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Weekly Maritime News Roundup

Weekly News and Comment from Marine Journalist, Tom MacSweeney
Dateline- May 26, 2014.

This week … Voluntary marine broadcasting, a unique sea bird visitor to Ireland, salmon fishing on the Nore and more…..


I was impressed by the interest of voluntary community radio broadcasters from around the country in the marine sphere when I met them at the annual conference of their organisation at the weekend in Youghal. This is the East Cork coastal town from where I present my monthly radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, on Community Radio Youghal, cry104fm
The ‘umbrella organisation” is called CRAOL, which represents 20 fully licensed community stations throughout Ireland. There are also a number of communities seeking licences and others which have been allocated ‘day’ licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It was interesting to meet and talk to so many people with an interest in radio and who had produced and presented a variety of programmes with maritime themes. Some stations have professional staff but the dominant coterie of programme-makers and other aspects of the stations is voluntary, representing a huge community commitment. These stations are the third level of broadcasting in this country, following national at the first tier and second, local commercial radio. They provide an unique voice from the foundation of communities, a strong and powerful resource, with huge potential. It was invigorating to hear many of the ideas suggested for programmes at workshops during the conference.

I am hoping that other stations may transmit THIS ISLAND NATION and join in reporting maritime topics. This could provide a network of interest around the country, combating the neglect of the marine sphere by national and local commercial radio. The level of interest at the conference in programmes about the sea was encouraging. My own programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, was amongst the winners in the annual national CRAOL awards for community radio stations, chosen by the broadcasters themselves.

The programme is broadcast on Youghal Radio on the first Wednesday night of each month at 7.30 p.m. The next edition will be broadcast on Wednesday, June 4. THIS ISLAND NATION it is also now being transmitted by NearFM in Dublin, the Community Radio for Dublin North East, broadcasting on 90.3FM, on the first Friday of each month at 6 p.m. The next edition will be broadcast on that station on Friday, June 6, at 6 p.m.

Awareness of the importance of the marine sphere is growing and that is marvellous..


The family-run Burren Smokehouse has won a 12-month deal to supply Burren Irish Wild Salmon to Harrods of London, the world-famous department store. The company, based at Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, already supplies products to KaDeWe in Berlin; Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason in London. The source of its wild salmon for smoking is via the traditional fishing method of snap-netting using ‘cots’ – the flat-bottomed boats of the River Nore in County Kilkenny. Commercial fisherman, Mick Murphy, catches salmon in the traditional manner, around the historic village of Inistioge, though weather conditions have been difficult, making the catch late this year. Burren Smokehouse owner Birgitta Hedin-Curtin and her husband Peter set up their business in 1989. It also smokes trout and mackerel and employs eighteen. It is a 3-Star Great Taste holder for Irish organic salmon products.

Photographs show snap-netting on the Nore. It is one of the few commercial salmon fishing aspects which survived the demands of angling interests to end all commercial fishing for salmon.


For the first time a Bermuda Petrel, one of the world’s rarest sea birds, has been seen off the Irish coast. Also known as the Cahow, it was observed from the Marine Institute’s research vessel, the Celtic Voyager, last week about 170 nautical miles west/northwest of Slea Head in County Kerry. This is an endangered species which nests exclusively on islets off Bermuda. Only 108 breeding pairs are known to exist. Birdwatch Ireland says this is also “the first time one of these birds has been seen in the North-East Atlantic.” It was observed near the Porcupine Bank, flying in a south-easterly direction.

• The photo issued by Birdwatch Ireland is from Ryan Wilson-Parr, Ecologists Ireland


The Irish Maritime Development Organisation in its Weekly Market Review says that “the idle containership fleet” has gone below two per cent of the overall fleet for the first time since last September. But the Chief Executive of A.P.Moeller-Maersk Company has indicated that there will not be a sustainable recovery in the industry in the short term. Nils Andersen is quoted as saying that “there is lingering overcapacity” which may remain until 2017. The global tanker market, according to the Review, is experiencing low rates with the crude sector suffering particularly and very low earnings for owners. The European Short Sea Bulk market is also experiencing a downward trend which has been developing since April.


There is no indication why the keel of the British yacht Cheeki Rafiki fell broke off causing it to capsize. The upturned hull was found by the US Coast Guard 1,000 miles off the Massachusetts coast. There was no sign of the missing four-man crew. Liferafts were still attached, unused, to the yacht. A US Navy diver knocked on the hull, but got no response or indications of any signs of life the Coast Guard says. The inside of the upturned hull was not searched. A Coast Guard statement said a US warship which had been diverted to the location deployed a boat crew and surface swimmer to assess the boat. “The swimmer confirmed the name on the yacht was Cheeki Rafiki and went in the water to investigate further. The swimmer determined the boat’s cabin was flooded and windows were shattered, contributing to the complete flooding inside. The swimmer also knocked on the hull and reached an arm’s length below the waterline with no results. Surface swimmers are not trained divers and do not perform sub-surface operations,” the Coast Guard said. The US Navy crew reported that there was a breach in the hull of the yacht from the breaking-off of the keel.


The Irish Sailing Association has started a campaign to “Get Women on the Water”. This is the WOW Ireland ISA initiative, as part of the Irish Sports Council’s Women in Sport programme, aimed at encouraging more women to try sailing, windsurfing and powerboating in their local Club or Training Centre. “Get the girls aboard” it is telling sailing clubs and boat owners to encourage more female participation in sailing.

“We have women’s Slim Fit Buff goody bags to give away to organisations running events – on a first-come first-served basis. These packs have been provided bywww.buffwear.com We’ve also partnered again with Action Breast Cancer for WOW to combine introducing more ladies to water activities with raising funds for a charity close to many hearts,” the ISA says. “We encourage ladies who participate in an event to kindly donate €10 towards Irish Cancer Society but this is completely optional. Each organisation can chose what works best for their own event. So contact the ISA to register.”


THIS ISLAND NATION can also be heard on www.afloat.ie website



You can also read my SEA ECHOES column in the Cork EVENING ECHO each Wednesday, a sailing column in that paper each Thursday and my FORUM and PROFILE articles in THE MARINE TIMES each month.

There is an occasional blog also on wordpress which can be read at: tommacsweeney.wordpress.com