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Tom MacSweeney’s Weekly Maritime Blog July 30



The three photographs above were sent to me by Kevin Flannery from Dingle Aquarium in County Kerry who has talked to me a number of times on the MARITIME RADIO SHOW about the unusual species which are being found in Irish waters. He is one of the country’s leading commentators on these species. The photographs, of species now at Dingle Aquarium, to where many of them are sent for examination and preservatrion, are only a few of what has arrived in Irish waters in recent times. The effect of climate change on Irish indigneous, native fish stocks, which are primarily ‘cold’ water species is the topic which I will be discussing on the next edition of the show and Podcast., Edition No.18 which will start broadcasting from Monday, August 2.

My guest discussing the topic is Dr Ciaran Byrne, the Head of Logistics at Inland Fisheries Ireland, which is the State agency responsible for the conservation, protection and development of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea angling resource. In the week of the highest temperatures Ireland has had for many, many years, a real ‘heat wave’ I asked him about the effect of the heat on water temperatures and had a fascinating discussion of how the temperatur levels below the surface could be like a ‘hot bath’ for Irish fish species to exist in. As other species, dubbed ‘allien species’ when first seen in Irish waters, seem to be moving northwards in the Atlantic towards us, could they push out the native species for which hotter water temperatures may be difficult, or impossible, to survive in? That is a question to consider. There won’t be quick, sudden changes, but there seems to be a gradual, subtle perhaps, change arriving.


In the course of researching this topic I came across the views of John Sweeney in a historical article about the RIA – the Royal Irish Academy. They publish a most interesting monthly newsletter online. He was suggesting that, from prehistoric times, the Irish people discussed the weather so much, that generations could have been a ‘hostage to climate’. An interesting viewpoint as we do focus so much on the weather. Modern technology has made forecasting so very much more accurate. His suggestion seems to be that there is so much concentration on climate now that it could become ‘the prisoner of the people’ as so much is being done to try to dominate atmospheric changes. He does suggest that this is not a role for the people, but that we should seek to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. At least that is how I summarise what he writes. It is a very interesting ‘take’ on the topic.


And continuing on the topic of how climate change can be affecting a lot of what we are familiar with in the coastal regions we will be discussing sand dunes which have an important role of increasing coastal resilience to the impacts of climate change. Damage to our sand dunes system is evident all around the coast according to the Climate Action Regional Offices who have launched a campaign to highlight the importance and fragility of these natural coastal protections and habitats.


There are always a wide vafriety of topics to choose from when compiling the fortnightly show. The new edition will also include the call for an Islands Bill to be developed by Government for the offshore islands. And while on the topic of islands, I am still uncertain about the State attitude to Rockall and whether Ireland can maintain fishing rights off the island, which the UK government is now denying to Irish fishing boats on the basis that it has total control of a 12-mile territorial limit that it has imposed there. It is a topic we will be returning to on the show. Your views and opinions are always welcome, either via this site or on Email to:


Tom MacSweeney

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