first_imgDonegal could be the location of Ireland’s first National Marine Park.One of the most ambitious marine environment projects in the history of the Irish state is being planned for Co Donegal.The project, which could create a much-needed jobs boost, plans to bring together three integrated marine initiatives of international excellence centred at Malin Head.The plans include the development of an Ocean Interpretation Centre, Ireland’s First National Marine Park and a Biosphere Fishing Reserve on the North coast of Inishowen. Project co-ordinator Emmett Johnston said the plan has huge potential.A series of public meetings is now planned to gather the views of the local public on the concept.The concept document focuses on the common marketing of environmentally themed tourism, locally caught sea food produce and sustainable community practices through the three initiatives.The main point of the concept document is that local coastal communities, tourism, fishing, academic and environmental sectors could gain significantly by coming together under one umbrella for the purposes of collective management and marketing of local marine resources. Different ways that a collective plan could be achieved are discussed in detail, with ideas such as the development of a common Malin Head brand for the various marine related sectors of particular note.Speaking about the launch of the concept document the project coordinator Emmett Johnston said the concept is about putting new ideas and solutions out into the community and seeing what the reaction is.“It’s a different way of approaching things, most people are used to being told from the top down what is going to happen and they may have difficulty understanding that this is just a concept, potential ideas for the future. It’s like planting a seed, then it’s up to local people to shape the idea and make it their own.”According to the group there will be a series of three public meetings covering the communities of Inishowen North, West and East. Each meeting will involve a presentation of the concepts and a feedback session where ideas will be taken and developed.Everyone is invited to read the concept document and give feedback before and after the meetings which will be held on the 18th, 19th and 20th of March at a variety of venues throughout the peninsula. All ideas are welcome according to the project coordinator Emmett Johnston.“Without community engagement this concept is just a piece of paper, it up to local people to decide if this is something they want and how they can benefit from it. We need everyone to come on board with the process, attend the public meetings and give their feedback. If the community does not put forward their own solutions to existing problems, then central government will eventually impose their solutions on communities.“We think the time is right for all the local interest groups to come together as one voice and to start doing something about the deteriorating situation here, if we don’t do something now some of the coastal communities on Inishowen could experience the same fate as the island communities did in the early 20th century.”Emmett explained that a short meeting with some of the fishermen from the north of the peninsula has already been held at the start of March. He explained that some fishermen saw there might be something positive in it for them and their sector, while others did not, however all of them were concerned about how environmental ideas in the document could end up negatively affecting their business.“The level of mistrust and doubt about new ideas and the ability of fishermen to do anything about their own situation is indicative of how shamefully the industry has been treated over the years. We think collective marketing of the area as a well-managed natural environment could help the local fishing industry sell their produce, but it’s up to them to make up their own mind about the ideas.“All we see this concept doing is kick starting people into thinking about how they can improve their own situation without waiting for central government to impose things on them. They might not take on what we propose, so what, these are just ideas.”All around the county the big question is how can an area create enough jobs to keep at least some of its young people from emigrating. Identifying what an area has that is unique or different may help them create jobs which cannot be shifted out of the area.The concept document released outlines a path using sustainable management of the natural environment as the catalyst to job creation on the North Inishowen peninsula, whether local people agree with that path or not remains to be seen. However it appears everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done and sooner rather than later.The proposal certainly makes for an interesting time ahead for those with an interest in the marine sector around Inishowen. How the various government bodies will react to this type of community led initiative is unknown, especially because they are the ones normally deciding the direction communities should follow.More details and a copy of the document can be found at www.baskingshark.iePLAN LAUNCHED TO SET UP IRELAND’S FIRST NATIONAL MARINE PARK IN DONEGAL was last modified: March 11th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:CommunityEmmett JohnstonfishMalin HeadNational Marine Parksharkslast_img read more

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