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Ignoring the Department of the Marine

I get the impression that the Coalition Government does not value its Department of the Marine very highly. That assessment emanates from several Cabinet-approved developments. These include MARA, Ireland’s new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority, which will have a key role to play in the marine sphere. it is under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Marine Protected Areas are also under this Department.  Offshore renewable energy in  Ireland’s waters is under the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. So, why is the Department of the Marine excluded? I have asked the question several times, without a clear answer.  It is one of several issues which have been drawn to my attention by listeners and readers of MARITIME IRELAND.

Amongst those has been the question – Does Ireland want a fishing industry? Another has highlighted the lack of support facilities for development of marine tourism around the coast. There is also the issue of wind farm developers and the Government being accused of failing to engaged properly with the fishing industry about where they will be located -the identification of chosen areas appearing to be where some of the best fishing grounds are located. Marine Protected Areas are going to be very important for maritime users and for protection of species and of maritime areas. But these could become another point of confrontation. The “spatial squeeze” is an issue being pointed to and has been identified in the ecological sensitivity analysis of the Irish Sea. This is a detailed document. It analyses the several different interests involved from environmental, to industrial, fishing, shipping and others.

There are a wide level of groups, organisations, involved in the marine sector, but it has also been pointed out that, amongst the several set up by the Government, there is no comparable forum looking at the welfare of the coastal communities in the forefront of how all this will impact on their future and the industry upon which they most depend  -fishing. I would be very interested to hear responses from readers/listeners. Email to:  It is vital to achieve unity of opinion about all the impending maritime area development, for the ultimate benefit of this island nation.

Tom MacSweeney

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