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Cork Harbour Fishermen fighting subsea electricity pipelines

category cork | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Tuesday February 02, 2010 00:39author by Kathy Bradley - Great Island Inshore Fishermen's Associationauthor email giifa at hotmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Eirgrid pipeline threatens local livelihoods and marine environment. Support needed

In addition to incinerators at Ringaskiddy, the a toxic dump at Haulbowline and a long list of other indignities Cork Harbour is suffering it is now under attack from another direction. The state body responsible for electricity distribution since 2006, Eirgrid are going ahead with plans to install a submarine power cable between Aghada and Cuskinny Bay.

Cork Harbour's motto “a safe harbour for all” is quite laughable for the marine life and the flora and fauna of the area who seem to be excluded from this pledge.

Map of harbour showing proposed route of cable
Map of harbour showing proposed route of cable

The full time local fishermen through their organisation the “Great Island Inshore Fishermans Association”(GIIFA) have fought this proposal from the very beginning and are still awaiting official confirmation from the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries as to the granting of licence and conditions that are attached to it even though we have been promised this since June 2009.

The fishermen's livelihoods are being threatened to a degree that the licences that they have worked so hard for and paid good hard earned money for will not be worth the paper that they are written on unless someone within the Government has the bottle to actually stand up for the fishing community.
Interestingly enough this is the same electricity cable that was forced to be to be put under the sea by prolonged protests in the Cobh area in the 90s. Unfortunately no-one consulted the fishermen.

In an echo of last years events on the sea off Mayo, the word on the street is that the ship responsible for the pipe laying is due in Cork Harbour on Tuesday the 2nd of February.

While there are many concerns over the entire project the main concerns that have been identified by the fishermen regarding the pipelaying and subsequent cables that will be in place are as follows:

1. Inadequate surveying and sampling by consultants compiling the EIS

2. Loss of habitat and fish species during ‘construction’ of project and ongoing disturbance to habitat following completion leading to huge effect on the fishermens ability to earn a living.

3. Generation of electromagnetic radiation from the sunken cables leading to change in water temperature and disturbance to marine life. Out of sight does not mean there will be no problems

GIIFA have been in talks with Eirgrid regarding other issues along with the above. The afore mentioned have been before the Marine Licence Vetting Committee (MLVC). This is something like the marine version of An Bord Pleanala. In documentation received by GIIFA
from the MLVC their member's names have been blacked out.

This is only the latest stage in the ongoing degradation of fishing grounds in the Cork harbour area.
An article in the Cork Examiner of August 1997 refers to a fishermen's protest against the demolishing of the Spit bank ( once the most lucrative fishing area in the harbour) for the construction of the Jack Lynch tunnel. This article in turn refers back to events 17 years previously again, when part of the bank was removed. The fishermen had been promised on each occasion that stocks would return to normal but this has never happened.

Combine this with the sell out of Ireland's fishing rights back in the 70's which continues to this day and high diesel prices and the situation is looking bleak indeed. The net effect of all this is that practitioners of a sustainable local industry are being forced out of business or further out to sea in boats designed for inshore work thus adding greatly to the risks of an already dangerous trade.

With the expected arrival of the cable laying boat this struggle is entering a crucial phase. Up to now GIIFA have used official channels to protect their livelihoods and the harbour. Despite promises from government departments to keep us informed we find ourselves in the unenviable position of having to take matters into our own hands.

This is only phase one of a project that will have implications for the whole harbour area. We are asking for support from anyone who can see this. We will be putting up reports on this forum over the coming days. Please watch this space or get in touch using our email address

author by john bpublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 00:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting to note the eventual landfall of the cable is at Ringaskiddy, right at the proposed site of the incinerator. Other contributors to this site may be all too familiar with this map section

author by Scientistpublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 01:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's a harbour, full of tbt boat cleaner and diesel residue and all manner of crap poured in by unscrupulous companies over the years . Not to mention noise pollution, sewage etc. There are no fish left there worth catching and eating unless you like indigestion and vomiting. As for electromagnetism heating up the rubbish. Very little energy is lost from these cables otherwise the ESB would be out of business very soon. It's true some fish are sensitive to electromagnetism but it drops off according to an inverse square law in air so it's usually extremely weak after a metre or two from the cable. Any of the few aforementioned toxic fish left in the area will probably swim a metre or so away from the cable and carry on with the business of eating any lumps of tasty faeces they find in the harbour. You can still catch 'em if you really must! (bait your hook with a nice fresh bit of their regular food supply for best results!)

This is probably all about compensation. Typical in our sad Irish gombeen culture. If the ESB were still totally a state enterprise then I'd be more upset. However since they are now essentially a profit making PPP with huge salaries who persist in screwing the unemployed with large standing charges and deposits >300 euro etc, I have somewhat less sympathy. Perhaps you SHOULD screw them for compensation like they are screwing everyone else.

author by bunnypublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 08:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seriously get off your high horse and look at what is sitting on our door step. The habour area is huge and has the fabulous claim of being the second largest natual harbour in the world which is slowly being destroted by all of us in our attempt to do nothing but sit by and watch.

As for the Electromagnetic Fields they might all by fine in air and not effect the humans but the marine life will not be so lucky.

author by Jackpublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 08:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Coal, gas, oil, and atomic energy is destroying the planets livability and therefore the last forty-five years of ecological green revolution has brought into being the hi and low-tech tools to put in place wind, tidal, and solar power which transforms to electricity and is more power than can be used by society. No more blackouts. This non-pollution solution is given freely in natures kinder laws and provides work for all and forever more.. Viva socialist liberation. End pollution wars, not endless wars for more pollution.,

author by John Bpublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 08:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And thankyou for your contribution.
You are so right about the state of the harbour. Over the last 40 years or so we have allowed a valuable natural resource that could support sustainable industries such as inshore fishing to be grossly degraded in favour of heavy industry. This cable is the latest stage in this history.
It would be nice to think that at some point the process could be shifted back onto more sustainable lines. We are not going to do this by taking the attitude "sure the harbour's f**ked already, might as well let them away with it".
By taking their stance, along with other groups such as CHASE who question the current model of economic development being pursued in the harbour, the fishermen are helping to open up a space for discussion in which alternative versions of reality can be looked at and implemented. As such they are worthy of our support and do not deserve to be ridiculed as part of a gombeen culture. I have learnt a little about the history of fishing in Cork and the rest of the state over recent years and it is a story that really needs to be told.
As to your comments on Electromagnetic Fields, would you be able to provide some references to back up your claims? I am not a scientist but this is an area that interests me given that we have saturated our environment with various forms of electro-magnetic radiation over the last 50 years or so. I was not aware that a great deal of research had been done on it. I would be of the opinion that we are messing with things we do not yet know much about and, as ever economic growth and profit are racing ahead of what we actually know about these technologies and their effects on living organisms and ecosystems.

author by John Bpublication date Tue Feb 02, 2010 08:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with you about the ESB though.
Just to clarify, the body being dealt with here is Ergrid who I think used to be part of the ESB. They are responsible for electricity distribution as opposed to generation

author by John Bpublication date Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Two pics of onshore works at Cuskinny, near Cobh. Once a nice little strand, now a construction site

Concrete channels to receive cables onshore at Cuskinny
Concrete channels to receive cables onshore at Cuskinny

The beach at Cuskinny
The beach at Cuskinny

author by jonpublication date Wed Feb 03, 2010 16:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is no fixed immutable law that says all work in the industrial revolution needs to be dirty, dustiy wreckage of natures ecological balances, no it is fixed by the motivation under dirty monopoly capitalism and destined to be dirty because of burning coal, gas, ol, and atomic energy all of which is obsolete failed technology of the previous centuries. In front of our noses so close it just about bites us, is the obvious answers to the questions of 'what is to be done'.

It is obvious now that wind, tidal, and solar power can and should motivate the entire industrial revolution so as to clean our path to a liberation of the living world. Solar power is a source of the whole life of the planet. In other centuries that idea was burned to death in plaza's around the world. Except where indigenous peoples were not put asunder by Religious fanatics that even burned to death those geniuses that said the world was round and not flat. Or that the earth moved around the sun and not the sun around the earth. No, our liberation depends on material truths, and their inner laws being rediscoved and applied to our communities.

One of the biggest hinderances to this happening is the war machine and its manufactury as an imperialist excess for destruction of the truth of ecological green organic balances, which we all depend on to make life flourish. Work is the way, and a correct policy the agenda. Workers of the world, unite!! End pollution wars, not endless wars for more pollution.

author by Scientistpublication date Thu Feb 04, 2010 06:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"It is obvious now that wind, tidal, and solar power can and should motivate the entire industrial revolution so as to clean our path to a liberation of the living world. Solar power is a source of the whole life of the planet."

That may be, but mostly you still need big cables to carry the electricity to people's homes and (more relevent to eirgrid's activities) to allow connection of such green energy generators to the national grid

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