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TOM MacSWEENEY’S WEEKLY MARITIME BLOG – September 11

BUILDING A MARITIME COMMUNITY

BUILDING THE COMMUNITY OF AN ISLAND NATION

As the most western European island nation, it is logical that Ireland should be a maritime community. Unfortunately, that has not been Irish government policy. As a result our natural maritime resources are not as developed as they should be. This can be adjudged a political failure by successive governments whose policies have been inward looking rather than outwards towards the sea and the resources with which Nature provided Ireland. Therefore, politicians with marine-blindness ceded to other nations resources which have hugely benefited others, not Ireland. So, while Ireland has, for example, the richest fishing waters in Europe, it is other European nations who have got rich from Irish waters, not Ireland. That remains a travesty, visited upon Ireland by politicians and Government civil servants who were blind to the maritime resources with which Nature endowed Ireland and squandered them. So today we have coastal and fishing communities in serious difficulties, while other nations reap multi-million benefits. Gradually some realisation has begun to dawn on Government that Ireland’s island status can be of unique value. But policies still concentrate on FDI – Foreign Direct Investment – rather than moving the maritime sphere to a much higher level of State concentration. An island nation with Government system that dissipates maritime matters between several State Departments and regulates ‘Marine’ to the last name in the title of the Department in which it is only the third part – i.e. Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, is still failing to build a Maritime Community. It is well beyond time that Government, the politicians and civil servants of the State took pride in and valued fully Ireland’s island nation status.

WILL THE GOVERNMENT ENSURE OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY RESOURCES ARE NOT GIVEN AWAY TO FOREIGN EXPLOITATION?

The next phase to watch in the use of Irish natural maritime resources is the allocation of licence rights to developers. There is already considerable interest amongst big foreign companies to acquire these rights. They will be accompanied by statements of “generating enough energy to power to power the equivalent of XXXXX thousand homes…” Another phrase which will become regularly used will be “investment of €x billions in the region….” and “flagship development,..” and “leader in green energy…” and “…support for community interests and initiatives…” These are the well-worn public relations phrases as sights are set on massive financial profits from offshore wind farms.

What will the Irish people get? Will the politicians ensure this time that Irish natural resources are used for the benefit of the Irish people. not for the profits of multi-nationals?

The MARITIME IRELAND RADIO SHOW will continue to work towards building a maritime community which benefits Ireland. The support of listener and readers is an essential part.

WILL SALMON SURVIVE?

It might surprise you to know, but salmon have been around for many millions of years. In the development of their species they have survived many challenges, but the greatest lies ahead. Warmer waters caused by climate change could lead to a salmon moving away from Irish waters. This is the topic of a debate I have with one of the leading international marine scientific experts on salmon in the new edition of the MARITIME IRELAND RADIO SHOW and PODCAST. Edition No.21 begins broadcast on this Monday, September 13 on 18 local Community Radio Stations around Ireland and on Apple, Mixcloud and Spotify Podcasts. Ken Whelan has studied and researched salmon for many years, a respected voice about the species. He describes their situation in fascinating detail on the programme.

TREATING ALL THE FISHING INDUSTRY EQUALLY

Sean O’Donoghue, Chief Executive of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation in Donegal joins me to comment on the €10m. aid programme for the fishing industry announced by the European Union. It can be seen as a belated acknowledgement by the EU of the damage it has done to the Irish fishing industry by the bad Brexit deal Ireland was given. While it is welcomed by Sean O’Donoghue, who has been a leading voice for the industry about the Brexit deal, he points out that it supports only one part of the fishing industry. The demersal sector gets aid, the pelagic sector, which has suffered most damage does not.

WATER SAFETY AND CANAL CULTURE

Two other items that should interest listeners to the programme – It has not been the best Summer for water safety …. The CEO of Water Safety Ireland will tell us why…

And – from Holland to the Grand Canal, in search of canal culture and music.

Hope you will join me on the programme as we build a Maritime Community in Ireland.

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Tom MacSweeney

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