#SeaFest - Marking World Oceans Day across the globe today (Monday 8 June), Marine Minister Simon Coveney announced the first national celebration of Ireland's oceans next month.
The inaugural national maritime festival SeaFest will take place in Cork Harbour on 10 and 11 July and will see thousands of visitors enjoying the fruits and pleasures of the sea, from boating trips, yacht sailing, open water swimming, marine simulators, rescue demonstrations, sea life exhibits, educational screenings and talks, festival family fun and a food village with live seafood cookery demonstrations with some of Ireland's best known chefs.
"As an island nation, it is so important to recognise and celebrate the incredible resources of Ireland's abundant and surrounding seas," said Minister Coveney at today's SeaFest launch. "This two-day festival will travel Ireland, taking place in Cork in 2015 and with plans already underway to bring SeaFest to Galway in 2016.
"It is a national festival at which we can share our seafaring heritage and future, enjoy a myriad of water sports and activities, have fun while learning about the sea and the opportunities it presents, and feast on some of the world's best seafood. I am hugely excited about this national festival, SeaFest, and look forward to it becoming one of Ireland's leading festivals in the coming years."
Cookery demonstrations, workshops on how to cook and eat prawns, lobsters, mussels and oysters among other seafood will be hosted by the seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, with renowned seafood chefs Martin Shanahan and Rory O'Connell.
As well as leading Irish chefs showing people just how easy, quick and healthy it is to enjoy fresh fish from our oceans, there will also be fishmonger demonstrations, seafood sampling, rope making, talks on seafood and a large fish market at the festival.
The Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Conference, which forms a key part of SeaFest, will attract international and national delegates and experts in marine research, ocean energy and the 'blue economy' to Cork.
"Ireland is one of the largest states in the EU if you take into account our seabed area," said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. "With our exclusive rights to a sea area more than ten times our land size, Ireland's ocean is a national asset providing incredible opportunities for tourism, energy, food and new applications for therapeutics and technology. SeaFest aims to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of the sea for the island."
The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) will be sharing their facilities, normally used to train for a career as a maritime professional, with the public at SeaFest.
Festival goers can experience various ship models in national and international waters in a variety of weather conditions via the simulators; these simulation exercises show the skills required when working at sea.
Also open for visitors will be UCC's new Beaufort Building. This state-of-the-art €15 million facility will house the LIR National Ocean Test Facility and the SFI MaREI centre, which is a cluster of key university and industrial partners dedicated to solving the main scientific, technical, social and economic challenges related to marine renewable energy.
Members of the Irish Defence Forces will tell visitors about the activities of the Irish Navy, situations encountered aboard while at sea and showcase the latest in modern seafaring technology on board this new ship.
The RNLI are the nominated charity for the SeaFest event and 2,000 ducks in lifeboats will take part in a duck race in Cork Harbour to raise funds for the charity, which provides rescue services all around the Irish coast and saves hundreds of lives at sea each year.
There will also be a parade of sail including superyachts, racing yachts, private leisure craft and boats that will sail from the mouth of Cork Harbour to the Port of Cork Marina in the city centre.
The parade of sail will follow the open water swimmers of the Lee Swim, which is taking place on 11 July and will see hundreds taking to the sea to enjoy a refreshing and strenuous in the sea.
SeaFest 2015 promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable festival for all. Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the best of Ireland's oceans this July in Cork Harbour.
A full schedule of festival fun has been announced at www.seafest.ie.