Being a maritime correspondent can be encouraging, disheartening and frustrating.
Preparing the current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION I experienced those emotions.
I heard a sailor praise the coastal communities he had met during a 42-day voyage around Ireland. He described them as the “most wonderful people who are essential to this island nation.”
I also talked to a fisherman, trying to ensure the future of his community, describe the dismissive, discourteous attitude of State agencies.
I stood at the evocative memorial to those lost at sea in Dunmore East fishing port in County Waterford, where a fisherman pointed out to me the names of those of his family who had died in marine tragedies. He told me that visitors to coastal areas wanted to see fishing boats, not yachts at marinas.
I was the only journalist on the pier at Schull in West Cork on Saturday afternoon when Gary Sargent completed his ‘one wild ride’ on a Laser around Ireland. The general media didn’t show much interest..
Gary learned a lot about coastal communities during his voyage, which started an ended at Schull in West Cork: “They are wonderful people who commit themselves to helping you. It was an eye-opener, a lesson for me, from Dublin, showing me how vital these communities are to this island nation. We are blessed with wonderful coastal people, whom we should respect and value. We have an amazing coastline and eco system that we should get out and see more of. I have learned so much about respecting the water.”
On his voyage, he capsized four times. “It was mentally harder than physically. There was the challenge of getting into the boat in a wet suit every day, no matter what the weather and no matter how I felt.”
• Listen to Gary describe his voyage on the programme below and about the garden mats which were a vital part of his equipment
I interviewed Sean Doherty, a fisherman from Cheekpoint on the Suir Estuary who told me that he fears children in coastal communities will not know the history or heritage of their communities which are being destroyed by Government neglect, he said. His interview is a salutary contrast to what Gary Sargent experienced amongst the coastal communities. Sean Doherty outlines how his community put a lot of time and effort into submitting plans for the future of their communities, but after a year of waiting for response, they have heard nothing.
That is unacceptable and appears to indicate a dismissive attitude towards coastal communities.
• Listen to Sean Doherty on the programme
Also in the past week, the latest figure for the value of catches which European Union fishing nations, other than Ireland, take from Irish waters every year was put at €4 billion by the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation That is a huge loss to the Irish economy and is a transfer of wealth from Ireland, an effective contribution to the EU about which very little has ever been said in public by the Government or the national media.
At the same time there is a lot of political mouthing and posturing about our Ocean Wealth. Is it any wonder I get frustrated at times?