Ireland’s natural resource-based seafood industry provides an important source of economic activity in the country’s remote coastal regions. It provides jobs on fishing vessels, on fish farms, in processing operations, in distribution and marketing seafood at home and to export markets and in a large number of smaller ancillary companies that provide services to the mainstream industry operators.
Working in the fishing industry is one of the most perilous jobs in the world. The fishing sector is very significant for the survival of millions of people around the world. It is difficult to monitor and control human activity at sea which often puts human life at risk.
That is why we should thank three Filipinos who are among hundreds of fishermen who continue to work at sea in order to keep the seafood sector running and provide the basic needs of the global market.
Gerrick Tropico, from Davao, works 4-7 days a week in Rossaveal, Galway. He has been in Ireland since 2015. On the Corona Virus crisis, “My advice to my fellow kababayans is to stay home as instructed by the government, to follow the distancing rule, and do self-quarantine if you feel any symptoms mentioned in the guidelines. As a fisherman, I just look forward to the time that we surpass this pandemic called Coronavirus and offer everything to God that with His healing power this will stop now all over the world.”
Garry Banes, from Negros Occidental, came to Ireland in 2008. He works in a fishing boat in Cork seven days a week. Here is his short but powerful message spoken in his mother tongue: “Tuloy pa rin ang buhay kahit mahirap. Dasal lng ang tanging bitbit sa bawat oras.” (Life goes on even if it is hard. We rely on faith and prayer all the time.)
Vincent Acquiot moved from Zambales City to Ireland in 2015. He is also stationed at Rossaveal, Galway port. Unlike Gerrick, he works for several months before coming back to the port just to unload their catch briefly, then sets off for months again to fish. His thoughts on Covid: “This is an opportunity to give ourselves the much needed time to look after our health, especially because our families rely on us at home in the Philippines. We have to give importance to God and we should be thankful for all our blessings. I may not be perfect and I make mistakes too, but I think we all need to learn to be grateful and ask for forgiveness. And let us try not be prayerful only during a crisis but at all times.
To all fishermen who are constantly isolated in their fishing vessels, we thank you for your undying courage and hardwork for risking your lives at sea in order to nourish the world and provide for your families in the Philippines, Covid-crisis or not.
If you know of any Filipino in Ireland who are working beyond the call of duty to support the Irish community, please let us know. Thank you.