Yachting & Boating World: Three drones were launched from Plymouth on Tuesday to track fish in and gather data on oceans around UK.
Three marine robots have been launched to track fish populations and gather ocean data in and around new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The drones, which were launched in Plymouth on Tuesday by scientists from the Marine Biological Association and engineers from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), aim to learn how fish use MPAs on a day-to-day basis.
Using acoustic ‘pingers’, fish species such as plaice and sole will be tracked at sea by the robots. Assisting them in their data collection will be fixed seabed listening stations.
The three autonomous vehicles, AutoNaut, C-Enduro and the SV3 Waveglider will all be carrying a range of sensors to collect additional data on the physical properties of the ocean, such as water temperature and salinity.
Onboard GoPro cameras will also capture valuable photographs and video footage of seabirds and other marine wildlife. Project leader Dr Stephen Cotterell, said: “This technology will give us a new dimension in our understanding of fish movements, residency and migrations in and around the marine protected areas off Plymouth.
“Understanding how fish use MPAs will be vital in understanding the value of these management tools to conserve fish stocks. One of the aims of the EU Marine Strategy Framework is achieving sustainable fisheries, through and ecologically coherent network of MPAs. We just don’t know enough yet about how effective MPAs are for mobile species. With this work we aim to get somewhere closer.”
This week’s launch is the second phase of the pioneering project, which previously saw five marine robots travel hundreds of kilometres off the Isles of Scilly to collect data about oceans.
Head of the NOC’s Marine Autonomous Robotics Systems group Dr Maaten Furlong, said: “This second phase builds on the success of phase one and allows us to test the vehicle fleer in a coastal waters. “Using autonomous surface vehicles in combination with fixed seabed assets significantly enhances the scientific value of the system.”
The two-phase project is the largest deployment of marine autonomous systems ever seen in the UK and will provide important information about the shelf seas, marine life and the scope for autonomous vehicles in future research projects.
The Ocean Cleanup project has successfully completed its crowd funding campaign. With the support of more than 38,000 funders from 160 countries, in 100 days more than US $2million has been raised.
The project, founded by 20-year-old Dutchman Boyan Slat when he was just 17, aims to clean the oceans of plastics using a system of long floating arms attached to the seabed, so that ‘the oceans can basically clean themselves.
Thanks to the successful funding campaign, the next step, which comprises the construction and testing of large-scale operational pilots, can now be initiated.
The Ocean Cleanup will now assemble a new team to lead the research, and plans to start the pilot phase next month. The team projects the first pilot will hit the ocean within a year.
A series of up-scaling tests will ultimately result in a fully operational offshore cleanup array by 2017.
Crowd funding record-breaker
Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, said: ‘Plastic pollution has been recognised by the UN as one of the major environmental challenges facing mankind in the 21st century.
“The crowd funding received so far enables us to start the Pilot Phase, in which we push the concept from feasible to executable. ‘Hence, we are very grateful to all of whom have supported us worldwide, all crowd funding and professional in kind contributors, as well as the many volunteers and ambassadors who invested their enthusiasm, and gave us the confidence to keep going.
In June this year, Boyan Slat presented The Ocean Cleanup’s feasibility study – a 530-page report, authored by 70 scientists and engineers – proposing a viable method to clean half of the so-called ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ within 10 years’ time.
At the same time, a crowd funding campaign was launched, aiming to collect $2million within 100 days. The target had been achieved in 98 days.After completion, US $2,154,282 had been raised via 38,615 donors, making it ‘the most successful non-profit crowd funding campaign in history’, according to crowd funding platform ABN AMRO’s SEEDS, who facilitated the campaign.
Boat owners with vessels moored in non-tidal Thames marinas have been urged to ensure that they have paid their licence fee.
The Environment Agency has urged boat owners moored at marinas on the non-tidal Thames to ensure they have paid their licence fee. This warning comes as the navigation authority prepares to launch its annual enforcement drive on the river.
Following legal counsel, the EA has been reassured in its interpretation of the Inland Waterways Order (2010), which states that all boats kept on the non-tidal Thames must be registered, even those moored in marinas.
A spokesperson for the agency told MBM: “Marinas should be considered as public places, and there is a public right of navigation within them; they are part of the Thames and not private water.”
Boat owners who cannot produce up-to-date paperwork can be held liable for a £1,000 fine, and the EA estimates that around 7% fail to do so.
Regular visits by EA officers during the summer of 2012 found that evasion rates in Thames marinas vary hugely, from 5% to as much as 40% in some areas.
More than 30,000 boat owners use the EA’s waterways, according to the agency’s annual report, and craft registration fees range from £50 to £1,500 per year, with the majority paying between £300 and £500 per year.
Since the Coalition came to power in 2010, the Environment Agency has faced significant cuts in its Grant-in-Aid, resulting in a three-year agreement to annually increase boating licence fees by 2% above the CPI rate of inflation.
“Registration charges make a vital contribution to the cost of delivering a navigation service on the Thames, boosting the substantial but reducing contribution made by government,” the EA statement continued.
“We are working to make the management of our waterways more financially sustainable and less reliant upon government, through a variety of initiatives including commercial development, volunteering and enforcement.”
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The National Maritime Museum Cornwall has announced that Sir Ben Ainslie is to become their new Patron.
The Maritime Museum in Falmouth has been home to Sir Ben’s Olympic gold medal winning boats since 2004, when they first took custody of his Laser dinghy, which he sailed to victory at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Since then Sir Ben has famously gone on to win three further golds in the Finn heavyweight dinghy class, at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
The museum proudly displays the Finn, named Rita, in their main hall where visitors can get up close to this iconic piece of British Olympic sailing history.
Maritime Museum Director Jonathan Griffin said: ‘Ben has been a great supporter of the museum for the past 10 years and we are honoured that he has agreed to come on board as our Patron.
‘Having a figure of Sir Ben Ainslie’s stature as our Patron will be of huge benefit as we continue with our campaign to raise £4m over the next decade and secure our future ambitions for the museum.’
Sir Ben said: ‘Like me, the museum has a passion for boats and sailing in all its forms and I am delighted to have been asked to become their new patron.
‘They have been a supporter of mine for many years and I admire their commitment to celebrating the sea boat and Cornwall.
‘I am happy to support their continued work and, who knows, perhaps we can inspire the next generation of Olympic sailing champions.’
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Cowes to become a ‘true sheltered harbour’ once £7 million breakwater is built. Construction of the new Cowes breakwater is to start at Easter, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has announced.
Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has appointed construction firm Boskalis Westminster to build the new £7 million detached breakwater. The construction of the new breakwater will be carried out in two phases. The initial construction phase will continue through the summer of 2014 and will then be followed by a consolidation period to allow for settlement of the breakwater structure during the autumn through to spring 2015. The contractor will then return to Cowes to re-dress the core structure and complete the construction of the breakwater during the summer of 2015.
The construction of the 350 metre long breakwater is the first phase of transforming Cowes into a “true sheltered harbour”. The project is a joint initiative between CHC and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) with both parties funding the work, with co-operation from the Crown Estate.
Capt. Stuart McIntosh, Cowes Harbour Master, said: “The signing of the breakwater construction contract is a significant milestone.” The breakwater is the first and most important component of the new harbour protection and infrastructure to be delivered as part of this partnership project. CHC will continue to work with the HCA to deliver the harbour authority’s priority of completing the sea defences by the delivery of the second phase: the extension to the Shrape breakwater and the dredging of the new Eastern Channel, which will be brought forward as part of the HCA’s proposed new marina at East Cowes.
Cowes Harbour Commission will issue regular navigational information and news updates for stakeholders and harbour users during the construction process.
More information on the Cowes breakwater project can be found on the CHC website: www.cowesharbourcommission.co.uk.