Art or litter? “OctoAsh” the SeafoodRocks octopus which was such a big hit during the summer. Octo Ash is pictured below awaiting transportation to Electric Picnic where he/she made a big impact.
The organisers of the 2018 Seafood Rocks Festival which campaigned against litter both locally and globally have been fined by Louth County Council for, you’ve guessed it, littering!
The organisers of the festival, which took place in Clogherhead in July, came up with a really great idea to publicise their communuity event whose ethos is one of caring for the environment both locally and globally.
Because Clogherhead is a fishing village, they decided to take the marine environment as their theme for 2018 and they came up with the idea of using litter that was caught in fishermen’s nets to build a giant octopus with tentacles long enough to wrap around a house (see above).
Photos of the Octopus, which was made from old barrels, oil drums and hundreds of meters of discarded fishing nets, went viral on the internet and were also used later by the local, national and international print media.
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The images of the octopus, it was christened “OctoAsh” in a Facebook competition, created unprecedented levels of PR for Seafood Rocks and it also got thousands of people thinking about the environment and litter both at sea and on land.
The campaign was so successful that the Clogherhead octopus was invited to appear at Electric Picnic where the anti-litter message reached even more people.
The organisers were delighted that their hard work had paid off, not financially perhaps but in terms of creating positive headlines for their village which is home to a great community that strives hard to make the most of the few amenities available to them.
This success was an impressive testament to everyone involved which included the Clogherhead Development Group, Clean Coasts, Aston Village Educate Together School, VW Recycling, Oxigen Environmental, Dreadnots GFC, the people of Clogherhead generally and of course the fishing community.
Everyone, it seemed, was happy with the festival which ran from the 13th to 15th of July. Everyone except Louth County Council who, just a few weeks later, served the organisers and the site owner with fines for littering.
They inspected the site on August 24th. By then the octopus had been taken apart and was waiting to be transported to Stradbally where it was reassembled for Electric Picnic which took place over the bank holiday weekend of August 31st to September 2nd.
The Council litter wardens were told that the material would only be on site for a couple of days but they went ahead and issued their fines anyway.
“It is all so frustrating” one of the organisers, Damien Kierans, told Drogheda Life. “Especially as we have been so anti – litter all along.
"The Clogherhead Community Group not only funded this project but Oliver Kirwan, who runs the Tidy Towns group, collected the litter on a regular basis from the boats as they landed. Clogherhead is really leading the way in the fight against marine waste; including the ‘Fishing for Litter’ initiative supported by Bord Iascaigh Mhara."
There were teams of people picking litter during the festival and Damien says that the site itself was litter free by the Friday after the festival ended.
“We got an Orange skip on the Monday after the festival and the site was cleared by the Friday. We even used reusable cups to minimise the amount of plastic waste.” he said.
“I can see why the litter wardens may have thought that the deconstructed octopus constituted litter but they simply refused to believe us when we told them it was waiting to be transported to Electric Picnic.”
Damien and David Bradley, his partner in Red Fish Events the company that organised the SeafoodRocks festival, have written to the Council's Director of Services, Willie Walshe, to contest the fine and asking him to reconsider the decision.
Drogheda Life has tried on several occasions this week to contact Mr. Walsh without success.
Below are photos taken by the council to support their litterig claims.