The Queenie Festival – Port St Mary’s annual celebration of the sea – has been cancelled. Graham Hall, who with Island Seafare’s Tim Croft dreamt up the idea for the festival which was first held in 2009, said its importance is so great it should be revived.
The original concept was to gather all sectors involved in the sea under the umbrella of the festival.
It was successful from the start and attracted thousands of people.
The original week-long celebration, later abridged to a weekend, included cooking demonstrations, music, Manx Wildlife Trust touch tanks, a beach party and the treasure hunt for the golden queenie.
After Mr Hall and Mr Croft stepped back from its organisation in 2013, Rushen MHKs Phil Gawne, Laurence Skelly and Juan Watterson took over; James Gale from Switched On Events joined the team in 2014 and became the organiser.
This year’s festival – renamed Festival of the Sea – was scheduled for July 2 and 3, but was cancelled because of ‘funding issues’ said Mr Gale.
Mr Hall emailed interested parties, including the Rushen MHKs, the festival, ‘was to bring down barriers between fishermen and conservationists, introduce the public to the sea and its great value to the island and to keep the work of the Manx Wildlife Trust Marine Committee high in the minds of the people.’
Given the damaging affect scallop fishing has on the environment, naming it ‘Queenie’ was ‘controversial’. But he added there are initiatives - which include the fishing industry - to limit the impact on the environment, such as current consultation on the proposed zoning of the 0-3 mile territorial waters. There is also the recent UNESCO Biosphere accreditation meaning ‘the fruits of the Queenie Festival are beginning to become very apparent.’
He added: ‘It seems like a huge waste of a very successful initiative to let this event be archived to the history books and old photographs of the island. I believe that we need this event more than ever right now.
‘If reforms of the fishing areas go ahead this year, the Isle of Man will develop large conservation areas and a sustainable scallop industry, the environmental stigma will be completely erased and we can enjoy a long lasting heritage given to us by a festival of the sea, its industry, environment and those who enjoy it.
‘Letting it go may be a commercial decision but there is so much more to this event that is important to our island life and getting the festival through a few difficult times in order to achieve so much more would seem important to the island.’
A meeting will be held soon.
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