March 29th 2021
Today - President Alan Davidson - Socialising with his Team.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Apr 5th Easter Monday. No meeting.
Apr 12th Donal Mangan.
Apr 19th Gerry P Cahill, Presenter 103.2 Dublin City FM.
Apr 26th James Innes - Bitten by the Black Dog
May 3rd Public Holiday
May 10th Annual General Meeting
May 17th Rotary Foundation: Rotarian Delma Sweeney : Transforming the World.
May 24th Dr Nnamdi Elenwoke, RC Barcelona Pedralbes – Covid Review and Contrast.
May 31st TBC
Jun 7th Public Holiday
Jun 28th Club Assembly
Jul 5th Presidential Handover
Jul 12th Patrick Hamilton Walsh, former member, from Stockholm
Jul 19th David Ellis – How Rotary is perceived by the public.
President Alan Davidson was in the Chair at our meeting last Monday.
Thought for the Day
Last Monday Past President Ethna Fitzgerald related to us a message that she had received and which went as follows:
What is luxury? – They made us believe that luxury was the rare, the expensive, the exclusive, everything that seem unattainable… Now we realise that luxuries were those little things that we did not know how to value when we had them and now that they are gone, we miss them so much… Luxury is being healthy. Luxury is not stepping into a hospital. Luxury is being able to walk alone the seashore. Luxury is going out on the streets and breathing without a mask. Luxury is meeting with your whole family, with your friends. Luxuries are the looks. Smiles are luxury. Luxuries are hugs and kisses. Luxury is enjoying every sunrise. Luxury is the privilege of loving and being alive. All this is a luxury and we did not know… Stay blessed. Stay grateful.
Visitors and Apologies
Last week we had apologies from members Eamonn Allen, Veronica Kunovska and Rana Al Damin and our frequent guest Korahiza Macari Byrne. There were 23 members in attendance and no guests.
Rotary Rangers Schedule
Rotary Rangers outings are cancelled until further notice due to Covid19 restrictions.
Hon Secretary’s Announcements
• There were no secretarial announcements last week.
• President Alan welcomed back PP Tony Keegan after a mild heart attack which has kept him out of action for a couple of weeks. Tony now has two stents which puts him one up on PP Brian George’s single pacemaker.
• On the Bikes for Africa project, President Alan said that efforts are being make to sign up another prison to work on refurbishing the bicycles.
Members Wishing to Speak
There were no members wishing to speak.
News flash re Auction
The ‘Presidential’ auction held remotely on Friday 26th March raised just over €6,000.00 for the St Vincent de Paul charity. Well done to all participants and to ‘auctioneer’ Rotarian Roger Owens.
Book Club Meeting
The next book-club meeting is on Monday 12th April at 8pm. The book for review this month, chosen by Eamonn Allen, is "The Beekeeper of Aleppo" by Christy Lefteri. Contact Rotarian Delma Sweeney.
Last Week’s Speaker
Past President Tom O’Neill introduced our speaker, Tony Fox, last week as the youngest son of a farmer from West Tallaght, who became a biology teacher after a Degree in Trinity College, but later moved to investment in fish farming in County Donegal. Having made a business deal with a large Norwegian fish farming organization, the investment in Mulroy Bay in County Donegal became profitable and so Tony was able to retire recently.
Tony, having shared his screen with assistance from Rotarian Dermot Knight, told us about the Fanad fisheries in Mulroy Bay County Donegal. Tony said that while still a teacher at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, Dublin where he taught from 1969-1979, he met a lecturer, Brian West, in zoology from Trinity College Dublin on Sherkin Island, Co Cork, in fact at the Matt Murphy Research Facility. Brian West later contacted Tony Fox in Dublin and the result has been a long-lasting friendship, even though Brian is now an Emeritus Professor in Yale University in the US. But in 1979 they pooled their wits with Dr John Spence from Fermanagh and their funds together with three investors from County Donegal including Patrick Sweeney, Hotelier and took on board Paul Coulson, then a mere accountant (now well known for his investment in bottles and cans). Tony and Brian had carried out a survey for deep water sites around the coast of Ireland, and found Mulroy Bay in Donegal as the most likely site for a deep-water fishery. With the assistance of a good team in Co Donegal, they sought fishing permissions, foreshore licences, and planning for a residential house which were forthcoming. Tony had also sourced the metal frames for cages for the fish from Scotland. There was no access to salmon at that time (this part of the market was cornered by the ESB and others) so the new fish farm was stocked with trout in the cages for 1979. Their investment fund of £75,000 turned out to be not nearly enough, after the purchase of the cages and other equipment and there was no funding left for Tony to build his house. He and his wife and one and half children lived in mobile home for several years, eventually being connected to the electricity supply. The new fishery installed smaller cages in adjoining loughs (fresh water) in order to establish small fry to become bigger fry. After a year, his stern accountant was still saying there was no funding available to build a house. So Tony and his fellow investors looked to Norway and their expertise to assist them to get out of the difficulties with the home market, which was then going into depression. They found a supportive Norwegian investor who was prepared to invest in the fishery in Mulroy Bay and the same investor also expanded into Iceland and Scotland at the same time. While the investor’s experience in the latter two countries was not so good, their investment in Donegal improved to the extent that they were then able to develop a proper fresh water department. The Norwegians (Mowi Ova) invested in the business in return for shares and there was a good technology transfer along with finance and information backing.
The new business then needed to source salmon fry and began by flying in 25,000 fry in boxes from Norway, which they then developed in Mulroy to become smolts. However, the larger fish then presented problems along with the North Atlantic weather, for the cages that they have been using. So the Norwegians supplied what Tony described as the “Rolls Royce” of cages with polystyrene bases which kept everything calm in the fishery.
A further site was acquired for a hatchery near the previous site and by 1984 the company was selling 110 tonnes of salmon weighing between 3-5 kilo each. Fishmongers from all over Ireland and even further afield wanted to buy their salmon and they expanded to have five or six sites in County Donegal. Terry Nolan, who had spoken to our club recently about the explorer Tom Crean, helped with the building of cages.
The product, of which Tony Fox showed us the distribution boxes, was sold as Donegal Silver. The product was by then selling in France, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries and by 1988 they were also exporting to Spain, Greece and even Chile. They had a further business with a Chilean fish farm to supply 80% of its salmon eggs. By 1989, when the company was 10 years old, they had reached sales of 1000 tonnes of salmon. However, by 1990 there were challenges to their increasing production and perhaps it was suitable then that Tony’s story came to an end, as the clock neared 2pm.
Rotarian Derek Byrne then proposed the vote of thanks to Tony Fox, saying that he thought that with a relatively small amount of capital and a wife and family who were obviously very patient with him, they were able to open up a business and brand which is now well known throughout Ireland and Europe and beyond.
Human Impact on the Ocean: presentation by Gloria Barnett, Marine Biologist, at Rotary Ireland’s First Virtual Conference, 2021, with thanks to Rotarian Delma Sweeney for report.
Gloria started by welcoming the inclusion of the Environment as the new area of focus in Rotary. She told us that planet earth; our home, is 70% covered by water. The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on the planet and is larger than all of the land on earth. Life in the sea is highly diverse. The largest creature that ever lived, the blue whale, a mammal, is rarely seen by humans and only when it surfaces to breath. Its tongue is as big as an elephant. Its heart is as big as a 10-ton army truck and you could swim through its blood vessels. Seagrass is the only plant that lives in the ocean. Through photosynthesis it produces 10% of the world’s oxygen. The smallest algae in the ocean are microscopic phyto-plankton producing up to 70% of earth’s oxygen. Between them, they make up 80% of our oxygen.
Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction which uses carbon dioxide, water, the green chemical chlorophyl and light energy from the sun to make life giving oxygen and glucose. Carbon dioxide, plants, seagrass, the rainforest and Phyto-plankton are all needed to photosynthesise. Oceans are the largest carbon sink on earth. This means that they absorb carbon dioxide. Since the industrial revolution humans have burnt vast quantities of fossil fuels in the atmosphere. The oceans cannot absorb any more and now the earth has become unbalanced. Carbon dioxide in the oceans is creating carbolic acid. Carbon dioxide, absorbed by the oceans is turning the oceans acidic. Acidity is killing the Phyto-plankton and seagrass and life in the oceans. The balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen is rapidly changing, threatening life on earth.
Plastic pollution/debris contamination in the seas comes from human activity on land (rubbish tips). A lead researcher in this field says: “Plastics are ubiquitous, in the air, water, the seafood we eat, the beer we drink, the salt we use, plastics are just everywhere”. A British Antarctic Survey concluded: “Microplastics have been found in the Artic and Antarctic, from the ocean’s surface to the sea floor” (Dr. Huw Griffiths). Plastic is everywhere. It takes 1.85 gallons of water to manufacture the plastic for the average commercial bottle of water. When a diver goes diving, he/she is doing this in plastic soup. Ingestion of plastic is a major problem for so many sea creatures. Turtles, seabirds, marine mammals and fish mistake plastic for food. Plastic fibres are microscopic, they cannot be seen. Tested drinking water revealed 83% plastic micro fibres in a 2017 study.
We are frequently urged to stop destroying the planet. Gloria reframed this request by letting us know that it is not the planet that is at risk. If humans become extinct, the planet will recover in a couple of million years. Until the sun turns into a red giant star, grows and engulfs the earth, the planet will survive. It is not the earth that is in danger but life on planet earth. As the earth’s natural balance is changed by human behaviour life on earth will become extinct.
Gloria told us that change is happening. We can save the world. We can do it because we have the technology. We have the scientists; the engineers and it is already happening. The Ocean Clean-up in the middle of the Pacific is happening now. It was started by a 15-year-old Dutch boy Boyan Slat who developed the technology. He is now 22 and running the company which takes plastics out of the Pacific. He is also starting programmes to clean rivers.
Since 2018, the demands of the public have started to create a response from commercial enterprise. As Rotarians we know the importance of water as we have been working with Water-aid for a great many years. Water is a precious resource. A new invention, Graphene is an affordable technology that turns seawater into fresh drinking water. Graphene is not yet used in production but is coming on stream soon. We need to change our thinking and behaviour to save our oceans. Other new inventions are coming on stream, algae biofuels, roads that soak up carbon dioxide, wind power, underwater turbines, solar planes, solar cars, solar cells and solar in deserts. Gloria urged us to demand that producers produce responsible goods.
We have a duty of care to create a policy of Zero Plastic Waste, through reduction of plastics, reuse, recycle, producer responsibility, user demands, eco-design. We need healthy oceans because oceans are home to millions of species of incredible animals and oceans supply fresh water. They supply 80% of earth’s oxygen.
Gloria finished by presenting a list of what Rotarians can do. This is the list:
• Educate the younger generation about oceans.
• Be a better consumer- think before you buy.
• Refuse to buy plastic
• Fight against the use of fossil fuels
• Fight for sustainability
• Share your understanding.