Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Capturing The Importance Of The Ocean For Irish & Welsh Coastal Communities Through Art

24th April 2019
2126 Views
“The change in weather has been affecting the seed – we have had very little this year.” Mussel fisherman, Bangor, Wales, by Róisín Curé “The change in weather has been affecting the seed – we have had very little this year.” Mussel fisherman, Bangor, Wales, by Róisín Curé

A series of watercolour illustrations and interviews have captured the importance of the ocean to coastal communities in Ireland and Wales as part of the EU-funded BlueFish Project.

Sharon Sugrue, scientific and technical officer at the Marine Institute, and Galway’s urban sketcher Róisín Curé visited coastal communities in Ireland and Wales that border the Irish and Celtic Seas.

They met with people from a broad spectrum of marine activities including fishing, aquaculture, leisure, transport, tourism and marine renewable energy.

“A key aspect of the project was speaking with people living and working in coastal communities, and gathering their opinions about climate change and learning about how it might affect their livelihoods,” Sugrue said.

“Along with interviewing people and documenting their daily interactions with the sea, the medium of art was also used to record their activities. This was a unique opportunity to talk directly to coastal communities and capture their perspectives through art.”

Róisin Curé produced a series of watercolour illustrations that captured snapshots of these coastal communities and people’s daily lives.

The results of the interviews and art, through watercolour illustrations, created an accessible way for the public to understand the importance the ocean has on livelihoods in coastal communities.

By engaging with people and industries dependant on the sea, the information gathered highlighted how they benefit from the ocean, their thoughts on climate change, and particularly how it was going to affect their lives and businesses.

Comments made by fishermen stated that without the ocean, they wouldn’t have a living, as it’s their only source of income in their rural parts of Ireland.

“Many of the stories reaffirmed the importance of the age-old relationship between people and the sea, noting that the sea is the life-blood which sustains these communities,” Sugrue said.

“The general consensus in both Ireland and Wales coastal communities was that climate change is happening. There was an acknowledgment and a realisation amongst the people interviewed that there was a real looming threat to their livelihoods.”

Many people commented on how they were seeing changes to their climate in their local communications. A local businessman from Anglesey said: “In the 38 years I’ve been working here, the road would have flooded twice a year. Now it floods much more often.”

Curé said: “I felt privileged to sketch, at close quarters, people whose ingenuity has turned a potentially hostile ocean into a source of income. I hope that the same ingenuity will provide the answers to the challenges we’re facing with the effects of climate change.”

In August 2018, the ports of Dingle in Co Kerry, Baltimore in Co Cork, Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford and Howth in Co Dublin were visited and fishermen, restaurateurs, shellfish producers, operators in the tourism sector and seafarers were interviewed.

The Welsh coastal communities were visited in October and included Anglesey, Bangor, Pwllheli, New Quay, Milford Haven and Pembrokeshire.

Sugrue added: “This project has given me the opportunity to engage with those living and working in coastal communities in a personal and hands on way.

“Growing up by the sea and being part of a family business in aquaculture, I felt an affinity with the people interviewed. It also brought home to me the effect that climate change could have in a ‘real sense’ showing how these effects could ripple through these communities.”

Linking science and art as a mechanism to convey the importance of the ocean to coastal communities and the potential impacts of climate change on these communities will continue throughout 2019, where the project will feature at maritime festivals in Ireland and Wales and continue the dialogue with these coastal communities.

The BlueFish Project is a partnership between six organisations in Ireland and Wales including the Marine Institute, University College Cork, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bangor University, Aberystwyth University and Swansea University.

The marine science research project is funded by the Ireland Wales 2014-2020 European Territorial Co-operation (ETC) Programme. The purpose of this maritime programme is to connect organisations, businesses and communities on the West coast of Wales with the South- East coast of Ireland.

Through engagement with coastal communities and art, the BlueFish Project, launched in September 2017, aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the marine resources and the potential impacts of climate change on the Irish and Celtic Sea ecosystem.

To find out more about the BlueFish Project, visit BlueFishProject.com

Published in Coastal Notes
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating