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The new Government's plans to merge marine responsibilities into a single department has received a guarded welcome from Ireland's maritime bodies.
In today's Irish Times, the Irish Marine Federation is quoted as saying a "single maritime authority is essential for an island people".
Federation of Irish Fishermen chairman Seán O'Donoghue also welcomes the merger plans, but not if it becomes a subset of a larger department.
Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators' Association, which represents oil and gas companies, said the splitting-up of the Department of Marine in 2002 was a "disaster".
He welcomed the new programme's promise to promote offshore drilling and "streamline" the regulatory process for developing mineral resources.

The new Government's plans to merge marine responsibilities into a single department has received a guarded welcome from Ireland's marine trade bodies.

In today's Irish Times, the Irish Marine Federation is quoted as saying a "single maritime authority is essential for an island people".

Federation of Irish Fishermen chairman Seán O'Donoghue also welcomed the merger plans, but not if it becomes a subset of a larger department.

Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators' Association, which represents oil and gas companies, said the splitting-up of the Department of Marine in 2002 was a "disaster". 

He welcomed the new programme's promise to promote offshore drilling and "streamline" the regulatory process for developing mineral resources.

Published in Marine Federation

In one of her last official functions as Minister for Sport, outgoing local TD Mary Hanafin attended the Irish Sailing Association's annual Ball last Saturday in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.

Attended by 315 people the black tie ball featured an awards ceremony that has been hailed  'a great success' by the association.

On Saturday afternoon the association elected a new President, Niamh McCutcheon, the first female ISA President since the organisation was founded in 1945.

A collection in aid of the RNLI raised over €2,250.

Award details below:

ISA Sailing Achievement of the Year
This award is presented by the ISA to recognise the outstanding achievement in a sailing craft by an Irish person or in Ireland during 2010.
Winner: Nicholas 'Nin' O'Leary, Royal Cork Yacht Club
Nicholas' achievements included narrowly beating his father Anthony at the ISA All Ireland Championships in 2010 by just a single point after a nail-biting finale in difficult conditions off Kinsale in November. The win made it three-in-a-row for this remarkable young 24 year old sailor - the only person to achieve this in the 64 years of the event's history.

ISA Volunteer of the Year
This award is given to a member of an ISA affiliated club or class who has made a significant voluntary contribution to their sport during 2010.
Winner: Brian Craig, Royal St. George Yacht Club.
Brian has been nominated by the Royal St. George Yacht Club for the vital role he has played in developing sailing in Ireland and specifically Dun Laoghaire over the past 40 years. His most recent success was winning the bid for Dun Laoghaire to host the 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds.

ISA Youth Sailor of the Year
This award is presented by the ISA to recognise the outstanding achievement by a sailor competing in ISA Performance Pathway boats during 2010.
Winner: Finn Lynch, Blessington Sailing Club
Placing 2nd overall at the Topper World Championships in 2010 left the Carlow sailor in good stead for a Youth Sailor nomination. A determined sailor and strong character, it's clear that with these strengths Finn has the potential to go far in our sport.

ISA Instructor of the Year
This award recognises the role instructors have in providing access to our sports. The final 5 have been nominated by their students with the ultimate winner selected by an ISA judging panel.
Winner: Aine Carroll, Rush Sailing Club
Aine has been an ISA instructor for the last 11 years, instructing both adult and junior sailors in Rush Sailing Club. A keen Mermaid sailor, her love of sailing, her enthusiasm for the sport and willingness to give her time to her sailors have been infectious and remarkable. Apparently the kids at the club think she is a 'legend' and 'cool'!

ISA Training Centre of the Year
The face of ISA water sports to thousands of participants. The best in 2010 as nominated by their students.
Winner: University of Limerick Activity Centre
Situated on the sheltered shores of Lough Derg, University of Limerick Activity Centre has been in operation for over a decade. ULAC provides a varied programme of adventure activities to the general public. The University of Limerick Activity Centre runs ISA courses in sailing dinghies, windsurfers, powerboat as well as emergency care training courses.

Published in ISA

It maybe the second last item on the programme for government issued by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore yesterday but the indications are good that the marine sector will see a reinstated Department of the Marine. the Fine Gael and Labour coalition say 'marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery'. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Coastal communities, fisheries & marine environment

We will negotiate the best possible deal for fishermen in the review of the Common Fisheries Policy.

We will support the development of sustainable aquaculture and fish farms by streamlining the licensing process and reducing associated bureaucracy.

Marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery. We will develop an integrated marine and coastal planning process in order to maximise the potential of Ireland's coastline in fishing, aquaculture, ocean energy and tourism.

A Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment, based on consultation with all major stakeholders, will be brought before the Dáil annually before EU fisheries negotiations commence.

We will replace criminal sanctions system for minor fisheries offences with administrative sanction system to bring Ireland into line with other European jurisdictions. Safety at sea and decent working conditions must underpin the development of the fisheries sector. We will explore the provision of an emergency towing vessel for the Coastguard.

Published in News Update
As I write this week's blog there is still no definite word emanating from the closed cloisters inhabited at present by the leading negotiating lights of Fine Gael and the Labour Party on the future governing of this island nation. It is unlikely that the future of the marine sphere is foremost in the minds of the negotiators and I wonder what will be the priority attached to the marine when the new Government is announced.

Fine Gael can, logically from the support which the party garnered in the General Election, be expected to dominate a Coalition Government. In that context, the question arises as to whether they will deliver on their pre-election manifesto commitment to re-establish the Department of the Marine?

The promise to do so was unequivocal, a clear undertaking that the situation created by the former Fianna Fail and Green Party Coalition which had decimated maritime issues by spreading them over several Departments of State, would be changed and all would be contained in one Department.

In the event of a Coalition being formed will we hear that "circumstances" have changed and adjustments must be made in the context of Coalition arrangements?

I had the opportunity to question Joan Burton of the Labour Party, one of the party negotiators, prior to the election at an event organised by the European Association of Journalists. She accepted that politicians had not paid enough attention to the marine sphere and said that this attitude should be changed and accepted that the nation could benefit economically as a result.

I hope that I am not being overly cynical towards politicians, born of long years of journalistic experience, in fearing that pre-election promises may be subjected to change.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
Strong Southerly winds were again a feature of the continuing ASM-Marine Frostbite League at Kinsale Yacht Club on Sunday. Photos HERE. Due to a building force 6 breeze prior to the start and in order to moderate its influence, the Race Committee lead by PRO Bruce Mathews decided on a windward-leeward course to the north of Money Point. With the headland offering some respite to the right-hand side of the course; the opposite hand exposed to the mainly Southerly sweeping in from the mouth of Kinsale Harbour against the ebbing tide.

With the Laser Fleets not launching until the last minute, they however mistimed the 11.55 First Gun. After a short postponement, the Squib Class who had been reveling in the pre-start conditions was the first fleet to compete. The strong winds persisted throughout the first race with each squall prompting a flurry of capsizing Lasers as one Squib got into difficulties against the lee shore at Jarley's Cove. As the winds moderated to a force five, with the slackening tide and a calmer sea the remaining two races enjoyed easier if still challenging conditions. The decision to combine the three Laser fleets into one start, and the Squibs with the Mixed Dinghies led to the better management of the last two races given the conditions.

The previously unassailable form of Marcus Hutchinson (KYC) helming 'Sensation', was put under greater pressure in the Squib Fleet, with Victor Fusco and crew James Bendon (KYC) on Gemini notably claiming a first place in the second race. However with his crew Ben Fusco, Marcus took line honours in the other two races bringing his total of wins to five out of a possible six; as two discards now apply. Realistically, with next Sunday being the final day of racing and with eight points behind the leader, Gemini will be hoping to secure the second place overall. With a second in the first race adding to his overall score, he is now just two points ahead of the consistent Colm Dunne and Mark Buckley (KYC) who have moved up a place aided by an excellent second in the third race. Having an unsuccessful day due to a sixth in the first race and not completing the last two, Paul McCarthy (KYC) in Mack drops two places to a fourth overall. On only one point adrift he is still very much in contention for a top three placing.

In the Laser Standard Class Rob Howe (RCYC), though obviously comfortable in the strong breeze, did not quite repeat last week's clean sweep of wins. Nevertheless, with one second and two firsts he retains his overall position in the fleet on seven points overall. David Kenefick (RCYC) took advantage by winning the first race, and his subsequent two seconds puts him on just two points behind the leader going into the final day next Sunday. Having now discarded his worst two scores due to missing the first race day, Paul O' Sullivan (RCYC) continued his consistent form with a further three thirds, and is now in third place overall.
Eoin Keller (LDYC), the previous clear leader in the Laser Radial Class and unable to compete this week, slips dramatically from a total of four points to fifteen points and into second place overall. Eoghan Cudmore (KYC) with a splendid second and two wins on Sunday leaps from third into first place overall. Sean Murphy (KYC) who scored a third and two seconds positions himself just one point behind Keller. With very little between the top three, it will take the remaining races to decide final outcome.
Due to other sailing commitments for the young Laser 4.7 fleet, there has been much changing in the league position over the past few weeks; apart from Cian Byrne (KYC/RCYC) who has resolutely held onto the top position from day one. A close and exciting tussle has finally emerged between Cian and Dara O'Shea (KYC), who despite being on the wrong side of a protest decision in the first race, recovered well to gain a subsequent second and first. He has given himself a chance being well positioned just three points behind overall. Conor Murphy (KYC) with an excellent day's achievement of a first and two seconds has shot up the league table into third place overall.
Brian Jones and Gary Frost (MBSC) in their 505 continued unchallenged with a further three bullets in the Mixed Dinghy Class, with the Fevas of David Marshall/Rob Scandrett and Fiona Lynch/Sofie Kelleher in second and third overall.
The ASM Frostbite League at KYC will be completed next Sunday, 27th February 2011. First Gun is at 11.55 a.m.

Published in Kinsale
Spectacular photographs taken from the shore by Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain during Clifden RNLI's special surf training recently on Dunloughan beach show the type of conditions that volunteer lifeboat crew train in for the life-saving charity. The shots capture the inshore lifeboat crewmembers climbing a wave and exercising in some choppy conditions.

John organised the training in response to the increased popularity of the area with surfers.  RNLI Divisional Assessor Trainer Helena Duggan travelled to the lifeboat station to put 18 volunteer lifeboat crew through their paces and train them in handling the lifeboat in surf and responding to potential callouts from leisure marine enthusiasts.

Training is a core part of volunteering with the RNLI and each crewmember in Clifden trains once a fortnight on the stations two inshore lifeboats.

Commenting on the exercise John said, "I took my camera down to photograph the exercise and was really pleased with the results.  It is great to be able to show the public what our lifeboat volunteers go through to ensure they are fit and trained to go to sea. We had a fantastic turnout on the day and the lifeboat crew learned about boat handling in surf conditions. We are delighted so many people are visiting the area for leisure marine activities."

clifden_d_class_1

clifden_d_class_2

clifden_d_class_3

Photos by John Brittain/Clifden RNLI show Clifden volunteer lifeboat crew with RNLI Training assessor Helena Duggan during surf training on Dunloughan beach, Ballyconeely

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Marine Warnings

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Boat owners are being warned of of the lasting consequences of the winter's big freeze and the possible damage to boats on launching this season.

At the most recent meeting of the Irish Branch of the International Institute for Marine Surveying members highlighted a real danger of some boats sinking shortly after being launched due to cracked pipe work on intakes and discharges where fresh water was not drained from cooling and other systems.

Owners and Boat yard employees are reminded to check carefully all pipe work prior to launching boats and immediately when the boat enters the water. Check that all valves are operating correctly. Complete a full check for leaks and monitor the bilge water during the first few hours when the boat has been re-launched.

Engine blocks should also be checked for frost damage prior to staring them. Do not start them if you see fractures, have the engine checked by a marine mechanic if in any doubt whatsoever. Batteries may also be dead and need of replacement due to the severe weather experienced over the Winter months.

 

Published in Marine Warning

I am reflecting this week on a varied list of maritime issues which have arisen in my writings on marine topics.

Following recent pieces I wrote about the attitude of political parties in the General Election towards the marine sector, I had a telephone call from a senior Fine Gael politician and, lo and behold, the party included the marine sector in its manifesto, pledging to restore the Department of the Marine, abolished by Fianna Fail. I await post-election developments with interest.

It has been a good week for those interested in protection of whales and dolphins. Hundreds of dolphins were spotted off the Old Head of Kinsale, apparently following shoals of herring and sprat on which they were feeding.

In the Antarctic the Japanese whaling fleet was forced to give in to pressure to stop culling. The Japanese have killed hundreds of whales every year, claiming this was for "scientific purposes," even though it has been identified worldwide as for human consumption. The fleet was ordered home by its Government after increasing international pressure.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group published its annual report this week. It was formed in December 1990, dedicated to the "conservation and better understanding" of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoise - in Irish waters through "study, education and interpretation." IWDG turnover in 2010 was around €300,000. It has dealt with up to 10,000 queries a month for information on its website. A total of 92 strandings of 128 individual cetaceans was reported to the IWDG in 2010. This compares to 137 strandings of 169 animals for 2009.

This week oil prices rose because of the unrest in Libya and David Surplus, Chairman of B9 Energy Britain's largest windfarm operator, warned that sooner or later oil will run out. BP is examining the possibility of building a fleet of carbon-neutral, wind-powered sail ships planned, to carry world trade.

On the international sailing scene the new AC 45, forerunner of the next generation of America's Cup boats was launched in New Zealand and had its first capsize. The wing-sailed catamaran is designed for speed and close racing, capable of making up to 30 knots, while intended to be handled in tight, tactical courses. An exciting boat to sail, it will also be very testing of ability. The first capsize of the new boat occurred on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, hit by what was described as "a freak gust of wind," while the crew were doing maintenance on board before a sailing test.

FIRST_CAPSIZE_OF_ADMIRALS_CUP_45

Back in dock after the capsize

It capsized fully, ending upside down. Three support vessels were needed to pick up the crew and right the boat which was sailed back to its base in Auckland. There was damage to the wing sail, but no injuries to the crew. However, helmets may be an additional precaution needed for sailing these boats, which are to be used in the AC World Series! This will be a circuit of eight regattas for which venue bids are being made at present, with fleet and match racing, to raise the profile of high-performance sailing on worldwide television. Racing is to start in July, with regattas running until May of next year, leading into preparations for the next full AC series in the bigger AC72 catamarans in 2013 in San Francisco.

As the past week showed, there is always something interesting in the sea.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

With boat sales falling by as much as 80%, marina business down 20%, retail sales in chandlery down up to 38%, insurance down 12.5% the marine industry in Ireland and Wales had to take some action to ensure the marine trade and leisure industry survives.

An unusual industry conference took place in Dun Laoghaire today and yesterday with the objective of understanding where the industry is right now and how it needs to act to ensure that it survives the downturn in our economies.

Over 125 marine businesses from both sides of the Irish Sea will be attending in what will be the largest marine leisure Industry gathering ever brought together.

A joint address was given by the Executive Director of the British Marine Federation, Howard Pridding and David O'Brien the Chairman of the Irish Marine Federation set the scene as to where the industry is on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The conference heard from 3 companies who operate in the sector. One from each region, North Wales, South Wales and Ireland who will share with the conference their experiences in the current economic climate on how they are surviving and thriving in the downturn. Business tactics that need to be deployed were explored with a leading business and innovation specialist from Wales together with joint talks by Visit Wales and Failte Ireland on the development of marine leisure tourism.

Leading economist Jim Power delivered a talk on the economic situation and when we might begin to see some consumer confidence return to our markets.

The Pembroke Coastal Forum told how they have managed their coastline and environment and how they have facilitated marine leisure tourism through proper marine spatial planning.

The conference is being organised by irish-sea.org and Ireland/Wales Interreg IV A Programme funded by the European Region Development Fund.

Irish-sea.org has three partners, North Wales Watersports, South West Wales Marine Federation and the Irish Marine Federation.

Published in Marine Federation

Over 120 marine trade and leisure companies from Ireland and Wales are coming together in Dun Laoghaire this week to examine ways to combat the current economic downturn on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Speakers at the conference at the Royal Marine Hotel are drawn from Industry representative organisations, tourism bodies, marine leisure companies, business development specialists, economists and irish-sea.org will provide insights and share knowledge on how to survive the downturn and emerge leaner and stronger when the recovery arrives.

The conference will also provide an industry wide networking opportunity for companies from Ireland and Wales to share experiences and develop business links across the Irish Sea.

Irish-sea.org is an Ireland/Wales Interreg IVA Programme to develop the Irish Sea into a marine leisure centre of excellence.

The programme provides help and support to the sector on both sides of the Irish Sea through marketing, business and vocational training and assisting in the acquisition of research data.

Published in Marine Federation
Page 6 of 8

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