The Skipper, says the documentary was made with the assistance of Sean Moroney of Santander Media in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.

It was commissioned on foot of the protests by the industry over the summer in Cork and Dublin ports.

Patrick Murphy, CEO, IS&WFPOPatrick Murphy, CEO, IS&WFPO

Moroney is the creator of The Fishers Voice, a social media initiative created to “garner support for the plight of Irish fishermen who feel their voices are unheard by our government and representatives”, Duffy says.

Invitations have been sent to all political party leaders, fisheries spokespersons and coastal community TDs to attend the screening, and a link will also be sent to TDs and senators who cannot attend.

“Five months in the making, this documentary lifts the lid on decades of unfairness, whereby the EU, under the Common Fisheries Policy, allocated the lion's share of 85% of the total allowable catch (Quota) to the mainland European countries, despite the majority of this fishing taking place in Irish waters,” Duffy says.

The documentary points out that Belgium, as a case in point, has 0.1% of EU fishing grounds while Ireland has 10%.

“Yet the Belgian fleet has a greater quota for some prime species in Irish waters than local Irish fishermen,” Duffy says.

Participants were asked to give their views in harbours extending from Malin Head peninsula in Donegal to the Beara peninsula in West Cork.

The full documentary can be viewed on YouTube below

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EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius yesterday accompanied Minister Charlie Mc Conalogue T.D. on a visit to Killybegs Fishery Harbour Centre, as part of his two-day visit to Ireland.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, T.D., invited the Commissioner to come to Killybegs to meet with fishing industry representatives and see at first hand the activity in one of Ireland’s biggest fishery harbours and to discuss the significant EU related issues of concern to the Irish Fishing Industry.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Commissioner, accompanied by Minister McConalogue, met with representatives of all of the major Irish fishing industry organisations. Representatives from Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, Irish South & East Fish Producers Organisation, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Irish Fish Producers Organisation, Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation, Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association and National Inshore Fisheries Forums all attended the meeting with the Minister and the Commissioner.

Whilst in Killybegs, Commissioner Sinkevicius had the opportunity to view fish being landed by a pelagic vessel at the Fishery Harbour Centre.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am very pleased to welcome Commissioner Sinkevičius on his first official visit to Ireland. I’d also like to thank our industry representatives for their positive engagement today. The last year and a half has been a challenge for us all. Ireland’s Seafood Sector has been among the most seriously impacted by BREXIT. This meeting allowed industry to set down clearly for the Commissioner the challenges they continue to face and identify opportunities that will help to rebuild and support a robust sector in the future. It is more important than ever to work together to restore the confidence of the industry and to ensure that every opportunity is pursued so that we build a sustainable future for our industry and the coastal communities which depend on it.”

The Commissioner will also visit a FLAG funded project at Cooley Oysters Ltd in Carlingford County Louth, as part of his visit.

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EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius is due to begin a two-day visit to Ireland this morning with a visit to Killybegs fisheries harbour in Donegal.

The commissioner plans to meet representatives of the fishing industry in Killybegs, at a time when there is considerable concern over the impact of the Brexit deal and a 15 per cent overall reduction in Irish quotas.

He will hold a press conference on Monday evening with Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue in Killybegs.

He is also due to visit the ‘Wild Atlantic Nature’ LIFE Integrated Project at Donegal’s Slieve League Special Area of Conservation.

The commissioner will view a “blue economy project” in Co Louth - Cooley Oysters – on Tuesday.

He will then hold a series of meetings in Dublin with Mr McConalogue, Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, and junior ministers Malcolm Noonan and Pippa Hackett.

Commissioner Sinkevičius is responsible for the Common Fisheries Policy, and also holds the environmental portfolio.

He is heavily involved in delivering the European Green Deal, described as “the ambitious EU policy thrust for stopping climate change and ensuring sustainable and more secure future for the planet”

He is also in charge of the EU new Biodiversity strategy, including a circular economy action plan to promote the use of sustainable resources.

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Page 6 of 69

Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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