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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.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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I am not a convinced believer in Government marine policy. Though I accept there have been improvements in the State attitude towards the maritime sphere in recent years, there is still a big defect – marine policy is not a high priority with the Government.

Because of that, there is no dedicated Department of the Marine, in an island nation that is 95 per cent dependent on the sea for everything moved into and from this country.

Successive governments have never given the maritime sphere high priority and that continues today. They have not appreciated the economic value of the marine, an unforgivable blindness in a nation that is the most western of the European Union. So the economic value of our rich fishing waters has been reaped, not by Ireland, but by other European nations, in several of which Irish holidaymakers this Summer will eat fish which they will be unaware has come from their home waters, where Irish boats are reduced to minimal catches compared with foreign vessels – and that because of Irish Government failure. It is only in current years that the value of marine tourism has been realised and that, not because of Government but through the pressure of independent operators.

"There is no dedicated Department of the Marine, in an island nation that is 95 per cent dependent on the sea for everything moved into and from this country"

So this week I was pretty disgusted when the Government ignored the United Nations request to honour the ‘World Day of the Seafarer,’ honouring the “vital importance to the world’s population and its economic well-being, of the role of seafarers in our lives.” The International Maritime Organisation, the maritime agency of the UN, asked every nation to mark the ‘Day of the Seafarer.’ Ireland is one of the nations which are members of the IMO, but did nothing. This island nation, which depends on 95 per cent of its exports and imports on shipping, ignored the role of the seafarer. To those of us who have long experience of government marine policy, no surprise there.


SEAFEST & OCEAN WEALTH

But it came also at the start of a week which will end with Seafest in Galway, the annual official State event which declares that “Ireland’s multi-billion Euro marine economy is the focus of ocean wealth. 

Quite a contradiction in Governmental approach there, but I agree with Marine Institute CEO Peter Heffernan when he says that “Ireland’s oceans represent enormous commercial opportunities.”

The Summit is an output of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, the Government’s integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector, ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth,’ which aims to double the value of the marine economy’s contribution to GDP by 2030.

While marine research has increased exponentially, I remain questioning of Government commitment, such as to the future of the Naval Service at its island base in Cork Harbour where Haulbowline Island has been a naval centre since the 1600s. This is now to be reviewed and that is to suit commercial pressure. The Indaver company wants to build a hazardous waste incinerator at the doorstep of the base, the only road into and from the island. It has planning approval, despite objections by the Department of Defence, which told a planning enquiry that it would have an “unacceptable impact “on Naval operations damaging to the national strategic defence.”

Amazingly, Bord Pleanala’s Inspector said it wouldn’t…. so appearing to know more about Naval operations than the Navy themselves….. Even though he rejected the proposed incinerator on other grounds, the board of Bord Pleanala over-ruled him and cited his comment on the Navy as one of the reasons…..

So now, it seems, civilians can make national maritime defence policy...

Defence Junior Minister Paul Kehoe, the Taoiseach is the senior man, has told his Department to review the impact of the incinerator on Naval policy, but they’ve already made their view known… so what is going on here….?

As the great maritime commentator, Dr.John De Courcy Ireland said: “The ruling politicians of this country turned their backs to the sea.”

NAVAL SHIPS TO BE BASED IN DUN LAOGHAIRE & KILLYBEGS?

I have been told this week that Killybegs in Donegal and Dun Laoghaire, a harbour now without ferry services on the Dublin coastline and in need of business, will be considered as alternative locations to base Naval vessels.

What does all this mean for the future of the Haulbowline Naval Base?

There is widespread opposition throughout Cork Harbour communities, larger than anything seen before, against Indaver and its incinerator and demands have been made for investigations into Bord Pleanala

The George Bernard Shaw, 4th Offshore Patrol Vessel to be built in recent years for the Navy is alongside Newquay Dock in Appledore, Devon at present, where fitting-out is underway with sea trials due next month. A 76mm gun is to be fitted and it is planned to formally name and commission her into the Naval Service later this year. By then, perhaps we will know future plans for the Haulbowline Naval Base.

Anyway, the other positive maritime event this week is the start of the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on Saturday afternoon…. And that doesn’t depend upon Government maritime policy.

Listen to my Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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The President of the Maritime Institute which runs the National Maritime Museum at Dun Laoghaire has said that “there are more reasons than ever to be positive about maritime heritage.”

Richard McCormick cites the 200-year-celebration of “Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s proud maritime tradition,” the Port Trail Initiative by Dublin Port, the commemoration of the SS Hare and SS Adelia by the erection of memorial plaques which “showed that the close-knit communities of Dublin’s docklands commendably have not forgotten their heritage” and the ‘Friend and Foe 1917 Maritime Heritage Weekend’ held in Dunmore East, Co.Waterford, as examples.

He refers to these and others in his President’s Address published in the Autumn edition of the Institute’s Newsletter, prior to the annual general meeting of the Institute which will be held next weekend. He outlines the progress made at the Museum in developing its facilities and praises the staff and volunteers for “magnificent work in keeping the Museum open seven days a week, offering an interesting and attractive environment for visitors to explore Ireland’s rich maritime heritage.”

Published in News Update
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In partnership with four other EU local authority areas Clare County Council has received European Union (EU) funding totalling €388,000 to increase participation in maritime activities and to encourage young people across Clare to consider maritime related careers.

The Local Authority’s Social Development Directorate, through its remit to increase overall participation levels in sport and physical activity in Clare, has been awarded the EU Erasmus+ programme funding as part of the ‘Atlantic Youth Project’.

“As the only Irish partner in the European-wide project, Clare County Council is tasked with encouraging and developing the maritime culture of young Europeans, through the practise of water sports and maritime education at school,” explained Tim Forde, Head of Sport & Recreation, Clare County Council.

He continued, “Over the three-year term of this project, the Local Authority will facilitate the involvement of a significant number of second level school children with opportunities to participate in water sports in our county whilst also participating in organised maritime education opportunities that will be EU-funded.”

Mr. Forde and Liam Conneally, Director of Social Development, Clare County Council, represented the Local Authority at the project launch and inaugural meeting of the participating partners which was held recently in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, home to the Lead Partner, Cim Alto Minho.

Mr. Conneally noted that Clare had been selected to participate in the ‘Atlantic Youth Project’ due to its “ready access to sea and river waters surrounding the County, maritime heritage, existing maritime infrastructure for hosting project activities, and Clare County Council’s lengthy track record of delivering education outreach programmes.”

“With partners in Spain, Portugal, France, UK and Ireland (Clare County Council), the Atlantic Youth Project will also contribute to the implementation of the EU’s Atlantic Maritime Strategy, through the development of a maritime culture among young people which in turn will encourage the upcoming generation to consider maritime sport, recreation and industry as a career path,” he added.

Over the coming months Clare County Council will be working with sporting and educational stakeholders across the County and will confirm details of the rollout of the ‘Atlantic Youth Project’ in County Clare in early 2018.

Published in Youth Sailing
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This beautifully illustrated book explores the history of the fishery piers and harbours of Galway and North Clare. A testament to these structures as feats of engineering, it is also a riveting account of the human aspect that shadowed their construction; a beautiful rendering of the maritime activities that gave life to the Wild Atlantic Way – kelp-making, fishing, turf distribution, and sea-borne trade.

Humble Works for Humble People nurtures the retelling of human stories surrounding the piers, giving voice to the unacknowledged legacy of the lives that were their making. Foreign financial support, humanitarian efforts, controversies and conflict – these are all features of the piers and harbours’ development and preservation. Humble Works for Humble People is a vital contribution to the maritime history of Galway, Clare and of Ireland in general; an overlooked but culturally rich facet of Irish history.

Buy the book online from Afloat.ie's Marine Market here.

Published in Book Review
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Dingle today is closely associated with superb hospitality, good food, the sporting entertainment of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, and the eternal sense of the nearby presence of the mighty Atlantic in one direction, and majestic mountains soaring to the peak of Mount Brandon in the other. Thus it is easy to overlook the fact that this remote yet spirited and independent port has a long history of interacting with the sea for fishing, international trade, and other intriguing activities writes W M Nixon.

The annual Dingle Maritime Weekend in the October Bank Holiday Weekend has been running for six years now to increase awareness of Dingle’s often colourful maritime past. It was established by Kevin Flannery of Dingle Oceanworld and former Harbour Master Captain Brian Farrell (whose tour of duty did so much to bring the harbour to its present healthy state), and the idea is to exlore aspects of that rich heritage, and how it relates to Dingle’s fascinating maritime environment today.

 

dingle poster final2

It’s held at the Oceanworld Aquarium and admission is free for three special talks spread in civilized style between the Saturday afternoon and early Sunday afternoon. Thus it’s a user-friendly format which means you can combine the usual multi-activity Dingle holiday weekend with some digestible maritime information. But of course with the varied audience which it usually attracts, all sorts of post-presentation conversations can happily arise. 

Dingle Maritime Weekend Programme, 28th and 29th October 2017 at Oceanworld Aquarium

SATURDAY 28th OCTOBER 14:00hrs

'The coast of Kerry in the 16th and 17th centuries: trade, ships, piracy and plunder.'
by Dr Connie Kelleher

The talk will draw on sources such as the High Court of Admiralty Papers, State Papers and other contemporary sources to illustrate episodes when the expansion of maritime empires meant that the diversity of goods traded encouraged smuggling, piracy and corruption. It will show that harbours like Dingle, Ventry and Valentia, rather than being remote, formed part of a network central to this global development in commercial shipping, colonial enlargement and associated growth in opportunistic plunder.

DR CONNIE HELLEHER is a member of the State Underwater Archeology Unit in the National Monuments Service Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Connie is a graduate of UCC with an MA in maritime archaeology and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin on the history and archaeology of piracy in Irish waters in the early 17th century. As a commercially trained diver, her work with the NMS is broad and focuses on the protection of Ireland's underwater cultural heritage. She is visiting lecturer in underwater archaeology in the Archaeology Dept UCC and is a Board member of the international advisory council on underwater archaeology. With several papers and chapters published on piracy in Irish waters, she is currently putting the final edit to her book: “Ireland's Golden Age of Piracy”.

SATURDAY 15:30 hrs
Irish Antarctic Expedition.

PADDY BARRY will give an illustrated talk on the Irish Antarctic Expedition which followed the survival route of Shackleton & Tom Crean by sea in a small boat and then over the mountains of South Georgia.

tom crean3The national hero from the Dingle Peninsula – Tom Crean in the Antarctic.

Tom Crean came from Annascaul on the Tralee to Dingle road, and is one of the Dingle Peninsula’s most internationally-noted historic figures (another is film star Gregory Peck).

Paddy Barry is a Civil Engineer, now retired, who has, during his working life, taken many 'career breaks' to sail to out of the way places, while at the same time somehow maintaining domestic relations on the home front. He lives in Monkstown, Dublin and has worked, apart from Ireland, in the UK, the USA, Malawi and Ethiopia. His first 'big' trip was to America, in the Galway Hooker ' Saint Patrick', followed in the same boat by journeys to Spitsbergen and later to North West Greenland.

paddy barry4High latitudes voyager and explorer Paddy Barry will celebrate the Dingle Peninsula’s links to Tom Crean

In a very much smaller boat he was Skipper of the Irish Antarctic team which followed in the wake of Shackleton's small boat journey. In 2001 he was Expedition Leader of the team who traversed the North West Passage in the vessel 'Northabout'.

Paddy in his sailing boat Ar Seachrán escorted Camino Thar Sáile on its first year of voyaging across the Irish Sea and the Channel to Europe.

Paddy’s talk will be followed by the Kerry Launch of his newly published autobiography, “So Far, So Good – An Adventurous Life”. Available to purchase here.

SUNDAY 29th October 12:30hrs

Smuggling in Dingle in the Eighteenth Century
Speaker Dr Conor Brosnan

DR CONOR BROSNAN will discuss smuggling in Dingle in the eighteenth century. He will explore the reasons, sources, methods and people involved in what was known as Free Trade. He will talk on the methods the authorities used to suppress smuggling and the legacy it left.

Dr Conor Brosnan is a local GP and a member of Dingle Historical Society. He has a deep interest and knowledge of the Dingle area and its history.

Published in Maritime Festivals

Mairéad Ní Cheóinín has been appointed to Seafarers UK as the charity’s new Corporate Fundraising Manager where her focus will be on engaging with the commercial maritime sector.

Mairéad brings a wealth of business development, marketing experience and industry knowledge to the position from her previous roles, working with Steamship Mutual P&I, TradeWinds, Informa PLC in London and the Irish Maritime Development Office in Dublin.

Mairéad joins the grant-giving, campaigning and fundraising charity at an exciting time, as it celebrates its Centenary and is looking ahead to the next phase of its future. Her role will be to raise awareness of Seafarers UK’s wider impact within the maritime charity sector.

Seafarers UK aims to increase financial support for its charitable work through encouraging participation in corporate donations, employee fundraising, challenge events and payroll giving, as well as funding support for specific projects.

Last year Seafarers UK awarded £2.57 million in funding to 69 organisations and projects, helping more than 185,000 people in the process. For more information about Seafarers UK’s work or any of its fundraising or donation initiatives please visit www.seafarers.uk

Commenting on her appointment Mairéad Ní Cheóinín said ‘I am honoured to join Seafarers UK at this juncture. It is vitally important to maintain awareness within the maritime and fishing sectors of the contribution Seafarers UK has made and continues to protect and provide for the welfare of past, present and future seafarers. I am looking forward to promoting all the great work and initiatives Seafarers UK supports to our existing and new corporate partners and donors.’

Nigel Shattock, Seafarers UK’s Director of Fundraising & Communications, said ‘I am very pleased to be able to announce Mairéad’s appointment. The Seafarers UK team is looking forward to working with Mairéad in her role of reaching out to the wider maritime sector and asking firms and their staff to get to know our unique charity better, and to work with us in achieving our goals of helping seafarers in need, supporting maritime youth and in raising awareness of the opportunities that this fantastic sector has to offer.’

Published in Jobs

On my PODCAST this week I am dealing with three particular subjects – the Government’s lack of interest in the United Nations honouring of seafarers this Sunday; concern in coastal communities from where there are claims that senior officials in the Department of the Marine have threatened fishermen that another cut in the size of the Irish fishing fleet will be forced upon them, with or without their agreement – and water shortages on West of Ireland offshore islands caused, their community representative association claims, by a quarter-century of neglect of the needs of these communities to enable them to continue living on the islands.

The International Maritime Organisation, which is the United Nations body for the sea, of which Ireland is a member, has not listed Ireland as officially marking Sunday next, June 25, as INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE SEAFARER, with the theme “SEAFARERS MATTER.” It is to be hoped that there will be individual efforts to remember the seafarers but it is a poor example by the State that an island nation, dependent for 95 per cent of its exports and imports on ships, shipping and seafarers, cannot officially run at least one national day in the year to show appreciation for seafarers. We will be pleased at AFLOAT to hear of events anywhere around Ireland.

DAY OF THE SEAFARER

There is a lot of concern in coastal communities about the future of the fishing industry amid fears that the Government is trying to force through another reduction in the Irish fleet, by cutting the number of boats to satisfy EU pressure, which gives a vastly bigger entitlement to catch fish in Irish waters to the bigger EU nations than Irish boats can catch in our own waters. That’s an issue I took up with the Minster for the Marine, Michael Creed, when I asked him if the Government is giving enough priority to maritime matters.

You can hear his response on the PODCAST below: 

Published in Island Nation
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Businesses across Galway and the region are giving their support to SeaFest 2017, with festival activities extending from Galway Harbour to The Latin Quarter and Salthill.

SeaFest 2017 is Ireland's national maritime festival and will include a variety of marine-themed activities and attractions to celebrate the sea from 30 June to 2 July 2017.

Dr Peter Heffernan CEO of the Marine Institute said the involvement of businesses across Galway and the region is vital to the success of SeaFest 2017.

"The marine sector is of major value to the Irish economy and coastal communities and offers significant potential for growth. It is essential for businesses, organisations and communities connected with our ocean to be part of SeaFest," Dr Heffernan said.

For the first time, SeaFest will welcome the contribution of the Western Development Commission (WDC) to the 2017 event.

"The WDC are delighted with the opportunity to participate in SeaFest," said Ian Brannigan CEO of the WDC. "At SeaFest we are setting out to showcase businesses in the West of Ireland who take their inspiration from Ireland's ocean. Mr Brannigan said.

The Galway Chamber of Commerce will also support SeaFest 2017 by working with businesses across Galway, particularly The Latin Quarter Galway and Salthill, to develop a programme of activities.

"Salthill offers stunning views of Galway Bay, and is the ideal location to feature water sports and hold family-friendly activities along the shore," Dr Heffernan said. "SeaFest is also an opportunity to highlight the host of quality eateries in The Latin Quarter Galway, including some of the city's finest seafood restaurants serving locally sourced produce."

As well as the three-day festival, a range of industry events will be held as part of SeaFest 2017. National and international delegates will attend Our Ocean Wealth Summit on 30 June at NUI Galway. Digital Ocean: Ireland's Marine Engineering and Technology Conference and the Marine Industry Awards will take place on 29 June. A Marine Trade Show will also be held at NUI Galway on 29 and 30 June, to run in parallel with the Our Ocean Wealth Summit and Digital Ocean events.

SeaFest is co-ordinated by the Marine Institute, on behalf of the Marine Coordination Group.

Published in Maritime Festivals
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The President of the Nautical Institute, the worldwide representative organisation for maritime professionals has told its Irish branch that reality must be separated from the myths about shipping using Polar waters writes Tom MacSweeney.

Capt. David (Duke) Snider from Canada has written the Institute's book on ice navigation 'Polar Ship Operations'. He told Institute members at a meeting in the National Maritime College in Cork that the vast majority of operators in Polar waters had a lot of experience and were "long-term" players in the region.

It was a myth that "wild cowboys" of shipping were "roaring through the Arctic polluting and destroying the environment". He said that global climate change had opened up the Arctic. Change was visual and real.

The Polar Code has been introduced by the International Maritime Organisation. It did not have everything in it that everyone wanted but it was a start and more work was necessary and would be done on it.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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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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