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Displaying items by tag: UK

#MarineWildlife - Via the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) comes news that the European Commission (EC) is asking the United Kingdom to designate protected areas for the harbour porpoise.

The EU legislation on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Habitats Directive) requires member states to propose a list of protection sites for a number of species that are native to their territory, ensuring their protection from interventions which could seriously compromise their ecological character.

Despite a large number of harbour porpoise – a protected marine species in the Republic of Ireland – regularly found in its waters, the UK has, according to the EC, "so far proposed only one small site in Northern Ireland, exposing some of the identified sites to the risk of offshore wind farm development."

The EC adds that it has "repeatedly urged the UK to fulfil its key obligations for this species, but no further designations of sites have been proposed."

This current acton by the EC follows a letter of formal notice sent to the UK government in June 2013. If the UK fails to reply within two months, the commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#WaterSafety - There were a total of 381 drownings and water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes across the United Kingdom in 2013, according to a report published this week by Britain's National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

As in previous years, more than half of that number (227) were in inland waters, such as tidal and freshwater rivers, lakes and reservoirs, while fatalities at the sea, on the beach or shoreline accounted for nearly a third (115).

A further 22 deaths happened at harbours, docks, marinas and inland or coastal ports. Eight deaths occurred in the bath and six in swimming pools, while three happened in areas that are not normally watercourses such as marsh and flooded land.

The figures include deaths in water that resulted from natural causes such as a heart attack, drowning or other fatal injuries resulting from falls into water and those that occurred during the course of water-based activities.

The NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID) breaks down drownings and other water-related deaths by activity, age and location type. It reveals that in 2013 the five-year age group with the highest number of fatalities (31) was males aged between 20-24.

Meanwhile, 0-19s accounted for 12 per cent of deaths (46), of which more than half were teenagers aged 15 to 19 (27). In the youngest age bracket of four and under, 10 children drowned.

The peak summer months of July and August witnessed the most deaths, with 106 during this period.

The leading activities were people walking alongside water and falling in, swimming (predominantly in open water) and jumping into open water.

There were 260 deaths in England, 56 in Scotland, 41 in Wales and 11 in Northern Ireland. In England, the South West (53) and the South East (50) regions had the highest number of deaths.

NWSF deputy chair Jim Watson said: “Although the number of accidental drownings and water-related deaths has remained consistent in recent years, there should be no room for complacency, particularly as we enter the warmer summer months and more people are drawn to the water.

“We encourage people to enjoy the UK’s waters, but to make sure they understand the risks and come home safely.”

A full copy of the UK Water-Related Fatalities 2013 report can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet HERE.

The WAID was developed by NWSF members, including national partners the Canal and River Trust, the British Sub Aqua Club, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the RNLI, RoSPA and the Royal Life Saving Society; sports governing bodies; and regional and local organisations, including Cornwall Council. It was developed in partnership with the UK government's Department for Transport.

Published in Water Safety
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#InlandWaterways - Some of Britain's most famous inland waterways can now be followed on Google Street View thanks to the internet company's latest bit of kit.

The Canal & River Trust reports that it was the first organisation in the UK to take loan of Google's Trekker, a backpack device with a camera that captures images in all directions every 2.5 seconds wherever the wearer walks.

The Trekker allows Google's mapping team to reach areas that the Street View car and tricycle often cannot access, such as canal towpaths.

Now the fruits of labour by some 20 staff and volunteers of the Canal & River Trust can be seen online - such as Bingley's five locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Little Venice in London and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales.

Hopefully Ireland's own inland waterways won't be too far behind!

Published in Inland Waterways
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#LondonBoatShow - The UK's domestic boat sales market is heading back towards pre-recession levels, according to marine leisure industry body the British Marine Federation.

Releasing its latest data to coincide with last week's London Boat Show, the BMF points out that the marine sector is now in a "bullish mood" at home, thanks to the support of a strong export market.

A whopping 7.7% increase in overseas trade in 2012/13 - primarily to the continent and the United States - helped drive overall revenue up by 1.7% for the same period, for a total of almost £3 billion.

The BMF also cites strong demand for boats manufactured in the UK, and forecasts for builds and sales are up, with almost half of companies across the reporting better business.

Indeed, the federation's figures show that 48% of leisure marine businesses increased turnover between May and November last year.

BMF chief executive Howard Pridding said the federation is "confident that 2014 will welcome a new period of sustained growth for the sector" that has "exported its way back into growth".

Published in Marine Trade

#MarineWildlife - The British government has announced the creation of 27 new marine conservation zones (MCZs) after a long delay, as BBC News reports.

Last December it was decided that just 31 of the 127 potential sites for marine wildlife protection around the British coastline proposed by government advisors would be designated as MCZs - a decision welcomed by some coastal users but lambasted by conservation groups as displaying a "lack of ambition".

More recently, professional fishery managers expressed their disappointment with the reduction in scale - since reduced further by increased costs at four sites - and called for a "clear timetable" for expansion of the zones network.

Plans were delayed further earlier this year, with the situation blamed by Environment Minister Richard Beynon on budget cuts and the high cost of scientific assessment.

The news that 27 MCZs are now finally designated has been welcomed as a "significant milestone" by the Marine Conservation Society, which still warns that it falls short of the proposals recommended for an "ecologically coherent" network.

BBC News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#Diving - Divers across Britain and Northern Ireland are being called on to help the RNLI with research into participation and attitudes to safety in the sport by taking part in a new online survey.

The RNLI, in partnership with the British Diving Safety Group (BDSG), is asking divers and dive instructors in the UK to take 10 minutes to complete the online survey, which looks at their reasons for participating in diving, how often they take to the water, preferred methods and locations, experience and training, awareness of possible hazards and use of safety measures.



The findings will be used to help the RNLI and BDSG develop tailored and relevant safety messages for the diving community, to help make the sport even safer.

Last year alone, 314 diving incidents were reported to the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). 

The survey, being undertaken by Substance on behalf of the RNLI, launched on Tuesday 27 August and will run for nine weeks, during which time anyone who dives in the UK – no matter how often or what level of experience – is invited to take part.


To supplement the online survey, face-to-face surveys will be conducted at dive sites, charter boat launch and departure points, and at Dive 2013, the NEC Dive Show in October. In-depth interviews and focus groups will also be conducted. Divers wishing to take part in these are encouraged to contact Substance via the survey website.



RNLI coastal safety manager Nick Fecher, who is running the project, explained the reasoning behind the research.



"Diving is a hugely popular sport but accidents do happen. A total of 314 diving incidents were reported to BSAC last year and the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews have rescued 96 divers and saved 13 divers’ lives in the past five years," he said.

"By carrying out this research, we hope to understand more about how and why people dive, what they know about the risks and what safety measures they take. We’re hoping to hear from divers of all levels of experience, so we can then develop really targeted and relevant safety advice to help them enjoy their sport as safely as possible.



"Coastal safety is a key part of the RNLI’s remit of saving lives at sea – by offering important safety advice to people taking part in coastal activities like diving, we hope to prevent incidents from happening in the first place and, ultimately, save lives."

All who participate in the survey are offered the option of free entry into a prize draw, with the first prize of a DX dive computer, kindly donated by Suunto Diving UK, and a second prize of an Abyss 22 regulator, kindly donated by Mares. Winners will be chosen by Substance using a random number generator by 15 November.

Published in Diving
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Fears among conservation groups that the UK would enact just a quarter of the proposed Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in British waters have been realised with the news that just 31 out of a potential 127 sites will be designated as protected by the end of 2013.

The original proposals, as reported last year on Afloat.ie, cover the waters around the English and Welsh coastlines - of which only 1% is currently protected - recommending a variety of zones that offer different levels of protection for marine wildlife and plantlife, allowing flexibility for fishing and other activities.

A government decision on the conservation areas was already postponed in November last year after pressure from coastlines users.

But as the Guardian reports, Westminster has now been accused of a "lack of ambition" by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) over the announcement on Thursday 13 December, which the charity says flies in the face of the government's own advisers who have recommended a 'coherent network' of sites around Britain, including the immediate designation for 59 sites regarded as 'highly threatened'.

"We cannot delay protection," said Jean-Luc Solandt of MCS. "We wouldn't stand by and let wildflower meadows and ancient forests be dug up and cleared, and yet heavy fishing gear is dragged across all kinds of habitats, destroying large swaths of the seabed with very little control."

The World Wide Find for Nature (WWF) added to the chorus of disapproval, saying the decision by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) "falls woefully short of what is needed to protect the marine environment".

Ali Champion of WWF UK said: “It’s disappointing and shows a complete lack of commitment to the protection of our seas in a coherent way."

Of the four zones recommended for the Irish Sea area, only one - at Fylde Offshore, off Lancashire - has been chosen by Defra for protection. But as the Blackpool Gazette reports, local campaigners say they will vow to continue the fight to 'save our seas'.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Sailors, fishermen and SCUBA divers in England's West Country could face "tough new restrictions" if plans for conservation zones in the Irish Sea and around the UK coast go ahead.

According to This Is Cornwall, groups representing water users argue that marine protection plans "would have severe knock-on effects on those who rely on the south west's coastline for employment and leisure".

Alana Murphy of the Royal Yachting Association said: "A lot of the small inshore areas proposed as conservation zones coincide with estuaries and bays that are used by sailors for mooring, or for laying buoys for racing. We are concerned we could lose important sailing areas."

Companies involved in offshore renewable energy have voiced their concerns on the impact of marine reserved on their development, while the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations added that the scale of proposed fishing reserves was too great, and could potentially push commercial fishermen "to other areas which will then get overfished".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the UK's Wildlife Trusts have expressed dismay that plans to establish Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea and elsewhere have been shelved till at least next year after pressure from fishermen, boaters and other groups.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#NEWS UPDATE - British boat users are risking big fines if they sail their craft outside UK waters due to new laws on the use of red diesel, the Daily Telegraph reports.

New laws coming into force on 1 April "will require anyone moving into international waters to sign a declaration that their boat is not being powered by red diesel".

Red-dyed diesel is used by farmers and commercial fishermen throughout the UK at a lower rate of duty. It is also widely used by recreational boaters and yacht owners, as is green diesel by Irish pleasure boaters, though such users have been required to pay the full rate of tax for a number of years now.

However, the European Union is now clamping down on the use of dyed diesel.

The decision by Brussels is causing consternation among the yachting community, which argues that unmarked or 'white' diesel is not widely available in harbours and marinas.

And concerns remain over the presence of biofuels in white diesel which, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, can be harmful to marine engines.

The Daily Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#RESCUE - The Royal Navy search and rescue unit at HMS Gannet was the busiest in the UK last year, STV News reports.

The unit - based in Prestwick, near Glasgow - responded to nearly 300 call-outs and rescued 240 people in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland throughout 2011 with its fleet of Sea King helicopters.

The big numbers put HMS Gannet at the top of the UK's 12 search and rescue units for the fifth year running.

"Like all emergency services, we work under significant pressure and always aim to provide the best service we possibly can," said HMS Gannet's Lieutenant Commander Debdash Bhattacharya. "Frequently lives depend on it."

Since 2007 the unit has rescued 1,575 people from 1,865 call-outs in total. Last year's call-outs represented 17% of all call-outs from military bases in the UK.

STV News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
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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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