Kevin McHugh died yesterday, in the Mater private hospital.
Kevin McHugh owned and built the Atlantic Dawn , a 14,000-tonne super-trawler and factory ship which is capable of sucking every last living creature out of the seas it inhabits. African fishermen didn’t call it the Atlantic Dawn: they called it the Ship from Hell, or the Sea Monster. They called it these names because when Atlantic Dawn visited their coasts, they, and their families, starved and died. In fact, wherever the ship goes, poor people die.
Atlantic Dawn was built in 2000 and, even though Ireland was already exceeding its quota, the government gave McHugh a licence to fish in international waters. The European Commission took action against Ireland for exceeding its quota, but in 2001 did a deal with Bertie Ahern, increasing the tonnage of the Irish fishing fleet by 14,055 tonnes. The fact that McHugh was a well-known supporter of Fianna Fail, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with this intervention and it is pure coincidence that the Atlantic Dawn’s tonnage also happens to be precisely 14,055 tonnes.
Even this vast tonnage only allowed the Ship from Hell to fish EU waters for a few months of the year and McHugh needed new feeding grounds for his monster. He fastened on Mauritania and negotiated a private deal with Ould Sid Taya, the dictatorial Mauritanian president who was deposed last year in a coup. The deal has been described as “very unorthodox.” Atlantic Dawn’s representative in Mauritania was a relative of the president.
The Mauritanian authorities noticed that the death ship was pumping out all the unwanted species of fish into the sea, dead: the same fish that the coastal fishermen rely on to feed their families. When the authorities took the Atlantic Dawn to task about this, McHugh had a very simple answer. From then on, the ship didn’t pump out dead fish. It shredded them and pumped out pulp. Fuck off Mauritania!
This sort of practice made Kevin McHugh a very rich man indeed.
In September last year, after the coup, the Ship from Hell was expelled from Mauritanian waters and the current Mauritanian administration insists on keeping this ship out of any future fishing agreements.
It appears that Atlantic Dawn is now killing poor fishermen and their families off the coast of Peru. Obviously, the late Kevin McHugh has no further interest in the monster he created, but his sons continue to operate the business. However, they clearly have no idea of the hardship the ship has caused to coastal communities, not unlike the Irish one their father came from in Achill, and when they realise the extent of the hardship caused, they will be appalled. In all likelihood, they’ll probably have the ship recalled and sell it for scrap rather than cause further suffering to poor people across the world. I’m certain of it.
Meanwhile, one would hope Kevin McHugh rests in peace, along with the people his ship helped to kill.