A Limerick man with a profound admiration for our fishing community has put his video skills to good use to help promote their cause and show the public what they’re coming up against, he tells Emma Connolly
IF the public knew how little fish West Cork fishermen can catch in their own waters there would be righteous uproar and the politicians would have to do something about it.
That’s according to Sean Moroney who has just recently set up The Fisher’s Voice for fishing communities he believed were not being heard because they did not have a platform from which to speak of the plight of their industry.
It sees him travel the country making documentaries with fishers and their families, and he has already worked closely with the fishing community in Castletownbere.
A video he made last month of the Healy family, who spoke of the industry challenges, was an especially moving one.
The Limerick man’s only connection to the fishing industry is that he and his family live in Kilmore Quay, a prominent fishing community in Wexford.
‘We see where the economic power is in the community and it’s in fishing,’ he said. ‘I don’t take it for granted even though I’m not involved. Without it the place would be dead for nine months of the year and I want my family to live in a vibrant community. If the sea doesn’t provide for the community there’s nothing else,’ he said.
Sean pointed to the tonnes of fish that are landed in West Cork on Spanish boats, that are driven off on lorries to be exported to Spain.
‘The seas around us are sustaining huge parts of Spain. Imagine the travesty, if our seas are doing that for the likes of Galicia while here our fishermen are living in fear at not being able to pay the loans on their boats?’
He said the marine economy is hopping in Europe, with lots of available subsidies, but it’s not at all supported here, with our fishermen left carrying the can.
‘It is not the fault of the fishermen that fishing as an industry is a relative unknown to most of the general public. It is simply a reflection of the fact that fishermen have been offshore for most of their lives. They have not been here to tell their story.
‘A narrative has developed that fishermen are largely all cheating the system. That they are criminals in some way or another. This is not true and fishermen deserve a platform to allow them to show the public that they are an innocent, hard-working sector that strives to make a living and sustain entire coastal communities using an available and sustainable natural resource,’ said Sean.
‘It has got to the point where many fishermen, most of whom are husbands and fathers and sons, no longer feel proud of their profession. This is a very sad state of affairs. Their morale is low and they feel that they are not looked upon with respect by society in general. Some are beginning to feel trapped within the industry. An industry that they once loved, and which provided a good living for generations of coastal communities.’
Sean said he was firmly of the belief that if people knew more about the industry, they’d be more interested in in their plight.
‘For example until recently I presumed Dublin Bay prawns referred to a location and not a species. I didn’t know that to catch them fishermen had to go to the tortuous Porcupine Bank, 200 miles off the west coast, stay out seven to 10 days, be tossed around in their battle to get them, and hope to god they make it back in alive. All people are missing is knowledge,’ he said.
He said that politicians mainly only react when people demand it.
‘A new Common Fisheries Policy will be concluded by the end of the year, now is the time for change,’ he said.
He said it was a failure of our society at large that we do not treat these hard-working fishing families with the respect that they deserve.
‘They work harder than most of us and risk much more than most of us. Irish fishers are very heavily policed by the Irish authorities and they bear all the risks both personal and financial. Their families suffer the continuous worry of an accident at sea and have to attend many occasions such as weddings and school events without the fishermen who are away at sea.’
He has a digital media business, Santander Digital Media which he has combined which his background in marketing and public relations to create The Fisher’s Voice.
‘This platform is for them because they need it and deserve it. Entire coastal communities depend on them. They have a good story to tell. The rest of us have a duty to listen.’