Sea Change: Ireland’s largest free maritime festival to raise awareness of plastic pollution
An interactive hut made up of 60kg of household plastics, the average amount used by an adult in Ireland each year, will be unveiled at SeaFest this weekend, highlighting the problem of plastics in our oceans. Ireland’s largest free family-friendly maritime festival takes place at the Port of Cork, Cork City from Friday, 7 June to Sunday, 9 June, with over 100 free events celebrating our oceans. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to attend SeaFest, which is presented by Cork City Council and the Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group (MCG).
Raising awareness of the need to protect our marine environment against plastic pollution, Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s centrepiece at SeaFest is the Clean Oceans Experience. Funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the installation includes a 60kg plastic hut sculpture, representing the total plastic packaging waste produced per person in a year. This installation will be accompanied by a specially commissioned artistic performance Fantastic Fishermen go Fishing for Litter on how the fishing sector is reducing plastics in our seas. Members of the fishing sector taking part in BIM’s Fishing for Litter scheme, which encourages fishermen to take ashore waste they encounter at sea, have collected over 330 tonnes of marine litter since it began in 2015.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn said: “Environmental stewardship of our oceans is something we need to instil in our children. This will ensure the problems facing our oceans are addressed, and hopefully, reversed. I’m delighted to welcome SeaFest to Cork for the next three years, as it serves an important role in this education. SeaFest is a brilliant illustration of our unique and unrivalled maritime history. In a fun and interactive way, this national annual festival is helping those of all ages to think about their connection with the water and how the actions they make today can make a difference tomorrow.”
Engaging exhibitions and workshops to turn plastic into art also feature at SeaFest, open daily from 10am to 6pm. A Flock of Sea Gulls will see 1000 young visitors transform 1000 plastic cartons into an installation of sea gulls while the Port of Cork and MaREI’s 3D exhibition Maintaining a Healthy Harbour is also on display, with marine litter artworks from local school children.
Showing how our oceans and climate are linked, the Marine Institute’s Wild Atlantic Theatre features talks from Met Éireann Head of Forecasting Evelyn Cusack and wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, who has worked alongside Sir David Attenborough on BBC’s Blue Planet and Frozen Planet.
Sustainably sourced Irish seafood plays a starring role at SeaFest with demos from top chefs Nevin Maguire, Rory O’Connell and Martin Shanahan. The Bord Bia and BIM Seafood Experience also features fishmongers Pat O’Connell and Hal Dawson on seafood preparation. Encouraging responsible activity on the water, SeaFest will hold free sailing, kayaking, and currach boats sessions; along with interactive displays exploring the marine world.
Speaking ahead of SeaFest 2019, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed stated: “SeaFest is part of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, the Government’s integrated plan for the marine sector. A key aspect of this plan is to significantly increase our level of engagement with the sea. As we welcome the festival back to Cork from Galway where it has been thriving over the past three years, once again, SeaFest has delivered a fantastic line-up of free, educational and fun events to engage both the public and policy makers alike and emphasise the importance of Ireland’s marine economy."
Providing education on our oceans, the Marine Institute RV Celtic Explorer is open to the public, following its oceanographic data collection voyage from Galway to Cork. There will also be vessel tours of Commissioners of Irish Lights’ ILV Granuaile and tall ship The Phoenix. MFV Allanah Riley, a white fish trawler that fishes out of the port of Castletownbere, will be open to visitors throughout SeaFest. Its crew will be on hand to explain the sustainable fishing practices of the Irish fishing fleet.
As part of Cork City Council’s commitment to green initiatives, Cork City Council Environmental Awareness Officer, Mary Walsh highlighted that market traders will be using compostable packaging across the weekend. “There will also be pirates on-site, keeping SeaFest free from single use plastics. If someone has brought a plastic bottle with them, the pirate will show them how, and where, to dispose of it,” she said.
SeaFest 2019 is a culmination of a weeklong celebration of Ireland’s rich maritime heritage, as the annual Cork Harbour Festival runs until 9 June. The Our Ocean Wealth Summit takes place in Cork on Sunday, 9 June and Monday, 10 June. The Summit will hear from global leaders including environmental activist and former US Secretary of State John Kerry.
SeaFest is proudly supported by Cork City Council, BIM, Marine Institute, Port of Cork, Cork Harbour Festival, Commissioners of Irish Lights, Defence Forces, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bord Bia, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and Pure Cork and media partners Today FM and RedFM.
SeaFest is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union under Ireland’s European Maritime & Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for the seafood sector.