Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Concern for the Future of Our Coastal Communities

6th January 2021
Castletownbere in West Cork Castletownbere in West Cork

What would our island nation be like if we did not have thriving coastal communities?

How much awareness is there amongst government politicians and the mandarins of the civil service that there is a considerable level of fear and concern about their future because of the outcome of the Brexit Agreement negotiations and its effect on the fishing industry upon which these communities depend?

These thoughts are in my mind for this week's Podcast because, it seems to me, our coastal communities' survival is at stake, and I am not certain that this is fully understood by the public.

Why are coastal communities so important?

Because there is so much of Irish life, culture and history in the coastal communities and aspects of our land borne lives depend upon them. There is the supply of seafood, maintained during the Covid pandemic. These communities have manned the lifeboat service for generations; they provide the volunteers of the Coast Guard. How many times, when emergencies occur, are there the accounts of the magnificent response by the coastal communities?

There should be more understanding of their needs. Who doesn't enjoy visits, holidays, to the coastal communities, many of which are also big sailing locations - think Dingle – Dunmore East – Schull and some which have already seen their fishing fleets shrink – Crosshaven, Baltimore for example – because of the combined onset of EU regulatory controls and Irish government neglect and its failure to appreciate, protect and defend the importance of the Irish fishing fleet.

The government is accused by the fishing industry of failing again to defend Irish fishing. The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Marine, one from Cork, the other Donegal, admitted that the impact on the Irish fleet will be severe, but that a deal was better than 'no deal'. That is not accepted in the coastal communities where there is great anger and particularly towards the suggestion that Irish fishermen owners should "decommission" their boats - which really says to Irish fishermen that they should give up and get out of the industry.

Patrick Murphy Mof the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ OrganisationPatrick Murphy Mof the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation

As a fishermen put it to me this week: "Why should we be thrown on the scrapheap when Ireland has the richest fishing waters in Europe, but other nations benefit from them, not Ireland?" A very strong opinion was voiced on my Maritime Ireland Radio Show, such that I feel Afloat listeners should hear Patrick Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers' Organisation in Castletownbere, West Cork as he outlines what life is really like in the coastal communities and why there is so much concern and fear about their future.

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a column for He is former RTE Marine Correspondent/Presenter of Seascapes and now has a monthly Podcast on the Community Radio Network and Podcast services

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