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Marine Times Newspaper

The Importance of the Fishing Industry

In the current Covid 19 crisis Ireland’s physical island situation has become more apparent to the general public. That we live on an island should have given the country more protection, is an opinion widely expressed and that more rigorous protective decisions could have been made at an earlier stage.

However, an island cannot shut itself off entirely because modern economic developments depend heavily on the international supply chain. The dominant part of this, 95 per cent, depends on maritime transport by ships, seafarers and the ports. It is also the sea which can supply an important source of food, underlining the vital role of the fishing industry.

Over the years Irish governments have made bad decisions about the maritime sector. The fishing industry was neglected and most of its resources given away to other nations on accession to the EU in the 70s. That decision still impacts the economy. It was followed in the 80s by closure of Irish Shipping, the State Company set up to supply the nation with food in another emergency - the Second World War - when Ireland was closed off to supplies from other nations, Irish seafarers died for the country, attacked while transiting dangerous waters with essential cargoes to feed the nation.

Perhaps, in the current health emergency, all of that will become more apparent to the public at large.

Lán mhara i gcéibh na hAirde! High tide in Ard pier, Galway. Boats are idle and lobster pots stacked high on pier due to this awful virus! Photo courtesy Seamus Breathnach