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I’d love to get an answer!

The variety of storylines on the June edition of my Podcast reflects just a selection of what is happening in the wide maritime sphere.

A great amount of information comes is sent to me each month from the Irish maritime sector, for which I’m very grateful, as it records the increasing, rapidly evolving interest – underlining that the marine does matter –….. Amongst the positive in the past month has been Dublin Port’s Terns project which has seen the return of these birds, crossing the Atlantic, one of them having done so for 23 years; the opening of a €2.6m. sea survival training pool at the National Fisheries College in Greencastle, Co.Donegal; the on-going work to re-open the rail link from Foynes Port to Limerick, which should never have been closed in the first place; the new Pilot Boat, Solas, in Cork Port, build by Safehaven Marine at Youghal; the increasing popularity of seafood trucks at marine locations around the country. There is a lot happening… but it was disappointing to see the Navy’s former flagship, Eithne, hauled away to be scrapped and the UK Government’s blocking of an Irish-Scottish deal on fishing at Rockall…..

In answer to listeners’ questions – Neither the Taoiseach, Simon Harris’ nor the Tanaiste, Micheál Martin – answered my question put to them last month about why they ignored the fishing industry in their annual speeches to their political party conferences. I’m writing more about that in the June edition of the MARINE TIMES….. Why the disinterest in the fishing industry and the coastal communities? I’d love to have the answer…

Dr. Kevin Flannery is a renowned fisheries expert, a former Department Fisheries Inspector and a founder of the Dingle Aquarium – Dingle OceanWorld in County Kerry. He’s the person fishermen go to when they catch unusual species in Irish waters and a concerned commentator about what’s happening to our fishing industry. He’s published an extraordinary map (reprinted above) in the June edition of the MARINE TIMES newspaper to show that 82%  of the fish in some Irish supermarkets and shops is now imported. I interviewed him about this , which you can hear on this month’s Podcast.

“This map not of a returning seabird or of a cuckoo returning to cuckoo land but shows how we are becoming dependent on massive amounts of Third Country fish as the EU, now only produces 38% of the fish we, in Europe, consume,” he says. “Self-sufficiency has been declining in the EU since 2008 to the point where EU producers were able to meet only 38% of demand in 2021. Where are all our NGOs;  Enviro/ Pillars that are so fast at the drop of a hat to try and pick the bones of the Irish fishing industry,” he asks, outlining the carbon footprint of transporting fish catches over thousands of air miles and contrasts this with the situa tion of the Irish fishing fleet,

What he reveals about the type of fish that is on sale in some supermarkets, where it has come from and the hygiene standards under which it is produced, compared with the rigid standards imposed on Irish fish producers should cause a degree of concern. He makes the point: “Surely we must have learned something from the past few crises- that food security for this country is vital and that fishermen are food producers too. 

Surely both BIM and Bord Bia, being ‘old friends,’ should look at this crazy import stuff and produce a list of Irish producers and processors that can supply some answers to these imports “

It is a suggestion that does merit some consideration – perhaps by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Bord Bia as he suggests…. Buy Irish  – check the label.

Maintaining traditional boats is demanding —- and when it’s the only one of its kind in the world – the last of what was once a fleet of a thousand vessels – it is even amazing that it can be actively sailing – and so it is. You can hear on this month’s Podcast about Barnabas’ which is 143 years old and on a ‘living heritage’ voyage to link the four ancient Celtic lands – Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

‘ She’s a double-ended dipping lugger and she’s the only surviving of a thousand of them, which was once the major fleet in that great maritime centre – St.Ives in Cornwall. which Tristan Hugh-Jones has been telling me about. I hadn’t met him for many years, since he was engaged in growing oysters, his family running Atlantic Shellfish at Rossmore in the North Channel of Cork Harbour. Living now in Cornwall, he told me that ‘Barnabas’ needed some new masts “and it was decided by the Cornish Maritime Trust, a voluntary charity with which he is associated and hich “preserves Cornwall’s maritime heritage” that she needed new masts and, in getting these new masts they’d get them from a tree in Scotland and they’d take her there to get them…. a long way from Cornwall and that would start their ‘living heritage voyage to the Celtic lands. The plan is that she will be at the Crosshaven Traditional Sail from June 14-16, where there will be many other traditional vessels. It’s a great gathering of older boats – and of course of their crews!!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘longer read’ and that you’ll listen to the Podcast on this page, Your comments and opinions on maritime matters are most welcome. email: https://tommacsweeneymaritimepodcast.ie

If you wish, do follow me on X/Twitter: @TomMacSweeney and we’re also on Linked In and Twitter.

Fair sailing….

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