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DEPARTMENT FIGURES REVEAL ABUSE OF IRISH FISHING INDUSTRY

There should be no one left in any doubt that the Ireland has given huge amounts of money to the European Union when the current figures for fish catches in Irish waters are examined.

The ‘spin’ which Irish Government politicians and others voicing unquestioning support for the EU like to put on the benefits which Ireland has gained from the EU, without any balance, is thrown into sharp relief and should be subjected to searching questioning when the figures are examined.

Read the latest This Island Nation programme blog here

IRELAND’S FIRST NATIONAL MARITIME FESTIVAL LAUNCHES ON WORLD OCEANS DAY

SeaFest, Ireland’s Maritime Festival, comes to Cork in July 2015

Dublin, Galway & Cork, 8 June 2015: Marking World Oceans Day across the globe today (8 June), Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence Simon Coveney T.D., has announced the first national celebration of Ireland’s oceans, SeaFest.

The inaugural SeaFest, will take place this year in Cork Harbour on 10 and 11 July, and will see thousands of visitors enjoying the fruits and pleasures of the sea, from boating trips, yacht sailing, open water swimming, marine simulators, rescue demonstrations, sea life exhibits, educational screenings and talks, festival family fun and a food village with live seafood cookery demonstrations with some of Ireland’s best known chefs.

Pictured at the launch of SeaFest are: Martin Shanahan, Seafood Chef and Fiona Evans at Ringaskiddy, Cork. Pic DARRAGH KANE

“As an island nation, it is so important to recognise and celebrate the incredible resources of Ireland’s abundant and surrounding seas,” said Minister Simon Coveney, T.D. at the launch of SeaFest. “This two day festival will travel Ireland, taking place in Cork in 2015 and with plans already underway to bring SeaFest to Galway in 2016. It is a national festival at which we can share our seafaring heritage and future, enjoy a myriad of water sports and activities, have fun while learning about the sea and the opportunities it presents, and feast on some of the world’s best seafood. I am hugely excited about this national festival, SeaFest, and look forward to it becoming one of Ireland’s leading festival in the coming years.”

Cookery demonstrations, workshops on how to cook and eat prawns, lobsters, mussels and oysters among other seafood will be hosted by the seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board with renowned seafood chefs, Martin Shanahan and Rory O’Connell. As well as leading Irish chefs showing people just how easy, quick and healthy it is to enjoy fresh fish from our oceans, there will also be fishmonger demonstrations, seafood sampling, rope making, talks on seafood and a large fish market at the festival.

The Harnessing our Ocean Wealth conference which forms a key part of SeaFest, will attract international and national delegates and experts in marine research, ocean energy and the ‘blue economy’ to Cork.

“Ireland is one of the largest states in the EU if you take into account our seabed area,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “With our exclusive rights to a sea area more than ten times our land size, Ireland’s ocean is a national asset providing incredible opportunities for tourism, energy, food and new applications for therapeutics and technology. SeaFest aims to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of the sea for the island”

The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) will be sharing their facilities, normally used to train for a career as a maritime professional, with the public at SeaFest. Festival goers can experience various ship models in national and international waters in a variety of weather conditions via the simulators; these simulation exercises show the skills required when working at sea. Visitors to the festival will also be able to visit UCC’s new Beaufort Building. This state of the art €15 million building will house the LIR National Ocean Test Facility and the SFI MaREI centre which is a cluster of key university and industrial partners dedicated to solving the main scientific, technical, social and economic challenges related to marine renewable energy.

The Irish Naval Service will be on hand to provide tours of the offshore patrol vessel, L.E. James Joyce, the sister ship to L.E. Samuel Beckett. Members of the Irish Defence Forces will tell visitors about the activities of the Irish Navy, situations encountered aboard while at sea and showcase the latest in modern seafaring technology on board this new ship. The Marine Institute research vessel, R.V. Celtic Voyager will be visiting SeaFest before departing on a survey to investigate algal blooms off Ireland’s coast.

The RNLI are the nominated charity for the SeaFest event and 2,000 ducks in lifeboats will take part in a duck race in Cork Harbour to raise funds for the charity, which provides rescue services all around the Irish coast and saves hundreds of lives at sea each year.

As part of SeaFest, there will be a ‘parade of sail’ including super yachts, racing yachts, private leisure craft and boats, that will sail from the mouth of Cork Harbour to the Port of Cork marina in the city centre. The parade of sail will follow the open water swimmers of the Lee Swim, which is taking place on 11 July and will see hundreds taking to the sea to enjoy a refreshing and strenuous in the sea.

SeaFest 2015 promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable festival for all. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the best of Ireland’s oceans this July in Cork Harbour. A full schedule of festival fun has been announced for SeaFest 2015 at www.seafest.ie to mark World Oceans Day on 8 June 2015.

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Department must urgently draw up plan to harness employment potential of Harbour Centres

Report examines underuse of State’s six Fishery Harbour Centres

(June 24th): The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine should draw up and implement a plan which will see all vacant or underused properties being developed so as to promote fishing and non-fishing activities in Ireland’s six Fishery Harbour Centres, according to the Committee of Public Accounts.

In a report published this afternoon, the PAC points to below par asset utilisation at the Centres despite the fact that demand exists for these facilities, meaning employment opportunities are currently not being maximised.

The PAC notes the fractured working relationship between the Department officials and the business communities at the six Centres. It calls for clear segregation between the control functions of the Department and responsibility for development of facilities at the Centres to be put in place and for the Minister for the Marine to appoint a board to oversee the development of the six Fishery Harbours.

The Committee also heavily criticises the Department for failing to ensure proper maintenance of the accounts, citing the methods as ‘archaic’. It says that all steps should now be taken to bring the Financial Statements of the Fishery Harbour Centres up to date.
Other findings and recommendations include that:

The systems, processes and procedures in place to collect income owed to the Fishery Harbour Centres were seriously deficient and the Department needs to continue to update its financial management systems so as to ensure that all charges are invoiced in a timely manner;
A dispute resolution mechanism involving arbitration should be put in place in respect of the Fishery Harbour Centres. This would ensure that costly and prolonged legal disputes are avoided to the greatest extent possible;
The Department needs to review the issue of charging for car parking, especially in Dingle, Howth and Rossasveal, and
Decentralisation led to a huge loss of corporate knowledge which led to a public body not being in a position to adequately charge for services. Where a major change is proposed, for instance where a function of a Department is moved to another Ministerial portfolio, the implications for the day to day business of the unit should be analysed and a business continuation plan should be put in place prior to the move.

Committee Chairman John McGuinness TD says that that the potential of these harbours – so strategically important to the promotion and development of our sea fishing and our seafood industries - is not being realised. “The Special Report highlights a history of poor management, with facilities left vacant and revenues due to the State not being collected in a timely fashion. The Committee wants to see change so that these six harbours can deliver on their undoubted potential: These six centres should be hubs for our fishing and seafood industry, generating local employment and giving a return to the State for the investment that has been made. This is very much the focus of the Report of the Committee which makes far reaching recommendations that will deliver a better return to the local harbour communities and to the State.”

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