Malin Head Marine Park, Centre and Biosphere Fishing Area Concept Document
COMMUNITY CONSULTATION FEEDBACK
The Inishowen Basking Shark Study Group have concluded their first round of public consultations with the wider Inishowen community regarding their concept for the development of a Marine Centre, Park and Biosphere Reserve centered at Malin Head, on the north coast of Inishowen.
Many submissions and comments were received regarding the concept document at the public meetings and also via written correspondence. The community expressed a variety of views, regarding the plans with some sectors and groups holding conflicting opinions on specific matters.
A document containing the majority of Comments received can be downloaded on our "Downloads" page.
GENERAL COMMENTS RECEIVED SUMMARY
Generally the communities are accustomed to being told about plans for the area after they have been decided. Being asked their opinion and to contribute to the formulation of new plans was an alien experience. Everyone within the wider community recognised that there is no overarching plan for job creation in the area, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Fishing, farming and tourism are generally seen as the sectors which will provide jobs and draw outside monies into the area. The communities expressed a general lack of confidence in state run organisations and political groups to deliver for the area, frequently pointing to the historic experiences. Many within the communities also expressed concern about the ability of themselves (the communities and individual sectors) to put local rivalries aside and join together under a single themed umbrella. All those who engaged with the consultation process were not just concerned with themselves and their immediate families’ future, but the future of the wider community. Particular concern was expressed regarding the communities' ability to change current circumstances and provide for / sustain jobs for younger persons who are at present forced to emigrate.
MARINE CENTRE: SUMMARY OF COMMENTS RECEIVED
All sectors of the community thought that the development of a marine interpretation centre at Malin head would increase visitor numbers to the area and serve to increase the financial take from tourism for the peninsula. There were a number of concerns expressed regarding the impact of the centre itself and increased visitor numbers on the landscape and local communities’ lives.
MARINE PARK: SUMMARY OF COMMENTS RECEIVED
The marine park was welcomed by the tourism sector in particular as a means to promote the area and local marine themed activities/businesses. Many individuals also welcomed the idea as a means to protect local natural resources. Members of the sea angling and commercial fishing communities expressed concern about the marine park concept which they felt could result in greater legislation and controls on fishing activities. The use of existing facilities by both leisure and commercial operators was also a concern for some but welcomed by others. Numerous questions were raised on how the park would be implemented and by whom.
THE BIOSPHERE RESERVE OR FISHING AREA
The biosphere concept received mixed opinions from the fishing sector with many expressing concern about the prospect of increased regulation, restrictions, red tape and fishing being stopped altogether. Members of the fishing community pointed to historic experience with environmental and voluntary initiatives and the subsequent poor results for the fishing operators involved. Whitefish operators in particular saw the proposed voluntary seasonal closure around Malin head as a Trojan horse or ‘thin edge of the wedge’ initiative which was a threat to their lively hoods both locally and nationally. Some crab/lobster and oyster operators did express interest in the concept in particular investigating the possibility of gaining recognition for a ‘Malin Crab’ and 'Foyle Oyster' brands. Many operators felt if it could be demonstrated that the concept would offer better financial results, then they would consider supporting the initiative, but only if it operated through their co-op or existing business structures.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
A revised concept document has been be drafted, where possible incorporating questions, comments and feedback received during the community consultation process. That document will now be used by the IBSSG to seek wider national and political support for the concept and to access funding streams in order to further develop the separate themes. The new document will focus primarily on the elements which have received a wide community support base or mandate, such as the development of a marine centre at Malin Head.
The Inishowen Basking Shark Study Group would like to thank the communities of Inishowen for contributing to what was a new and sometimes uncomfortable process of community self-reflection and engagement. We look forward to working pro-actively in the community to help the Inishowen peninsula achieve its full potential with regard to its marine resources and to make it a better place in which to live and work sustainably.