This week I sent an Email to Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, The Green Party, Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party:
"The sea which surrounds this island nation offers a great natural resource. As yet, a maritime policy has not emerged from political parties contesting the General Election as they seek approval from the population to govern this island nation. Your response would be appreciated."
At the time of writing this blog only one party, Fine Gael, has replied:
"The marine policy will be published in the manifesto next week."
This is welcome, but overall where the political parties are concerned, having examined their policies up to now, I am forced towards the conclusion that the maritime sector is not high on their priorities.
Interestingly, at a forum on the use of ocean energy resources in Dublin the Chief Executive of Bord Gais suggested there could be 70,000 jobs in this sector. John Mullins said there is a high cost of investment, but the rewards are available. The Sustainable Energy Authority agrees that that ocean energy is a huge resource, though its study has put the number of potential jobs at 52,000 with a net value of €9 billion to the economy.
One of the problems for the sector has been slow progress by the Department of the Environment in dealing with foreshore licensing. The energy sector is not the only potential resource suffering from this malaise, so is marine leisure where problems with foreshore licences have affected marina proposals, as well as aquaculture, an industry which has been complaining for several years about the failure of the State to support its development.
The lack of maritime policy by successive Governments has been disastrous for our marine resources. Failure to appreciate the importance of the sea has been destructive of the fishing industry, there is still not enough support for the shipping industry, there are major questions about the practical value gained from the discovery of gas off our shores. The potential of the leisure sector remains relatively untapped.
At a time when our nation needs foresight, why do politicians campaigning to lead the nation fail to show it where the sea around us is concerned?
Why not raise this issue with canvassers who ask for your support?