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Tom MacSweeney’s Weekly Maritime Blog August 15


This issue is debated in the new edition of the MARITIME IRELAND RADIO SHOW, No. 19 because it has become quite controversial and could cost the Irish fishing industry millions of Euros. What has been claimed is that the Dáil, in passing the Maritime Jurisdiction Bill by a majority vote last month, has included within that Bill the terms of an agreement dating back to 2014 by a previous Irish government and thatk in doing so, coneded rights over the territorial area to the UK Government.


Rockall Island, 228 nautical miles northwest of Tory Island off Donegal, because it is nothing more than an an uninhabited rock, possibly the rump of an extinct volcano – but it has become very controversial..

The UK, after Brexit, has claimed ownership and of the territorial waters around Rockall and the Scottish government has blocked and warned off Irish fishing boats… The Irish government doesn’t accept that a rock which can’t sustain human habitation can have an exclusive zone. Denmark and the Faroes  also dispute the UK’s claim and the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention also denies it. But, could the Dáil’s decision to pass the Maritime Jurisdiction Bill last month which, it is claimed, appears to encompass that 2014 agreement between the then Irish government and the UK have scuppered Ireland’s claims to traditional fishing rights around Rockall? Padraig MacLochlainn, Marine and Fisheries Spokesman of Sinn Fein has raised the issue and called for the government to go to international arbitration about Rockall. He comes from Donegal, where the fishing industry is particularly irate about the issue and is in the same Donegal Dáil constituency as is the Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, who, with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, also a former Marine Minister, has denied suggestions that the government has lost rights to Rockall.

Photo by Clonakillty Whiskey Distillery which spotted the walrus this week


Also on the programme, Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland will discuss the message which a walrus may have for us all about climate change in the oceans, a major issue following the United Nations report and the joint one from our own three agencies, Met Eireann, the Environmental Institute and the Marine Institute. Wally the Walrus may have travelled over 2,000 nautical miles and has reappeared in West Cork. Could his presence be a message about climate change, of which we’ve been hearing so much. Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland has a view on that as he reports good news about seabird colonies on Irish waters.

And we discuss whether living on the water is a viable concept in Ireland and hear from an Anglo/Irish artist who wants to bring his exhibition about global shorelines to Ireland.



It is always enjoyable to compile the programme and Podcast and there is a comment about not letting anxiety get in your way from Peter Lawless, the sailor from Annascaul, the same homeplace as Tom Crean, to whom I talked a few weeks ago about the solo non-stop sail around the world which he is planning to undertake. He will set out next Saturday, August 21, from Kilrush Marina in County Clare and he has a few words on the programme about his preparations.

Tom MacSweeney

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