Cork city is preparing to welcome visitors from 90 countries and dignitaries from over 30 countries this weekend for the SeaFest festival and the Oceans Wealth Summit.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said individuals from more than 30 small island states will travel to Ireland this weekend to attend the summit.
"They are from the Caribbean, the Pacific, from the African coast and from Asia. Some of the most beautiful places on Earth, places we consider paradise," he said.
"However, many of these small countries are under threat so they’re coming to Ireland at a very senior level and we, as an island, are looking to give leadership through the United Nations.
“This is Ireland giving international leadership on protecting the sea and countering climate change and it is a long-standing part of our campaign to take a UN Security Council seat.”
Special guests at the Oceans Wealth Summit on Monday include John Kerry, former US Secretary of State, Former President Mary Robinson and the Presidents, Foreign Ministers or UN Ambassadors from 31 SIDS (Small Island Developing States).
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste says SeaFest has been in Galway for the last few years but it’s returning to Cork this weekend.
"This is a little bit like the ploughing championships for the marine. It’s everything to do with the sea like tourism, industry, fishing, sailing, research and the military in one place. It will all happen on and off the water around the Port of Cork”
I would encourage people from Cork and beyond to spend a few hours there. You’ll see naval service displays and research demonstrations from the Marine Institute. This will all be happening in an entertaining and inclusive way and most of it is free for families to get involved.
More than 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the festival, 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 the 60kg plastic hut sculpture.
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 environment stewardship of our oceans is something we need to teach 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.
A Flock of Sea Gulls will see 1000 young visitors transform 1000 plastic cartons into an installation of seagulls 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.