County council backs fish bill
Cork County Council is backing a bill which recognises the benefits of supporting island communities and tackling depopulation through fishing.
It is now at committee stage in the Dáil.
Cllr Paul Hayes said the aim of the Sinn Fein bill was to stem the decline in island populations where fishing had been a pillar of the economy.
There is a provision in the Common Fisheries Policy for a ring-fenced, non-transferable, quota for islands.
“With the support of the county council, I am seeking to promote small-scale fishing in boats less than 12 metres, especially off the West Cork coast,” Cllr Hayes said.
If the bill is enacted, it will allow a fishing quota to be allocated and heritage licences for island fishermen to facilitate the continuance of traditional fishing practices.
“It provides for the issuing of licences to island fishers, defined as people who are habitually resident on an offshore island and engaged in small-scale coastal fishing to earn a livelihood,” Cllr Hayes told colleagues.
It relates to vessels less than 12m in length and not using towed fishing gear.
The licences would be nontransferrable and would on be in force when the holder of the licence is on board the vessel.
“This bill has the potential to stem the decline of our island communities, by evoking a provision in the Common Fisheries Policy, which would allow a fishing quota and heritage licence to be granted to island fishermen, which would help to make their business viable and sustainable, and thereby help sustain our island communities,” said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Joe Carroll said it was a worthy move. “People on the islands need every help they can get,” he said.
Councillors are writing to the Department of Fisheries to underline their support for the bill.