• May 8, 2015


Today the Isle of Man government held a ‘workshop’ on sustainable development of the Manx territorial sea.

The ‘blurb’ put out by the Manx Government news service earlier this week said:

“Representatives of Government Departments, utilities, carriers, tourism, commercial and leisure sea-goers, environmental and conservation groups and educationalists have been invited to attend the event, entitled ‘Biosphere Isle of Man – a Place for Sustainable Marine and Coastal Development’.”

The Celtic League (both centrally and via its Mannin branch) has had a long interest and concern in our Marine Environment around the Celtic countries and particularly in the Irish and Celtic Sea .

People may have forgotten it now but it was the Celtic League that really ‘kicked off’ the concerns about Sellafield’s pollution of our Marine Environment back in the 1970s before some of the mainstream environmental groups had taken up the cause.

We also were the first to identify the problems of the Beaufort Dyke and sea dumped munitions generally when many thought this was a minor issue from the post WW2 period best forgotten. Eventually the UK (MOD) had to admit that it had dumped a staggering 1,000,000 tonnes of munitions and also chemical weapons and industrial and nuclear waste in 22 sites around these seas.

Over the years we’ve attended conferences around these Islands, in large cities like Dublin and Liverpool and small villages like Ballycastle and Skibbereen. The Irish government sought and was given a file we had compiled on the munitions problem and we have been happy to cooperate with and share a platform on occasions with bodies such as Greenpeace.

We’ve not been afraid to speak out either over pollution by Sellafield, more recently of the Irish Sea with technetium waste or over government to government agreements.

People probably don’t remember the ‘biting attack’ we mounted on the UK–IOM fisheries deal some years ago when we likened (then) Chief Minister Miles Walker to Neville Chamberlain and ran adverts with the slogan ‘FISH IN OUR TIME’ because it allowed what we viewed as over generous access to Manx fishing grounds by EU vessels.

Always active and really committed to securing our Marine Environment just a few weeks ago the Manx Branch of the Celtic League got colleagues in Ireland, Scotland and Wales to support our motion calling for a fair allocation of marine resources (text below):

“This AGM:

Calls upon the Isle of Man Government to assert its sovereign rights to territorial and seabed rights to the median line with neighbouring jurisdictions in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Condemns successive UK governments for consistently abusing Manx seabed and territorial rights.

This AGM agrees that the Celtic League will, as a recognised UN NGO, seek clarification upon the legality of taking hydrocarbon or any other resource from one jurisdiction’s geological territory, without lawful agreement, by an operation in another jurisdiction by the process known as “fracking”.”

The League is of course also a recognised NGO (Roster status) of the United Nations (Economic and Social Committee) and part of our fields of activity includes: Agriculture, Environment, Sustainable Development, Marine Resources, Oceans and Seas etc.

Anyway enough of this! Getting back to the ‘workshop’ – MHK Chris Thomas announced in the covering blurb:

‘This is the start of a process to develop ideas about sustainable marine use through the UNESCO Biosphere project. Our territorial sea is managed by the Government on behalf of the people of the Island, many of whom have a professional or personal interest in it.

‘It is also a complex and interconnected ecosystem. Inviting stakeholders to inform our future approaches should ensure marine growth is sustainable.’

One would have thought that ‘stakeholders’ would include those like the Celtic League (or its Mannin branch) with a proven track record in this field. Perhaps it does and our invite got lost in the post?

On the other hand, perhaps ‘stakeholders’ simply means those who want to control, manage and exploit the environment. In that case we definitely were not on the guest list!

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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