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First-Ever National Maritime Plan Should Not Be Ignored

24th October 2018
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Government's 108-page Baseline Report Government's 108-page Baseline Report

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. Tom MacSweeney here ….

The marine sector is about to be planned for the first time. This is the development of Ireland’s first national marine spatial plan, about which a public consultation process has been underway at a series of meetings around the country. A 108-page Baseline Report charts thinking at government level.

It lists sailing as the most popular marine sport in terms of “membership numbers” with over 19,000 members in 60 clubs and says Ireland is a world-class sailing destination. It also lists challenges to watersports – pressures from increased numbers engaged in watersports in environmentally sensitive areas, noise pollution from power boats and jet skis and the dangers of introducing non-native species into areas from recreational boats.

"It lists sailing as the most popular marine sport in terms of “membership numbers” with over 19,000 members in 60 clubs"

The introduction says: ““As an island nation with one of the largest marine areas in Europe, Ireland’s economy, culture and society are inextricably linked with the sea.”
Having pioneered the words “island nation” to create public awareness in the sea for many years, I like that! The aim is to bring the planning process from shore to sea, to create a national plan for Irish territorial waters for a 20-year period.

But public awareness of the drafting of a national plan is not as strong as it should be, in my view. The national media has not given it a lot of attention, compared to planning on land. No surprise there as not a single national newspaper gives dedicated space to marine matters.

I chaired last Friday’s consultation meeting in Cork, which had an attendance of about 120 from a wide sphere of marine interests. Chairing a question-and-answer session with a panel that included those who will be drafting the final plan and its objectives, it became clear that there is a lot of frustration amongst maritime groups about marine planning for the maritime sector and that so many aspects of it are spread across several government departments, which divides and lessens its impact at governmental level.

It’s six years since the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth was launched, so it’s taken some time to start work on this planning process. I wanted to know why the Department of the Marine was not leading the process and interviewed Philip Nugent for this week’s Podcast. I asked him to explain exactly what it is.

Submissions about the plan can be made until noon on Friday, December 14 by Email to: [email protected] or by writing to: MSP Submissions, Marine Spatial Planning Section, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Newtown Road, Wexford Y35 AP90. The Baseline Report is publicly available.

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Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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