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Ireland & Wales Showcase Coastal lives & Impact of Climate Change

22nd June 2020
The Baltimore Ferry to Sherkin Island in West Cork The Baltimore Ferry to Sherkin Island in West Cork Photo: Róisín Curé

Coastal Communities are the focus this week on the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series. The Marine Institute and partners are celebrating our world’s shared ocean and our connection to the sea in a 10-week series, sharing news and offering online interactive activities, videos and downloadable resources on a new marine topic each week

A series of watercolour illustrations and interviews have captured the importance of the ocean to coastal communities in Ireland and Wales as part of BlueFish, an EU-funded project. Through engaging with coastal communities using art, BlueFish links knowledge and understanding of the marine resources and the potential impacts of climate change on the Irish and Celtic Sea ecosystem

"Without the ocean, we wouldn't have a living: it's our only source of income in this rural part of Ireland. Climate change is definitely happening: growth periods are longer than they ever were. But higher water temperatures and higher rainfall could be catastrophic for our business," according to Oyster and mussel fishermen, Cromane, Co. Kerry.

The marine science research project BlueFish 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.

Urban sketcher Róisín Curé and a scientist from the Marine Institute visited coastal communities in Ireland and Wales. Róisín created watercolour illustrations showing the people whose livelihoods are dependent on the ocean and who have a profound and immediate interest in the effects of climate change. Also interviewed were fishermen, restaurateurs, shellfish producers, operators in the tourism sector and seafarers to gather an understanding about how they benefit from the ocean and their thoughts on climate change. 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 bringing artists and marine scientists together and working closely with project partners and coastal communities, the Marine Institute has developed a structured portfolio of artwork that is intended to promote a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on ecosystem goods and services; to demonstrate how climate change may impact these; and to highlight the wider societal benefits of healthy ecosystems in Irish and Welsh coastal communities that border the Irish and Celtic Sea(s). The artwork produced as part of the BlueFish project can be viewed in this video.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute explained that "a central part of the project was listening to people living and working in coastal communities, and gathering their opinions about climate change and learning about how it might affect their livelihoods. This was a unique opportunity to talk directly to coastal communities and capture their perspectives through art," Dr Connolly said.

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.

Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin Illustration by Dorans on the Pier at Howth in County Dublin. Illustration by Róisín Curé

"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. The general consensus in both Ireland and Wales coastal communities was that climate change is happening. There was an acknowledgement and a realisation amongst the people interviewed that there was a real looming threat to their livelihoods," said Dr Connolly.

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

The Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning series this week highlights Ireland’s Coastal Communities. Oceans of Learning offers videos, interactive activities and downloadable resources on our coasts and seashore. Commissioners of Irish Lights offers videos on the work they do to ensure safe navigation around our coast and a colouring book on the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Find out more about Údarás na Gaeltachta and marine businesses in coastal communities through a series of videos. Discover the animals, seaweeds, plants and creatures along the seashore with the Explorers Education Programme’s Seashore Guide Work Book, and explore the habitats of Galway Bay with activities from Galway City Museum. There are also videos on the Marine Institute's shellfish safety programme and our coastal economy, posters and colouring activities about the marine life found along Ireland's coast.

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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