The shark circling at Stormont


Two hundred children from a dozen Belfast schools walked up the Stormont mile this morning behind a giant wicker basking shark.

It wasn't a piece of a performance art, but a protest in suppport of a new Marine Bill for Northern Ireland.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood greeted the children with a pledge to launch such a bill very soon. Engalnd, Scotland and Wales have had similar legislation since 2009.

Shark at Stormont Two hundred children brought the giant wicker basking shark to Stormont

Campaigners say Northern Ireland needs to follow suit in order to extend protection not just to the basking shark, but to all manner of sponges, seals, fish and seabirds.

A few weeks back, Mr Attwood told Inside Politics he thought he could win the arguments over the benefits of national parks.

Now he is talking about creating marine conservation zones off the shores of Northern Ireland.


Over in Scotland, the ownership of the sea bed has been the subject of controversy.

The SNP demanding the transfer of the rights related to offshore wind farms and other projects from the Crown estate to the Scottish government.

Perhaps because Northern Ireland doesn't lay claim to any oil reserves, local nationalists have been rather slower to extend the battle for soveriegnty from the land to the sea.

Minister Attwood says the environment and enterprise departments already have adequate licensing regimes in place for local off shore wind farms.

However questioned about whether Stormont should lay claim to the sea, he says he wouldn't rule out anything so far as stretching the limits of devolution is concerned.

P.S. And if you want to see what a wicker basking shark looks like, watch Stormont Today at 2320 BST on Tuesday on BBC2.

Mark Devenport, Political editor, Northern Ireland Article written by Mark Devenport Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on BBC News

  • Pulling a pint in MauritiusThe beer hunter

    One man's quest to bring artisan beer to the island of Mauritius


  • Traffic lightsClick Watch

    From hacking cars to traffic lights - behind the scenes at a cyber-security conference

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.