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The harmless-looking goldfish is so voracious that attempting to save its life by releasing it into the wild could be “catastrophic” for native biodiversity, a new study suggests.

A study by Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) scientists assessed the ecological impact of the pet fish if released into the wild by comparing it to the white cloud mountain minnow.

The goldfish and white cloud mountain minnow are the two most commonly traded fish species in Northern Ireland.

The goldfish has established non-native populations around the world since it was “domesticated” a thousand years ago.

By contrast, the white cloud mountain minnow has a limited invasion history to date, the QUB researchers point out.

This study published in NeoBiota – a website for the European Group on Biological Invasions - showed goldfish to be “voracious, consuming much more than the white cloud mountain minnow or native species”.

“In terms of behaviour patterns, goldfish were also found to be much braver, a trait linked with invasive spread,” the study says.

Lead author Dr James Dickey from the QUB School of Biological Sciences said the research “suggests that goldfish pose a triple threat”.

“Not only are they readily available, but they combine insatiable appetites with bold behaviour,” he said.

“While northern European climates are often a barrier to non-native species surviving in the wild, goldfish are known to be tolerant to such conditions, and could pose a real threat to native biodiversity in rivers and lakes, eating up the resources that other species depend on,” he said.

“Our research highlights that goldfish are high risk, but we hope that the methods developed here can be used to assess others in the pet trade across Ireland and further afield,” Dr Dickey said.

“Readily available species are most likely to be released, so limiting the availability of potentially impactful ones - alongside better education of pet owners - is a solution to preventing damaging invaders establishing in the future,” he said.

The QUB research was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)

The findings were presented at the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species in Oostende, Belgium along with a range of other leading research from QUB on alien species.

Published in Marine Science

Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award

This unique and informal competition was inaugurated in 1979, with Mitsubishi Motors becoming main sponsors in 1986. The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs. 

In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international level, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training.

The successful staging of events, whether local, national or international, is also a factor in making the assessment, and the adjudicators place particular emphasis on the level of effective voluntary input which the membership is ready and willing to give in support of their club's activities.

The importance of a dynamic and fruitful interaction with the local community is emphasised, and also with the relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level. The adjudicators expect to find a genuine sense of continuity in club life and administration. Thus although the award is held in a specific year in celebration of achievements in the previous year, it is intended that it should reflect an ongoing story of success and well-planned programmes for future implementation. 

Over the years, the adjudication system has been continually refined in order to be able to make realistic comparisons between clubs of varying types and size. With the competition's expansion to include class associations and specialist national watersports bodies, the "Club of the Year" competition continues to keep pace with developing trends, while at the same time reflecting the fact that Ireland's leading sailing clubs are themselves national and global pace-setters

Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award FAQs

The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs.

A ship's wheel engraved with the names of all the past winners.

The Sailing Club of the Year competition began in 1979.

PR consultant Sean O’Shea (a member of Clontarf Y & BC) had the idea of a trophy which would somehow honour the ordinary sailing club members, volunteers and sailing participants, who may not have personally won prizes, to feel a sense of identity and reward and special pride in their club. Initially some sort of direct inter-club contest was envisaged, but sailing journalist W M Nixon suggested that a way could be found for the comparative evaluation of the achievements and quality of clubs despite their significant differences in size and style.

The award recognises local, national & international sailing success by the winning club's members in both racing and cruising, the completion of a varied and useful sailing and social programme at the club, the fulfilling by the club of its significant and socially-aware role in the community, and the evidence of a genuine feeling among all members that the club meets their individual needs afloat and ashore.

The first club of the Year winner in 1979 was Wicklow Sailing Club.

Royal Cork Yacht Club has won the award most, seven times in all in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2015 & 2020.

The National YC has won six times, in 1981, 1985, 1993, 1996, 2012 & 2018.

Howth Yacht Club has won five times, in 1982, 1986, 1995, 2009 & 2019

Ireland is loosely divided into regions with the obviously high-achieving clubs from each area recommended through an informal nationwide panel of local sailors going into a long-list, which is then whittled down to a short-list of between three and eight clubs.

The final short-list is evaluated by an anonymous team based on experienced sailors, sailing journalists and sponsors’ representatives

From 1979 to 2020 the Sailing Club of the Year Award winners are:

  • 1979 Wicklow SC
  • 1980 Malahide YC
  • 1981 National YC
  • 1982 Howth YC
  • 1983 Royal St George YC
  • 1984 Dundalk SC
  • 1985 National YC (Sponsorship by Mitsubishi Motors began in 1985-86)
  • 1986 Howth YC
  • 1987 Royal Cork YC
  • 1988 Dublin University SC
  • 1989 Irish Cruising. Club
  • 1990 Glenans Irish SC
  • 1991 Galway Bay SC
  • 1992 Royal Cork YC
  • 1993 National YC & Cumann Badoiri Naomh Bhreannain (Dingle) (after 1993, year indicated is one in which trophy is held)
  • 1995 Howth Yacht Club
  • 1996 National Yacht Club
  • 1997 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 1998 Kinsale Yacht Club
  • 1999 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club
  • 2000 Royal Cork Yacht Club (in 2000, competition extended to include class associations and specialist organisations)
  • 2001 Howth Sailing Club Seventeen Footer Association
  • 2002 Galway Bay Sailing Club
  • 2003 Coiste an Asgard
  • 2004 Royal St George Yacht Club
  • 2005 Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • 2006 Royal Cork Yacht Club (Water Club of the Harbour of Cork)
  • 2007 Dublin Bay Sailing Club
  • 2008 Lough Ree YC & Shannon One Design Assoc.
  • 2009 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2010 Royal St George YC
  • 2011 Irish Cruiser Racing Association
  • 2012 National Yacht Club
  • 2013 Royal St George YC
  • 2014 Kinsale YC
  • 2015 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2016 Royal Irish Yacht Club
  • 2017 Wicklow Sailing Club
  • 2018 National Yacht Club
  • 2019 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2020 Royal Cork Yacht Club

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