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Weekly Maritime News Round-Up

THIS ISLAND NATION
Weekly Maritime News and Comment Round-Up from Marine Correspondent, Tom MacSweeney
Dateline – April 14, 2014.
—————————–THIS WEEK: Possible disagreement about ports development, new lifeboat facilities in the Aran Island, toxic waste in Cork Harbour and more….. Read on ….

PORT DEVELOPMENTS
Port developments appear to be heading for a degree of controversy over the next few months. It seems that Shannon-Foynes Port Company intends to oppose the plan for a new port in Galway. Cork is about to lodge a planning application for development of the container port in the lower harbour at Ringaskiddy which was refused previously. Opposition appears possible from residents in the area, according to reports.

NEW ARAN ISLANDS LIFEBOAT FACILITIES
As the accompanying photographs show there is an impressive new 24-metre pontoon at the Aran Islands which will enable the all-weather Severn Class lifeboat there to be launched faster and provide overall better facilities for the crew and those assisted. The 56-tonne structure is situated in the harbour at Kilronan between the new breakwater and the original pier. It was transported to the island by ferry and manoeuvred into place for fit-out over a couple of weeks. It completes extensive investment by the RNLI on Inishmore which has also provided a new lifeboat station built on the site of the old one, giving the volunteer lifeboat crew better facilities including a crew changing area and training room. The Aran station has been in existence since 1927.

TOXIC WASTE ASSESSMENT AT HAULBOLWINE
The waste dump left behind after steel works ceased on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, where the Naval Service headquarters is also based, has been a contentious issue for many years. Residents of the harbour area, particularly in Cobh which is opposite the island, have been concerned about medical figures which indicate that there are higher levels of cancer in the area than anywhere else in the country. A contract has been signed for a detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment of the site which Minister for the Marine and local TD Simon Coveney said “moves the Haulbowline Island remediation project into a new phase”. Cork County Council is acting as agent of the Minister for the remediation of Haulbowline Island. The contract was awarded to ARUP who are to propose how the situation can be dealt with.

LOOP HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
Loop Head Lighthouse in West Clare will re-open to the public this Saturday. The historic lighthouse will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the end of September. Operated by Clare County Council it attracted 19,000 visitors during the six-month opening period last year, an increase of 2,000 on the same period in 2012.
The lighthouse has proven to be one of the tourism success stories for County Clare in recent years and has helped to strengthen the profile, both nationally and internationally, of the wider Loop Head Peninsula. A new interpretative space and exhibition has added to the ‘visitor experience.’

PROTECTION FOR SEAFARERS
Respect for the importance of seafarers is still not at a level which sufficiently appreciates their value. Over the years I have reported several cases where crews have been abandoned on ships in ports around the country. These included instances where shipowners had not paid crews for many months and left them without adequate food and even heating aboard their vessels. After ten years of negotiation a new approach has been agreed between the International Labour Organisation, shipowners’ representative groups and governments.

WEATHER EFFECTS ON FISHING COMMUNITIES
Fishing communities nationwide have been disproportionately impacted by the severe weather earlier this year according to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine. “Not only did the storms prevent fishermen getting out to sea to try to earn money, fishermen also have difficulties in accessing social welfare payments while land-bound. The considerable damage to piers, property and equipment in smaller fishing harbours, where the main inshore fleets are based, also poses a longer term challenge to the overall Irish fishing fleet.”
The Federation of Irish Fishermen and representatives from lobster-shellfish and inland fishing groups have been meeting the Committee this week.

BIG FISH FOR YOUNG MAN
Fourteen-year-old Emmet Hope from Mullingar landed what has been described as a “fantastic specimen pouting” to which Inland Fisheries Ireland according to Markus Müller, Fisheries Information Manager, who reports the story: “A party of anglers from Mullingar, Foxford and Sligo set out from Killala Harbour with Donal Kennedy, Skipper of the Leah, for a day’s fishing in Killala Bay. The weather was dull but winds were light which boded well for the anglers’ first day out of the season. The first few drifts didn’t produce much but further out in the Bay over a drift of rocky ground a number of nice cod were caught along with some pollack. Later in the day the group went out a little deeper and several drifts produced more cod, pollack, pouting, ling, coalfish and cuckoo wrasse. The best of the cod was approx. 9lbs., with pollack up to 7lbs. and Ling up to 6lbs. Several of the drifts produced many pouting and it was good to see 14-year-old Emmet Hope from Mullingar catching a fantastic specimen pouting weighing 1.365kg! This was a fantastic specimen.”

SHIPBREAKING DEAL
The dangers of shipbreaking working in Bangladesh have been highlighted many times. Now the International Maritime Organisation, which is the United Nations body responsible for maritime safety has signed what it is describing as a “landmark agreement with the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh under which both will “work together to improve safety and environmental standards in the country’s ship-recycling industry.” A project will be implemented – “Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling” With an annual gross tonnage capacity of more than 8.8 million, the Bangladesh ship recycling industry is second only to neighbouring India in terms of volume. The project, aimed at improving standards and sustainability within the industry, will consist of five work packages, covering studies on economic and environmental impacts and on the management of hazardous materials and wastes. It will be operated by the Marine Environment Division of IMO, in partnership with the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh, over the next 18 months. Principal funding for the project will come from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), while the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) will also support the project by arranging EU funding towards the management of hazardous materials.

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