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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#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

#LARNE LOUGH - Larne Council has looked into the concerns of local residents over a proposed £250 million (€300 million) natural gas plant at Larne Lough, the Larne Times reports.

Islandmagee Storage Limited (IMSL) has applied for planning permission for a 500 million cubic metre natural gas storage facility in Permian salt beds almost a mile beneath the lough, which is claimed would satisfy the North's peak demand for gas for over 60 days.

But locals have spoken out with their fears over noise levels, health and safety, pollution and the potential effect on tourism in the area.

Larne Council’s environmental health department carried out its own research into the proposed facility, taking these concerns into consideration.

It found that there was "no huge issue in terms of noise levels" where similar facilities are established throughout the UK and that the effect on tourism would be negligable.

However the department was “not yet happy” with data supplied by IMSL regarding noise levels and would be seeking more detailed information.

The Larne Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINAS - Sandy Bay is the only "realistic" location for the development of a new marina in the Larne area, according to a local council majority.

The Larne Times reports that a feasibility study of the borough, looking into the potential for marina facilities and watersports, identified a number of possible sites, including Curran Point and Howden's Quay, and an extension of the marina at Glenarm.

But only Sandy Bay has had any consistent interest over the years, said Alderman Roy Beggs, who described it as "the only realistic possibility for marina facilities in this borough, which we should have had 30 years ago."

Mayor Councillor Bobby McKee added that many of the sites in the report were lacking in amenities.

“Glenarm has a marina, but there is nothing else in the village to attract boat owners," he said. "The same can be said for Magheramorne and Howden’s Quay – you can’t even get a cup of coffee in these places."

The Larne Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The UK's Wildlife Trusts have launched a new website in an effort to redress the idea that the Irish Sea is "a dirty, lifeless" place.

As BBC News reports, the trusts' Cheryl Nicholson put down the Irish Sea's poor image, saying "nothing could be further from the truth".

"Our sea is home to so many amazing species and habitats," she added, "but sadly, after centuries of neglect, it is not in a good state. We must act now to protect the Irish Sea from the depths through to the coastal shallows."

The new website is part of a campaign by wildlife trusts throughout northwest England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man to establish 15 Marine Conservation Zones recommended for the area.

The zones, if officially designated, would provide "a haven for wildlife to recover and thrive", said Nicholson.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans to establish such zones in the Irish Sea have been shelved till 2013 at the earliest after pressure from fishermen, boaters and other groups.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#ANGLING - Northern Ireland's taxpayers could be left with a bill for millions in EU fines if action isn't taken to reverse the decline of salmon stocks, the News Letter reports.

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann said he believes that voluntary measures to help protect the North's Altantic salmon will not remove the threat of "fines which would likely run into millions which [the people of NI] will end up paying".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, NI's Fisheries Minister Carál Ní Chuilín called on offshore anglers and commercial fishermen to forego applying for 2012 salmon licences.

Annual monitoring of the North's salmon rivers has shown a failure to reach targets most years since 2002, with the survival rate of salmon in the marine phases in some cases dropping to as little as 5%.

Coastal drift nets and bag nets off the north Antrim coast - which contravene EU directives - have been blamed for intercepting salmon stocks before they reach the rivers, and anglers and conservation groups have already called for a ban.

But Swann says that Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) does not yet have the legislative power to stop them.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#ANGLING - Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has called on anglers to help protect the North's wild salmon, following new research that shows a significant drop in their numbers.

Fisheries Minister Carál Ní Chuilín told BBC News: "The continued commercial exploitation of wild Atlantic salmon and killing of salmon caught by rod and line in the DCAL jurisdiction is currently untenable."

Annual monitoring of Northern Ireland's salmon rivers has shown a failure to reach targets most years since 2002. The survival rate of salmon in the marine phases has in some cases dropped to as little as 5%.

DCAL has now urged offshore salmon anglers and fishermen to forego applying for 2012 licences, to give time to consider options for the future of salmon fishing.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#FISHING - Proposals to close substantial areas of Strangford Lough to fishing vessels have been met with strong criticism by Northern Ireland's commercial fishermen.

In a recent letter to the News Letter, Paul Leenan writes asking Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill to clarify the government's position following a complaint to the European Commission by the Ulster Wildlife Trust regarding the protection of horse mussel reefs in the lough.

While recognising the importance of the lough's marine ecosystem, Leenan writes: "The notion that substantial areas of the lough could be closed to fishing vessels is of serious concern to fishermen, at a time of great economic difficulty.

"Any hasty action could put livelihoods at risk and threaten the viability of the whole fishing industry here."

In response, the Ulster Wildlife Trust claims that "the management of certain aspects of the fauna and flora within the lough has caused... much concern over the past two decades."

Joe Furphy of the trust writes: "If we are to secure a truly sustainable future for the lough, its environment and diverse wildlife, upon which sustainable fisheries rely, then we need to ensure that adequate ‘non-disturbance zones’ are put in place."

Published in Fishing

#TITANIC - Prospective employees at the soon-to-be-opened Titanic visitor centre in Belfast will have to show the ‘T factor’ and give a performance on aspect of the doomed ship’s story, The Irish Times reports.

It’s hoped by bosses at Titanic Belfast that the three-minute scripted ‘interpretative presentation’ - based on one of the centre’s nine galleries - will indicate those candidates with the requisite passion and communications skills for one of the 70 “frontline” jobs up for grabs.

“The audition day will give prospective employees a chance to let their true personalities shine through,” said Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands.

Titanic Belfast will be one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland’s tourism industry when it opens in March, as well as one of the North’s largest recruiters.

Among its many attractions, it will also bost the region’s largest function suite for conference, weddings and other events, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Jobs

#FERRY NEWS - A cross-border project to develop ferry services for island and remote communities of the Irish and Scottish coastlines has received funding in the sixth round of the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF).

A grant of £450,000 (€540,000) has been allocated to procure the world's first ever hybrid RORO ferry for operation in Scotland, following the completion of the INTERREG funded Small Ferries Project.

The project - a cross-border partnership between Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and administrations in Ireland and Northern Ireland - produced common designs and procurement strategies for a fleet of small ferries which could be used to serve remote coastal communities.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, five Scottish coastal routes (and three Irish routes) were examined as part of the Small Ferries Project report published in September last year.

Arising from this, Scotland will see the next step in the project by hosting the world’s first hybrid RORO ferry, designed for use on short crossing routes around the Clyde esturary and Hebrides.

The EDRF funding will also be used to develop the corresponding shore infrastructure to enable the ferry to recharge in port.

The first vessel is expected to enter service in Spring 2013.

Published in Ferry

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Some 46 reports of stranded whales and dolphins in Northern Ireland are among the thousands recorded across the UK over the last six years, according to BBC News.

A new study co-ordinated by the Zoological Socoety of London (ZSL) shows that some 3,500 cetaceans were stranded on the British coastline between 2005 and 2010.

Though year-on-year figures have fallen overall, is presumed that many more strandings have gone undetected.

Many were found to have died of disease or starvation – particular harbour dolphins.

But human activity such as fishing, shipping and chemical pollution also poses a significant threat to marine wildlife in the waters around the British Isles, said Rob Deaville of the ZSL.

The public is being encouraged to report stranded marine mammals to help create a more accurate picture.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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