A celebration of European maritime communities is to be held tomorrow Tuesday (May 21st) but who here has heard of it?
We are a small island in the North Atlantic but thanks to our sea territory we're also one of the biggest countries in Europe so you would imagine some maritime folk at least would be interested in celebrating this EU backed promotion of something so crucial to our island life.
Ireland is the third biggest country in the European Union by virtue of our claimed seabed territory of 220 million acres.
Unfortunately a quick check of the google Ireland index confirms the international date does not figure high on any Irish government website.
Five different Government Departments deal with aspects of Ireland's maritime sphere.
We emailed the Department of the Marine about the celebrations but we got no response.
This is surprising given our current EU role and the recently adopted European Atlantic Action Plan designed to complement the Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland "Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth" launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., in July 2012.
The aim of European Maritime Day is to provide an occasion to highlight the crucial role that oceans and seas play in the everyday life not only of coastal communities, but of all EU citizens, and for Europe's sustainable growth and jobs at large, and to encourage better stewardship of coastal zones, seas and oceans by all citizens and actors concerned.
Of course our own very active coastal communities have put their future in good hands for some time now. Their own. But there is only so much isolated little harbour towns can do on their own.
A marine alliance of these communities and fishing and boating sectors could forge a national voice for a maritime nation. Who knows Ireland might even get to celebrate this important European date?
This year, the sixth edition of the European Maritime Day will be held on another European island, in Malta in the city of Valletta.
It is organised by the European Commission (DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) in partnership with the Maltese Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and the Maltese Ministry for Tourism. The seas and oceans, and the opportunities they offer, will be at the heart of discussions. There will be high-level political debates as well as more practical exchanges between maritime stakeholders. Thoughts, ideas and new concepts will be devised during the Conference. Lets hope the third biggest sea territory in Europe gets a mention.
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