World Oceans Day 8th June 2019

8th June 10am -1pm Marine Life Marine Litter – 1 Lapps Quay, UCC Business Centre

World Oceans Day, Seafest and Birdwatch Film & Panel

To celebrate World Oceans day and take advantage of it coinciding with Seafest which brought many national agencies and NGOs to Cork, we had an event with Coastwatch and some of our Cork coastwatchers plus Paddy Houlihan, Coastwatch Coordinator in Waterford in the historic building which is now the UCC Business Centre, Lapps Quay. We were delighted to have the input of the Director of the Marine Institute, Dr. Jeff Fisher. The focus of this event was Marine Litter and attendees got a great overview of the very interesting research being carried out by the Institute in this respect. 

Angel Duarte Campos, Coastwatch International and Karin Dubsky presented the results from the 2018 Survey.  

There was feedback from Coastwatchers on aspects of the survey this year including our LAWCO funded project centered in Adrigole. We were also updated on the Bantry Bay Kelp campaign by Dolf D’Hondt. 

On the quayside the “Coastwatch Marine Litter Survey Results and Action to Tackle Marine Litter for Ireland” were launched which acknowledges and lists all the 2018 surveyors. The importance of citizen science in collating such widespread data was noted. 

To highlight the diversity of the marine environment for World Oceans Day some participants and a few members of the public used the colourful costumes created earlier in the year by the Mahon Youth Group for our Parade float for a photo op. 

We took a saunter through the Seafest offering on the quayside and were impressed by the display of the Real Map of Ireland on the R&H Hall building, an iconic part of our industrial heritage. 

On Sunday June 9th Birdwatch hosted a screening of the film “End of the Line” in the unique theatre at the Montenotte Hotel. The End of the Line was the world’s first major feature documentary about the devastating impact overfishing has had on our oceans. 

Following the film Ella McSweeney chaired a lively panel discussion with Colm O Suilleabhain of the EU and International Fisheries Policy Unit of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Norah Parke of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation Ltd (KFO), Ciaran Kelly, Marine Institute representative, Manager Integrated Scientific Advice and Fintan Kelly, Policy Officer, BirdWatch Ireland

Our Ocean Wealth Summit 

Cork had the honor of hosting the 2019 Ocean Summit entitled “Our Ocean Wealth” however, it was refreshing that the overarching emphasis by those welcomed to Cork from the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other contributors focused more on Our Ocean Health with aspects such as overfishing, ocean acidification, plastic pollution and other threats to  sustainability aspects highlighted. 

It was revealing to hear from the representatives from the Small Island Developing States such as Palau, Bermuda, Jamacia, Cabo Verde and others with a commonality with Ireland as “Small Island States but Large Ocean States” with all having much larger marine territory than terrestrial area. As Carmelo Abelo, Malta said “We have enough evidence, research and solutions for the current challenges – what we need are partnerships across all sectors and political will”. The need for political action was strongly referenced including by John Kerry “Hold the politicians accountable, it is not a question of capacity it is a question of political will”. 

The most impactful voices on the day were the youth voices of Alicia O’Sullivan (link to her early morning input at the beginning of this Newsletter)and Selina Neirok Leem, Marshall Islands who in her feedback from the Youth Session in the Council Chamber said “We are not future leaders, we are the present civil leaders doing actions in our communities and telling political leaders inaction is fatal”. 

One of the final speakers was Peter Thompson, UN Special Envoy to the Ocean, “Coral is 30% of the ocean biodiversity, it will be gone with a 2 degree warming and we are on a trajectory of 3.7 degrees. If a coral reef is dying then we’re dying too as we rely on every second breath from the ocean”. 

He stated that we need to share better and innovate better and make radical changes to consumption and production patterns, this includes our personal choices as he admitted to giving up meat 3 years ago motivated by the thought of a future for his grandchildren, indeed as many people are. 

The takeaway for us is that we need to look after our ocean health and end destructive and intensive exploitation of it’s unique resources.  

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