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Displaying items by tag: Loughs Agency

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Science

The Loughs Agency has organised two morning seminars around the theme of maritime heritage in the Foyle and Carlingford areas later this month.

The first will take place at Greencastle Golf Club next Friday 22 November from 9.30am to 12.30pm, while Carlingford Marina will host its seminar the following Friday 29 November at the same times.

Both events will include contributions from Patrick Fitzgerald, a professional historian with a long career in researching genealogy and uncovering the story of migration through the centuries, who will take attendees on a journey of migration through the Foyle and Carlingford loughs.

The Greencastle seminar will also hear from Gerald Crawford, former secretary of the Foyle Fisheries Commission, who will tell the story of commercial salmon fishing across two decades Fishing for Salmon in the Foyle.

Retired mariner Seamus Bovaird will be presenting on paddle steamers on Lough Foyle, while Edward Montgomery, secretary of The Honourable The Irish Society, will speak about the society and the Foyle fisheries, and Wes Forsythe, a career archaeologist with an interest in the Foyle area, will presenting on ;Salt and the Sea;.

In Carlingford, Brendan McSherry, Louth County Council’s heritage officer with a passionate awareness of Carlingford Lough, its shores, hinterland and communities, will present on Carlingford Lough, a barrier or a highway?

Kirstin Lemon, geologist by profession with a broader intent to inform communities about their geology and the influence on their culture, will speak about ‘Mountains, Myths and Maritime: a UNESCO Global Geopark in Mourne Gullion Strangford’.

Finally, Liam Campbell, a researcher with an intense interest in exploring the development of cultures within distinct catchments, will present on the ‘Culture of the Catchment – Source to Sea’.

Admission is free free of charge for both events, however tickets must be obtained through Eventbrite to ensure a place at the Foyle and Carlingford seminars respectively.

In other heritage news, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has published its report on the public and sectoral meetings held earlier this year on Heritage Ireland 2030, Ireland’s national heritage plan.

Among the issues raised at the sessions in Kilkenny and Galway in February were a lack of joined-up thinking across Government departments with relation to heritage issues, and a recognition of the need to understand heritage in a holistic sense encompassing everything from regional traditions to built heritage and wildlife.

Earlier this month, 19 young people graduated on the Loughs Agency’s Carlingford Ambassador Programme, an expansion of its successful Foyle Ambassadors scheme.

Supported through funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ireland, in partnership with Co-operation Ireland, the Carlingford Ambassadors programme is designed to discover the social, economic and environmental importance of the Carlingford Lough catchment, from source to sea.

At the same time, it provides young people with opportunities to engage and build relationships across the region and political divide.

This was done through a range of adventure activities such as fishing and canoeing and as well as environmental projects including clean-ups, shore surveys and personal development sessions.

Shanna Rice, co-ordinator of the programme at the Loughs Agency, said: “During the summer these 19 young people truly became ambassadors of Carlingford, recognising its importance as a natural resource.

“Ambassadors not only built lasting connections with the catchment, they also developed lasting friendships with each other. The experiences they have gained will provide them with skills for life through fun, friendship and adventure.”

Loughs Agency designated officer Sharon McMahon added: “The Ambassadors programme encourages young people to get involved in the conservation and protection of the natural environment, and as the decision makers of the future and future custodians of the natural environment, it is extremely important that they understand the issues effecting this valuable resource today.

“The programme encourages young people to look after their communities, their relationships with their fellow citizens and the natural environment. It provides opportunities for them to enjoy and understand the recreational facility that the great outdoors provides, so that future generations may also enjoy it.

“And just maybe, due to the intervention of young people such as the Foyle Ambassadors, we can make a lasting difference on this wonderful resource to help make it better, more resilient and sustainable.”

Since 2014, nearly 200 young people between the ages of 13 and 17 have participated in this programme in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. And the Loughs Agency says it is keen to continue delivering the programme .

Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, said its involvement in the programme “is a great source of pride for the organisation and we were delighted to be able to support its expansion in 2019 into Carlingford Lough”.

He continued: “I am confident the success we have seen with the Foyle Ambassadors programme over the last five years will be repeated in Carlingford Lough and look forward to continuing our partnership with the Loughs Agency.”

The Ambassador programme has the potential to reach many more young people throughout the Foyle and Carlingford areas, the Loughs Agency says. If you are interested in the programme, register your interest via email to [email protected]

Published in Coastal Notes

Collective work between scientists and the angling community for the survival of salmon in the cross-border catchments of Foyle and Carlingford was to the fore at the recent conference in Omagh hosted by the Loughs Agency.

Stark warnings over the decline of the species were heard along with presentations from the likes of Dr Diego Del Villar, who discussed the new SeaMonitor project that is currently studying the seas around Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland, and will in time help produce a salmon management plan for the River Foyle.

The Loughs Agency says it will soon launch a public consultation to gauge the views of the public in managing the salmon fishery.

John McCartney, Loughs Agency director of conservation and protection, said: “We value the input and opinion of the public when reviewing our salmon management programme. I would encourage everyone take time to consider and respond to the questions.”

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency is teaming up with the Foyle Association of Salmon and Trout Anglers (FASTA) to host an evening salmon conference in Omagh, Co Tyrone next month.

Our Foyle Salmon – The Upstream Battle at the Mellon Country Inn from 7pm on Wednesday 25 September will hear from speakers on a range of issues including the status of salmon in the River Foyle, current research, threats and steps that can be taken to sustain and protect the species.

This is a fully ticketed event; tickets are free and available through Eventbrite with a maximum of two tickets per transaction.

When registering for tickets you can also submit a question to the panel for the Q&A session at the conference.

Published in Angling

The Loughs Agency has teamed up with police on both sides of the border and a local wildlife group in a joint initiative to tackle fish poaching in Co Tyrone, as Independent.ie reports.

‘Operation Silver Fin’ will take on the scourge of wildlife crime in the area, with a focus on enforcing existing fishing regulations to protect an important angling resource.

Fish poaching, which uses long lines and nets, is only permitted in certain areas — while anyone angling requires a licence and must follow strict rules around where, when and how they fish.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#TallShips- An opportunity for local young people of all backgrounds and abilities are being offered the chance of a lifetime to take part in a sea voyage between Derry-Londonderry and Belfast as part of the Foyle Maritime Festival 2018.

The inaugural voyages will see 10 young people from the North West take part in the Foyle Sail Training Programme in July 2018 alongside 10 young people from Belfast under the guidance of Sail Training Ireland, which has been organising and co-ordinating sail training voyages since its foundation in 2011.

Voyage One, which is open to 15 – 17 year olds, will arrive in Derry on Saturday, July 21st and Voyage Two, with a crew of 18 – 30 year olds, will depart the following day, Sunday, July 22nd, to make the return journey to Belfast. Each voyage aboard the vessel ‘Brian Boru’ lasts for six days and will equip participants with life changing skills.

The project is supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Loughs Agency.

Eileen McGrinder, Project Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for any young person who is thinking of applying, this voyage is an ideal way to step outside your comfort zone, learn new skills, build confidence and make new friends alongside having a great time on the voyage”.

Kevin Wilson, Director of Development, Loughs Agency, said: “The voyage will bring sailing to life for the 20 lucky participants. It will be a challenge, but the experience will create friendships and unforgettable memories. Sailing in the Foyle is accessible for all ages and abilities through local clubs and activity providers on both sides of the border. This is a wonderful opportunity to take the plunge and try something new.”

Sail Training Ireland (STIRL) is incorporated as a not-for-profit limited company in Ireland and has charitable status (CHY20067). It is recognised by Sail Training International as the representative body for Sail Training activities in Ireland.

Foyle Maritime Festival runs from Saturday, July 14th until Sunday, July 22nd when the Clipper 2017-18 Race yachts will be moored at the marina. There will be an array of water-based activities on offer as well as food and craft markets and showcase events. For a full programme, go to: www.foylemaritime.com

The deadline for applications to Foyle Sail Training Programme is Friday, June 15th, 2018.

Applications can be made by individuals or by youth groups, community projects, scouts, and clubs that work with young people to nominate deserving candidates for funded berths.

To apply online, visit: www.sailtrainingireland.com or contact Sail Training Ireland on 00 353 1 816 8866 or at [email protected]

Published in Tall Ships

#Angling - Hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout escaped from a commercial fish farm in Co Tyrone last year, according to the Loughs Agency.

BBC News has details on the cross-border body’s report into the incident on the River Strule at Newtownstewart in August 2017, which estimates some 387,000 female rainbow trout entered the river system.

Despite concerns over potential widespread impact on the wild salmon and trout fishery in the area, it’s believed the majority are still concentrated in the lower Strule, lower Derg and upper Mourne.

Local anglers are asked to continue taking the farmed fish from these rivers and reporting their catches, particularly from important spawning grounds, as mass removal is not an option.

Published in Angling

#oysters – Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh T.D. and the North's Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA, jointly welcomed the decision by the Loughs Agency to re-open two of the six main oyster fishing beds in Lough Foyle which had been closed for the last number of weeks.

Minister McHugh said: "The decision to partially re-open the beds from 15 to 19 December 2014 will create potential opportunity to catch up to an additional 25 tonnes (up to a value of €125,000). I believe that the Agency has achieved a good balance between economic opportunity for local fishermen with a dividend for the local communities and the conservation imperative".

He added "I want to emphasise that sustainability and safeguarding this natural resource in Lough Foyle are the shared responsibilities of all stakeholders, including the licensed fishermen."

Minister O'Neill said: "Whilst I appreciate the importance of Management interventions to conserve and maintain oyster stocks, I am mindful of the impact that closure of the oyster beds has had on the livelihood of local oystermen particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

"Looking to the future, I am hopeful that there will be constructive engagement between the Agency and local fishermen on a range of issues that will safeguard the future of the Native Oyster Fishery on Lough Foyle.

Ministers had jointly raised the issue of the closure of the oyster beds at the North South Ministerial Council Aquaculture and Marine Sectoral Meeting in Armagh last Friday when they asked the Agency to review its decision to close the main oyster beds.

The Ministers pointed out the need to strike a balance between the socio-economic benefits for the Foyle Oyster Fishermen and the scientific evidence to support the long term sustainability of the Native Oyster Fishery on Lough Foyle.

Both Ministers thanked the Chairman, Chief Executive and the Loughs Agency staff for efforts in reaching this decision.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#InlandWaterways - Minister Fergus O'Dowd today (3 May) helped launch a new pilot scheme by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) through which angling clubs and organisations can access funding to undertake sustainable development works in the Midland Fisheries Group permit area.

The Midland Fisheries Fund has an initial allocation of €50,000 which has been created from angler contributions set aside from the permit income received by IFI in the Midlands Fisheries Group area. The scheme, which is similar in design to the Salmon Conservation Fund, will allow for habitat improvement but importantly also includes angling development projects in Midlands waterways.

Successful applications will be provided with technical assistance to help them become reality and will foster links between the fishery owners, State agencies and land owners.

The application process itself, says IFI, "will instill confidence in project promoters who are often apprehensive due to the complicated nature of forms and permissions".

The scheme is exclusive to the Midland Fisheries Group area and is only open to clubs in that area.

Minister O'Dowd said at the launch: "This fund reaffirms IFI’s objective to facilitate stakeholders to undertake sustainable development works. These works will enhance and improve fisheries habitats and angling tourism potential and the contribution the inland fisheries resource makes to the economy."

The minister - who is currently undertaking a public consultation around the country in relation to the review of fisheries legislation - said he was encouraged by the angling stakeholders' enthusiasm, knowledge and interest in protecting, managing and developing the resource.

"This scheme encapsulates the partnership approach between IFI and its stakeholders, ensuring projects are environmentally sustainable, undertaken with the appropriate permissions and guidance and developed by local angling clubs for the benefit of locals and tourists alike," he said.

An information evening on the Midland Fisheries Fund will take place in Lough Owel Angling Centre on 14 May at 6.30pm.

Application forms for the fund are available online HERE. The closing date for receipt of application forms is 15 June 2013.

Meanwhile, the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) has backed an initiative for the Loughs Agency to support the Carlingford Oyster Festival this August.

The Aquaculture and Marine sectoral meeting held in Carlingford this morning was attended by Minister for Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, NI Minister for Rural Development Michelle O’Neill, Minister Fergus O’Dowd and NI Minister Nelson McCausland, who were all keen to endorse the proposals of the Loughs Agency to support the festival.

Taking place from 8-11 August, the festival has been developed by the Carlingford Cooley Tourism Association as a family-oriented event that showcases locally produced oysters and seafood. The agency will work in partnership with the local festival organisers on the annual event which attracts large numbers of visitors to the Carlingford area.

Minister O'Dowd said the festival “offers a real opportunity to showcase local produce and bring an international focus on Carlingford Lough as a production area of distinction for excellence seafood."

The ministers were also keen to emphasise that the tourism and visitor potential of the lough area should also benefit from a strong and vibrant oyster festival featuring as an attractive occasion on tourism and event calendars across the island and internationally.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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